Credit: By teclasorg on Flickr. Some rights reserved

The best camera is the one you have with you – and many journalists are now using their phones to take photos or record videos and audio for their stories.

Mobile journalism is now an established reporting method, with various apps designed for almost every stage of the process.

But the majority of these apps we hear of and write about are for iPhones or iPads, so what happens if the camera you have with you is an Android phone?

"The smartphone movement, one of its promises for me is that filmmaking and reporting is becoming more democratic – as in more people can actually do it," said video producer Florian Reichart, referring to the generally lower price of Android devices compared to iPhones.

Speaking at the Mobile Journalism Conference in March, Reichart – known as @smartfilming on Twitter – ran through some of the advantages of using Android phones for mobile journalism.

Florian Reichart tells about the advantages of using Android and Windows Phone devices for mobile journalism, speaking after his workshop at the conference.

Because of the greater number of devices to choose from on Android there are more options around specific functions, such as optical zoom.

Another perk of Android devices is the expandable storage through microUSB support.

"You can [also] just swap the battery," he said.

"If you're out in the field, everyone knows especially if you're shooting video, you're using a lot of power so it's good to have a second or third battery that you can just swap in.

"If you're recording video outside in the sunlight, you will usually have to set the screen brightness to a maximum so you can actually see how you compose your shot, and that of course drains the battery a lot."

The iPhone, in contrast, is designed as a "unibody device" where removing the battery is difficult – but some producers of Android devices are now moving in this direction, with the Samsung Galaxy S6 phone designed with an irremovable battery.

The variety of devices also brings about a disadvantage, the so-called fragmentation, where apps may not run on all Android devices or work as well.

A rule of thumb would be, as with all apps, to test every function you might need before relying on a particular app for your work.

So what's out there? Here are some of Reichart's recommendations:

Filming and editing

The iPhone mobile journalism staple Filmic Pro recently revealed the team is developing a beta version of the app for Android.

But there is already an app that gives you more control over your filming than the native camera – Cinema FV-5.

Some of its basic features include locking focus, exposure, and white balance, as well as audio level meters and monitoring via headphones.

For editing, Reichart recommended KineMaster, "on par with iMovie" in his opinion.

"It has one video track and three audio tracks. You can do basic grading, exposure saturation and contrast within the app," he said.

But the free version comes with a watermark, so if you're looking to edit often with KineMaster as part of your job you would need to pay a subscription fee.

"Android users are not used to paying as much money for their apps, so the subscription model is kind of awkward I think in this regard," added Reichart.

And while there's no Meerkat or Periscope for Android, or at least not yet, there are several apps for livestreaming available, such as Bambuser, Livestream, Ustream or Reelsome.

Recording audio and editing

For audio recording, try RecForge Pro or Field Recorder.

"Field Recorder is very interesting in one way because it lets you flip the display," explained Reichart, which is important if you're covering up the microphone with a windscreen.

And as the microphone is usually at the bottom of the phone, "of course the display is upside down and all the important controls [are] not there.

"This app lets you flip the display so you can actually use this as a field recorder."

RecForge Pro can also be used to trim audio tracks, but for more serious multi-track editing there's Audio Evolution Mobile.

"This was actually made for musicians to record music tracks but there is no reason why you can't use it for something else."


If the native camera app is not enough, Cinema FV-5 has a sister app for photographers called Camera FV-5.

For editing, Reichart recommends Photoshop Touch, Snapseed, or Pixlr  –  check out this Pixlr overview to see what you can do, for example.

"These are some of the apps that I've been using to do basic image editing, nothing too crazy of course," he said.

Have a favourite mobile device or app for reporting? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @journalismnews.

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