Mobile photography
Credit: By Das Fotoimaginarium on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Glen Mulcahy, innovation lead at RTÉ, said that "If you have an iPhone and iPad you have an entire production studio in your pocket".

Running a mobile journalism training course on July 24 as part of's news:rewired, Mulcahy shared his experiences working with mobile devices as well as multiple accessories and apps covering all stages of the production process.

Alongside the ten apps Mulcahy recommended, here are five key pieces of advice from the workshop.

1. Don’t zoom

There is no optical zoom on the iPhone, so what actually happens when the zoom is used is that the software enlarges part of the image.

"The more you zoom, the worse your picture gets", said Mulcahy, so it should only be used when it is physically impossible or unsafe to get closer to the subject.

Using extra accessories can be a way to work around this problem though, and Mulcahy recommended the Sony QX10 optical zoom. Not just a clip-on lens, the QX10 is a minitiaure camera in itself that can be positioned on a tripod and controlled by the mobile phone. At around £150 ($250) it doesn't come cheap, but won't break the bank.

2. Proximity is important

When shooting with nothing but a phone, being close to the subject is crucial to producing good content.

Mulcahy said mobile journalists need to "keep it steady and get close", being one metre away from the subject is a useful guideline to keep in mind.

This positioning makes it possible to get both decent audio without an external microphone, and a good head shot.

3. Keep your phone in airplane mode

Forgetting to put the smartphone in airplane mode can "completely destroy the audio" according to Mulcahy. When recording on a phone with a 3G connection, the device can cause an electrical interference that will make the audio unusable.

Another important tip for recording quality audio is to always use headphones. Just because the sound levels appear on the screen and going up and down does not mean the phone is capturing a usable recording.

"You cannot see sound", Mulcahy said

4. Start filming horizontally and keep it that way

Shooting video horizontally is one of the basic first steps to filming good content with a mobile phone. If you find yourself filming vertically and want to switch, "don’t just turn it sideways and continue", he said.

When your start recording video, there is a switch on most devices that remembers the orientation of the phone at the moment the record button was pressed. Turning the phone in the middle of a recording would just get you "sideways vertical video" said Mulcahy.

5. Follow what others are doing

As mobile journalism is gaining traction, newsrooms are experimenting and using the tools available in different ways. Mulcahy gave Sky News as an example of a news outlet "open about sharing” through the @skynewstech Twitter account.

There are also dedicated smartphone-only film festivals, like Cinephone, and iPhone cameras regularly top the list of prefered cameras for Flickr users.

"The device is just a device, the real art is in the hands of the person holding the device", said Mulcahy.

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