New phones are fully capable of taking professional-quality videos. But, like traditional video cameras, phone cameras work best when they’re paired with tripods, lighting equipment, microphones, and powerful software. Here are some essential tips and tools for shooting pro-level video on your phone.
By the way, these products are meant for filming video, but some of them (namely the lighting and stabilization tools) can double as photography equipment.
Some Important Tips
Equipment is important, but it isn’t everything. Before you start buying up video equipment for your phone, it’s essential to understand some basic rules and practices of videography. That way, you can avoid buying things that you don’t need, and you can make the most of the equipment that you already have.
So, here are a few tips for shooing video on your phone:
- Horizontal VS Vertical Orientation: As a rule, you should always shoot video in horizontal (landscape) orientation. This will ensure that your video looks good on TVs and computers. Of course, if you’re filming video for Instagram, TikTok, or any other phone-based medium, then you should film in vertical (portrait) orientation.
- Optical Zoom Only: Traditional cameras utilize a complex series of lenses to zoom in on subjects without losing video quality. This technology is called “optical zoom,” and it’s coming to more and more smartphones. But there’s a good chance that your phone still uses digital zoom, which lowers the quality of photos and videos. If your phone relies on digital zoom, then don’t zoom in on your subjects!
- Get Good Lighting: Beginners tend to overlook the importance of good lighting. Save yourself a few months of frustration and buy lighting equipment now—especially if you’re shooting indoors or recording vlogs.
- Stabilization: Generally speaking, shaky video looks amateurish. A tripod or a phone gimbal will keep your shots super clean, and they’re great for creating cinematic panning effects. And as you might expect, they’re essential for vlogs, product reviews, interviews, and time-lapse shots.
- Get Good Audio: Audio quality is easy to overlook, but it’s the difference between professional and amateur video. I mean, can you imagine if the newest Star Wars movie sounded terrible, but looked sharp? So, you’ll want to capture your audio with an external mic. Don’t worry; they’re cheap and easy to use.
These tips may sound like a lot, but they’re actually very simple (especially when you have a tripod, a light, and a microphone on hand). If anything, editing is the biggest hurdle of shooting video, but we’ve picked out a few video editing apps that are great for getting your feet wet.
Anyway, here are the tools that you’ll need to shoot a pro-quality video with your phone.
A Phone-Ready Tripod: The Victiv 64-Inch Tripod
Every videographer needs a tripod. As we mentioned earlier, tripods keep your video from shaking, and stable video is essential for most video formats. Plus, tripods allow you to create cinematic panning effects, and you can even use them to go hands-free (for shooting things like vlogs or time-lapse video).
We think that the Victiv 64-inch tripod is perfect for most people. It’s height-adjustable, it’s well-built, and it’s a steal for the price. Plus, it has a standard tripod mount and comes with a phone tripod adapter, so you can use it for any traditional video cameras (or even lighting equipment) that you buy in the future.
If you aren’t interested in traditional tripods, consider the JOBY Gorillapod. It’s a neat, versatile tripod that can hang from rails or fold into a makeshift Steadicam.
Already own a tripod? Then save yourself some money and buy a phone tripod adapter. It’ll let you secure any phone to any tripod mount.
A Phone-Ready Tripod
Lightweight Lighting: Kshioe Dimmable Ring LED Kit
Good lighting is essential for shooting good video. And while there are a ton of lighting products on the market, we suggest that you start with a Kshioe dimmable ring LED kit. These lights are super popular among YouTubers (especially product reviewers and beauty vloggers) because they’re lightweight portable, adjustable, dimmable, and bright. You can even mount your phone behind the ring light using the included phone adapter—a good option if you’re strapped for cash or focused on vlogging.
The Kshioe lighting kit is great, especially if you’re just getting started with video. But if you own an extra tripod, then the NEEWER LED panel is a wonderfully cheap alternative. It’s dimmable, portable, lightweight, and it can attach to any tripod mount.
Handheld Stabilization: The Zhiyun Smooth 4 Phone Gimbal
Phone gimbals are like handheld tripods. They use gyroscopes and motors to keep your phone stable, even as you walk around and shake like a leaf. As you might expect, they’re essential for filming subjects with a lot of movement, and they’re great for creating cinematic panning effects.
There are a ton of great phone gimbals on the market, but the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is our absolute favorite. It features incredibly robust controls (including motorized panning controls), it can double as a mini-tripod, and it comes with a video app that’ll put your phone’s standard video app to shame.
But like I said, there’s no shortage of great phone gimbals. The DJI Osmo is a personal favorite, as it’s super easy to use (especially if you’ve never used a gimbal before). And the Freefly Movi, while expensive, is great for getting those crazy Hollywood-styled shots.
High-Quality Audio: Rode VideoMicro Compact Microphone
You don’t need a complicated microphone setup to capture great audio. In fact, the inexpensive Rode VideoMicro is probably all that you need. It’s a lightweight microphone that clips on your phone and plugs into the headphone jack (or adapter), so you can capture great audio without an extra set of hands. It even comes with a windscreen so you can use it for field recordings and outdoor interviews.
We like the Rode VideoMicro because it enables you to record high-quality audio in any situation without an extra set of hands. But it isn’t the be-all-end-all microphone. If you’re just recording things at a desk or doing voice-overs, then you’re probably better off with a podcasting mic. And if you happen to have a friend who can take charge of audio, then a handheld recorder like the Zoom H1n is worth your time. It’ll capture better audio than the VideoMicro, and it has a mess of useful ports (like a headphone jack for audio monitoring and a mic input for extra microphones).
Editing and Publishing: Adobe Premiere Rush
Why edit video on the computer when you can do it on your phone? The Adobe Premiere Rush app is great for quickly editing video that you’ve recorded on your phone. It’s a simple app that’s surprisingly easy to use, yet it’s full of useful editing tools and video effects. You can even use Premiere Rush to upload videos directly to websites like YouTube, Facebook, or TikTok.
We like the Adobe Premiere Rush app because it’s simple, yet powerful. But it ‘s not free, and it doesn’t offer some of the complex tools that you’ll find in desktop video editing software. If you’re looking for a free option, we suggest using GoPro Quick (iOS/Android). If you want something that offers over-the-top editing tools, LumaFusion (iOS/Android) is a great option.
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