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I'm a novice photographer looking for a wide/ultra-wide lens to attach to my iPhone 6 Plus for use during a vacation. I know nothing about these lenses and how to use them, except that they seem to be able to 'fit more' into a frame - I'm hoping this will make my photos and videos (which are likely to be landscapes, shots of busy streets, tourist spots, markets, etc, in a big European city) somehow more immersive and engrossing.

I'm trying to choose between the Olloclip Active Lens (http://www.olloclip.com/product/iphone6-active/), which has an ultra-wide, and a Moment Wide (http://momentlens.co/shop/wide-lens/?device=iphone-6).

The OlloClip seems to be an ultra-wide. Is this generally better for my purposes than a wide, given that I'll be using the lens for all shots, and not just special ones? There does seem to be a lot of barrel distortion on photos taken by these lenses, which I don't think I like. Would this lens be suitable for use on all photos and videos I take? The Moment Lens, on the other hand, promises no barrel distortion and seems a higher-end lens in general, but it's a wide lens and not an ultra-wide one.

Should I prioritize ultra-wide over wide, or the lack of barrel distortion and generally better quality, for my purposes?

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How you should prioritize the characteristics of a lens really depends on what it is you're attempting to achieve. One man's distortion is another man's funky fun. And some folks hold with HCB that sharpness is a bourgeois concept. :) It's really up to you and what you feel you need out of the lens--it's your money, after all. It sounds like you want the wide angle more than the ultrawide--that the distortion will bug you enough not to be worth the extra field of view the distortion can nab you. However, I wouldn't plan on using it all the time. Conversion lenses tend to work best as occasional things. The 6/6S camera's lens has the full-frame equivalence of a 30mm lens. It's already a wide angle.

However, I will say that most conversion lenses, whether wide angle or telephoto are... um... well, crap. No matter how many claims of sharpness or lack of distortion or whathaveyou, even the ones for dSLRs tend to compromise image quality to some degree. They bring softness, distortion, chromatic aberration, etc. Especially if you can find them for less than $100. Any piece of glass that isn't part of the lens design is going to be doing this. You're essentially doing something similar to holding a magnifying glass in front of your camera lens. You are never going to improve the image quality of a camera this way, but you may find the tradeoff is worth it to get the field of view you want.

I will say that I use a fisheye lens and I use an ultrawide zoom on my micro four-thirds cameras, and each has their place and each has their distinct and separate uses, and that mastering wide angle is not necessarily easy. A lot of how you use such a lens depends on horizon placement and foreground vs. background interest. And that you can get a lot closer to some things than you thought.

What makes the images in a gallery "stunning" may be less about the lens and more about the skill and knowledge of the photographer and the care with which they post-process images. Chances are good whoever took those images can probably take stunning images without a conversion lens, either.

  • Thank you for your helpful reply. I went ahead and bought the Moment Wide (I do think the distortion on the ultra-wide will bug me - I'm not into photos with funky effects). I do realize that it shouldn't be used all the time, and will take some time to master. – Atriya Aug 3 '15 at 20:09
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I'd caution against trying to get too many things in the frame, because that produces a noisy and cluttered photo. I find that simplifying my photos to have fewer subjects makes for a much better photo.

I haven't used either lens you're asking about, so take this answer with a grain of salt, but I'd suggest not buying any lens you don't like the quality of. There are going to be other opportunities to take photos that don't require the OlloClip.

Even the Moment seems to have its limitations, such as having a plate permanently attached on the back of your iPhone (you can take it off, but you can't reuse it, and it pulls off some of the paint from your iPhone when you do), making the iPhone look ugly. And the lenses are hard to change, and don't lock into place, and the aforelinked reviewer dropped one of the lenses 400 feet down a cliff. On the other hand, this review claims the lenses are good.

Given these issues, and the $100 price of the Moment, I'd personally buy neither, which may or may not be the right decision for you — only you can make that decision. But, more importantly, I think you should be clear about exactly why you're considering a wide or ultrawide lens (the first paragraph in this answer) before you buy one.

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    Thanks for your reply. I do understand that photos with many things in the frame can look cluttered and noisy. But I also think they do a better job at capturing the 'feel' and 'vibe' of a crowded place than photos with a single subject, and are more immersive in this sense - giving the viewer a better sense of being in the atmosphere captured. I suppose this is a subjective viewpoint and a matter of taste, but it shows that I do have a clear idea of why I want a wide/ultra-wide lens. – Atriya Aug 3 '15 at 3:55
  • The technical issues with the Moment are certainly cause for concern though. Also, I can't be positive I won't like the OlloClip, but the few photos on the web seem to have a lot of barrel distortion. The Moment gallery though, is quite stunning. – Atriya Aug 3 '15 at 3:58
  • I see. Apologies for not understanding your point well enough the first time around. – Vaddadi Kartick Aug 3 '15 at 6:14

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