What is the best camera ever? The Arri Alexa? The Red Epic? Or maybe the Sony FS7? If you answered with any of these, then you’re wrong! The best camera is the one you have. It’s easy to drool over the latest tech and fancy specs, but you can create captivating videos with almost any camera. This goes for phones as well. It’s typical to pass up on mobile phones when talking about making cinematic movies, but that device in your pocket is more powerful than you may think.
Nowadays, almost every phone can shoot in full HD, and 4K is quickly becoming the standard. This is crazy considering a lot of DSLRs can’t even shoot at this resolution. So whether you have an iPhone or Android or something in between, you already have the means to create professional looking films.
OK, so maybe you can’t just show up to a professional shoot, whip out your iPhone, and say “Let’s do this!” But you can write a script, grab some friends, and make a short film worthy of your portfolio, reel, or YouTube channel–all with just your phone. To help you along, we’ve put together a few tricks and gear recommendations that will help you get the most out of mobile footage.
You can also browse our library of stock footage to take your mobile movie to the next level without breaking the bank.
By itself, the phone’s camera isn’t very flexible when it comes to settings. And just like a normal camera, manual is better than automatic. So how do you unlock the true potential of your phone? The answer is through mobile apps. Yes, mobile apps can do a lot more than just fling frustrated birds at green pigs.
FilMic Pro is an app available for both Apple and Android that let’s you control every part of your phone’s camera. You can adjust the resolution, shutter speed, ISO, aspect ratio, and everything in between. Coming in at $15, FilMic pro may just be the best valued product to enhance your phone’s camera.
Stabilize Your Phone
The downside of using phones as cameras is that they’re extremely small and light. Although good for run-and-gun shooting, the lack of weight typically leads to more shake. Fortunately, this is an easy fix. There are many mobile phone attachments that let you rig your phone to a tripod. These are simple and cheap, yet very effective. The MeFoto SideKick360 will get the job done, and it comes in several colors so you can stabilize in style.
If you still want movement in your shots, but want to reduce that annoying shake, then look no further than the DJI Osmo Mobile. This 3-axis gimbal gives you the flexibility of moving your phone wherever you want without all the jitter. Unfortunately, $300 isn’t necessarily the cheapest way to stabilize your phone, but it sure beats buying a $2,000 camera!
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Get Some Glass
You can really enhance the visuals of phone footage by getting specialized lenses for mobile devices. Just like lenses for DSLRs, mobile lenses can be wide, telephoto, and even anamorphic. Although these aren’t necessary considering many phones have a decent zoom range, these lenses can help change perspective and also get you that shallow depth of field. These CamKix lenses are a great bang for your buck! They can clip on to almost every phone, and they look good too!
Remember—what you hear is just as important as what you see. Fortunately, phones have pretty good internal microphones. If you think about it, their main purpose is to transmit sound. However, there is always something that can boost the phone’s performance. This just so happens to take the form of external microphones built specifically for phones. The audio geniuses at Rode have a couple mics that will record crisp and clean audio directly to your phone—the VideoMicro and the VideoMic Me. You can also get the BOYA lav mic to record audio closer to your subject.
It just goes to show—it isn’t the camera that matters, it’s how you use it. All of these amazing accessories aren’t even necessary to make something that sticks with your audience. Composition, lighting, and overall story work independently from the camera. These factors are what separate a good filmmaker from a bad one—not the type of camera they use. An audience would rather watch an amazing story filmed on an iPhone than a horrible one filmed on an Arri Alexa. So if you learn to work with what you have, then you’ll be on your way to becoming a better filmmaker in no time.
Once you’re finished editing your beautiful footage shot entirely on your phone, make sure you share it on social media. The best way to do this is by exporting it to a mobile friendly format. To learn more, check out our previous post for a walkthrough on how to resize your video for social media or for vertical stories.