Here’s a Great Mobile Videography Set-Up

I achieved this mobile set-up through trial and error, lots of buying unnecessary things. Avoid all of that nonsense with this guide.

Here’s a Great Mobile Videography Set-Up

If you’re considering making videos for YouTube, Instagram, or other mobile-first platforms, consider using a mobile-first set-up. Mobile videography equipment is what I consider “good enough.” You’ll get excellent video footage and clear audio. Buying a DSLR and an expensive boom mic too soon might be a waste of your money.

The mobile videography space, mainly what Apple is doing, is exciting. Ask me how I like my iPhone Pro, and I won’t shut up (the way it handles 4K video is nothing short of magic). Be warned. In this post, I will share what I use for my mobile set-up.

At the time of writing this, the iPhone 12 Pro has yet to be announced. I have a prediction — The 4th liDAR lens will be used to create “video portrait mode.” That means a mobile device will have a legitimate depth of field feature, one of the last things DSLR’s has over mobile cameras. Check it — I’m not trying to piss off Androids users and professional videographer friends in one paragraph. I get there are trade-offs and merits for using each. For me, the iPhone has provided a great workflow, and I have no hesitation recommending it.

I shoot a lot of video. Up until recently, most of the videos I shot were comedy sketches. I even managed to help make a short film with some very talented friends (check it out). Just before I started Untethered, I created a YouTube Channel called Secluded Places. The idea was to develop episodes about, well, secluded places around the country and weird Airbnbs I visited. My ambitious goal was to release one episode a week. Traveling, shooting, writing, and editing an episode a week proved to be crazy hard. Oof. I underestimated the time it would take me, even with already having some experience.

The one thing I got right was the decision to go with a mobile videography set-up instead of using a DSLR, shotgun mic, studio lights, etc. Even though the concept proved to be too hard, this set-up still allowed me to create five episodes. Without it, I don’t think I would’ve had the time.

Note that with any hobby or new business venture you get yourself into, you don’t need the absolute best equipment, and you don’t need to purchase everything at once. Keep that in mind.

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My Primary Mobile Videography Set-Up

I achieved the mobile set-up pictured above through trial and error, lots of buying unnecessary things. Avoid all of that nonsense with this guide.

Camera: iPhone 11 Pro Max

The iPhone is the cornerstone of my set-up. There are a bunch of camera phones that are incredible at shooting photos and video. In my opinion, The iPhone 11 Pro is the best. The way it handles 4K, the cool features like slo-mo, time-lapse, iOS, and just the overall quality is unparalleled. If you’re in the market for a new phone and starting to build your mobile videography set-up, I recommend this phone. If you already have a phone with a decent camera on it, use that. Don’t go out and buy a thousand dollar phone if you don’t need it.

Microphone: Shure MV88+ Video Kit (with mini-tripod)

The Shure MV88+ is, in my experience, the best external mic you can get for a mobile device. It comes with an app that gives you greater control over the mic’s settings, and if you get the MV88+ Video Kit, it gives you a great mini-tripod.

Important: You can get just the mic if you choose. But the mini-tripod designed by Manfrotto has proved to be invaluable. I use it a lot, including in my primary set-up.

Also: I’ll mention that the iPhone 11 Pro has an excellent stock microphone. You won’t win any awards for sound design but, it holds up surprisingly well even in less-than-ideal environments like a windy day. If you have or will get the iPhone Pro, I’d test your stock mic before getting an external.

Tripod Mount: Ulanzi

This mount will work with the tripod cold shoe mount below, helping you attach your LED light (below) and mic. You can also use it for a regular tripod. If you’re using a phone as your primary camera, this is the mount to get.

Important: Don’t buy the cheap plastic ones that Amazon recommends. They will break. You will have to keep replacing them. I came across the Ulanzi after 2 or 3 times of me having to buy another mount because the last one broke. The Ulanzi is metal and uses springs. It’s good quality.

Triple Cold Shoe Mount

This triple cold shoe mount is a nifty little piece of equipment because it allows you to attach both your external mic and your portable LED like how you see in the picture above.

Lights: DigitalFoto LED Panel

I love this thing. It's powerful, bright, rechargeable, and comes with a bunch of cool settings. You can change the color using RGB to any color you want. It also has some cool presets like police siren lights, candlelight, and TV light (where it mimics the light you get when watching TV). It comes with a cold shoe mount so you can make it a part of your rig set-up.

Note: There’s a cheaper one on Amazon by the same company. Though, I don’t know what the differences are other than brightness. If you get it, let me know how you like it!

Other Equipment You May Need

Tripod: Amazon Basics 60-Inch Tripod

Here’s an excellent place to cheap-out on. You don't need a crazy expensive and heavy tripod just to hold up your phone. The Amazon Basics tripod is light, decent quality, and inexpensive. No brainer.

Secondary Camera: Osmo Pocket

You may find it beneficial to have an additional camera handy. The Osmo Pocket’s best feature is it sits on a gimbal. This is great because when you need to shoot something on a gimbal, you don’t need to set up your phone onto one. It saves a bunch of time. I bought a separate gimbal from the same company (DJI) for my phone before I came across the Osmo Pocket. The separate smartphone gimbal works great but turns out I did not like how much effort I needed to set it up. With the Osmo Pocket, I can just whip it out and press record. Features include time-lapse, 1080p recording, decent battery life, selfie follow (camera follows your face), autofocus, and more. There’s decent accessories support for this mini camera as well.

DJI Smartphone Gimbal

Gimbals can take your videography to the next level. It produces smooth pans that look professional. The DJI gimbal for smartphones is a solid choice. My current primary set-up does not use a gimbal because I mostly use that set-up for selfie-style shots or quick pans. The iPhone 11 Pro has a pretty decent stabilizer built-in. But, a gimbal like this will give you better results if you're moving around a lot while shooting.

Magnetic Camera Mount

This is by far the piece of equipment that has added the most production value for the cost. Attach your phone to your tripod mount, screw that into this magnetic mount, and set it on the hood of your car. The shots you can get are incredible.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has this great feature that lets you control your iPhone's camera from the watch. It's limited control, but it's come in handy when I'm shooting video or photos alone. I just need a tripod and my watch!

DJI Magic Mini Drone

I crashed two of these already. It’s made me bitter (lol). But, for $400, this little thing takes impressive aerial shots. A drone can instantly take your production to the next level. Drones can get super expensive. This one is a reasonable price for what it can provide and it's small enough to avoid having to register it.

Here’s a video about North Georgia that I made using all the equipment above. Pretty good for a mobile set-up, right?

Do you have a mobile videography set-up? Have a question about my set-up? I’d love to hear from you! Hit me up anytime.

Buy me a coffee on Venmo: @jasondotgov

IG: @secludedplacesjason

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Disclaimer: Most of the links in this article are affiliate links. Meaning, if you buy it, Amazon throws a few bucks my way. This doesn't affect your final cost. Exceptions are the iPhone, Apple Watch, and the LED light (didn’t have the exact model LED on Amazon). For the iPhone and Apple Watch, buy directly from Apple. Better experience, especially if you need immediate customer service.