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How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Video Powerhouse

Shoot the next Sundance winner on your iPhone.


With Hollywood blockbuster film budgets consistently reaching north of $200 million, the film world has never been harder to break into. However, thanks to that smartphone in your pocket that shoots 4K footage, you too can shoot award-winning movies on your phone — once you fix it with the accoutrements that’ll really let it shine.

Budding directors, look no further. Here you’ll find the best equipment for every budget and level of experience, so that you can slowly build your smartphone rig as you continue turning your hobby into your career. (Note: These accessories best fit the iPhone.)

Student Film

Budget? What Budget?

Ztylus RV3 Revolver Lens


Only have money for one piece of gear? The Ztylus Revolver is it. Featuring hand-polished brass accents, it neatly houses macro, fisheye, super-wide and polarizer lenses in a small puck that mounts to your case in seconds — a stroke of ingenuity that won Ztylus an Innovation Award at CES 2016.

Buy Now: $94

Indie Vlogger

Keeping Costs Under a Quarter Grand

Olloclip Pivot


Brilliantly, when the camera angle changes, the Pivot’s handle adjusts with ease to make sure the grip remains comfortable. In addition, it’s light, ultra compact and has a cold shoe mount to attach a light or microphone. The phone mount can also be swapped with a GoPro adapter.

Buy Now: $50

Rode VideoMicro


A go-to for many bloggers, the VideoMicro utilizes a shotgun configuration, letting it cancel out background noise while highlighting the subject and adding richness to his or her voice. Want to up your Facebook Live game or make your Snaps pop? This is affordable perfection. Note: you’ll need the SC7 adapter ($15) for your phone.

Buy Now: $59

Budget Blockbuster

Everything You Need (For Less Than $500)

Tray Stabilizer


This stabilizer uses lightweight T6 aluminum, is easy to break down and boasts two handle mounts with quarter-inch holes for lights or a microphone. Sure, you can drop hundreds on a gimbal, but to most eyes, the iPhone’s image stabilization and the easy-to-hold tray will produce nearly the same results — plus you have room for accessories.

Buy Now: $124

Manfrotto Lumimise 8-LED Light


Poor lighting can make a video feel really cheap. But, lugging around a light kit isn’t a practical solution for most. So, Manfrotto created the Lumimuse series, with 3-, 6- and 8-LED options. Small, light, rechargeable and able to mount on a hot shoe or tripod directly, the 8-LED has four dimming modes and comes with filters to color-match indoor or outdoor locations.

Buy Now: $120

Shure MV88 Stereo Condenser


The magic is in the app: Shure gives you five different presets for recording speech or different types of music, as well as four different mic setups. That’ll cover everything from a single interview to a roundtable podcast situation. The one downside is that cell signals can interfere with the mic, so your phone must be in airplane mode; ergo, if you’re planning on shooting live video, you must have a wi-fi signal Fun Fact: the Motiv MV88 was used for voiceover pickups on the film Hidden Figures, a Best Picture nominee.

Buy Now: $149

Olloclip Core Lens Kit


If you have a lens on your iPhone, chances are it’s from Olloclip. If not, you can get the best of Olloclip’s offerings in one product: the Core Kit, which features macro, fisheye and super-wide lenses with newly enhanced optics. The lenses attach to a mount that slides over the rear of the phone as well as the front-facing camera. If your content involves both your rear- and front-facing cameras, this lens kit is a must-have.

Buy Now: $100

The Little Extras

More Helpful Than a PA

SanDisk 32GB iXpand Flash


Every smartphone power user has run out of storage at least once. Want to avoid it? Instead of upgrading your phone, use SanDisk’s external flash drive, which can hold up to 128GB. Once you’ve filled the storage, simply disconnect the device from your phone and plug it into your computer to offload your footage.

Buy Now: $45

Filmic Pro & Movie Pro Apps


If terms like audio gain control, variable speed, focus pull, aspect ratio, frame rate, ISO, focus, exposure, and shutter speed are familiar to you, these apps will be money well spent…and they are much cheaper than a camera operator.


Buy Now: $10 (Filmic Pro)Buy Now: $6 (Movie Pro)

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