With everything going on lately, an unprecedented number of people from all backgrounds, professions and skill sets have suddenly found themselves working from home. In an earlier post, we told you a few ideas on how to stay productive as a photographer stuck at home. We also told you a little bit about what I've been trying out with a borrowed Sony Macro lens.
Some readers may not be as camera-savvy as others, though. Some folks may not even own a dedicated camera but have been making featured appearances on video conferences for work calls or doing video chats with friends and family. Whether you're a natural at live streaming your face or not, it's a great way for us all to stay connected.
Thankfully, there are a few cheap accessories that can easily bump up these video chats, live streams, Facetime calls or even TikTok videos to the next level. Read on to see some of the non-camera accessories we've got that are perfect for smartphone video mastery.
Want to skip any more reading and quickly set yourself up for great smartphone performance for just $30? Feel free to stop here. We put together this kit of a Joby Griptight Action Kit and a Manfrotto Lumimuse 3 LED Panel specifically for you. The tripod's flexible GorillaPod 500 legs work perfectly as a handgrip, standard tripod, or can even wrap around fence posts, tree branches or staircase handrails. It'll support your smartphone at almost any angle you can think of. Oh, and you can remove the smartphone clamp and use the integrated pin mount for any of your GoPro action cameras, too.
Other features in this kit include a cold-shoe adapter to mount accessories like an external microphone or the included Lumimuse 3 LED light. Speaking of which, that Lumimuse light panel has a USB-rechargeable battery, screw mounts and cold-shoe mounts to attach it to the top of any tripod or camera, and multiple snap-on filter options for diffusing the light or warming your color balance. This kit gives you lots of options at an unbeatable price.
Looking a bit like one of the War of the Worlds aliens, the PIXI Smart can function as both a sturdy tripod or a comfortable grip for filming great video and standout images--and yes, that includes selfies. With stainless steel legs and compact design, it's easy to toss this one into a camera bag or even a coat pocket to bring your stabilization on the go. Removing the universal smartphone clamp reveals a standard 1/4" screw, which paired with the small ballhead on top, makes the PIXI an awesome choice for small point-and-shoot cameras or lighting accessories as well.
With slightly more ergonomic grip design, the PIXI Plus also comes with all of the above, plus a GoPro adaptor. Go ahead, flaunt your beautiful Italian design.
Let's say you've already got a small tripod and you're just looking for a way to securely attach your smartphone to it--with style. This super-compact clamp will grip any smartphone you've got with just a simple twist of the dial. With a universal 1/4" screw on the bottom, attach it to any tripod you currently own. And use the cold shoe mount on top to add a microphone or light panel for good measure. This nifty little device can add a ton of functionality to your social media posts for only around $20.
Manfrotto also makes a stripped-down smartphone clamp that trades the top cold-shoe with a pop-out stand so you can prop it up on a tabletop without even using the tripod threads.
As mentioned earlier, Joby makes a type of tripod leg that is flexible but sturdy. Think of a stiff octopus leg, put three of them together and add a camera mount to the top. That's the idea behind the Gorillapod. The pliable legs make it easy to wrap around things like chair legs or banisters, squash down flat against a surface or stand up tall like a traditional tripod. I've even seen some of their larger models used as makeshift shoulder rigs for video documentary work. The mobile rig here includes 3 of these octopus arms for stability, plus a smartphone clamp and two more arms with cold shoe mounts or a GoPro mount for adding extra accessories.
Give yourself some movie-star lighting. This juiced-up version of the LED panel featured in our kit above features 8 bright LED lights instead of 3. It still has all the other features like a USB-rechargeable battery, click-in warming and diffusion gels and a compact ballhead mount so you can put it on top of any camera with a flash holder. It's also easy to prop up on a tabletop or even hold the light by hand, due to the cool LED technology providing bright, even illumination without producing a ton of excess heat.
Pictured here on top of a camera, this microphone can be attached anywhere that has a flash shoe holder, like some of those neato smartphone clamps above. Sure, your phone or tablet has a microphone, but external microphones like those from Rode or Saramonic will help your words come through as clearly as possible, picking up every frequency without sounding muffled or distant. Never underestimate the power of good audio quality.
Make your videos smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy. Unstable hands can make any video wobbly or shaky. There's no doubt that if you're a video nerd like myself, you've seen these things called gimbals on the internet. This device uses silent motors to orient and stabilize your camera or smartphone. If you haven't seen one in action, watch this video and tell me you aren't amazed. With a built-in zoom slider, thumb joystick, app connectivity and the ability to shoot video, stills or even timelapses in portrait or landscape, this technical wonder will make your smartphone videos look like they were filmed by a pro.
The OSMO Mobile 2 is sometimes hard for us to keep in stock due to its unbelievable price. Check out the original OSMO Mobile, too. You can actually switch out the smartphone clamp and use other DJI Zenmuse camera modules on the handle to give yourself alternate stabilized camera functions.
You've probably got one or two of these lying around. Trust me on this--your webcams, mobile devices and other small cameras' lenses need to be cleaned. You'll probably be stunned at how much sharper your images look once you give your tiny cameras a good wipe. Oh, and don't even think about using your shirt to wipe it off. This cleaning cloth will absorb any oils and knock off any dust instead of just smearing it around like your shirt would. A new one from us is only $3.95, so what have you got to lose?
A lot of people's first adventures in photography or videography these days could be on a smartphone or webcam. With these devices getting better each product generation, that's not really a surprise. We just so happen to sell a lot of accessories for these devices when you're ready to see what else you can accomplish with your smartphone.
And when you're ready to try something bigger and better than a phone, we've got a lot more where that came from.