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(Credit: Artem Bali)

Almost everyone has a smartphone and, to some extent, uses its camera for things like snapshots of an awesome dinner out of the town, for selfies at a fun local event, and -- my favorite -- for images of the morning sunrise or evening sunset. We usually grab these shots with the stock camera app on our smartphone. But for the creatives at heart, using specialized camera apps are the way to go to create the exact image you.

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But which app do you use? The folks at Moment has a pro camera app that is aimed at those wanting a little more from their smartphone photography. Let's see just how good it is.

App appearance and user interface

If you're used to handling a DSLR or point-and-shoot camera, the Moment app and its user interface will seem pretty straight forward. You're offered options to manipulate exposure settings to your liking as well as shooting in RAW format (if your smartphone supports RAW). What stands out to me is the manual focus. With most camera apps I've played with, you tap the subject on screen to set focus (and exposure level). With the Moment app, you can toggle between manual or auto focus. When in manual, the focus is controlled via a slider on the screen. It's not perfect, but it does try to make your image clear and sharp while taking into consideration the camera's aperture. (The vast majority of smartphone cameras have a fairly wide aperture of f2.8 or so.) This can provide a shallow depth of field when shooting portraits or simple product photography. This is something average users may not appreciate but serious creators will love.

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(Credit: Ant Pruitt)

Image quality

The ability to shoot RAW is key, as it gives you a lot more flexibility in post processing. When shooting with your smartphone, you have to be cognizant of your camera's hardware capabilities. Sure, the smartphone's image processor and other computational photography functions such as Google's HDR+ on the Pixel phones is a great crutch, but shooting in RAW can really help save those shots that were under exposed or a bit noisy due to low light.

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(Credit: Ant Pruitt)

Images I captured with the Moment app (prior to post processing) were fair to great on my Pixel device. Having integration with the Google's computational HDR processing is another plus with the Moment app. This allows for more dynamic range by not crushing the black and shadow levels too much as well as toning down the harsh highlights. Granted, when shooting with the enhanced HDR modes, your image file will not be in the RAW format but instead will be a JPEG file.

Pros

  • Interface. The user interface is intuitive. Tap the option you want and shoot. Simple.
  • Performance. Shooting with this app is also fairly quick. Not much lag between HDR computation and regular shooting.

Cons

  • Gallery performance. Reviewing RAW files in the app gallery is laggy on load times. JPEG files load quickly.
  • Manual focus. The manual focus option is great, but if you don't have a steady hand, it can lead to blurry images. I highly recommend a tripod.
  • Chromatic aberration. This doesn't happen often, but I did notice this optical problem using this app when shooting in RAW format.
  • No video option. The folks at Moment create awesome lenses to attach to smartphones to enhance your photography, but the company also has an anamorphic lens to help create cinematic video footage. Why not integrate a video function into the Moment app?

Bottom line

The app is a solid performer for creative artists wanting to get more from their smartphone photography. The app is free to use and offers plenty of flexibility and configurations for the best shot.

Apps

Competitive products

  • Lightroom CC (iOS and Android) is a free app from Adobe that lets you capture, edit, and share images.
  • Camera FV 5 (Android) is pro-level camera app for mobile devices that gives manual control over your photos.
  • Pro Camera (iOS) promises to give you full control over shooting and editing images on your phone.

Also see

Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.