The camera is one of the best and most convenient features of any smartphone, whether you use an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel or other phones.
When your dog strikes a cute pose or your child finally conquers the monkey bars, you’re ready to capture the moment. You’re also prepared to snap a picture of a fun selfie for your Instagram or other social media site. Gone are the days of wishing you’d brought your camera.
While the quality of smartphone cameras keeps improving with every new model, there are times when you want something a bit more professional. You may want your vacation photos to expertly capture the stunning, once-in-a-lifetime scenery or finally get that professional-looking family photo during a family reunion. Perhaps, you need high-quality images to support your online website.
Fortunately, there are a variety of smartphone accessories to help elevate your phone’s camera to the next level. So whether you’re a hobbyist or professional photographer, here are some accessories that can help you capture the perfect shot with your smartphone.
Please see some of our other smartphone camera articles like “What Is 8K on a Smartphone’s Camera?” and “Do You Need the Latest iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro Camera?”
Having a steady hand when shooting photographs helps reduce the chance of a blurry picture. A tried and true method to help minimize or avoid camera shake is to use a tripod. These handy accessories allow you to take sharp, clear pictures by holding the camera steady for you and giving you time to set up a shot.
A tripod is also useful for taking group photos, closeup pictures of nature, or even selfies. But, tripods can be bulky. As a result, tripods may not be for everyone.
That said, there are a variety of tripods on the market specifically designed for smartphones. Many of these tripods are useful for both hobbyist and professional photographers who regularly use their smartphones to take pictures.
What to look for: Before shopping for a tripod, consider how you plan to use it, the types of shots you expect to take, and how portable you need it to be.
Some tripod options to consider include:
- Portability: Some tripods are small enough to fit in your pocket.
- Flexibility: Some tripods are made to have flexible legs that you can bend and shape to get the exact shot that you want. Some of these types of tripods are designed so the legs can even wrap around an object.
- Rubber feet: Tripods often use rubber feet to help with stability and to prevent the legs from slipping out of position, which is especially important for the flexible style tripods.
- Extendable or telescoping tripods: If you need a tripod to extend to a broad range of sizes, you’ll want to focus on a telescoping tripod. These types of tripods can provide stability in different situations as well as double as a selfie stick.
Selfie sticks have been popular for quite some time. These lightweight, telescoping poles allow you to capture shots without asking a stranger to take the picture for you. The selfie stick can also allow you a more steady hand so that you can take a better picture.
Although popular, some places have banned selfie sticks from being used, such as Disney amusement parks, due to the potential risk of harm. So before bringing your selfie stick to a crowded area like an amusement park or sporting event, make sure they are permitted.
- What to look for: There is no one universal kind of selfie stick, so take the time to find the style that will work best for your needs. Some features to consider before buying a selfie stick include:
- Phone compatibility: Not all selfie sticks are compatible with all smartphone brands, although many newer selfie sticks work with a range of phones.
- Extendability: You’ll want to find a selfie stick that will extend the length that you need. If your goal is to primarily take selfies or group shots, then most devices will extend far enough. However, if your goal is to take overhead nature shots, you may need a stick that extends farther. Some brands on the market can reach up to ten feet long.
- Portability: A selfie stick won’t do you any good if it’s too long for you to bring with you on trips or adventures. Fortunately, many selfie sticks retract enough so you can store them in a purse, bag, or even a pocket.
- How it takes the picture: Selfie sticks typically come with a built-in Bluetooth remote or may synch to your phone via a cable. Usually, you’ll click a button on the handle of the selfie stick to take the picture.
- Wrist strap and non-slip grip: Since you’re extending your phone into the air, it’s nice to have extra protection to ensure you don’t drop your smartphone. Many selfie sticks provide a non-slip handle and a wrist strap to help you keep your grip.
Newer smartphones often come with a dual-lens or triple-lens camera, which can provide good everyday photographs. However, no matter how new your smartphone, the camera has limits.
For instance, smartphone lenses are small, which restricts the amount of light the lens can let in no matter how skilled a photographer you are. Another problem is that the digital zoom capabilities work by scaling up your picture, which can leave the image looking pixelated.
That said, adding a camera lens designed to work with your smartphone can solve these problems and lead to more professional-quality pictures.
- What to look for: As with many smartphone accessories, you’ll first want to be sure the lens works with your phone model. Other considerations may include:
- Type of lens or lenses needed: Many external smartphone camera lenses come as a kit, providing you with a variety of lenses such as wide-angle, fisheye, zoom, macro lens, and more. If you know which type of lenses you most need, this will help you narrow down your choice of lens kit.
- How the lens attaches: Some external camera lenses attach to your phone with a clip-on mount, while others will require a special case to use the lens. When buying, check to see if the clip or case is included in the kit or if you need to buy it separately.
External Light Attachments
Newer smartphones come with effective flashes and low-light modes. However, sometime you may need more light than your smartphone can provide to get a crisp, clear shot.
Fortunately, there are many types of external lights available to help, including devices for specific uses such as for selfies or filmmaking. Most external lights for smartphones are lightweight and portable, making it an easy accessory to carry with you.
- What to look for: If you’re primarily interested in selfie lights, your main choice will be choosing between a light you clip-on your phone versus a case that has a built-in light strip.
- Clip-on style: Many clip-on selfie lights come in a ring shape. The device often uses small LED lights and allows you to adjust the level of brightness from a low, medium, and high. These devices are small, portable, and fit easily into a bag or purse.
- Selfie light case: The selfie case style has light strips built into the case to help brighten your selfies. The advantage of this style is that you will always have it right with your phone. You will want to see how long this case holds a charge and whether the brightness level is adjustable.
- What to look for: If you’re interested in lights for a variety of situations and not just for selfies, here are some features to consider:
- Brightness: You’ll want a light that is strong enough to cast the distances you’ll need. Most lights will indicate how far the light can cast, so be sure to find a brand that works for you. Additionally, some products allow you the ability to dim the light as needed.
- Type of light cast: Have you ever used additional light that added an orange tint to your photo? When looking at external lights, investigate the kind of light it casts. For instance, if a light has a daylight color balance, it’s less likely to cause an orange tint or require you to use a color filter.
- Diffuser: Some lights come with a diffuser, which will soften the light. A diffuser can help you avoid having harsh light that may cast additional shadows. It also can give your subjects a softer look, which can be useful when taking pictures of people’s faces.
- Filters: Some lights come with filters that allow you to change the color temperature and diffuse the light. If you want the ability to adjust the type of light you’re using, this could be an important feature to look for.
- How it is attached: You’ll want to see if an attachment is included or built into the light to allow you to connect it directly to your smartphone. If an attachment is not included, there are universal smartphone clamps that you can buy. Additionally, some models are also designed to be compatible with tripods if needed.
Finding the Right Camera Accessories Can Take Your Smartphone Photos to the Next Level
Whether you’re a hobbyist or a photographer, smartphone camera accessories can help you capture the shots you want when you’re on the go. There are a variety of accessories that can help with your specific situation and needs, whether it’s a better lens, additional light, or a device to help stabilize your shot. With the right accessories, you’ll be taking professional-level photos that you’ll be proud to share.