Lately, it has been difficult to buy some of the most popular webcams from major online retailers, as people bought them to stay in touch during the pandemic while socializing or working from home. For example, the popular Logitech C920 HD Pro webcam is sold out at the time of writing in the Logitech US online store, and the price quoted at Amazon US is currently well above the price quoted by Logitech at $ 79.99. Other models are available, but the situation means that you may not get the webcam you want.
That means people had to get creative using standalone cameras or even old iOS or Android devices as spare webcams. But today I tried a different approach: using a momentary aftermarket lens to upgrade my laptop's existing webcam instead of completely replacing it. The lens mount was originally designed for smartphones (where most of Moment's focus was usually), but Moment tells me that it was targeted at laptops in response to customer demand.
The Moment Webcam Set I tested is a $ 77.98 package (currently reduced to $ 61.98) that includes an O-series frame and an 18mm wide-angle lens. Alternatively, if you already have a moment lens, you can buy a bracket separately for $ 29.99. (There are versions for both the O series lenses and newer M series lenses.) It also works with phones and tablets. It is important that all of these kits are currently listed as available in the online shop. There is no shortage of bearings here.
After mounting, the bracket covered part of my screen.
You attach the bracket to a laptop with a screw on the back.
Installation is easy. The bracket has a screw with a rubber cap that you twist to hold it firmly on the back of your laptop screen. You can move the front part of the mechanism up and down so that the lens hole matches your webcam. (I found it helpful to have my camera app open while I was doing this so that I could get the correct orientation.) Moment says the lens mount supports 10.75mm laptops and a thicker rubber screw for slimmer Laptop lid is included. You can then attach the lens to the bracket yourself.
The effect of the 18mm wide angle lens was obvious, as you can see in the photos below. it gave my webcam a much wider field of view. While the webcam of my Surface Laptop used to only cover my face and the top of my shoulders with the lens installed, the field of view extended to my chest and encompassed a lot more of my surroundings (but unfortunately also the bracket itself). . It's even a much larger field of view than the Logitech C920 HD Pro that I used for comparison. This effect of course depends on which lens you use, on which laptop you mount it and whether you choose the O series or the M series (the latter is designed for larger lenses).
This approach has some limitations. The biggest thing, of course, is that your computer has an existing webcam. So if you are working on a laptop like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 without a webcam or a desktop computer with an external monitor, an external lens is not of much help.
Even if this is the case, the quality of your webcam will not change significantly. Placing a lens over it doesn't change the fact that my first-generation Surface laptop is still taking photos with a 720p webcam. The difference is big compared to a decent standalone 1080p webcam like the C920. And yes, I tried to check if I could attach the moment lens to the front of the C920, but the Logitech webcam was unfortunately too thick.
It's a little bulky too. After installation, the arms of the moment bracket covered part of the top center of my screen. It goes without saying that you cannot close your laptop with the lens mount installed. Oh, and on my computer the bracket also seemed to break the Windows Hello face unlock. Because of the limitations, you may want to remove the lens when you are not using it. Fortunately, this is a fairly simple process.
The bracket does not completely cover the screen, but your arms can interfere.
You can forget to close your laptop with the lens attached.
This does not mean that the lens mount cannot be used. It can be very helpful to be able to change the focal length of your webcam. The included 18 mm lens, for example, enlarges the field of view considerably and is perfect for putting your whole family in the frame for a zoom call. Even better, if you already have one of the Moment lenses lying around, getting a holder for your laptop is a relatively cheap investment and can be used on multiple devices.
I don't think the webcam kit is for everyone right now. The cost of the bundle is comparable to a decent standalone webcam (if you can find one in stock). And if you choose right, an external webcam should improve the picture quality. However, if you've already invested in Moment's lenses, the webcam mount is a great way to get more out of your existing hardware.
Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge