What to look for when buying a smartphone for video production
The amount of light let in through the lens onto the sensor. The wider open the aperture is, the more light gets in, giving you much better performance in low light. This is important when filming with minimal extra equipment like expensive lighting rigs. The aperture is measured in f-stops, the LOWER the number, the wider open the aperture – therefore an f-stop of f1.7 is better than f2.2.
The height and width of the video frame. The standard is still Full HD (1920x1080) but the majority of phones that are coming out in 2017/18 have 4K capability, which is 4 times the size of Full HD.
The amount of frames the camera captures every second. The standard is 25. A higher frame rate of 50 frames per second will give you smoother motion, 120fps will give you slow motion (at 120fps one seconds worth of footage will play back smoothly at around 5 seconds!)
This stands for optical image stabilisation. If you are filming hand held, even if you are very steady, tiny movements can be absorbed by the camera giving you shaky footage. What OIS does is analyse this in real time and counteract that movement, getting rid of any shakes and vibrations. A very useful feature
Mobile phones used to have terrible zoom. Borderline unuseable in fact. However, this seems to have changed recently. Even on my Galaxy S7 Edge, which is by technology standards very out of date, the zoom is good enough. A good zoom will make the phone more versatile and enable you to captured a larger variety of shots without the need for extra lenses.
A couple of things to consider here. First off find out if the phone has expandable memory. If so, you have a lot more options when it comes to storage – you can have multiple micro SD cards giving you potentially hundreds of gigabytes worth of storage space. This is not essential, but worth looking for. Some phones don’t allow expandable memory so check how much internal storage space is available. 32Gb is more than enough if you are not shooting regularly with your smartphone. As a guide, you can get about 80 minutes worth of 4K footage on 32gb of space if recording at a standard video quality.