The Best Mobile Kit: 2020 Edition

Michael Baker
Apr 6 · 8 min read
an assortment of mobile gear flatlayed
an assortment of mobile gear flatlayed
photo by Michael Baker

The camera in your pocket also happens to be a phone, but who cares about that. We all carry around some of the most popular cameras on the planet everyday, and they only keep getting better. The rise of the smartphone popularized mobile photography, but we already know all of that.

As phone cameras have gotten better so have the apps and accessories that go along with them. But tracking down the best app or accessory often leads you down a YouTube rabbit hole and then you end up buying a Masterclass subscription (I can’t be the only one that only gets Masterclass ads, right?) instead of that gimbal you were interested in. I went ahead and fell down that rabbit hole for you and through a combination of research and a lot of personal testing I have come up with this comprehensive list.

The Apps

app icons for Filmic Pro, Rtro, VSCO, Moment Pro Camera, and Lightroom Mobile
app icons for Filmic Pro, Rtro, VSCO, Moment Pro Camera, and Lightroom Mobile
design by Michael Baker

This is by far my favorite camera app for mobile. Moment has done an amazing job of integrating manual control over every aspect of your shot like ISO, shutter speed, EV, focus, and white balance for both photo and video along with RAW support. Moment just recently updated the iOS app to version 4.0 and added support for time-lapses. Unfortunately, they just stopped supporting the Android app, but it is still available for $3.99 with all of the old features and support for their lenses. I plan on getting more in-depth with this update in the next week or so, but for now — just download it and fall in love.

Filmic Pro has been used to make film award-winning films and is loved by video professionals. Filmic Pro offers similar granular support like Moment’s Pro Camera, but unfortunately only supports video. If you’re looking for the best video app, this is the one. Additionally, Filmic Pro is supported on both iOS and Android.

I’ve talked about Rtro before. If you’ve read that then you know I already love Rtro. It’s a simple and fun app made to help you create some vibey short films. It’s not professional, but it is fun. It definitely helps you make some stories that stand out from the crowd. Rtro is only on iOS.

It is impossible to mention mobile editing without VSCO. It is widely considered to be the best mobile editing app by photographers. VSCO is a powerful and simple editing tool with fantastic film emulating filters that creates stylized and iconic edits. VSCO offers a lot of basic editing tools for free, but you can unlock a ton of their presets and more advanced tools with their membership.

Lightroom Mobile is part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription; but it also has a great suite of features if you aren’t a subscriber. The free option gives you access to a powerful bevy of editing tools like presets and profiles along with tone curve and color editing. There are more than enough advanced features in the free version, but the full power of Lightroom Mobile is unlocked with their subscription. With the premium version you’re giving access to brushes and selective adjustments, geometry tools, RAW and batch editing, and included Creative Cloud Storage to backup original and edited photos. Lightroom is available on both Android and iOS.

The Lenses

two mobile camera lenses
two mobile camera lenses
photo from Moment

The best mobile lenses on the market right now are hands down Moment’s lineup. They are all made with cinema quality glass and aerospace grade aluminum. All of their newer lenses require an M-series mount to attach to your phone. They make cases for many of today’s popular phones, but if yours isn’t supported they also make a great clip-on mount. They have a pretty wide line-up, but these three are my favorite. The wide and tele give you a fantastic focal range and the anamorphic ups your cinematic game. While many phones are coming with a number of cameras with different focal lengths on them they don’t all use the same sensor or aperture. This can result in lower quality photos. My solution to this is to put a Moment lens over the main shooter while still snapping those crispy shots.

An 18mm equivalent great for capturing 2x more picture.

A 58mm equivalent great for getting twice as close. You can even put it on the native telephoto lens on your phone and get a 4x optical zoom.

The anamorphic lens creates super cinematic horizontal flares while producing a super wide image. This lens will give you cinematic black bars without having to crop any of your footage.

The Accessories

I haven’t had a case on my phone since 2007. I have always been that devil-may-care phone user that prioritized form over function and lived on the edge. This attitude made it a little more difficult to use my Moment lenses which left them to shuffle around at the bottom of my backpack (more on those later). That is until Moment released their Thin Photo Case. It’s a super thin 1.5mm case that is 6-foot drop test approved and Qi compatible. And on top of all that it’s entirely biodegradable so when I upgrade my phone it’s not gonna end up sitting in a landfill.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “ why the heck do I need a $10 brush pen?” I did too, until I got my hands on this thing. Now it’s in my backpack all of the time. It’s super easy to whip out and brush that dust or grime that’s making your shot blurry.

I had the Osmo Mobile 2 and I loved it in theory, but in practice it sat in its hard case on my shelf and never came with me. It was just too big and it wasn’t strong enough to balance with Moment lenses on it without a counter-weight. DJI fixed all of those problems with the Osmo Mobile 3 and I love it. The Osmo Mobile 3 now folds down to a size that can easily fit in a jacket pocket or your backpack and has no problem balancing with some lenses on your phone. Plus, it’s a total game changer for hyperlapsing with the Moment Pro Cam 4.0 update. When you pick one up make sure to check out Moment’s 5 ‘Must Know’ Gimbal Moves video.

video by Moment

If you’re not in the market for $120 gimbal, but you still want to stabilize your phone or set it down this will do the trick. There are other tripods on the market, but I have this one and it’s as sturdy as can be. Plus, it’s made out of aluminum and is the farthest thing from cheap feeling.

If you’re gonna put your phone on a tripod you’re gonna need a phone clamp. This is the Ferrari of phone clamps, but if you’re gonna put your $1000 phone in a clamp it better be one you trust. This clamp locks down using Joby’s GripTight Mount which is way more than the usual pressure grip can say for themselves. Additionally this clamp has a cold-shoe on it so you can add-on a mic or a light.

This is a great entry level mic that can be used with both DSLR and Mirrorless cameras and your phone. It is powered directly by the device you plug it into so there’s no need to worry about a removable battery or even turning it on (believe me, you don’t want to worry about turning your mic on). If you’re going to use it with your smartphone you’ll need to pick up a Rode SC7 cable as well.

I threw this one in there just in case you want to get that bird’s eye view. This is an amazing entry level drone that is right under the FAA’s 250g weight limit so it requires no additional registration or training to fly. I would argue that this is the highest value drone on the market right now and it has never done anything but impress me.

The Lights

This little light is incredibly rugged and super versatile. It has 10 intensity levels while still maintaining a 1.5 hour battery life at 100%. It’s a great addition to throw in your cold-shoe mount or to use as an off camera light source. Additionally, It’s waterproof up to 30’.

This is the favorite light of many YouTubers because of its size and versatility. It is super low profile and fits in the palm of your hand, but is also able to reproduce any color. You can pair a couple of these up to create dynamic lighting setups or simply use one as some constant fill light.

The Bags

a woman with wearing a backpack with her arms around 2 dogs
a woman with wearing a backpack with her arms around 2 dogs
photo by Peak Design

These bags come in either 20L or 30L capacities. I personally have the 30L and take it with me everywhere. I can comfortably fit my laptop, iPad, journals, my drone, camera, an additional lens, memory cards, adapters, a jacket, lunch, a water bottle, a tripod, and a book in this bad boy. It features the mag latch front panel and unique side pockets for easy access to the central compartment that can be configured using their FlexFold dividers. The padded laptop/tablet compartment is reachable through a separate zippered entrance with a fold-away pocket — I have had this bag for years and I’m sure there are still pockets I haven’t found. I love this backpack.

Peak Design recently revamped their Everyday line and in doing that they released some different sized slings: 3L, 6L, and 10L. I personally opted for the 6L which can comfortably hold my 10.5” iPad, a kindle, and my drone or my camera depending on the kind of shoot I’m going out on. It also features a single main compartment that is customized used the FlexFold dividers. I use this bag if I’m going out for a quick shoot and don’t want to lug my 30L Everyday Backpack along for the journey.

Slings and fanny packs are having a bit of a resurgence right now and this is one to talk about. Moment’s sling isn’t quite as customizable, but it can cinch down for a minimal carry or expand out to comfortably hold a 35mm camera. Moment’s sling also exudes more streetwear vibes than Peak Designs line-up, if that’s your thing.

Well, that’s it. My 2020 Mobile Gear roundup. If you have thoughts or just want to talk gear hit me up on Instagram: @michaelbaker.me.

*** I am a part of the #momentsquad and a Peak Design Affiliate. I am not paid by Moment or Peak Design, but I can receive a portion of the purchases made through my referral link. I use their stuff because it’s the best on the market.

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Michael Baker

Written by

technologist. creative. writer. Founder of Tech-ish. @santaclarauniv alum

Tech-ish

Tech-ish

I’m interested in technology, film, literature, photography, and productivity. I’m mostly gonna write about those topics, but sometimes I might write about something else. It’s my publication so deal with it.

Michael Baker

Written by

technologist. creative. writer. Founder of Tech-ish. @santaclarauniv alum

Tech-ish

Tech-ish

I’m interested in technology, film, literature, photography, and productivity. I’m mostly gonna write about those topics, but sometimes I might write about something else. It’s my publication so deal with it.

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