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4 Ways To Augment Your Phone’s Camera For Better Mobile Filmmaking

4 Ways To Augment Your Phone’s Camera For Better Mobile Filmmaking

With each new phone release comes an even more powerful camera to utilize for mobile filmmaking.

In recent months, significant advances in AI, faster chips, and insane camera specs have all made some of the most popular phones' cameras exponentially more powerful than their predecessors. While cell phones haven’t reached the point of replacing a cinema camera, they are getting close. 

When it comes to rapid content creation, the footage that can be acquired with modern phone cameras is better quality than ever before.

Today, we’re looking at how you can harness the power of your phone to enhance your content creation workflow, simply by adding a few specialized accessories to make your mobile phone more versatile than ever before.

Without further ado, here are four ways you can improve your phone’s camera setup!
Filmmaker videoing mountain scenery.

1. Attach External Lenses to Your Phone

While a new trend is growing with the addition of multiple camera lenses on a single phone’s camera, there are still advantages to having the ability to attach external lenses.

From anamorphic looks to a better zoom or stunning macro work, external phone camera lenses open up a world of filmmaking possibilities by giving your mobile phone powerful DSLR-like features (such as professional bokeh), all without the need for lugging around any extra camera gear. 

Additionally, you’re able to take advantage of your phone’s AI-powered imaging as you’re shooting, resulting in fine-tuned photography without the need for much work in post-production.

Moment is one of the leaders when it comes to quality lenses for mobile phones, and they’ve built an entire eco-system of products that ensure compatibility with almost any popular phone. Simply purchase a compatible phone case, snap on your lens of choice, and get going!
If you’ve got any spare lenses around, you might be interested in this adapter, which allows you to use a regular E-mount lens on your phone. This has the potential to yield great results, but the advantage of Moment’s lenses is that they are purpose-built for use with your phone. 

Results may vary with the E-mount-to-phone adapter, but it’s certainly an option if you’re looking to simulate the DSLR look on your phone.

2. Snap on a Neutral Density Filter

ND filters are extremely important for retaining details in bright environments when shooting with cinema and DSLR cameras, and you can actually find several choices for your phone’s camera, as well.  Both Moment and PolarPro have their own ND filter setups that operate with proprietary phone cases, and they both offer a wide selection of filters to choose from.

Not only can you find standard NDs, but you can also get circular polarizers, diffusion filters for smoother film-like images, and more.

Check out PolarPro’s LiteChaser Pro kit below!
If you’ve ever tried to shoot a subject in front of a bright sky on your phone, you’ll probably see how your phone’s HDR feature will automatically kick in to compensate. Your subject will have a decent exposure, but even with the HDR adjustments, your sky will most likely get blown out. 

With an ND filter, you can use the intelligent HDR functionality along with a properly-exposed sky to get the perfect exposure when shooting outdoors!

3. Add a Rig/Cage 

If you’re wanting to create a more robust run-and-gun solution, consider adding a cage to your phone.

Not only does a cage allow you to have a better grip and finer ergonomic control as you’re filming, but it also gives you the ability to add external accessories, like lights and microphones. 

Some of the best options for a phone cage are the ones made by SmallRig. Several of them are universal, feature plenty of cold shoes, include 1/4-20 mounting points for attaching to tripods, and some even support other accessories, like external grips.

You can see one of their latest mobile cages in action below!
A lightweight mobile cage also has the added benefit of helping you capture more stabilized shots.

While a mobile cage adds a bit of bulk to your mobile setup, it can offer you much more mobility and functionality when the situation calls for it.

4. Pick Up a Mobile Gimbal 

Speaking of stabilizing shots, one of the telltale signs of mobile video is shaky footage.  By adding a gimbal, you can virtually eliminate the issue of shaky footage, while at the same time creating cinematic camera movements that will keep your audience engaged.

As the lines blur between phone cameras and mid-range DSLRs and budget cinema cameras, having buttery smooth and sharply-focused gimbal footage from your phone’s camera will make that distinction almost fade away completely.  

DJI’s Osmo Mobile 4 is the most user-friendly iteration of their popular mobile gimbals, exchanging their previous spring-loaded phone holders for a dead-simple magnetic system that instantly locks your phone in place.
The advantages that a mobile gimbal has over a large camera gimbal setup are numerous. First, there’s the fact that the gimbal can be easily balanced, and is ready at a moment’s notice. Also, because your phone is so much smaller than a larger camera, you can achieve tight shots in smaller spaces. 

It’s much lighter than a large camera and gimbal setup, making it ideal for shooting for longer intervals. Plus, your phone can be operated much more easily while on the gimbal versus a larger camera that may require extra rigging and focus pulling to operate on a sturdier gimbal.

These are just a few ways you can achieve significantly better mobile footage with relatively inexpensive gear!

Pro Tip: if you’d like to add some extra polish in the edit to really make your mobile footage shine, be sure to check out all of our CreatorVault products! From light leaks to glitch effects and paper transitions, each collection is designed to bring a ton of life to any footage, and we even have a free sample for you to download right now!
From Fire and massive Explosions to Blood and Gore VFX, we have the largest VFX library in the world ready to be composited in your project. Check out over 3,400 VFX stock footage elements right here.

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