Yes, you can shoot quality video with your mobile. You must have heard about the digital photography revolution, where the DSLRs replaced the old SLRs. Along the years the DSLRs developed great video capabilities and people assumed it’s the end of the video cameras era. People also said that smartphone cameras will replace photojournalists, as Average Joe could point his smartphone to a news story on his way to the grocery store and get the first footage from the scene. But keep in mind that as good as those smartphone cameras are now, they still can’t replace a good DSLR with zoom and focus capabilities, but we can upgrade them to capture better video and stills. Let’s learn how.
Mobile Video Photography – How to make it look pro?
Before you go out and start pointing your mobile phone at different objects, make sure you are using a good mobile phone, one of the latest flagship models from the big brands (Apple, Samsung, LG, Huawei, etc.). People often buy those without actually understanding all the features they got inside, but they usually have 4K video and high-res photo capturing, without these features, you are starting from a lower jumping point.
I’ll share with you my recommended apps for shooting and editing and some gadgets to help you improve your shooting skills, but first, a few tips for beginners.
Tips and tricks for mobile video photography:
- Make sure to leave the house with a fully charged battery.
- Pack a rechargeable mobile battery (10K+ mah) in your bag.
- Make sure your camera settings are set for HD quality video and at least 30 FPS.
- If your mobile phone’s internal storage is less than 64GB, get a mobile friendly storage (see in gadgets below).
- Don’t forget earphones! If you plan on shooting a video with sound, it’s a must.
- Learn how to control the exposure and focus options in your native camera or video app.
- Don’t zoom! Digital zoom like the one in mobile phones can ruin the quality of your video or image. Get closer to your object when possible.
- Interviewing with no microphone? Use a set of smartphone earphones, their internal mic can make a difference.
Mobile Video Shooting Apps
Some of the shooting apps are a great upgrade to the native camera app, they have a friendlier interface for mobile videographers. Some are freemium, some will cost money, and they all have similar features, but the major difference are the operating system they support (Android, iOS), price and user interface.
Filmic Pro– One of the best mobile video apps out there, for Android and iOS. Easy operation in auto and manual mode with some advanced features and histograms to master your shoot. How good it is? See below a Sundance Festival movie shot with Filmic Pro.
Mavis– iOS only app. Considered a very good option with manual control. Will work on every iPhone with iOS 10 and above.
Cinema FV-5– A great app with a good free version you can try as much as you want to decide if it’s worth your money ($3 for the pro version). I shot a few movies with it when I started video shooting and it proved to be a great app.
Movie Pro– iOS only app. Thought it’s cheaper than the 2 top apps it’s a great value for money for beginners ($5.99)
Here is my Kit, if you want to see what I use:
Mobile video Editing Apps
Before you start editing the video with you mobile phone, make sure you go over the footage and delete all the bad shots and those that won’t be used in the final video. This will reduce the amount of time you spend on editing. If editing with a computer is an option, it’s always better, but if you have a deadline to make, use the one of the below apps.
KineMaster– A highly recommended apps and the first choice of many photographers. The app works with Android and iOS and is freemium. The advanced features include several video layers, text editor, color corrections etc.
Power Director– My personal favorite editing app. I actually edited a few videos with it by now (see below video as one of those) and i’m very happy with the features, user experience and ease of use. This app also let’s you edit several video layers, sound, text and images, logos and graphics in the video.
Luma Fusion– No doubt this is one of the best editing apps out there, problem is it’s working with iOS only. If you keep on reading some more mobile video editing articles you are more than likely to run into it over and over. Luma gets high praise and great feedback from users around the world.
Mobile Video Photography Accessories
I already summarized some of the gadgets you can buy in previous article, but the below list is an updated version.
A gimbal can be described as a pivoted point that allows you to rotate an object along a single axis. You can capture incredible images from various angles by shooting with a gimbal and if you want your video to be smooth and not shaky, a gimbal is a must.[Update 1.4.2018] Zhiyun Smooth 4– The latest gimbal to reach the market, this model is a low-cost option ($139) and a direct competitor the the DJI Osmo Mobile 2, with enhanced mobile video features and capabilities.
Zhiyun Smooth Q– Probably the highest ROI gimbal in the market. Selling at $129 around the world this Chinese gimbal is the choice of beginners and professionals alike. It will stay this way until DJI releases the new DJI Osmo Mobile 2 that will have the same price. Please note that many users are complaining about the battery issue the Smooth Q has and it seems like a common issue.
DJI Osmo Mobile2– The new model by one of the best gimbal manufacturers is due on March 2018 with a price tag of $129 it surely will be the best ROI in the market.
Zhiyun Smooth 3– If price is not a problem, the Smooth 3 by Zhiyun is one of the best choices to get. Durable to bad weather, changeable batteries and can carry phones up to 260g, this gimbal is a beast.
Up until recently i used a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with a set of Samsung lenses, you can read about it here. Mobile phone photography lenses come in a variety of sizes and prices. You can buy them on Ebay and Amazon for just a few dollars, but the high end ones will probably cost a lot more, as their built materials will be a higher quality. When buying lenses for mobile photography, make sure it fits your phone, the good lenses will come with a case to make sure they fit perfectly onto the phone’s camera, reducing the chance of getting black corners in your video and photos.
Moment– Since i recently upgraded my phone to a Samsung Galaxy S8+, my Samsung lenses could no longer attach to it, so i had to look for alternatives. Going through Facebook groups, forums and blogs, i came across the Moment lenses that caught my eye. I recently got the Wide Lens V2 and the telephoto and I must say i’m impressed. The built quality is outstanding (makes it a bit heavy for such a small lens) and attaching the lens onto the case I bought from them is super-easy. Moment lenses are available for Samsung Galaxy series, almost all iPhones and even the Google Pixel series, which makes them almost the only brand to produce lenses for iOS and Androids. If you are a mobile photography enthusiast like me, I highly recommend their blog with a great list of blog posts and ‘how-to” videos of using their products and taking your skills to the next level.
Most lens manufacturers produce exclusively to iPhones, due to the unlimited amount of Android models. If you are looking for more iPhones lenses i suggest you look into Exolens, which makes great quality lenses using Carl Zeiss technology and Olloclip which make a lens that attaches to both front and rear camera simultaneously.
There are many different types of microphones and it’s important to know which model uses for which shot. Lavalier mics are best for interviews, shotgun mics are best for general footage and outdoors while a hand-held dynamic mic is best for crowded place interviews. The important part in this section is making sure your mic of choice is mobile phone compatible.
The sound in your video can make or break it. If your sound is made out of wind blowing in the built-in mic, most chances people will mute your video, or even worst, look for a better one. See this video i shot at VMWare Barcelona below (Shot with a mobile phone)
Shure MVL Shure is a well known player in the sound industry and the mic is not over priced yet you can find cheaper ones, depends on your budget. It gets a high rating of 4.4/5 stars on Amazon and is available for both iOS and Android with no extra converters or special apps. The mic’s cable is 1.2m long and in the box you get a small pouch along with windscreen and a tie-clip.
Rode VideoMic Me The VideoMic Me version is the best solution for directional microphone you can get. The mic only listens to what’s infront of it so you don’t get to hear people talking around you in crowded places like conferences and tradeshows where you just want to listen to the person infront of you. You can use the mic for videoing yourself in Selfie mode if needed, it also has a flexible mounting bracket to make sure it stays in place while you shoot. It works with iOS and Android devices but make sure to buy it only if your headphone jack is in the opposite side of the phone’s camera, otherwise it will show in the frame!
Samson Go Mic Mobile – Whether you’re a mobile filmmaker, journalist, blogger, streamer, videographer or anyone that creates video content, the audio is an essential component of the final product. Samson’s Go Mic Mobile is the first professional wireless microphone system that connects directly to smartphones, turning your mobile device into a pro-level video camera capable of capturing high definition audio anywhere.
Mobile Storage Solutions
When shooting 4K videos, your internal storage will be full in no-time. Probably a good solution is to pick up on of Sandisk’s mobile friendly solutions, working directly with Android and iOS without the hassle of connecting to a computer. When on the go, this is a must solution to store a lot of footage and free space for more video. For both models, one side it mobile friendly and the other side is a regular USB so you can easily connect to a computer.