With current advancements in camera technology, smartphones nowadays are beginning to produce amazing quality video footage & photos that are not only great for vlogging, but are good enough quality for professional use too. In this blog, we’ll go through some helpful pieces of kit that can help take your smartphone camera to the next level, without blowing your budget!

Audio

One of the most important aspects of a great video is great audio. Even if the video is not perfect, the audio needs to be nice and clear, otherwise the audience might not know what’s going on. Depending on the type of video you’re making, there are a few options. A great all-rounder is the Rode VideoMic Me (or for smartphones without a 3.5mm jack, the VideoMic Me-L). You can place the mic facing either forwards or backward depending on what type of audio you are trying to capture. This style of mic will pick-up audio mainly from the front, and less from the sides and back making it great for picking up audio wherever the mic is directly pointing. This setup is perfect for capturing footage at a concert or sports game, and vlogging / interview style footage too. If you are doing interview type videos, then a handheld microphone would be your best option, since people are more comfortable talking into that style of mic. The Icon Pro Audio iPlug-M is a great option that can be used easily with industry standard sound systems. A similar option great for interviews and podcasts are lavalier microphones. These are great for picking up clear spoken audio and offer a discreet alternative to traditional microphones. A great lavalier option is the Audio Technica ATR3350IS.

Lighting

Sometimes, the light in your scene isn’t always ideal. Maybe it’s too dark, or the only light in the room is behind the subject. Either way, it is essential that you have enough light on set to see your subject, and without it, you may end up with noisy looking footage. This can be easily fixed by getting a little extra light into the shot. If keeping your setup lightweight is important, then the Aputure AL-M9 is a great compact rechargeable, credit card sized light. These are great for adding fill light into your scene in a discreet manner.

Tripods

Tripods stabilising is essential for professional looking interviews, vlogs, motion photography and many other situations. The Joby Griptight and Gorillapod range have a huge amount of options depending on your individual needs. The key feature of these style of tripod is their flexible legs, which means they can be molded into all kinds of shapes. This makes them super versatile, with the ability to wrap them around poles, tree branches, pretty much anything! The Joby Gorillapod Mobile Rig also allows you to mount a smartphone and 3 accessories such as lights and microphones all on the one rig. If you already have a standard tripod or monopod, they also have Griptight smartphone mounts to adapt them for mobile use.

Gimbal Stabilisers

The use of hand-held stabilisers has exploded in the last couple of years, providing smooth, cinematic looking footage for very little cost – no more shaky cam! They are coming out with more and more features, like active subject tracking, time-lapse, and even follow focus, allowing you to get even more creative and professional looking footage. The two most popular models currently are the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 and Zhiyun-Tech Smooth-4 both featuring very similar price points and feature sets. Both of these models are backed up by powerful mobile apps giving you more control and freedom over how you capture your footage.

Lenses

Adding lenses to your kit will let you switch up your shots and add more variety to your videos. Keep people engaged by changing the field of view giving a unique angle different from all of the smartphone footage currently out there. Sirui make a wide range of universally mounted lenses that attach to a specific mount depending on your model of smartphone. This means you can easily use the same lenses on different models of phones.

Apps

There are now mobile applications that give you access to the full potential of your smartphone’s camera. You now have the ability to control aperture, shutter speed, and frame rate, as well as useful tools like focus peaking and exposure metering. All of these tools can be helpful in producing more professional level footage and more creative freedom in the shots you are capable of capturing. Try out the FiLMiC Pro app; although it is a paid version, it gives you a whole lot of control and can integrate with the previously mentioned Osmo Mobile 2, and (soon) Smooth-4 workflows.

If you need more advice on your unique setup, contact the team at Rubber Monkey and we can help create a personalised kit tailored to your personal needs.