2012 iPhone Cell Phone Cinema Tool Guide
It’s hard, but I do try to keep up with trends and developments in the world of indy film, especially on the tech side. However, one growing movement that I haven’t covered much in my blog or books is the world of cellphone cinema. It’s honestly something that I didn’t take as seriously, because I felt the tools and projects just weren’t mature enough yet… Well, times have changed and the new reality is that you can now shoot full 1080p HD video on mobile devices and even have manual control over the most crucial settings via a wide variety of apps.
Apple’s iPhone has become one of (if not the) go-to tool for the new breed of digital cinema directors. As I’ve learned through my own recent proliferation as a digital still photographer, the saying is true – “The best camera is always the one you have with you”. Although I only occasionally shoot video with it, since going iPhone a few years ago, I take about 100x more still photos and routinely document experiences in my life that would otherwise be confined to a limited and murky life in the confines of my skull. (A scary place indeed.)
So yes, your iPhone is the camera you always have with you, but that by no means makes it the ideal camera… at least not until you add a few of these crucial tools that can make your iPhone perform the same or similar tricks that we’ve come accustomed to pulling off with full video cameras. Is cell phone cinema mature now? I’d say a definite yes and growing with the below hardware acting as accelerated growth hormones for the movement.
Consider this a mobile video companion to my 2012 Camera Buyer’s Guide. If there’s a popular piece of hardware you use to capture your cell phone cinema drop me a comment or private message and maybe I’ll add it to the list. And sometime in the future, I’ll take a look at the most popular apps for iPhone video.
There are no excuses anymore- Shut Up and Shoot, baby!
The Gorrilla grip not only works a traditional mini-tripod, it also has tough flexible legs that can be used to mount your iPhone onto all kinds of things like fences, poles, and branches.
The Zacuto Z-Grip iPhone Jr. is a simple to-the-point handheld grip for your iPhone.
Just because you’re shooting cell phone cinema, doesn’t mean you sacrifice smooth moves. Check out this bonafide Steadicam made by the same people that make the big one.
The Zacuto Z-Grip Cinema kit kicks it up a notch higher by adding an extra arm that can be used to attach an optional shaded viewfinder to help you see your image in sunlight.
A solid little unit to enable better handheld shooting on an iPhone. Comes with a wide-angle/macro lens and a cute little omni mic attachment.
The OWLE Bubo is another aluminum case design to add a little more heft and easier grip for handheld iPhone shooting. Outfitted with a wide-angle / macro combo lens (3.37 mm .45x) Has a cold shoe for mounting lights or other accessories as well.
This is a another 2 in 1 solution – a combination hand grip and mic add-on mic system for an iPhone 4 or 4s with a serious focus on audio-quality. Most notably, it’s made by the audio company Fostex and has not one, but 2 mics for stereo recording. When you download the free app that comes with the unit you will be able to control audio input level, microphone setting, equalization, filters, and more directly from your phone. There are also 2 tripod mounting points, headphone monitoring and level control, as well as a cold shoe for mounting more accessories.
If you’re happy with your iPhone as is and just want an inexpensive way to get it on a tripod, Gary Fong’s $20.00 iPhone Tripod Adapter is probably the perfect solution for you. No frills, just a simple way to get your iPhone on a tripod.
If you don’t want as many accoutrements and do-dads attached to your phone, you may want to try something like this magnetic fish eye lens that you can pop on when needed. With a 180 degree field of view, it’s a good option for first person sports video, experimental and music videos.
This is a hard aluminum case with a three-lens turret and your choice of landscape or portrait tripod mounts. To switch between lenses simply turn the turret for your choice of 3 optical quality coated glass lenses: 0.7x wide-angle, 0.33x fish eye and 1.5x telephoto. Slick. Slick.
Overkill? Or killer iPhone video solution? I’ll let you decide, but this little baby allows you to put pro-quality DSLR lenses on your iPhone. Yes, you can now shoot with a lens that actually costs more than your phone. If you’re serious about your cellphone cinema this may be an investment worth making to push your iPhone to it’s full video potential.
Just because you’re shooting on a cell phone doesn’t mean you should sacrifice production value. Just about anything you can do with a big camera, you can do with the smallest camera now and a whole lot cheaper. In this case, for less than a hundred bucks you can pull off smooth dolly moves and raise your your creativity to the next level. And as a huge added bonus, this dolly can also handle DSLR cameras. BAM!
This very affordable little set helps overcome one of my biggest beefs with the iPhone’s camera- it’s too wide. There are plenty of times when I want to get a close up or medium shot and not be right up in somebody’s grill. This little mini-telephoto lens even comes with a mini-tripod.
If you like to get experimental with yours and prefer to do it in-camera instead of with fancy post tools, then you just might dig this cool little Holga lens turret which features 9 different color and special effects that mimic the funky unique look of old-school Holga still cameras.
Perhaps the ultimate iPhone video support rig is the new Cine Bundle by iSupport which features a handheld adapter with dual grips, lens shade, tripod stand and an accessory bar if you’d like to add a microphone, camera light, recorder or even (really?) a small monitor – none of which is actually included in the bundle, just pictured here.
I’m a big fan of the GoPro HeroCam, but if you’ve already shelled out $300 bucks for an iPhone that shoots perfectly good HD video, maybe you just want a way to shoot those cool sports videos on the camer you’ve already got… Enter the MIVEU, a rugged iPhone case that you can strap onto your chest for a first person point-of-view as you skydive, grind the rails, race your cart or just ride your bike through the park. See it in action HERE.
If you do close-up or table top product shooting, you may be particularly interested in this slick little device that slides your iPhone along a smooth path horizontally, vertically, or at an incline. The end results can be some slick moves that are akin to effect of dollies and jibs. Check out the demo video HERE.
Stay tuned for a future post on iPhone video apps. If you like this type of practical filmmaking info, please check out our products page and 2012 Camera Buyer’s Guide. Your purchases from this site help keep the info on Down and Dirty free and free-flowing.