What's a great iPhone video? One nobody can tell was shot with a smart phone.
Smart phones, with their increasingly capable sensors and decent lenses, have revolutionized film making. They're always with us so we're ready to capture on the spur of the moment. Image quality is getting to the point that you can mix phone footage seamlessly into a production.
But there's a downside – ultra-portability comes at a price – small size and light weight can often mean jittery, shaky images. The ergonomics of today's smart phones makes them challenging to handle and control while filming.
Here are ten pieces of affordable gear that help tame the shakes, increase manual control, add professional audio recording, and help you take your smart phone videos to a higher level; and most of them work whether you're on iOS or Android.
This little gem pairs with any Bluetooth HID device and eliminates jostling the phone when start and stop recording. It also serves as a remote shutter release so you can actually be in the picture with your friends and family. Plus, you can control your smart phone's song library without taking your eyes off the road which makes the Highway Patrol happy.
- Bluetooth 3.0 HID, Class II profile. Works with: iPhone, iPad & other OS compatible devices (iMac, Macbook Air, Mac mini, etc.), and also Android phones and tablets that support Bluetooth HID.
- Media playback controls include play/pause, fast forward/rewind, volume up/down, mute. Home button can be used to activate Sir
- Via volume up button, you can take pictures with iPhone camera without leaving yourself out and eliminate any camera instability.
- Works as a presentation remote control for Keynote on Mac Computers.
- Powers with two CR-2025 coin cell batteries and boasts up to 6 months battery life.
I bought one tripod mount after another only to find every one had a fatal flaw. As soon as I took this RetiCAM Smartphone Tripod Mount out of the box, I knew I'd found my phone mount soul mate. It's simple, sturdy, and solidly holds the smart phone with or without a case. I call this one indispensable, and sorry, you can't borrow it!
- All metal design: CNC machined from solid aluminum alloy for exceptional strength, and hard anodized with a beautiful black finish.
- Phone is locked in place with a steel bolt for maximum security, and protected with 3M-backed textured rubber pads.
- Nothing contacts the phone's screen, eliminating the risk of cracking, scratching or leaving an imprint on the glass.
- Mounts on any standard tripod for taking photos, recording videos or as a webcam. Can also be used as a cell phone stand without a tripod (mini-tripod not included).
- Fits any smartphone with or without a case, up to 3.3″ wide, including iPhone 3/4/4S/5/5C/5S, Samsung Galaxy, Note 2 and 3 (with slim cases), HTC One, Motorola Droid, LG, Google Nexus, etc.
I needed a case with a built-in battery for those times between charges. Great for long time lapses. And it has soft curves and a matte finish I find comforting in times of stress. (Did I just say that out loud?)
- Lightweight protective case that only adds just 1.88 oz to your iPhone 4/4s.
- Thinnest Battery case available in market. It adds just 5.7mm thickness and yet highly protective case that will keep your phone secure from falls.
- Apple's “Made for iPhone” certified for iPhone 4 and 4S.
- High quality surface coating for anti-slip grip. Also makes surface scratch proof.
- Designed buttons over iPhone's buttons to make them easy to press unlike most other cases which only have cutouts.
I liked how you could take the Mefoto A35WB WalkAbout Monopod apart and fit it into my rolling camera case. I was very satisfied until I saw others that had stabilizing feet. Gear envy set in. See the Benro ST1 Hydraulic Universal Three feet Support Stand for Monopod below for the cure.
- 30.9 lb. payload capacity
- 1/4-20″ Mount
- Rubberized Twist Locks
- Weather and Dust-resistant
- Colorful Compass Know and Hand Strap included
When I saw this little accessory I ran to check that my Mefoto A35WB WalkAbout Monopod had a standard 3/8″ female thread on the bottom – and it did! I ordered two of these ST1's and now have a monopod that can stand on its own three feet with my iPhone mounted and ready.
Time for some extreme group selfies!
I use the second Benro ST1 Hydraulic Universal Three feet Support Stand for Monopod screwed onto any of my tripod pan heads for secure, adjustable low-angle shooting. Things are looking up!
- The product is suitable for Benro Travel Angel removable monopod and other 3/8 screw monopods, convenient and stable! Camera, self-timer preferred!
The smart phone video app world is constantly changing, here's a snapshot in time with a list of useful apps – new ones come out every day!
Several of my camera and video apps offer time lapse features, but none can touch the out-of-the-box simplicity and quality results of this Lapse the World App.
- Lapse the World is a time lapse application for casual users.
- Simple interface to get you lapsing as fast as possible. You can record up to 3 time lapses at the same time. This gives you the ability to pick different recording speeds.
If you're plagued with washed-out stills and videos on your iPhone 5, the likely culprit is how scattered light gets into your smart phone's sensor. The fix is this Fotodiox CamHoodie case that adds a lens shade to your iPhone 5 or iPad Mini. Now all you have to do is avoid shooting (or staring) into the sun!
- Vastly reduces the lens flare and purple haze issues associated with the iPhone 5 and all smartphone and tablet cameras.
Combined with the above RetiCAM Smartphone Tripod Mount, this tri-legged wonder costs little but opens up a world of steady shooting. Besides being able to mount your iPhone cam by grabbing onto fences, trees, or parking meters, you can wrap the Joby Gorillapod's three legs around your hand to get super-smooth motion shots limited only by your skeletal flexibility.
- Capture better perspective: flexible, wrappable joints secure camera to objects and position the camera at any angle to frame the perfect shot
- Stability on any surface: rubberized ring/foot grips allow you to capture crisp photos, even in low light
- Portable: flexible and lightweight legs allow you to easily store and carry when on the go
- Peace of mind: lock ring ensures your camera is safely attached
- Quick setup: quick-release clip stays connected to your camera
When you need another way to capture high quality audio for an interview or voice-over, and you have professional microphones with XLR balanced audio connectors and phantom power (doesn't work with non-phantom power mics), this Smartphone Audio Balun for the iPhone turns your iPhone into a professional quality field recorder. Just remember to turn on airplane mode to avoid unwanted phone call interruptions while recording. More information in a previous planet5D post.
A balun is a passive device designed to convert signals between unbalanced and balanced modes of transmission to enable the transmission of voice, data, video signals across Category 5 or 6 copper cables.
- Both the “record only” PA921, and the record and “listen-in” PA922 have a 3.5mm TRRS mini-plug with an 18” tangle-free flat cord, which allows use on your Apple® iPhone™ with most cases in place.
- CEO Trudy Andresen stated, “These new products are very exciting! The ETS PA921 and PA922 allow for professional quality microphones to connect to digital audio recorders which gives the professional as well as the consumer the ability to make professional quality recordings with their iPhones™. Just think of the possibilities…professional quality field recording on your smartphone, as well as for recording those special moments with family, friends, children, and grandchildren! I am jazzed by the possibilities.”
Have you found other “must-have” accessories to make video shooting with a smart phone easier? Share your suggestions with others by commenting in our forums.
(cover photo credit: snap from Amazon)