I need a good smartphone camera because my photography skills are quite limited. Thankfully, the cameras today have software to help out while companies like Moment make lenses and advanced software to help you use those lenses.
For the past couple of weeks I have been testing out the Moment anamorphic lens and as you can see in my video sample below I still have a lot of work before someone mistakes my work for that of J.J. Abrams. Anamorphic lenses provide a widescreen, letterboxed look with signature flares in lighted conditions. I tried to capture some of that in Vegas, but it is going to take some more practice shooting with lots of improvement in editing to satisfy me with the results.
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The Moment anamorphic lens works with various Moment Photo cases and its Battery Photo case on iPhone, Galaxy, and Pixel phones. I bought Photo cases for the Galaxy Note 9, iPhone X, and Galaxy S9 Plus to use with my existing Moment wide-angle lens and also test out the upcoming anamorphic lens.
You can pre-order the anamorphic lens for $119.99 (regular price is $149.99). Moment has shipped about 1,500 lenses so far with plans to ship about 500 a week. I highly recommend you check out the Getting Started video for this lens since it is unique and may quickly turn into your favorite new smartphone accessory.
The anamorphic lens is a 1.33x version with metal and glass construction. It comes with a rubber lens cap to protect the front glass and a small drawstring bag to carry the lens. The microfiber bag can also be used to clean the lens.
One feature that is unique to the Moment anamorphic lens is that the bayonet, back square part, of the lens rotates when you loosen the set screw with the included hex tool that is secured to the microfiber bag. To shoot with the anamorphic lens, it is important to have the right orientation of the lens and smartphones today have cameras oriented in both horizontal and vertical directions.
Position 1 of the lens works with the older 6 through 8 iPhones, Pixel and Pixel 2, Galaxy S8/S9, Note 8/9, and other horizontal oriented cameras. Position 2 works with vertical-oriented cameras like the Apple iPhone X/Xs/Xs Max and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. There is an alignment guide provided in the anamorphic lens box to help you out.
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You will know when you have it right if you look at the lens and the oblong opening is in the vertical orientation when your phone is held in landscape for video capture. You should also see a blue vertical line reflecting off the lens when you have the orientation correct.
A new Photo case or Battery Photo case is required to use the anamorphic case. Photo cases are priced at $29.99 and come in black canvas or walnut wood back options. The Note 9 ones should ship in a week or two (I tested an early unit) with the new generation of iPhone Xs Max cases available for pre-order. The iPhone X case works for the Xs. There is a white and tan leather option available for the new iPhones with these cases scheduled for mid-November shipping.
Moment provides applications for iOS and Android with the iOS app launching with the newest features first and adding functionality that Apple does not provide, namely RAW image capture support.
Currently, only the iOS app is designed to work with the anamorphic lens although you can use the default camera application on your Android phone to capture video content with the anamorphic lens. Anamorphic video is squeezed when using standard camera applications with the lens. The iOS Moment app lets you select the anamorphic lens from the drop-down so it is then de-squeezed when you record so you can enjoy the results right away.
When I was shooting with the Note 9, I then had to do a bit of post-processing to de-squeeze the video. I found that Handbrake works fine and is a free option for this de-squeezing, but look forward to the upcoming Moment app update that does this for me on the phone. One section of my video, the dessert line in the Bellagio, was shot when I had the de-squeeze option turned off on my iPhone X so it did not turn out as intended.
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Beyond the anamorphic de-squeezing functionality, the iOS app has all sorts of advanced camera controls that are not found on the simplistic application provided by Apple. You can use 3D touch for a shutter button with half a press to focus and a full press to capture, view histogram data live, create cinematic video, have full manual control of the camera, enable manual focus, and shoot RAW format photos.
While I wait for my own walnut Note 9 case, Moment sent along a black canvas one to test out with the Moment anamorphic lens. This model is available for pre-order at a special price of just $23.99 so if you are interested in using Moment lenses now is a good time to pick up a Photo case for new devices.
I like these Moment photo cases for daily use even if I am not using a lens since they do not add much size or weight, enhance the grip of my phone, and provides some drop protection at a reasonable price. Wireless charging and Samsung Pay are fully supported while using the case and there is even a wrist strap opening so you can carry your phone around easily like a camera.
The bottom ports are fully accessible and it is easy to remove the S Pen. The volume and power buttons could be a bit more prominent, but you do get used to using them. I find the opening for the fingerprint sensor to be a tad bit small, but the Note 9 sensor is fast and accurate so I just recommend you train your finger with the Note 9 in the Photo case for best performance.
Moment also sells a lens case for $19.99 that easily held to lenses safely in a divided compartment with a zippered lid. There is a small mesh pocket to put other pieces in, but if you own more than one lens then you should consider this case.
A month ago I purchased a DJI Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal, but I am still testing it as I try to get comfortable shooting video with it. Moment offers a universal gimbal counterweight for $39.99 that is shipping in late October. It has two 30 gram weights and works with a number of gimbals, but I need to test it more before sharing my experiences.
Moment offers a lens pen for $9.99 that you can use to clean both your lens and your phone camera glass clean. There is a small cleaning tip on one end and a larger brush tip on the other. Instructions are also provided for this accessory.
It was easy to rotate the anamorphic lens between the two orientations for the different phones I was using and the lens cap was great for keeping the lens protected while carrying the phone and lens in my pocket. After using the anamorphic lens with both an iPhone and a Galaxy phone, I prefer the iPhone experience at this time due to the current capability of the Moment application to de-squeeze the video on the fly. I need to improve my photo editing/post-processing skills, but given my limited available time I don't see how I can spend hours post-processing my videos and want to create and share them on my phones.
I personally enjoy the cool lens flares that are created by the Moment anamorphic lens when there are lights in the frame and have some ideas about videos I can shoot to share with family and friends. Filmmakers are sure to be excited about this new anamorphic lens and if the Kickstarter campaign is any indication of popularity then this may be tough to purchase any time soon. Moment raised nearly $1.6 million with this campaign with thousands of backers.
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