Vlogging is a great hobby that you can turn into a side gig. But if you want to start creating high-quality videos, you need to invest in your equipment.
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for a professional camera. Instead, you can get or upgrade other accessories that will help you produce pro-level videos straight from your smartphone.
So, what equipment, software and services should you favor for smartphone vlogging? Here are some things to consider.
1. Portable lights
Whether you’re shooting video indoors, outdoors, or in a studio, it’s good to have at least a portable light or two on you. Indeed, you can use them to make sure your audience sees you clearly, especially in difficult lighting conditions.
There are several affordable options like portable LED video lights and LED ring lights. And, if you plan to shoot indoors or in a home studio primarily, you can even get softbox or umbrella lights for softer highlights and shadows.
Of course, once you have your gear, you also need to know how to use it. Depending on the effect you want to achieve, there are several lighting techniques you can use while vlogging, such as three-point lighting, butterfly lighting, or low-key lighting.
2. External Microphone
While smartphones have improved the quality of their built-in microphones, there’s still no substitute for a proper stand-alone microphone. After all, while your audience can handle low-quality video recording, it’s very difficult to listen to audio with degraded quality. If your viewers can’t hear you or understand what you’re saying, they won’t be watching you.
If your smartphone still has a 3.5mm audio jack, you can use any equipped mic. You can even use 2.5 to 3.5mm adapters to convert traditional microphones used by professionals into something you can attach to your phone.
However, if you are using a flagship device without a jack, there are several USB-C microphones available in the market today. And if you’re using a Lightning-equipped iPhone, you can use a USB-C to Lightning adapter to use pro-level microphones for your vlogging.
No matter where you plan to record, you should have a tripod to hold your smartphone while recording. Shaky handheld videos aren’t fun to watch. They give off an amateur vibe, and if you move around, it can even make your viewers feel dizzy and nauseous.
A tripod will allow you to have completely stable video, and you can even use them for simple movements, like panning and tracking, as long as you have a cameraman. Some smartphone tripods double as selfie sticks, perfect for walk and travel vlogs.
4. Smartphone Gimbal
You should consider getting a smartphone gimbal if you plan to shoot B-roll footage. The stability and smooth movements of this device allow you to have professional quality recordings of the scenes and objects you capture.
Plus, some models even allow for automatic subject tracking, giving you the freedom to walk around a scene without needing a cameraman to keep you in frame.
The teleprompter is a crucial tool for staying engaged with your audience. After all, eye contact is essential in public speaking. Although you’re not talking directly to people when you’re vlogging, you still need to make eye contact with the camera so your viewers feel like you’re talking directly to them.
Also, it’s not unreasonable to have a copy of your script, especially when you’re recording talking video. If you didn’t memorize what you want to say in your vlog and watch a copy of your script, you’d be staring offscreen, breaking eye contact.
Teleprompters are affordable, but if you don’t want to spend money buying one, you can just use a smartphone or tablet. While a smartphone or secondary screen placed near the camera lens may do the trick, careful observers will still notice that you’re not looking directly at them.
6. Video editing apps
Unless you only do live videos, having a video editing app on your smartphone is a must. You need these apps to remove bloopers, improve color quality, and stitch clips together to create a cohesive and smooth video.
You can also use these apps to create an intro and out clip, which you can use to remind your viewers who you are, or add effects and other on-screen elements to make your videos more engaging.
If you’re new to video editing or it’s not your forte, you can check out our video editing tips to help you get started. Alternatively, you can hire a professional video editor to do the job for you.
7. External storage
Video recording takes up a lot of space. This is especially true if you’re recording in 4K HDR quality. Even Full HD videos can quickly use up your smartphone’s storage space.
If you think 512 GB is enough space to store your images, you are wrong. 512GB can usually only hold about four hours of 4K video footage or 24 hours of Full HD 1080p video. This doesn’t even take into account the phone’s operating system, apps you have installed, and other data you have on your phone.
Additionally, the 512GB storage is usually only found in the high-end variants of the latest flagship models. If you’re using a lower model, you’ll probably only get 64GB to 256GB of storage.
So if your phone is capable of this, you should install the largest possible microSD card that it supports. Otherwise, it is wise to invest in a Lightning or USB-C key where you can save your videos after recording and editing them.
8. A decent smartphone
While most mid-range smartphones offer decent video quality these days, they generally struggle in difficult lighting conditions like high contrast or low light scenes. If you’re looking to get a new smartphone and are planning to get into vlogging, consider getting a flagship model.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max both received rave reviews for video recording, so these are models you should consider. Although you can also get a vlogging camera instead of a smartphone, these are bulkier and more intrusive than smartphones.
Also, you cannot use them for anything other than taking photos or recording videos. You can’t even make deep edits on it. That’s why a smartphone might be a better option.
Start vlogging on your smartphone
You don’t need to invest in an expensive camera to start vlogging. But once you have your channel and want to improve the quality of your content, these are the things you need to prioritize. Not only will they allow you to have more visually appealing content, but they will also make you a better and more effective storyteller.