How Do I Keep My Smartphone Steady when Capturing Video?

Robert writes:

The only video camera I have is my smartphone. I want to do YouTube videos with my phone while avoiding camera shake. So is there a tripod that is made for a smartphone?

How Do I Keep My Smartphone Steady when Capturing Video?Thanks for asking me, Robert. It’s got me thinking about solutions for my own smartphone again. The one that comes to mind right away is the MilliMount, a Kickstarter-funded project that is just now beginning to ship. The MilliMount is designed for a variety of smartphone mounting setups, including tripod mounting and windshield mounting (useful not only for recording but for using your smartphone as a GPS device). It can also be used as a simple phone stand.

Some of the team here at LockerGnome have MilliMounts being delivered to their home as I’m typing this; our own Ryan Matthew Pierson received his yesterday and describes it as a simple and sturdy device that “works pretty well, though it probably won’t accommodate most of the larger screen Android phones. I could just barely fit my iPhone 5 with a case in the thing.” During the Kickstarter campaign, the designer noted that the phone would fit most phones, so I would advise anyone with a device that could be referred to as a phablet to wait until the team behind the device develops a version of the MilliMount that will accommodate larger smartphones.

The Steadicam is the industry-standard (I’m referring to film and television industry) equipment for keeping a film or video camera stable. Steadicams use a system of counterbalancing mechanics to keep the camera steady. A professional Steadicam, of course, would be a bit of overkill for the purpose of keeping a smartphone from delivering shaky video. The Picosteady is a Steadicam-like mounting system (also funded by a Kickstarter campaign) that is designed for a variety of cameras, including DSLR cameras, point-and-shoot cameras, and GoPro cameras. As with the MilliMount, the Picosteady is designed to fit most smartphones.

Steadicam-like stabilizers are awesome, but there are also a variety of very simple, purpose-specific stabilizing mounts, many of which are also designed for specific smartphones. Some of these are very well made; others, less so. You generally get what you pay for. If you’re serious about reducing the shakiness of your video and don’t want to come across as an amateurish videographer using nothing more than duct tape and a coat hanger (which may very well work for you, actually), you’re going to want to look for a Steadicam-like stabilizer, and those are usually more expensive than the mounts which don’t rely on balancing and counterbalancing physics.

Anyone who can recommend some other smartphone stabilizing devices, please chime in! I’d love to hear about some other ways of reducing shakiness while recording with a smartphone, even if your method involves duct tape.

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.