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How to Use Your Phone for Capturing Videos of Adventure Sports

There are more tools and accessories to experience and record extreme sports than ever before — especially if you’re looking for a GoPro alternative. While GoPros are still great tools for recording adventure sports, you can now get accessories for your phone that allow it to fulfill the same purpose.

mountain biker in woods

So, rather than having to buy a super expensive separate device, you can just get some extra tools to build on what your phone can already do. After all, modern phones are equipped with some of the highest quality cameras around. Being able to use them for extreme sports lets you really take advantage of what they’re capable of.

To use your phone as a GoPro alternative for capturing adventure sports you generally need a few specific tools like a heavy duty case, correct phone mount, power bank, reinforced cable, sturdy backpack, and wide lens. You then need a way to offload and edit the footage. Let us see how all this can be accomplished.

Preparation

Before you start recording your adventures, there are some tools to gather and ways to prepare.

The Tools

Heavy Duty Phone Case

The one downfall of using a phone as a GoPro alternative is that it tends to be much more fragile. Luckily, there are solutions for that. We recommend using a Otterbox case, as it’s a tried-and-true case that’s sure to help your phone withstand water, dirt, and extreme motion. But, there are plenty of different solutions out there that you can test out for yourself. Whatever you decide, having a heavy-duty case will make sure your videos (and more importantly, your phone) stay safe. No one enjoys turning their phone on to a cracked or broken screen.

USB Power Bank

Phone batteries have gotten increasingly long in terms of life over the years. But, they still tend to drop rapidly when recording video. To be used as a true GoPro alternative, you have to make sure the battery won’t go out on you. If it does, your entire video is in jeopardy.

The best way to prevent that is by using a USB power bank. You can either hook it up to your phone while you’re in action or keep it close by to fill it up between runs to make sure your phone never dies at a key moment. Just figure out what power bank is right for you, and you’ll be good to go!

Reinforced Cable

Having a power bank is great, but to really use your phone as a GoPro alternative, you need a reinforced cable to make sure your phone stays connected to the bank at all times. It probably goes without saying, but there are different cables for iPhones and Android phones. For iPhones, you’re going to want a Lightning cable. For Android phones, you’re going to want a USB-C cable.

Sturdy Backpack

With all these tools, you’re going to want to make sure you have a good place to store them all. With a heavy-duty backpack, you can store all your supplies in one case and easily carry them around with you everywhere. It’s vital for not only GoPro alternatives but GoPros themselves. For sports like mountain biking, this also lets you secure everything on you at all times. You can pack as light as you want, but with more storage, the more prepared for filming you can be.

Wide Lens

Since you’re going to be attaching your phone to you with little control while filming, you’re going to want a side view to properly capture everything. Many phones now come with an ultrawide lens built-in, but in case yours doesn’t or you want something even wider, you can’t go wrong picking up an external wide lens. This is another key way a phone is a good GoPro alternative. You have more camera control than on a regular GoPro. And, there are plenty of options with which to play around with that camera control.

The Process

In terms of what you have to do in order to get started, it’s pretty simple. Basically, just have everything organized and be sure it’s with you. Put your sturdy case on your phone. Make sure it and your power bank are charged. Keep all the right cables with you. Have your backpack with your other supplies and water. And use your wide lens wherever you see fit.

mountain climber

It shouldn’t be too difficult, it’s just a check that you have everything for your phone to be a proper GoPro alternative. Once you’ve gotten all that taken care of, you’re most likely ready to get started.

Phone Mounts

The most important thing you’re going to need as you get started is a mount for your phone, but there are many different options depending on where your preferences lie.

Chest Mount

The first option for mounting your phone to use as a GoPro alternative is a chest mount. In essence, a chest mount is equivalent to wearing a harness that locks your phone to your chest while you’re in action.

A chest mount is often the most popular option, as it can be used for almost any sport, is easy to wear, and is one of the more secure options. Plus, they’re often not too expensive either.

Helmet Mount

For helmet-based sports, a helmet mount is a good option to use your phone as a GoPro alternative. For the most part, you can get one that works with any helmet. All you have to do is attach it to your helmet (which varies between mounts), make sure you can insert your phone properly, and you should be good to go.

motorcycle helmet

The upside of a helmet mount is that, if you were going to wear a helmet anyway, you don’t have to add on anything extra compared to having a separate harness. For helmet-based sports, this is a great choice.

Head Mount

If you’re not wearing a helmet mount but still want to wear your phone on your head, a head mount is a good option to use your phone as a GoPro alternative. It’s somewhat of a mix between chest mount and helmet mount, in that it’s usually constructed as a harness you wear solely around your head.

A head mount works well if you either don’t want to don a chest harness and don’t need a helmet, or if you just want the cheapest option. Head mounts are often much less expensive than their counterparts. If they give you everything you need, then they’re a great choice.

Bike And Other Mounts

Depending on how creative you want to get, you can potentially get a generic mount and attach it to whatever you want to use as a GoPro alternative. That can mean attaching it to your bike, your wrist, a pole, or any other equipment you happen to be using.  The cheaper options for these mounts may be the most affordable options out there.

However, the big flaw of these mounts is that they are a little less stable, which puts your phone more at risk and could mean shakier video. If you’re willing to take that risk, it’s a good option.

In Action: The Recording Process

Now that you have all the right equipment to use your phone as a GoPro alternative, you can get started with recording. These are the best practices to follow as you do so.

Stable Camera Handling

Phones have decent camera stabilization options, but for the most part, it will be on you to make sure your video isn’t a blurry mess. If your phone is attached to your head, be wary of how you turn it as you go. If it’s attached to your chest, then your phone will likely be more stable. Just try not to turn too sharply. For other mounts, it will vary based on where its position — but always remember to have stabilization be a priority.

Eyes on the Prize

The other most important thing to remember as you record with your phone as a GoPro alternative is to try keeping the best action in view. Having a wide lens can help you achieve this, but you still want to make sure that you’re facing the right direction to see what you want to see.

And, it probably goes without saying, but use the rear camera and remember to press record when you start. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to forget.

After the Action

Once you’re done recording the action, it’s not time to stop yet. The next part of using your phone as a GoPro alternative is viewing and editing the video you captured. Here are some recommended accessories for doing that.

HDMI Adapter

The easiest way to view your recently captured footage is to connect your phone directly to a tv or monitor and view it there. You can do that with an HDMI Adapter, either a USB-C to HDMI adapter for Android phones or a Lightning to HDMI adapter for iPhones. With these, you can easily broadcast your footage in crystal clear 4K HDR at 60hz to a TV.

Another possible option you can use if your tv supports it is screen mirroring over the internet. This is more convenient, but often not as smooth as using a cable.

High-Speed Transfer

Even if you’re using your phone as a GoPro alternative, your footage likely won’t live on your phone. You’re going to need a way to easily transfer it to your computer for viewing or editing. The fastest transfer speeds, if your phone and computer support it, are accomplished through USB-C. With a USB-C dual-sided cable, you can get up to 10 Gbps data transfer to quickly and seamlessly get all your footage onto your computer. For iPhones, you can use a Lightning to USB-C cable for fast transfer speeds, though not quite as fast as full USB-C. If you happen to use a Mac and iPhone, you may consider opting for AirDrop for convenience.

Editing

Now that you’re done reviewing and transferring the recording from your GoPro alternative, you can start editing it.

On Your Phone

Editing apps for your phone are somewhat limited, but can still work if you don’t intend to do much editing and prefer the convenience. If that’s what you’re looking for then there are plenty of options. GoPro offers its own video editing app that works for any video files on your phone. They also offer an app, Quik, if you want a video automatically edited for you. A more advanced option is Filmic Pro, which gives more features on par with computer editing for $15. And, of course, there’s the standard iMovie that comes with all iPhones.

On Your Computer

There are many different video editing software choices available for your GoPro alternative. The one of the best is Adobe Premiere, which can be gotten either in the user-friendly Elements version or the advanced Pro version. Either way, Adobe Premiere gives you all the best tools for editing your footage to look however you want it to. Other notable options are Apple’s Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve.

Ultimately, it’s up to user preference for which software to use. But you should ideally get one that supports 4K HDR 60 content if that’s what you aim to shoot in.

Things to Remember

Editing your GoPro alternative footage isn’t as easy as putting all the videos together and laying some music on top of it. The action should be front and center, with enough happening that it doesn’t get stale. Even just trimming small parts of the video can accomplish a lot of good.

Many editors also come with object tracking and stabilization to further smooth out the video. But, most importantly, keep things clear. Any messy footage should be cleared out to make room for clear footage.

Get Going

With that, we’ve covered everything you need to know about using your phone as a GoPro alternative. Most work really goes into preparation. Once you have all the right tools and accessories, actually recording is as simple as pressing a button and making sure you’ve turned the right way to see all the action. Just remember to actually press record. If you do all that, then you’ll find that your phone makes a high-quality GoPro alternative for all your action sports.

Click on the following link to learn how to shoot sports and fast action.

Nicholas Mitchell

Nicholas is a staff writer at Photodoto. His interests include photography, collecting cameras old and new, video editing, and all things 3d. If a new gadget comes out on the market, he's sure to be the first to try it. He enjoys experimenting with low light photography, very long exposures and high speed filming.
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