Your Android phone can take some great videos, as long as you know how to use it.
While there's a constant conversation about which Android device takes the best photos, the ability to capture decent video is something most smartphones are capable of nowadays. Whether you're grabbing a sneaky video of your friend tumbling face-first down the water slide into the pool or recording your child's first steps, video is one of those things that everyone will want to do at some point.
The difference between a cool video and an amazing video usually has way more to do with the person holding the camera, and the cool thing about people is they don't require a software update. With that in mind, here's a couple of quick tips for shooting video on Android.
1. Just Say No to vertical videos
There's no nice way to say this, so I'll just come out and say it: if you're holding your phone vertically while recording video, you're doing it wrong. The video you capture in portrait looks terrible to anyone watching the video, because the video doesn't fill the screen and makes enjoying the video you captured much more difficult. Any chance you have to turn your phone landscape to record video, you should absolutely do so. The resulting video will look much better, especially if you upload to services like YouTube for the world to see.
It's also worth pointing out that if you start recording a video vertically and rotate your phone to horizontal in the middle of recording, the video will not rotate with you. Instead you'll get something that is entirely unwatchable, because not only will the video be vertical but it will also be sideways.
2. Don't cover your microphone
One of the downsides to holding your phone horizontally while recording video is the placement of your hands, as there's a good chance you're covering one of the microphones used to make whatever you are trying to record sound better. Most modern Android phones use multiple microphones, so it's not quite as big a deal if audio isn't the important part of what you are recording, but being aware of the location of your microphones and making sure your hands aren't covering these tiny recording devices will go a long way towards making your videos stand out.
This goes double for folks who have cases on their phones, as not every case manufacturer does what is necessary to make sure all of the microphones on your device are uncovered and performing as they would with the case off.
3. Know when to use 4K
Lots of modern Android smartphones let you crank up the video resolution to 4K, and while this is an incredibly cool way to future-proof your videos by making sure the quality stands up to the test of time there's a few things about 4K that can cause problems for you. Not only is recording 4K video incredibly expensive as far as processing power and local storage goes, but most of the first and second generation 4K-capable Android phones sacrifice things like video smoothing and stability for that higher resolution. This means 4K recording by someone with shaky hands or an attempt to capture something moving especially fast can actually wind up looking worse when recording in this higher resolution mode.
The best way to be sure your videos are going to be the best is to test out things like 4K before you go to capture something important, and be aware of the limitations found in whatever device you are recording with.
4. Mind your volume, and your breathing
Whether you're running after something to catch a video of it, or you're just a loud breather all the time, it's important to be aware of how the sounds you make affect the video you are recording. Shouting at someone on the other side of a Baseball field while holding a camera three feet from your face, for example, is a sure-fire way to cause everyone watching your video to cringe. It's not just shouting, in fact when you record something in a quiet place your Android camera could easily pick up on the sound of you breathing and focus on that instead of whatever you are recording.
It's not an easy problem to solve unless you are aware it is happening, and the easiest way to do that is to just pay attention to the sounds you are making and your proximity to the camera.
5. The settings menu is your friend
Every Android manufacturer does things just a little differently, and on top of that there are plenty of apps out there to take things even further with photos and videos. Being aware of what your app is capable of sets you up to record even better videos, as well as new kinds of videos that you never thought would be fun to capture. The video settings menu for your camera app is your friend, and through it you could find yourself capturing 4K videos with laser focus, slow motion videos of your friend getting thrown in the pool, or even HRD video when you're in a place with questionable lighting.
The end result is better videos for every occasion, which isn't a big deal until you pull your phone out to capture that perfect moment. Use your settings, and have fun with your video!