Budget-Friendly Smartphone Filmmaking Equipment

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Smartphone Filmmaking Equipment – To make a great film, all you need is a great story and the rest falls into place. 

The journey of a filmmaking career is full of ups and downs that require patience and time. So why not hit the ground running with smartphone filmmaking equipment on a budget?

If you are just starting on this journey, you don’t need the expensive Red HELIUM 8K or the Arri ALEXA LF to get things going. Although it would be nice to have the money to use these cameras.

All it takes to jumpstart your filmmaking career is a camera, equipment, crew, and food. 

Since you will spend all your money on keeping the crew happy with the food, think about shooting your initial features with a smartphone.

As a budget-friendly filmmaking tool, your Smartphone is a great piece of equipment for making movies. 

With technology changing rapidly, the only way in the past to make a professional-looking feature was to slap down a Brinks truckful of cash and purchase a Red or Arri camera.

But now you can make a great film with your powerful smartphone.

Smartphone Filmmaking
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What Are The Drawbacks To Smartphone Video

In the past, smartphones like the iPhone 6 and 7, had video footage that would look very soft and show noisy images in low light.

Plus, if you shoot into the light, you would get the dreaded lens flare. A lens flare may look cool in a Star Wars movie, but it doesn’t look good on smartphone video.

Also, with many of the built-in lenses that most smartphones have, they don’t offer true optical zoom capabilities. 

With this disadvantage, you can’t focus directly on a subject as if you would on a more expensive 4k camera like a Sony a7ii.

But, if you are aware of your lighting conditions when filming with a smartphone, and have the right gear to accompany your smartphone kit, you can produce amazing results with your smartphone.

Smartphone Filmmaking

Lately, the average Smartphone video on the market today will produce incredible 4k videos for a fraction of the cost of the Red or Arri.

If you own an iPhone, you’ve always had a small, easy-to-use camera in your pocket. It’s great for filming where other cameras would attract too much attention.

Smartphone video quality is constantly improving with many smartphones out there that they’re increasingly popular for news and documentary.

Plus, many Hollywood filmmakers are using a smartphone to film features at a considerably low budget than ever thought of for a Hollywood film.

If you are thinking about shooting a film on your compact filmmaking camera, you will need a few add ons to your smartphone to make it a total moviemaking machine.

A smartphone filmmaking kit should consist of the following items: Tripods, Microphones, Lights, and Stabilizers and a few other items I will mention to make your filmmaking kit complete at a budget you can afford.

While there are some items on this list of filmmaking kit essentials for your smartphone that are pricey, but they are investments in your filmmaking career. 

Other the other hand, there are some items on this list that you can save a few dollars on to even out your filmmaking kit budget.  

Here is my list of some great budget equipment choices for Smartphone filmmaking.

Smartphones To Consider Before Shooting

The A13 Bionic processor provides the power to enable the iPhone 11 Pro to record video in 4K resolution at 60fps, with more dynamic range and cinematic-style stabilization. 

The extra scene space from the ultra-wide lens can also come into play when editing clips later on, letting you crop the part of the scene you want to keep.

A new QuickTake feature lets you start a video while in photo mode by keeping your finger on the shutter button, so you don’t have to switch modes first. 

Tracking a moving person or object to keep them in focus is more precise because of the new chipset inside.

Smartphone Filmmaking

The new 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera can take slow-motion selfie videos at 120fps or 4K clips at 60 fps. 

Shooting selfies in slow-motion will create what are called Slofies for dramatic effect. 

The camera also automatically zooms out when rotating the iPhone 11 Pro to landscape mode to get more into the frame when taking selfie photos.

Side Note: With Apple removing the headphone jack from the latest iPhones, you will need to purchase a dongle if you wish to connect a microphone to the smartphone.

HUAWEI P30 Pro

One of the best smartphones for filmmaking is the Huawei P30 in my opinion. 

The Leica Quad Camera System accommodates your photography to help see the world in its entirety. 

This unmatched super camera system includes a SuperZoom Lens, a 40 MP Super Sensing Camera, a 20 MP Ultra Wide Angle Lens, and a HUAWEI TOF Camera, giving you the freedom to capture your incredible moments.

The HUAWEI P30 Pro harnesses a SuperSpectrum sensor for more light to capture moments in the dark, like surfing waves and running along the beach.

With this impressive low-light video recording, you can bring the memories to life.

Related Article: 3 Awesome Dji Products Filmmakers Should Have In Their Filmmaking Kit

Stabilizing Your Footage

The biggest issues you will encounter when it comes to filming with a smartphone is the shaky video if you are shooting handheld and poor sound quality.

I know when I shoot with my iPhone 10, it’s very hard keeping the smartphone steady while holding it horizontal while filming.

Or my damn thumb always makes an appearance on the lens and that you can’t fix it in post.

Some great smartphone filmmaking accessories can eliminate your shaky footage for good.

Here are some great solutions for your smartphone filmmaking equipment to stabilize your footage.

Ulanzi U Rig Pro

Ulanzi U-Rig Pro Smartphone Video Rig is a must-have Smartphone Filmmaking gear accessory.

This video rig is for anyone wanting to improve their filmmaking skills with a phone that shoots better images than many high-end cameras.

You can mount the cell phone rig on any tripod but if you go handheld, it allows you to capture relatively smooth shots.

Ztylus Smartphone Grip

The Ztylus Smartphone Grip is a universal Smartphone holder that clamps around your Smartphone.

It gives you a comfortable grip while shooting video.

If you have ever used a DSLR you will be familiar with the ergonomic design which has the right side pushed out to give you a comfortable grip to hold the camera.

The Ztylus mimics this design and gives you the same feel for your Smartphone.

The Ztylus is fully adjustable. You can expand the adaptor up and down which will give it a comfortable fit around most designs of smartphones.

At the bottom of the Ztylus is a 1/4” tripod mount. So if you tire of hand-held you can mount the Ztylus to your favorite tripod.

This is useful as it means you donʼt have to take the Ztylus off and replace it with another adaptor.

Zhiyun Smooth 4

The Zhiyun Smooth 4 is a 3-axis gimbal is a perfect stabilizer for your shaky video shots. 

The main reason I love and recommend the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is because of the built-in handwheel for focus pulling.

You can zoom in or out as you want to take close-up shots. 

Just by pressing a switch, the handwheel is configured into a focus puller, helping you achieve high-precision focus changes in real-time to create creative shots.

Another great feature is the PhoneGo mode which can respond to every delicate movement without delay without the need to worry about losing any shots.

What’s better is that amazing scene transition can be achieved in your footage without post-processing.

Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum 5-Section Tripod Kit

The Compact Action Black Tripod is a budget offering from Manfrotto

Manfrotto has a good reputation for various tripod smartphone gear that includes monopods to fill out your smartphone filmmaking equipment. 

This particular modelʼs design is for DSLRs but it will work well with any Smartphone.

It weighs in at a respectable 1.201g which makes it is light and portable. Its toppled height is 453mm so itʼs petite when packed down.

The maximum tallness with the middle column up is 1550mm so it can be high enough for general shooting.

A great tripod for smartphone filming can make all the difference to a filmmakers smartphone filmmaking equipment kit.

Add On Lenses For Better Framing

Every smartphone filmmaking equipment kit should have at least one interchangeable lens for his/her smartphone.

The best add on lenses for iPhones and Android smartphones expand a smartphone’s footage capabilities.

Everything from close up macro shots to expansive wide shots can be achieved with an add on lens kit.

Many different types of universal lenses can be added on any smartphone and here is a list of lenses to add to your smartphone filmmaking equipment kit.

Moment - Anamorphic Lens

The Moment Anamorphic Lens is the holy grail of filmmaking.

It makes your videos pop with yummy flares, that widescreen look, and true black bars on top and bottom. It makes video on your phone not look like cell phone footage…it looks like a movie.

Designed with premium glass, you get edge-to-edge clarity and true Anamorphic flare.

I personally have the Moment Anamorphic Lens as part of my smartphone filmmaking equipment. I won’t shoot without it!

Xenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone, Samsung, Pixel, Macro and Wide Angle Lens

If you are looking for an inexpensive lens for your smartphone filmmaking kit then you can’t go wrong with the Xenvo Pro Lens Kit.

Shoot stunning photos of people, pets, travel scenery, landscapes, architecture, selfies and more.

NO DARK CORNERS (vignetting) like cheaper lenses. Crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum and premium optical glass for durability and clarity. 

Multi-element, coated glass lenses minimize ghosting, reflections, lens flare, and other artifacts.

Xenvo cell phone lens attachment is ideal for hobbyists and photography pros alike.

Sound Accesories To Capture The Best Sound

To achieve film quality sound for your smartphone footage, you desperately need to add external microphones to your smartphone filmmaking equipment kit.

The built-in microphone that many smartphones include is great for recording memos, but they let in too much outside noise that takes away from the key subject you are trying to record.

Rode VideoMic Me

The VideoMic Me is a compact and lightweight, a high-quality directional microphone that connects directly to an iPhone/smartphone’s TRRS microphone/headphone socket.

Its flexible mounting bracket accommodates a wide range of smartphones and allows the microphone to be fitted for the primary camera or front camera (‘selfie’) use.

A 3.5mm headphone jack on the rear allows for play-through of audio while recording (app dependent) as well as easy playback of your videos without having to remove the microphone. 

The VideoMic Me includes a deluxe furry windshield for shooting outdoors or in adverse weather.

Just remember that is you are using the VideoMic Me on the latest iPhone, make sure you have a dongle in your smartphone filmmaking equipment for connection.

BOYA by M1 Lavalier Microphone

A great lapel or clip microphone is essential for doing a sit-down interview. And that’s why I carry a microphone for phone filming in my pocket regularly.

The BOYA by M1 clip microphone is budget-friendly with good quality audio for sound recordings and good for interview work. 

It comes with a six-meter-long cable that is great if you require getting your Smartphone further away from your subject.

It is an omnidirectional condenser microphone which means it will retrieve sound equally well from all around the microphone. 

It comes with a standard 3.5mm jack that you can switch between Smartphone and DSRL. This means you can even plug it into your DSLR camera as well as your Smartphone.

The BOYA by M1 does need a small battery to give the microphone phantom power, but be aware that there is no battery light to tell you if it could be running out of power. 

Lighting During Smartphone Filmmaking

When it comes to iphone lighting, you might have to think about how you will be shooting your smartphone film.

If you are shooting indoors and close to your subject, then adding a compact video light to your smartphone filmmaking kit should do the trick.

For shooting outdoors or in conditions that have low light, then you will need to purchase a lighting kit or bounce kit to fill in your subjects better.

Here are some lighting suggestions to improve your lighting for iPhone filmmaking.

Godox LED64 Video Light 64 LED

The is a wonderful compact budget video light for your Smartphone.

Itʼs lightweight and portable and provides high brightness and an accurate color temp. It has a lux of as for 1000 so it will be great enough for objects that are close to your Smartphone.

You could also add other Godoz LED64 lights together by interlocking them. This will give you more lights without using an alternative cold shoe mount.

The light itself has 64 LED bulbs and you can adjust these for brightness with the built-in dimmer. Itʼs powered by 4 AA batteries, but you can also plug into an AC power supply if you need to use the light for long periods.

The universal cold shoe mount means it will fit most Smartphone tripod adaptors or stabilizers that support the cold shoe mount.

Neewer 2 Packs Dimmable Bi-Color 480 LED Video Light and Stand Lighting Kit

Dimmable Bi-color LED Light: With 240 White and 240 Yellow LED long-lasting bulbs, illuminates a variable white balance from tungsten-daylight 3200-5600K Color Temperature; U-mount Bracket enables the photographers to adjust the lighting angle according to the shooting environment.

Comes with a white diffuser to soften the harsh light; A carrying bag makes it convenient to carry and store the light and other accessories.Lumen:3360Lux/m.

This is a great smartphone filmmaking equipment kit that I personally use for night shots, and indoor shoots as well.

Filmmaking apps

Most smartphone apps have built-in camera apps that do the job well in terms of shooting smartphone video.

But, if you really want to improve the quality of the footage and take advantage of the external lenses like the Moment anamorphic, then you need to add one of the best filming apps out there, FiLMiC Pro.

FiLMiC Pro lets you set manual focus and exposure separately, choose different aspect ratios (screen shapes), frame rates and video quality, adjust color balance, display overlays to help with exposure and focus, and even ‘pull focus.’

It was used to shoot the full-length features Tangerine and Unsane.

Conclusion

When it comes to smartphone filmmaking equipment, start with what you can afford at the start and then build outwards.

Still, want to do that project you have been dreaming about making for years? With the number of available options to the filmmaker now compared to the past is endless.

These smartphone filmmaking accessories can keep you within budget, and most of them can be found on Amazon, so there is no excuse to get filming!

#filmmaking #filmmakinglife #filmmakinggear#filmmakingtools

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