For Video Creators, Smartphone Camera Accessories – Video artists can now create a cinematic aesthetic that rivals many movie cameras thanks to the latest cellphones that are produced every year.
Filmmakers like Zack Snyder, Sean Baker, and Steven Soderbergh have used a smartphone to shoot short and feature films. However, if you plan to shoot a feature film on a smartphone, you should consider adding smartphone camera equipment to your filmmaking arsenal.
Our recent piece on smartphone filmmaking 101 gave you suggestions on how to make video footage you can be proud of, but in this post, you’ll learn about the best smartphone accessories for video creators today to get that cinematic appearance.
Smartphone Camera Accessories - 10+ Best for Video Creators
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The key to getting that cinematic appearance from a smartphone is stabilization. While the latest smartphone cameras have optical image stabilization, a smartphone filmmaker will need to add a gimbal to their smartphone camera accessories kit to achieve the best results.
A three-axis motorized gimbal can aid in keeping the camera level while moving through a shot. There are various low-cost gimbals available from firms like DJI, Zhiyun, and Moza that are quite popular among video artists and are relatively simple to operate. For those looking for reviews of the best gimbals today, check out our article on the best smartphone gimbals & stabilizers for filmmaking.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t buy a motorized gimbal, a basic smartphone grip might be the way to go. A smartphone grip isn’t motorized, but it is lighter and can be used to mount a lens, light, or microphone.
Adding an external lens adapter, such as an anamorphic lens, to your smartphone films will make a tremendous difference in achieving that cinematic effect.
Using an anamorphic lens, you can capture wide-format footage similar to what you’d see on the big screen. What is the purpose of an anamorphic lens, and why should you use one?
Anamorphic lenses give an incredibly wide field of view without distorting faces, even in extreme closeups, as shown in films like Die Hard, Hunt For Red October, and Speed. This allows the filmmaker to get a buttery falloff on the edges while maintaining a smooth, shallow depth-of-field in the middle of the frame.
You could fake anamorphic by placing black bars at the top and bottom of the image in post-production, but it looks fake.
In my article How Smartphone Lenses Improve Your Smartphone Footage, I explain how attachment lenses can give your videos a more cinematic aesthetic.
Today’s smartphones can do almost anything, but there is one feature that hasn’t progressed: the built-in microphone. Adding an external microphone to your smartphone is one of the most significant Smartphone Camera Accessories for film creators who want to achieve cinematic grade recordings.
External smartphone microphones are available in a variety of configurations, which I discuss in detail in my piece, Best Smartphone Microphones For Better sound, but here’s a quick rundown of your possibilities.
An external microphone connects to your smartphone’s Lightning connection and includes a built-in headphone jack on the back for sound monitoring.
If you plan to record audio of subjects from a distance with your smartphone camera, a wireless microphone system with a transmitter should be included in your Smartphone Camera Accessories Kit.
Wireless mics, with their rapid clip-on features, are ideal for field journalists and vloggers who don’t want to miss any of the action.
A wireless transmitter is one of those Smartphone Camera Accessories for which you’ll be eternally grateful in the future.
Why? Have you ever worked on a movie where the only video display is the camera monitor, and everyone, including Crafty, is huddled around it hoping to see the scene that was just shot?
Do you really want so many people squeezed together attempting to sneak a glimpse at the film coming in during the days of Covid?
Rigs, tripods & mounts
To get that cinematic appearance, you’ll use a blend of movement shots and static shots while filming.
You’ll need to stabilize your smartphone on a tripod if you’re not utilizing a smartphone gimbal. With the right smartphone tripod attachment from Ulanzi, Manfrotto, and Movo, you can mount any smartphone to a conventional video tripod.
If you are looking for a do-everything, go-anywhere kit that’s been expertly crafted for mobile content creators, the GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging kit lets you rig up your phone and give your content real impact. You’ll have everything you need in one box.
- Gorilla Pod Mobile Rig
- Beamo Mini LED
- Wavo Mobile microphone
- Audio cable for mobile phone & camera
- Apple MFI certified lightning connector
Although smartphone cameras can capture in a variety of lighting circumstances, adding some extra lighting equipment can make all the difference in your films.
External lighting kits can assist in achieving smooth, noise-free photographs as well as focusing your subject frame. Plus, photography in low-light situations with a smartphone might be difficult at times.
If you’re working in low-light situations, an LED light or two can help to illuminate your subject or scene. LED Smartphone Lights from brands like Godox and Neewer provide brightness modes that can be adjusted and a USB-rechargeable battery. Some variants also include a diffusion cover and L-shaped mounting brackets.
Click here to read about the 5+ Best Portable LED Lights For Smartphone Filmmaking
Apps for your smartphone
While most cinematic smartphones, such as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, offer decent built-in apps for controlling ISO, exposure, focus, and other settings, nothing beats a third-party program like Filmic Pro.
Filmic Pro puts your camera in manual mode, allowing you to set ISO, exposure, focus, and white balance all from within the app.
The user can even program an automatic focus pull from point A to point B with Filmic Pro.
If you’re thinking about shooting video on your phone, this is an app that every filmmaker of any skill level should have on their phone.
You’ll want to add some ND (neutral density) filters to your collection because the software Filmic Pro allows you to lock the shutter speed.
Depending on which filter you choose, the Moment Variable ND Filter provides for two to five stops or six to nine stops.
Also available is the Neewer Clip-on ND 2-400 Lens Filter Kit, which is ND2 to ND400 adjustable.
Last but not least, an editing suite is included in this Smartphone Camera Accessories for Video Creators to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together to create your smartphone cinematic masterpiece.
While you may believe that editing with your smartphone’s built-in editing app is a good idea, using an editing suite with a larger monitor allows you to use all of the video and audio capabilities available to you.
If you are a video creator looking about shooting your next projects on a smartphone, all you need is the right smartphone camera accessories, and a little practice, you will be able to push your smartphone’s videos to new heights.
I will leave you with my favorite filmmaking quote, “Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee.” – James Cameron
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About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.
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