Phones can shoot great video, but holding a thin phone steady for long periods is near impossible. And if you're moving at the time -- I may have a slight interest in shooting video from inside a landing airplane -- you can forget it altogether.
Fortunately, a Barcelona-based company called Shoulderpod has an excellent solution in its line of smartphone rigs. You not only get a better way to hold your phone still, but also the freedom to add accessories like a microphone and a light to boost your video's quality. And for the serious professionals out there, Shoulderpod's rigs will attach to most standard tripods, as well.
Shoulderpod R1 Pro is an elegant way to shoot pro video with your phone (pictures)See all photos
The company's product family starts with the simple S1, which consists of an adjustable clamp for your phone, a small handle and an arm strap. At the other extreme is the R1 Pro (which I used), which includes two handles that attach to a base that accommodates the clamp (which you must buy separately) and a "cold shoe" mount for other filming accessories. In the middle is the R1 Go, which is a hybrid of the two.
All parts are modular, which gives you the freedom to construct the solution you need, and they're compatible with all iPhone and Android handsets.
I used the R1 Pro recently to film this video of the model airport at Hamburg's Minatur Wunderland. Using the two handles I could keep my extremely still while still panning smoothly to capture moving objects -- like a model Millennium Falcon coming in for a landing. The parts are solidly constructed, either of weighty metal or solid wood, and they fasten securely together.
If I missed anything, it would be an accessory for pressing the shutter button remotely without moving my hands from the handles and potentially shaking the phone as it starts and stops filming.
The S1 sells for $35, £25 or AU$63 through the company's site or other online retailers -- see Shoulderpod's site for the full list, as availability varies by country. The R1 Pro is sold only on Shoulderpod's site for 89.90 euros (about $100, £70 or AU$130). If you want just the clamp -- a part called the G1 -- that will set you back 23.90 euros (about $30, £20 or AU$35).