THE SMARTPHONE FILMMAKER: PRO KIT

     There are cameras everywhere-in our smartphones, tablets, and laptops. You can use any one of them and be a filmmaker or vlogger (Video Log). After many attempts and different approaches to smartphone filmmaking and vlogging, this is a nimble set up for anyone with a smartphone.  With a few reasonably affordable gadget attachments, you can transmit amazing audio and high-quality video across Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, or manage your own Youtube Channel. 


iPhone 6plus with LED light, directional mic, smartphone mount, and wide lens on a mini-tripod

iPhone 6plus with LED light, directional mic, smartphone mount, and wide lens on a mini-tripod


THE PRO KIT

After trying out different configurations of gear, this is what you'll need:  

- a mini-tripod

- a universal smartphone mount

-a wide-angle, clip-on lens  

-a directional microphone. 

-a clip-on LED light (for low light situations)

With these items, you can greatly improve the quality of your productions. The universal mount to will attach your smartphone to the tripod. The mini-tripod will add stability to your shots and also give you a handle to hold. A clip-on, wide-angle lens will give your video the necessary breadth/room for you to speak. The microphone will improve your audio signal.  Finally, the clip-on LED will come in handy, when light becomes lighting is an issue.  


There are many different products you can substitute, but the ones here are of quality.

MINI-TRIPOD AND SMARTPHONE MOUNT

The Manfrotto Pixl mini-tripod is one of the best mini tripods around. If you can find the older model shown here, they are virtually "bomb proof'. They are robust and extremely stable and can hold a large DSLR with a Prime lens easily. 

Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod 

Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod 

If you're lucky you can find the package including the Manfrotto Universal Phone Mount for $30:  https://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-PIXI-Mini-Tripod-Smart/dp/B018N7G2S0/ref=sr_1_16?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1509622247&sr=8-16&keywords=manfrotto+mini+tripod

There are definitely cheaper alternatives . Some have a small hook-like piece welded to the ball, allowing the phone to be stood vertically for Facetime. If you go the cheaper route, get this model and it comes with a Manfrotto Universal Phone Holder knock-off for $7: https://www.amazon.com/eCostConnection-Rotating-Universal-smartphones-Microfiber/dp/B072L2JLVK/ref=sr_1_46?ie=UTF8&qid=1509622818&sr=8-46&keywords=mini+tripod+smartphone

WIDE ANGLE LENS

There are a number of cheap lens kits available online. Usually they include a wide angle, a macro, and a fish-eye. The main lens you need is a wide-angle. Aukey makes a variety of different lenses and they are amazing. The cheaper kits are a great start, but the Aukey Ora 0.45x 120° Wide Angle is a fantastic lens with very little vignetting. It is the sharpest lens I've seen for smartphones. If you can place it on correctly you get no distortion in the corners, well at least on an iPhone 6Plus. It just makes your pictures look way better. It's also a beast of a build and will hold if you happen to bang it around. It also comes in a nice portable hard case.

AUKEY Ora iPhone Camera Lens, 0.45x 120° Wide Angle + 15x Macro Clip-on $30

AUKEY Ora iPhone Camera Lens, 0.45x 120° Wide Angle + 15x Macro Clip-on $30

Get the AUKEY Ora iPhone Camera Lens, 0.45x 120° Wide Angle + 15x Macro Clip here for $30:

https://www.amazon.com/AUKEY-iPhone-Samsung-Android-Smartphones/dp/B01AYY840Y/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1509630075&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=aukey+ora+iphone+lens&psc=1

If the $30 price is too steep, get something like this similar lens for $14: 

https://www.amazon.com/Universal-iPhone-Herbon-Samsung-Android/dp/B0742D7VTL/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1509630247&sr=1-2&keywords=iphone+lens

MICROPHONE

Once you start recording your audio with a mic, you'll definitely notice the difference. Sound on any smartphone sucks. You should never use that audio unless you absolutely have to. Invest in an affordable lavalier mic like the Sony (the ECMSCC3, $20). Either clip it to yourself or figure out how to mount it on your smartphone "rig".

RODE Videomic Me Directional Microphone for Smartphones $60

RODE Videomic Me Directional Microphone for Smartphones $60

What's great about the ME, is that it just plugs right into your audio jack on your phone; provided your phone still has one! You can also plug in headphones to monitor your sound too. It is an awesome little mic. The audio quality that comes out of this mic is amazing. You can get the mic for $60:

https://www.amazon.com/Rode-VideoMic-Directional-Microphone-Phones/dp/B018KIJGU8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1509629998&sr=8-2&keywords=rode+videomic+me

If $60 is way out of range for you, try this Sony Lav Mic for $20: 

https://www.amazon.com/Sony-ECMCS3-Omnidirectional-Stereo-Microphone/dp/B0058MJX4O/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1509631318&sr=1-3&keywords=Sony+lav+mic

LED LIGHT

The torch or LED light that is on your smartphone is not going to cut it in a really dark area. Even in a lit area, a nice bright LED will add the extra pop and sharpness to your footage. There are so many LED lights out now. Look for ones that are rechargeable and don't take up to much space. The Pickogen LED light can be adjusted (lo, med, hi), is really bright, rechargeable, and made of metal. In a pinch, the Pickogen can be unscrewed and used as a flashlight. It is really bright!

Pickogen LED Smartphone Light

Pickogen LED Smartphone Light


So you've seen what you should have in your Smartphone Filmmakers Pro Kit. This gear has been tried and tested over a couple years. The Pro Kit shown here comes in at around $150. That might sound expensive, but it is way more affordable than investing in a separate camera. If you go the more affordable route, the set up comes in at $50! Hope you enjoyed a close-up look at some great gear and what's possible. Please like, leave a comment, and follow. 

Digital Ninja® Out. 


iPhone 6plus 

iPhone 6plus