Moment's camera case gives your iPhone a two-stage shutter key

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Moment's camera case gives your iPhone a two-stage shutter key

If there's one thing (and there is) I miss about carrying around my Lumia 1020, it's that phone's dedicated, two-stage camera button. Designed to mimic "real" camera shutter releases, it's a feature I've missed dearly on my current daily driver, Apple's iPhone 6. Seattle-based Moment seems to think I'm not alone in wanting a more camera-like experience when snapping pics with my phone. Starting today, the small company is taking to Kickstarter to launch the Moment Case -- a camera case it hopes will bring DSLR-like control to iPhone shutterbugs.

Gallery: Moment Case (hands-on) | 21 Photos


To achieve that goal, Moment's case adds a raised camera grip and, perhaps most notably, a two-stage shutter release key. There's no mechanical connection between the case and the iPhone; instead, the Moment Case uses Bluetooth Low Energy to bridge the gap. As with a DSLR shutter release, you can lock focus and exposure with a half-press before pressing fully down to take a shot. "We believe this is the future of photography; it's in your pocket," Moment's Marc Barros told me in the company's Seattle offices. "We're attempting to bring the features of a DSLR to your phone."

The grip builds on the success of Moment's lenses, a pair of detachable, high-quality optics the company launched via Kickstarter last year. While those lenses are compatible with a variety of iOS and Android smartphones and tablets through mounting plates, the Moment Case is custom-made for the iPhone 6.

Prices start at $49 for either an all-black or black-and-white model, like the prototype I checked out. Higher-priced packages include the company's lenses -- $125 for one of Moment's two currently available optics (a wide-angle or a tele); $199 for both. The $299 top-tier offering includes a laser-engraved walnut grip.

Moment Case

I had the opportunity to handle one of Moment's prototype cases and came away fairly impressed by the form factor and the substantial travel of the signature two-stage key. In fact, a half-press on the Moment Case prototype takes more effort than some full presses on other devices -- there should be no mistaking when you've got it halfway down. Responsiveness seemed solid for the most part, and the Bluetooth Low Energy connection only suffered a few momentary hiccups during my brief time with the case (likely due to the case's prototype status). The grip gives your right hand more real estate to grab when shooting, though it's not as pronounced as, say, the Lumia 1020's accessory grip. I happened to be wearing the skinniest jeans I own (though they're fairly normal, I figure), and the Moment Case slipped in my front pocket surprisingly easily.

With focus control moved away from the screen, Barros used the associated Moment App to lock focus with the shutter release, and then used his finger to meter a different part of the scene to lock exposure. You can also slide your finger on the screen to adjust exposure levels. "What we're finding is you're taking better, cleaner pictures," he said.

Gallery: Moment Case Press Photos | 14 Photos


The Moment Case is powered by a standard watch battery housed inside the grip -- Barros said battery life should be around six months, but I obviously didn't have time to test that claim. The case is compatible with Moment's add-on lenses and it felt pretty well-balanced with one attached. Barros added that the plan is for the case to recognize which lens is mounted and offer specific options in the app depending on what's connected. If you're especially serious about your phone-based photography, the case also supports camera straps via an aluminum bar at the base. Whether you opt for the strap or not, Barros said the idea is for the Moment Case to be your default iPhone enclosure.

"It's an in-your-pocket, everyday case," he said. "It just happens to take great pictures."

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