The cameras in smartphones continue to get better and better—but they can only do so much. There are simply too many inherent limitations in the design of smartphone cameras including tiny imaging sensors, limited lenses and awkward ergonomics for many photo and video uses. That’s where a few key smartphone camera accessories can help. A veritable cottage industry of companies has sprung up to create a variety of photo and video accessories for your smartphone.
The challenge is separating the high-quality accessories from the not-s0-great options. Unfortunately, many of the products out there disappoint. If you’re a mobile creator who wants to get the most out of your smartphone when shooting photos or video but don’t want to waste your money on add-on products that are more trouble than their worth, we’ve got you covered. The following are six of our favorite smartphone camera accessories.
Moment Cases & Lenses
Moment lenses are the cream of the crop when it comes to optical accessories for smartphones. These attachable lenses are not cheap and require you to purchase an additional Moment phone case ($25-$40, depending on your phone) to use them but we think they’re worth it.
Made with aerospace grade metal and the same hand-polished glass used in some 4K cinema lenses, Moment’s optics increase both the quality and versatility of your smartphone’s built-in lenses. The company offers several lens accessory options, but our two favorites are the Wide 18mm and the Tele 58mm lenses. The Moment Wide lens ($120) offers 0.63x magnification to a built-in smartphone lens, letting a standard iPhone lens capture approximately 2x more of a scene. The Moment 58mm lens ($120), on the other hand, brings you closer to the action by adding 2x of optical zoom to a standard iPhone lens. Image quality is excellent, with good edge-to-edge sharpness for the 18mm optic and solid close-up capability for the 58mm Tele.
Both lenses are dead simple to mount on your phone: just screw them onto a Moment M-Series case over the phone’s optics and you’re ready to shoot. The twist-and-lock design means the lenses stay secure on Moment’s stylish cases, which are compatible with camera phones from Apple, Samsung, Google, and OnePlus. The lenses come with a cap and microfiber carrying case and are backed by a lifetime warranty.
GripTight PRO 2 GorillaPod
There’s a reason you see so many photographers and YouTubers using GorillaPod tripods from JOBY. With their distinctive bendable legs, GorillaPods are incredibly versatile both as ground stabilizers and as handheld support. The model to get for smartphone shooters is the JOBY GripTight PRO 2 GorillaPod, which is designed to work with even “plus size” phones.
A pro-grade mini tripod, the GripTight PRO 2 stands 13.5-inches tall and easily adjusts between landscape and portrait mode for live streaming or vlogging. Just hold the GorillaPod out in front of you with your phone attached and start recording your next YouTube vlog. The GorillaPod’s flexible legs also let you wrap it around objects such as a pole or a bench to shoot from a range of unique angles while keeping your phone steady for smoother results.
The GripTight PRO 2 also has a removable Cold Shoe PRO mount for adding lights and microphones, and a ¼”-20 compatible attachment point for mounting additional accessories. Estimated price: $80.
DJI Osmo Mobile 3 Gimbal Combo Kit
There is no better video stabilizer for smartphones than the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 Gimbal. Like a gimbal support for high-end video cameras, the hand-held Osmo Mobile 3 uses a motorized 3-axis stabilizer to keep your phone level even if you’re moving. The result is smooth, shake-free footage that looks professional.
Weighing less than 15 ounces and featuring a unique, foldable design, the Osmo Mobile 3 is highly portable and is now controlled by the free DJI Mimo app for iOS or Android devices. The app is well designed, giving you an impressive amount of control over the Mobile 3 Gimbal including letting you choose between Portrait, Landscape, Underslung, Time-Lapse, Panorama, and a new Sport mode for keeping footage steady while shooting fast action. You can also now control the gimbal via hand gestures which allows you to, for instance, snap a selfie or self-record a vlog just by waving your hand.
Other great features include Active Track 3.0 that keeps you and others in the shot as you move, Hyperlapse recording, and Story Mode, which lets you add movement, music and other effects to your video in seconds. We suggest getting the Osmo Mobile 3 Gimbal Combo Kit, which includes a handy mini tripod and carrying case. Estimated price:
The Beastclamp Rig from Beastgrip is a versatile rail stabilizer for “run and gun” video shoots with your smartphone. Featuring a modular anodized aluminum design, the Beastclamp Rig bundle ($120) includes Beastclamp, which locks in your phone, an accessory extension bar, and two handles.
The accessory extension bar offers multiple 1/4″-20 threaded mounts and two built-in cold shoe mounts so you can customize the rig with other accessories to fit your shooting preferences. For instance, you can easily attach lights, a microphone, and other tools to give you a complete rig for a variety of shoots. The beauty of this minimalist rig is how simple it is. Just clamp in your phone, grab the two grips, and start shooting.
Godox LEDM150 LED Smartphone Light
We’re hesitant to recommend additional lights for your smartphone because they’re often woefully underpowered. This is not the case with the portable Godox LEDM150 LED Smartphone Light, which offers soft and even illumination for attractive portraits, product shots, and macro photography along with video.
Using 150 tiny LED light bulbs, the Godox LEDM150 LED lets you adjust the range of brightness between 10% and 100% depending on your needs. Powered by a built-in lithium battery which you charge via USB, you can use the light at maximum power for up to 70 minutes on a full charge. The Godox LEDM150 LED Smartphone Light package includes the light, an L-type stand, a diffuser and a mobile phone mounting bracket. These accessories allow you to attach the six-ounce LEDM150 LED directly to your phone, hold it by the handle, or mount it on a lightstand. Estimated price: $49.
Rode VideoMic Me
The built-in microphone built in your smartphone is passable at best. On the other hand, attaching a large and clunky mic to your phone kind of defeats the purpose of being a “mobile” creator. That’s why we like the $59 Rode VideoMic Me, which is a compact and lightweight directional microphone that attaches right to your phone.
The VideoMic Me features a 3.5mm TRRS output that plugs into a smartphone’s headphone socket. The microphone’s flexible mounting bracket is compatible with a range of smartphones and allows the microphone to be fitted for primary camera or front “selfie” camera use. Meanwhile, a 3.5mm headphone jack on the rear of the mic allows for play-through of audio while recording (app dependent) as well as easy playback of your videos without having to remove the microphone. The VideoMic Me includes a furry windshield for reducing wind noise when shooting outdoors.
For Apple iPhones without a headphone jack, the Rode VideoMic Me-L has a Lightning connector and is priced at $79.