Cell Phone Cam Alternatives to DSLR?

Comment King

New member
Hi. What cell phone is best for achieving cinematic or rich texture-look quality? I presently have a Panasonic Lumix GH3 DSLR camera from 2015 and it still works fine. But I dislike how heavy it is. I'd rather have a phone I can easily carry on me instead of dealing with a DSLR which I have to lock up for theft prevention. I'm amateur level with phones and vid cameras. I can't keep up with how fast tech changes. Since 2015 it seems the cams are now filming to look like movies - maybe even without attachments.

An example of a vid made is:
when outside you can see the rich texture (glossy magazine look) of the footage. I'm hoping I can get a cell phone equivalent. If it's not too much trouble I'm open to attachments too. But all my iphones are also from 2015. Of course I've read things like " Best smartphone cameras for video — 2021" at Videomaker but I'm hoping to get firsthand insights form the wisdom of the crowd. Thank you.
 

Olivia Perez

Active member
Hi. What cell phone is best for achieving cinematic or rich texture-look quality? I presently have a Panasonic Lumix GH3 DSLR camera from 2015 and it still works fine. But I dislike how heavy it is. I'd rather have a phone I can easily carry on me instead of dealing with a DSLR which I have to lock up for theft prevention. I'm amateur level with phones and vid cameras. I can't keep up with how fast tech changes. Since 2015 it seems the cams are now filming to look like movies - maybe even without attachments.

An example of a vid made is:
when outside you can see the rich texture (glossy magazine look) of the footage. I'm hoping I can get a cell phone equivalent. If it's not too much trouble I'm open to attachments too. But all my iphones are also from 2015. Of course I've read things like " Best smartphone cameras for video — 2021" at Videomaker but I'm hoping to get firsthand insights form the wisdom of the crowd. Thank you.
Hi Comment King! Modern smartphones have integrated cameras, some have 3 cameras, some have 4. Your budget matters. If you need a smartphone solely for filming and editing and you have a small budget, you can try Huawei P30 Pro. If you have a bigger budget, you can try any of the smartphones that will come out this year: Samsung, iPhone, Huawei, Xiaomi...all of them have really good cameras.
 

Oskar Kuusk

Active member
Aside from what Maura and Olivia already said, phones come with a Pro Mode and apps that can help you unlock the true potential of that camera. There are even apps for editing the videos. You will never be able to achieve the quality of a professional expensive camera with lens by using a smartphone. But if you have $1000, you should buy the newest smartphone that comes out because these days the result will be better than using a camera of the same price. If you however have $2000 or more, you should buy professional camera and lens
 

waffleholic

New member
Most current gen phones will do the trick. I used a Pixel 3A for most of the opening shots in the first 20 seconds of this tourism video.

Important things to keep in mind:
- You'll need an ND filter and an app like Filmic Pro so you can set a constant framerate and ISO. Otherwise your smartphone's auto settings will run on auto, which looks pretty bad. Moment sells a camera case with a mount that takes an ND filter. But the Moment smartphone case is pretty poor quality and kind of slippery... but it does have a lens/filter mount.
- For good audio via wireless lav use an Azden Pro-XR for in-phone recording. I own one and really like it. I reviewed mine here. If not using a wireless lav I'd recommend getting an external recording of some sort like a Zoom H1n. Even the cheapest external recorder is better than a smartphone built-in mic
- Always double check your smartphone footage after each recording. While smartphones are great little devices they aren't built for constantly punching a recording button and generating multiple video files on the fly. File corruption does happen, and has happened to me when using my Pixel 3A. If you can, back them up to a laptop every so often throughout your shoot day.
 

bobturnbul

New member
Hi. What cell phone is best for achieving cinematic or rich texture-look quality? I presently have a Panasonic Lumix GH3 DSLR camera from 2015 and it still works fine. But I dislike how heavy it is. I'd rather have a phone I can easily carry on me instead of dealing with a DSLR which I have to lock up for theft prevention. I'm amateur level with phones and vid cameras. I can't keep up with how fast tech changes. Since 2015 it seems the cams are now filming to look like movies - maybe even without attachments.

An example of a vid made is:
when outside you can see the rich texture (glossy magazine look) of the footage. I'm hoping I can get a cell phone equivalent. If it's not too much trouble I'm open to attachments too. But all my iphones are also from 2015. Of course I've read things like " Best smartphone cameras for video — 2021" at Videomaker but I'm hoping to get firsthand insights form the wisdom of the crowd. Thank you.
according to me DSLR is the best, though you can use i-phone for your job. Samsung is also one of the best. I am not an expert, just share my opinion.
 

Robert Miller

Active member
A DSLR (or mirrorless, which is more popular these days) needs many custom gadgets, accessories and so on. You need the camera body, you need wide lens, macro lens, normal lens and many other lens, depending what you are shooting, external microphone, lights, tripod, gimbal, bag to carry them all, sun filter and the list is big and expensive, even if you go for the budget version. You also need to have a deep understanding of each of these and know how to set it up and make the most out of each of them.
A smartphone is like a pack with all in one. You might need a gimbal which is around $100. A good alternative is any smartphone that is new: iPhone, Samsung, Huawei (but it comes without Google Services and this can be a big drawback if you are not getting it only for filming and you need some special apps that are only on iOS App Store or Google Play Store). They also have AI filters which makes it even easier to set it up on "auto mode".
You can do good projects with a smartphone. It will never offer the quality of a professional camera with professional lens, but it will get you a good quality for a low budget. Go for it.
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
I have watched some videos about the different lighting effects on the image quality on phones and the larger dedicated cameras. The jury is out as far as I am concerned. The quality of the phone video continues to improve with each iteration. It's hitting at the top of the 4K spectrum of image acquisition and can be a handy run and gun device for journalists and doc makers. The peripheral gear seems to be the area where we will miss the larger made-for-shotting devices. Just thought I might comment on this while waiting for a call this morning. I take a lot of photos and some videos with my iPhone. It works. It might not match the quality of a RED or Arri but it sure ain't bad.
 
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