While it is possible to make a decent video on your phone without any additional equipment, if you want to make videos that are steady, with good quality sound that look professional, we highly recommend that you buy some equipment to help you achieve that look.
The smartphone is just that a phone – and while it may have a high definition camera, and a good inbuilt microphone – it needs help to achieve good quality videos.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment, but like most things, the more you spend the better the quality.
However, we recommend mid-priced equipment for making good quality videos that are ideal for social media and online.
STEADY AS SHE GOES
The cheapest selfie stick can be very effective – the Tiger Shop has ones for under five euros, similar ones can be found in camera shops.
A selfie stick is very light. If you want something more robust, add a Manfrotto Compact Advanced Monopod or Manfrotto Compact Extreme Monopod, but you also need a Pixiclamp BK with universal smartphone clamp.
Our recommended handheld tripod is the Manfrotto PixiClamp Tripod.
These tripods enable you to hold the phone in landscape, and you can also place the phone on a desk to record steadily.
For a completely steady shot, which also enables you to pan and move you phone smoothly, we recommend the bigger tripod, with additional clamp. We use the Manfrotto Compact Action full height tripod, as it extends to just over six feet, is easy to use and not to heavy. It also folds up to a portable size.
In buying a tripod, look for extended height, weight, and ease of use.
While the inbuilt microphone can be very good on some phones, it doesn’t suit a lot of conditions, such as noisy environments and outside – where the dreaded wind sound can destroy a good recording.
Getting good sound really ups your game when making smartphone videos.
Coming from a radio background myself, I get a bit obsessed with good sound and therefore I recommend a broadcast quality clip-on microphone, called the Rode Smartlav Plus. This is a clip on (or lavalier) mic, and with a Rode SC1 extension lead, gives you a terrific sound.
It’s especially good for interviews, for someone talking to camera.
But it is also essential when recording outside, as it captures sounds very well without the dreaded wind sound.
I should say that it won’t protect you from wind sound in very windy or exposed environments, so you should still think about shelter if in a very windy area when recording outside.
So with those two pieces of kit – the tripod and the microphone – you now have a portable recording set in place.
These are the absolute essentials that I recommend you buy.
Of course, you need not stop there!
Depending on budget and what your own requirements are, there are lots of other pieces of equipment you can consider.
If you are planning on doing quite a bit of recording away from your desk, you should consider a power bank. Iphone users, and that includes me, can get caught out very easily as video recording uses up battery big time.
We recommend getting a decent power bank, one that can give you several hours of power non-stop, and we use camerakit.ie Smart power bank, which is solar powered as well (although we tend to charge it in the conventional manner most of the time).
So a daylight substitute can be an option.
We use the Manfrotto Lumineuse, which is a small but very effective light that has several settings and can be placed on a tripod mount.
We are waiting for a ring light to arrive, and we will do a review of it once we get it in place.
Not necessary but being used a lot by mobile journalists, and vloggers of action and sports subjects.
This is a very useful, but not inexpensive, handheld device which gives you stabilised shots while you are on the move.
The one we’ve opted for is the Feiyutech G6 Plus, which is designed to allow you to add your microphone to the phone on the gimbal.
We’ve used it only a little so far, so we’ll let you know how we get on.
While we know that some mobile journalists and vloggers use much more expensive and complicated kit, we try as best we can to work within fairly limited budgets and only buy what is essential.
We hope this blog is useful to you on your mobile video journey!
Be sure to sign up for your newsletter for regular updates on equipment and other news.