Credit: Pixabay

The rapid rise in the use of smartphones in newsrooms has been beneficial for reporters, from cutting costs to giving the ability to report live from anywhere in the world without as many logistical challenges.

However, filming on a mobile phone rather than on a traditional camera does have its drawbacks. Here are six ways to get around them.

Shooting steady footage

Not everyone is gifted with a steady hand when shooting on a phone but a shaky video makes anything you produce look unprofessional and unpolished. 

Many smartphones include optical image stabilisation for video to help with this but there is also a variety of apps available which provide in-app stablisation, such as FilmicPro. 

As well as this, you can get a tripod - or a monopod if you travel light - with a smartphone mount, to ensure any footage you shoot is as stable as possible. And if you do not have a tripod at hand, try to rest your phone on a stable horizontal surface or lean against a wall if you need to film standing, especially when shooting in a selfie mode.

Finally, it helps to hold your breath when you press the 'record' button as that minimises the movement. And if you need to shoot for just a few seconds, try to hold your breath for the entire time as that will stop your chest and shoulders from moving up and down, or breathe through your belly.

Availability of apps

There are many amazing apps available for mobile journalism but some are currently only available on one operating system, such as LumaFusion or Mojo.

Whilst there are many great alternatives, if using a specific app is essential for you, make sure it is available on the operating system you plan to use before buying a phone.


For good quality sound, you may need an external microphone as the internal microphone on your smartphone will not suffice for clear audio.

A range of microphones are available, from clip-on mics and handheld reporter microphones to wireless options that allow freedom of movement during a piece-to-camera.

As some smartphones, most notably the recent range of iPhones, lack a headphone jack, make sure to also equip yourself with a suitable adapter before going out into the field to record.

Finally, if you forgot your mic at home, you can always cup one hand around the base of your phone where the internal microphone is located to maximise the capture of soundwaves, a bit like a mini satellite dish. This little hack can sometimes be a real lifesaver.

Battery life

We use smartphones for almost everything today, from checking our emails to live-tweeting an event and, of course, using your phone’s camera to conduct interviews.

All of this, however, eats up your battery life and risks your phone cutting out while filming.

To prevent this, it is worth investing in a power bank. If you have an iPhone 7 or newer and you need to use an external microphone or headphones for filming, make sure it is charged enough before you press 'record' as you cannot use the port for plugging a mic and a charger.

That said, if you are serious about your mojo (and reliably forgetful about charging your phone), you can always get a lightning splitter cable that allows you to plug two devices at the same time.

Finally, to help preserve your battery life, as well as prevent any unwanted interruptions or sound alerts, always have your smartphone in an airplane mode when filming.

Frame rate

On some smartphones, camera settings are automatically set to a frame rate of 30 fps.

However, broadcast television in Europe, Africa, Oceania, and most of Asia use either PAL or SECAM, which require footage to be shot at 25 fps. 

If you are shooting mojo footage which will be broadcast on television, you will need to make sure this is adjusted to the correct setting for your country.


Smartphone cameras have improved considerably over the last decade but many still struggle in low light.

Although it is best to film in daylight or indoors where artificial light is often available, that is not always possible. When filming indoors, position your subject face to the window which provides natural, diffuse light and helps get rid of the shadows on the face.

If you really need to film in the dark, you can invest in a portable camera light, which can be clipped on your device. If you are using an iPhone, you can also activate the in-built flashlight by saying "Siri, turn on my flashlight" - although it is not very powerful, it can help lighten up the scene or a face to minimise shadows.

What are your mojo hacks? Let us know @journalismnews

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).