There’s no doubt about it; smartphone photography is on the rise. And with the way mobile phone cameras are constantly improving, it’s easy to see why.
Even though some traditional photographers may scoff at the idea of using a phone to take “professional” photos, it’s a tool that’s readily available and can get the job done.
And just like with traditional photography, there are several key accessories that are necessary to help you improve the quality of your photos.
In this article, we will discuss these additional pieces of equipment you’ll need in order for you to drastically step your smartphone photography game up.
Keeping your camera stable is very important in photography. It is one of those important things that make a smartphone photo look good because, not only does it help you avoid taking blurry shots, but it can also help you take brighter photos with your smartphone in low light.
On top of that, it opens up the opportunity to capture some really creative shots.
There are several support systems that you can use to keep your phone steady, but the most popular accessory is the tripod. These three-legged camera support tools come in four common variations, each with their own pros and cons.
And because there are so many tripod options to choose from, you need to know what matters most to you in terms of function and design before you invest in one.
In another article, I have written about some basic things to consider when choosing a tripod. I recommend you check it out before you invest in this important piece of equipment.
Tripods are not the only way you can support your smartphone when taking photos. Other options are monopods, hand grips, and other hybrid support systems that mix features of one or more of the other support systems.
And just like tripods, these other camera support tools have their own advantages and disadvantages and serve their own special purpose. You can learn more about them all here.
Unlike with smartphones, dedicated cameras have a threaded screw insert at the bottom, which allows them to be securely attached to the tripod head via a base plate.
To overcome this deficiency, an extra piece of equipment is required-- the all-important smartphone mount!
The mount, also known as a clamp, is an accessory that attaches to a tripod via the threaded screw which smartphones lack.
Once the mount is securely fastened to the tripod, you can attach the camera in the mount’s grip and then you’re good to go.
Although some smartphone camera support systems come with their own mounts, a number of them don’t. And the ones that do, more often than not, come with low-quality mounts that are flimsy and lose their strength over time.
So, even if you buy a tripod or any other camera support accessory that comes with its own mount, I highly recommend you purchase a top quality mount that will actually tightly secure your phone in place and also last you for a much longer time.
It’s a very sturdy and well-designed clamp, but what I like most is that unlike a lot of mounts, it allows you to switch the rotation of your phone between portrait and landscape without having to remove it from the tripod. It can also tilt up, which most mounts can’t do.
There’s also a Joby GripTight Pro for Tablets. Definitely a good investment!
Smartphone camera lens attachments are an invaluable addition to any mobile photography arsenal. That’s because they take what your phone’s camera can do and take it even further, thus opening up opportunities for some really cool shots.
The most common lens attachments available are the wide-angle, telephoto, and macro lenses.
Some lens manufacturers also make fisheye lenses, which provide a much wider field-of-view than the other lenses.
These lens attachments gained popularity back when smartphones only had one rear camera.
This meant that the phone’s only camera, which typically had a wide-angle lens, could zoom in closer to a subject by attaching a telephoto lens. Or you could capture more of a scene by attaching a lens that had a wider field-of-view.
But now that smartphones come with multiple rear cameras with varying fields-of-view, the question of whether lens attachments are still necessary becomes a valid one. In my opinion, I’d say they still are. Why?
There are multiple reasons why I think lens attachments are still necessary, but mainly because the main rear camera on multi-camera smartphones is usually of higher picture quality than the other lenses.
Depending on your phone’s cameras, attaching a lens to the main camera will give you a different field-of-view while not sacrificing picture quality.
Also, I’m not aware of any camera phone on the market that comes standard with a macro lens. So, if you’re into close up photography, you’ll definitely need to purchase a macro lens attachment.
No serious photographer can go without using lights. The same applies to smartphone photography. And since smartphones have very small image sensors, lighting is really important.
If you’re shooting outside in the day time, then, sure, you’re photos will probably turn out just fine.
The problem arises when you take pictures at night or in low light conditions. Because the camera has to compensate for poor lighting, the result is photos that look grainy (due to high ISO) or pictures that are blurry (due to slow shutter speed).
After a lot of searching online, I have a couple of lights that work well with smartphones. Manfrotto has the Lumimuse, which houses up to 8 LED lights and can connect to your phone via Bluetooth. It’s a continuous light which means instead of flashing, it remains on for as long as you have it activated.
What about using your phone camera’s flash? My advice is don’t use the flash on your phone. Not only is it generally weak, but it also tends to produce flat and unflattering photographs.
If you are keen to use flash in your smartphone photography, I’d recommend you use the Godox A1 Smartphone Flash. It’s a small wireless flash that is easy to operate and can also be used to trigger other flashes. It’s definitely better than using the flash on your phone. Your pictures will look way better.
It might seem odd to include this on a list of photography accessories but there are a couple of reasons why I believe a special protective case for your phone can be an important add-on.
For example, should you be in a position where you’re taking pictures in rainy weather, a waterproof case such as the Lifeproof FRE case can give your phone the necessary protection against potential water damage.
While on the topic of water, if you want to take your smartphone photography game to the next level and take photos underwater with your phone, there are several underwater housings for smartphones such as the Kraken Sports Smart Housing that allow you to use your smartphone comfortably up to 80m underwater!
A phone case is also necessary if you’re going to use attachable lenses from Moment. Unlike with clip-on lenses from the likes of Olliclip, lenses made by Moment require you to purchase a Moment Case for your phone onto which you can attach their lenses.
Although this may not be an accessory that improves your mobile photography, it can be a lifesaver. Photography can be very power-consuming especially over extended periods.
And because smartphones are notorious for their lack of long-lasting battery power, this might pose a problem.
If you find yourself taking shots with your phone in the great outdoors or in a place with no immediate access to power, a good power bank will definitely come in handy.
Anker makes some really good portable chargers that can quickly charge a variety of devices many times over, which is great if you won’t be able to charge for a while.
The Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD can fully charge a USB-C Notebook and still have enough power to charge a phone.
What’s great about power banks is that they’re not only reserved for charging mobile phones but also other electronics, too.
If the lights you’re using run out of juice and can be recharged via USB, then this accessory can prove itself invaluable to your photography.
All the above-mentioned types of accessories will definitely help improve your photography. Of course, simply owning them will not magically turn your photos into works of art overnight.
The more you take photos using them and practice, the better at smartphone photography you will become over time. Soon you might be proud enough to print your photos and display them in your home.
Also, I highly recommend you try taking photos using manual mode. If you're unsure, read about the benefits of shooting in manual mode.
If you feel there’s an accessory that I might have left out, leave it in the comments below.