Top 4 Tips to Make Great Videos on Your Phone

By Madeline Turrini, DMB Pictures Summer Intern Extraordinaire

Remember the Flip camera? It was the ideal camera for “shooting-on-the-go.” You could bring it anywhere. It came out once I was already grown up, but I remember my mom whipping it out on the Jersey shore to film my little cousins playing in the sand.

Courtesy Photojojo

Nowadays, the Flip is a thing of the past, but fear not! As the world is transitioning to smartphones, so are the cameras in those phones. More and more people are using iPhones to document precious memories, hilarious moments, and—in some cases (Searching for Sugar Man director Malik Bendjelloul)—finishing production on an Oscar-winning documentary. Even professional cinematographers are relying on iPhones to produce quality, cost-efficient, high-definition videos.

You don’t have to be a professional to get high quality iPhone footage. With camera apps and iPhone accessories, you can turn your iPhone into a memory-making machine.

iPhone Apps
Apps aren’t just for playing “Angry Birds” anymore. The easiest way to buff-up your iPhone is by downloading camera apps. They’re fairly cheap—usually between $0-$5—and give you more control over your images.

  • Camera Awesome (Free)- This app has a user-friendly layout to create the basic functions of a professional still camera/camcorder. Available for both the iPhone and iPad, Camera Awesome has loads of filters and makes it easy to share videos or photos on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms at no cost.
  • FiLMiC Pro ($4.99)- Anyone shooting on an iPhone knows that it produces quality video, but only if there's an ample amount of light. Otherwise, the footage becomes grainy or overexposed and discolored. FiLMiC Pro allows the user to control basic light settings such as shutter-speed, f-stop, and white balance in a non-technical way, making videos in all settings look fantastic.

Camera Accessories
For someone with a bigger budget, there are dozens of accessories and lenses designed specifically to make it possible for iPhones to compete with professional camcorders and DSLRs. Though these accessories are more expensive than apps (lenses range in price from $20-$45), the video quality is significantly better than raw iPhone footage and is still cheaper and more compact than professional cameras.

Photojojo is a photography website with an online store that specializes in iPhone camera gear. The site provides advice and instructions to amateur photographers and filmmakers, showing users how to create breathtaking photos and videos for a fraction of the cost. Here are a two of their top accessories for shooting high quality on a small budget:

Courtesy photojojo

  • Phone lenses: Macro, Wide Angle, Telephoto, and Fish-Eye ($49 all together, $20 separately)- The biggest problem with iPhone footage is that the built-in camera lens is lacking in quality. These lenses easily stick onto your original phone lens and work with ANY smartphone! (That’s right - even if you have an Android, Samsung Galaxy, or a Blackberry, you can still use any of these lenses.) The lenses come with a small ring that goes over the phone’s original camera lens and attaches to each different lens. The ring stays on permanently, but the lenses are interchangeable, making it easy to get whatever type of shot you want.
  • iPhone Video Rig ($130)- For those who need to do more moving shots and are used to the internal stabilization found in many video cameras, this Video Rig is a smart investment. The casing is designed to mirror that of a small camcorder and makes it easy to keep both your hands and your shot steady.

Videos capture some of the most precious and valuable moments of our lives, but having the equipment to capture it isn’t always readily available. But now you know that you already have a secret weapon in your pocket - your smartphone. Just add a few of these apps and tools and your videos will go from OK to fabulous in no time.

  1. tavis
    July 19, 2013 at 16:22

    You forgot the simplest tip: always film in landscape mode.

    • August 5, 2013 at 10:11

      Excellent point Tavis! I didn't include because I had talked about it in this post,, but always a good reminder. Thanks!