Date:22 November 2017
Your phone is a great camera. For most things. The iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel XL, and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 can all shoot in 4K resolution and have image stabilisation and their new models will just get better. So it comes down to whether you like Android or iOS. Our only advice: if you’re shopping for one, get the most storage you can. Video takes up a ton of space.
This gear article is part of our VIDEO series, proudly brought to you in association with Canon.
Here’s the gear you’ll need to shoot video:
Try a lens
Wide-angle lenses take in more light and widen the field of what the viewer sees, which is especially useful in tight spaces like cars. It’s a small difference that’ll set your phone video apart from everyone else’s. Moment lenses  come in macro, telephoto, wide, and fish-eye varieties. You’ll need to buy the case, but that ensures that the lens is always perfectly mounted.
Get a Joby
The Joby Gorillapod  has bendable arms that let you mount your phone on tree branches, wrap it around a skateboard for tracking shots, or just hold it as a small-scale selfie stick. It’s great. There’s a reason that every vlogger uses one and the inventor is a millionaire investing in flying cars.
You’ll want a microphone, too
Built-in microphones are just okay. They usually give you static. YouTuber Natalie Alzate says people won’t even watch a video if there’s static. She uses a Røde – VideoMic Pro  or a Sennheiser G3 when she’s outside her studio. “It makes sure you capture just the voice, no static or background,” she says.
Move up from your phone. Eventually.
The Canon EOS 80D  has a huge sensor, a flip-out monitor and quiet and fast autofocus. The only downsides are its bulk and the fact that it doesn’t shoot in 4K. The Sony RX100 IV  is cheaper and exceptional, especially considering its small size. It has video autofocus and a big sensor for low-light shooting. It’ll do buttery-smooth slow-motion at 240, 480 or even 960 frames per second. It can’t match the vividness you get from Canon’s lenses, but the small size means having it everywhere, and it shoots in 4K.
Don’t be scared to invest (a lot)
Marques Brownlee uses the RED Weapon 8K S35  (R975 000). “RED cameras have super-high resolution, amazing colour science and range. They make it feel as realistic as possible,” he says. The 8K resolution “means my footage will look good as YouTube evolves”.
One other camera to know about is from Hasselblad. Till now, Hasselblad cameras have not been best for video. They shoot only 30 frames per second, and max out at 1080p. But that will all change later this year, when the renowned Swedish company plans to release some worthy competition.
Don’t forget lighting
Natural light is always best. But it’s not always an option. The Neewer 160 light attaches to the top of a camera or a stand. It uses LEDs so you get better colour accuracy than you would with tungsten or fluorescent light.
My favourite accessory: HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote
“The only piece of hardware I’ve spent money on was a shutter button. It’s a button that you can Bluetooth-remote on your phone so you don’t have to tap and hold the photo button, even in Snapchat. I can put my phone on a tripod and record without having to have my hand on the phone.” – Sallia Goldstein, @salliasnap
Field tested: The Gimbal mount
Whether you’re shooting with your phone or an expensive SLR rig, a gimbal will help stabilise your shots and prevent your videos from looking like they were shot by Jason Bourne after 16 cups of coffee. For your phone – especially larger ones like the 7 Plus and the Pixel XL – the Zhiyun-Tech Smooth Q about R3 000; pictured) takes only five minutes to set up.
It works basically like a car mount: your phone sits in the cradle. After getting everything balanced on all three axes using the gimbal’s two sliders, you can power on the motors that will ultimately control the movements. It was much easier than I expected. I used the Zhiyun to annoy film my wife making dinner. I got way better shots than I expected and although it was just to practice, I was thrilled with my ultra-slow-motion pan of tomatoes cascading on to a fresh bed of salad greens.
For my SLR, a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 24–70mm lens and an attached Røde shotgun mic, I tried the Ikan EC1 three-axis gimbal (R11 000). Balancing a big SLR with a long lens was much harder than balancing a phone. The centre of gravity is harder to figure out and I was worried the whole thing would tip over and break before I got to shoot anything. All this was made worse when I tried to assemble and balance the rig at a dusty racetrack. Worst of all, it was heavy. After 14 hours of shooting a motorcycle race in Kentucky in the hot sun, my hands, back and shoulders ached. That’s when I appreciated the joystick. I could set the whole rig on a flat surface and pan by moving the stick. The video came out great. My back, however, still feels terrible. – Michael Wilson