Moment Case for iPhone 6

Moment_570A couple months ago I invested in an iPhone case made by Moment, the same people who make the Moment telephoto lens I use so much. I think Moment is a quality company, and I’ve had good interactions with them. The video and other information on the Kickstarter page for their Moment Case project intrigued me enough that I signed up to be notified when the case was finally produced.

Even though the basic case came in at a price of $70 (it has since been reduced), my previous experience with Moment convinced me to give it a try.

Solid lens mount

Moment_300Obviously, the Moment Case is designed to work with Moment lenses. Not only does it provide a more solid version of the bayonet mounting the lenses screw into, but it also transforms your phone into something that feels more like a camera. For example, the case makes your iPhone’s on/off button work as a shutter button—in fact, you can even press it halfway down to focus, just like you would a traditional digital camera. The button feature is powered by a battery you insert into the case, and the button talks to your phone via bluetooth.

Interconnected electronics

Moment_400Somehow, the battery and bluetooth that are part of the case work with the free Moment app (which you can also use independent of the case). The app gives you finer control over not just focus, but also exposure, white point, and tones. The app also “pairs” with whatever Moment lens you screw into the mount—wide, telephoto, or macro—and somehow makes adjustments accordingly. I had gotten out of the habit of using the Moment app because the first version did not allow the two-finger zoom we’re all used to. Moment 2.2 however does, so I plan to go back to using it, as the app does seem to produce crisper, sharper images than my regular iPhone camera app.

Good grippy-ness

Moment-back_400The case is solid and well made. It adds enough bulk to your phone that you can grip it more firmly while taking pictures one-handed. But it’s still slim enough that you can slip your phone into your pocket. And the rubber-like texture keeps it from feeling slippery when your hands are sweaty, greasy, or numb with cold. If you do happen to drop it, the woolen, felt-like material that forms the interior of the case adds a layer of padded protection.

Recommended for sincere-but-not-quite-professional photographers

I think my Moment Case is a well-made piece of technology that solves some real problems that real people experience when they use the camera that is most likely to be with them all the time. The case has a lot of features I don’t use—because I’m just a photography hack, and I don’t understand what those features do. Even so, it is straightforward and reliable.

If you’re a hack like me, you might not think it’s worth it to invest $70 in an iPhone case. But if your iPhone is the only camera you have, and you want to get the most out of it, I recommend taking a look at what Moment has to offer. Maybe start by downloading the free Moment App and playing around with it. Sign up for the Momentist blog to read about what other phone photographers are doing. As you start to see what Moment can do for you, you might find yourself drawn to their lenses, cases, and other accessories. They are all quality products that are advanced yet simple to use.

Cheap, easy photo editing: A short review of Noiseless

It’s a small app that makes a big difference. Not just in my photos, but also in the time I have to spend on them.

review of noiselessNoiseless is the name of a little program by Macphun that I recently bought, downloaded, and started using on the old grainy slides and scanned photos that were the main content of the family photo book I recently completed for a client. It really saved me a lot of time—and therefore it saved my client a lot of money.

Noisy photos

Digital noise is a problem particularly in photos taken in low light or at low resolution. Typically, I use Photoshop’s Filters and Adjustments options to eliminate noise, but it’s a tedious process. The goal in this kind of editing is to reduce the noise but preserve the detail, and that can be a difficult balance to find.

Noiseless does it all in one swipe. Easy.

Wanna see?

review noiseless
The print I have of this photo is a copy of someone else’s 20-year-old point-and-shoot original, and I scanned it on a low-quality scanner. Lots of noise.
noiseless review
I opened the image in Noiseless and applied the “Extreme” preset. I was worried about losing too much detail around the tentacles on this rambutan (an Indonesian fruit), but they came out pretty well. And my fingers look awesome!


A true review of Noiseless might go into detail about how the software works, what your settings options are, and the actual process of using it. But I’m going to cut to the chase: It works. And it’s easy.


It’s also cheap. I bought Noiseless for only $14.99, and later I saw it in the app store for $9.99 (doh!). There is also a Pro version for $59.99 that can be used as a plugin for programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture, as well as a standalone app.

I recommend Noiseless

If you have old JPEGs that were scanned at lo-res, or you tend to take a lot of pictures at dusk, I recommend Noiseless as a cheap, easy way to eliminate digital noise and improve your images.

Review update:
my Vtec lenses for iPhone
and iOS 8

Vtec telephoto lens on iPhone

Vtec lenses for iPhone

Lenses for iPhone

In early 2013 I bought a set of Vtec lenses for my iPhone 4. I posted a review that showed the impressive difference they were making in my photography. I’ve continued to use these lenses almost weekly, and I really appreciate the range they give me.

But last week I upgraded my iPhone 5s  to iOS 8.0. I had read that the update included some enhancements to the Camera App, and I was excited about that. (My iPhone is the only camera I have anymore.)

The update, however, seems to be having weird effects on the photos I can capture using my Vtec lenses.

Outdoor conditions

I first noticed the weirdness a few days after I published a blog about the heron outside my office window. That blog featured a few photos I had snapped of Herr Heron using my Vtec lenses. No problem.

But a few days later I took some similar photos after updating my iOS. I could tell right away the photos taken with the Vtec lens were blurry and bland. Compare:

Vtec lenses for iPhone
Egret, taken with Vtec 9x telephoto lens, iOS 8
Vtec lenses for iPhone and iOS 8
Egret, taken from same distance, with no lens and iOS 8

Sure, I love how close I can get to wildlife with these lenses, but I’ve lost all the detail and color!

Indoor conditions

I noticed the same problem that Sunday when I took some photos at my church:

Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Pastor Jason, taken with the Vtec 9x telephoto lens and iOS 8
Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Pastor Jason, taken from the same distance, with no lens, and the camera at full zoom, iOS 8

The difference is pretty obvious, so I decided to do some further testing in a more controlled setting. You can see the results below.

Further testing

Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Mexican weaving, no lens, no zoom
Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Mexican weaving, no lens, full zoom
Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Mexican weaving, Vtec 2x telephoto lens, no zoom
Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Mexican weaving, Vtec 2x telephoto lens, full zoom
Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Mexican weaving, Vtec 9x telephoto lens, no zoom
Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Mexican weaving, Vtec 9x telephoto lens, full zoom
Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Mexican weaving, Vtec 12x telephoto lens, no zoom
Vtec lenses and iOS 8
Mexican weaving, Vtec 12x telephoto lens, full zoom

To my untrained eye, these results look significantly different from the test shots I originally took when I first got my Vtec lenses for iPhone in January of 2013. (I don’t remember what iOS was on my iPhone at the time.) The clarity is not as good, particularly around the edges. And some of the photos look warped and bowed. Only the 12x telephoto lens seems to be taking photos of the same quality under iOS 8 as it did under previous systems.


The good news is, the Camera App in iOS 8 does seem to be better. My photos are much clearer, even at full zoom. I’ll do more testing, but it’s looking like I may be retiring my suite of Vtec lenses for iPhone after less than 2 years of use!


Have you upgraded your iPhone to iOS 8? Have you noticed any differences in the Camera App, specifically in the quality of the photos you can take? Please tell us about them in the comments below!

And if you have not upgraded, and you’re interested in a nice set of Vtec lenses for iPhone, email me and we can discuss the possibilities!

Review: I love my new Flip Video!

When Amazon had a “Deal of the Day” on the Flip MinoHD Camcorder, I bought myself one for Christmas. I had been reading about the Flip for almost a year and had always wanted one. I just wasn’t sure how much I would actually use it. But at $119.00, I could resist no longer, and clicked “Add to Shopping Cart.”

I’m glad I did! The Flip is so simple, it’s ridiculous. I’m not sure it even comes with a manual because I have not yet needed to look anything up. It’s small enough to carry around in a coat pocket, and it’s convenient enough to operate with one hand.

Recording my dogs enjoying the first significant snowfall of the season gave me an opportunity to discover how seamlessly the Flip integrates with iMovie on my Mac. I imported my video clips into a new iMovie “Event,” organized them into  “Project,” applied a theme, added a soundtrack, and uploaded the finished product to YouTube—all in one evening. View it here and see what you think!

Now, I don’t know if the Flip MinoHD Camcorder is as delightful to use on a PC as it is on a Mac, but if you are looking for a small, simple camera at a decent price, it’s hard to beat the Flip. And if you’re looking for an outlet for your creative energy, iMovie has a lot to offer. I found that after spending a lot of time writing, it was nice to have a project that let me manipulate images and music.

My upgraded Flip Slide HD, customized at


Since this original post, I have upgraded to the Flip Slide HD, which I love even more than my original Flip! (I know, that’s hard to imagine, but it’s true.) What prompted me to upgrade was the video I tried to shoot at the 2010 Taste of Reconciliation—in a big room that was kind of dark, it was difficult to get clear footage. The Flip Slide offers 2x Digital Zoom, and the video quality is 720p HD/30 fps. Another key feature is that I can now record for 4 hours, not just 1. When you order directly from, you can customize the design of your camera, which is kind of fun. I chose to keep my design pretty basic, since when I’m shooting video in sensitive situations, I don’t want to draw a lot of attention to myself. And when I’m videoing conversations with people, I don’t want to draw a lot of attention to my camera; I would rather people forget that they’re being taped.

The Flip Slide is a little thicker than my previous flip, so it’s a pretty snug fit in the camera bag I use. If I had to do it all over again, I might choose the Flip MinoHD, which has some features I like, although it maxes out at 2 hours of record time.

I’m guessing that a lot of people buy camcorders so they can record the funny things their kids do, or their family’s various involvements in sports, theater, church, and social celebrations. I’ve been using mine to record activities at church, outings with my dogs, and the occasional seminar I lead. But give me some input here—what other life events should I be recording?

Samples of my Flip in action