Souped-Up Smartphones

If hiring a professional photographer isn’t an option for you, but you still want more attractive listing photos and videos, your smartphone might be your answer.

May 14, 2014

Most smartphones sold today include cameras that range from 8 to 13 megapixels (Lumia 1020’s untouchable 41-megapizel camera notwithstanding). That range offers plenty of resolution to take high-quality pictures. But the smartphone lens might leave something to be desired.

The good news is, your smartphone has options. Attachable or mountable hardware such as lenses, microphones, and tripods can turn your smartphone into a pseudo digital SLR or video production device.

Scott Newman, broker-owner of Newman Realty in Chicago, bought an iPhone kit that came with a clip-on and a boom-style microphone, tripod adapter mount, and a magnetic camera lens that fits over the phone’s camera to give a wider-angle view. “We can now shoot video both in the office and out in the field with a maximum three-minute setup time,” says Newman. offers single lenses, such as a 58mm iPhone 5/5s attachable lens for $99.95, or you can create your own mobile movie system for an iPhone, iPad, or other mobile device with various lenses, microphones, and video lights. Cost: $300 to $700. offers an iPhone and Android aluminum lens package for $99, which includes fisheye, telephoto, wide angle, macro, and polarizing lenses. Each set comes with an adhesive metal ring that attaches to the back of your phone.

Sony offers the QX10 18.2 megapixel attachable smartphone lens for $249.99, and with a Wi-Fi connection, images are automatically saved to either your iPhone or Android phone. It also records high-definition video and includes a 10x optical zoom. You could also opt for the QX100 model, which has an even closer zoom for $499.99. 

But before you step-up your mobile photography game, be sure to keep these best practices in mind:

1. Use a tripod. Especially if you spring for a telephoto lens. It will help avoid the blur caused by camera shake and achieve better light exposure.

2. Use a microphone. Shotgun microphones mount on the camera/smartphone and a lavaliere microphone clips to clothing of an individual you’re filming. It is especially important to use a higher quality microphone if you’re shooting video outdoors as background noise can overwhelm the built-in microphone on smartphones.

3. Compose your shot. Take a minute to frame your shot before you start filming or shooting. Try moving your subject so it’s offset by one-third in the frame. Move your body by getting lower to the ground, or use a stepladder to get the optimal angle.

4. Clean your lens. Using a shirt to wipe a lens could cause scratches. Spring for a lens cleaning cloth, says Newman.

5. Know when to hire a pro. “I do not shoot my own photographs for properties over $100,000,” says Newman. “I believe in the value of a good photographer as their expertise goes well beyond access to equipment.”