Chance are, you or someone you know is that person in the gym: flexing in front of a mirror, posing for the perfect photos to show off your workout results. But finding the right picture is hard. The thing is, it doesn't need to be.
A good gym selfie or workout video doesn't require a professional photographer. With the right equipment and some handy tips, you can get the best photo faster. When you're done reading this guide, you'll elevate your game so that photos and videos you post look amazing each time. While these tips won't make you a master photographer, they will help you capture clearly better pictures.
In my experience, most gym-goers are more than willing to take a quick photo or video of you working out, as long as you don't abuse their assistance. However, most of us don't want to continuously ask different people to operate their camera. To solve that, you should get a tripod.
You'll want something extra portable that can fit in your gym bag. Ideally, you'd get a full-size tripod like the Victiv 72 inch Tall tripod ($47.99 at Amazon), but that's not realistic for most gyms. Instead, the UBeesize Tripod Stand ($16.98 at Amazon) would be a perfect option, with flexible legs to wrap around objects and position your phone at the perfect angle.
Just like the tripod, a remote control doesn't improve the photo quality per se. Instead, it makes shooting photos in the gym easier, as it removes the need to depend on others. When paired with the tripod, you can be your own film crew.
The best option we found was the CamKix Camera Shutter Remote Control ($7.49 on Amazon). It's small, so it's easy to hide in the picture. It comes with a wrist strap and you can get it in a variety of colors to blend in better. And it works with both Android and iOS.
If you have the luxury of having additional hands, using a gimbal can make all the difference. Like a tripod, a gimbal stabilizes your phone so the shakes that occur when holding it in your hand are no longer a problem. With a gimbal, your partner can move the camera freely without any unintentional movements. This can lead to great shots, such as the camera following the progress of exercise or slow pans to make the video more interesting.
A great gimbal for those filming with their smartphone is the DJI Osmo Mobile 3. On Amazon, you can purchase just the gimbal for $109.00 or opt for the combo kit with carrying case and tripod stand for $30 more.
Here's a tip I learned from taking tons of cover photos for my articles: good lighting is incredibly important. Light can turn an average photo to a great picture and even compensate for a less than capable camera. I'm sure you're like all the people I see using the gym's lighting to illuminate their photos. I am here to tell you that it isn't good enough, and with one small item, you can fix that.
There's no way you're toting around a full-on lighting kit. Instead, opt for a portable light, such as the XINBAOHONG Selfie Ring Light ($8.99 on Amazon). It uses 36 LEDs to illuminate the subject, whether you are taking a photo or video of yourself or someone else. And it's small enough to clip onto your phone to minimize its footprint.
If you opted for a gimbal, another option is to get an LED that mounts to it. The Ulanzi Ultra Bright LED Video Light (currently $12.95 on Amazon) perfectly compliments the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 and can even be combined with additional lights for improved brightness. You will need a mount, such as the Jansite Triple Cold Shoe Mount (currently $12.95 on Amazon) to attach it to the gimbal.
Another pro tip, you will likely not get the right photo the first time. Or the second or third time. Your phone has more than enough storage for multiple images, so take advantage of it!
Whether you're using the shutter remote or having someone take photos for you, take multiple pictures so that when you leave the gym, you can post the best one instead of setting on the one you have. A bit obvious for some, but you would be surprised how many people don't do this.
No matter what tripod you use or how well you light your subject, there are still limitations to smartphone cameras. While they've gotten colossally better in the past decade, some cameras are still clearly better than others.
It's not necessary to spend $1,000+ for a good smartphone camera, but some devices pride themselves on being great at photos, while others are great at taking videos. For example, the Nokia 9 PureView is a fantastic camera for pictures but subpar for video. On the flip side, the Sony Xperia 1 is an excellent camera for video, but average at its ability to capture still frames.
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro (starting at $999) on Apple
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (starting at $1099) on Apple
- Google Pixel 4 (starting at $737.90) on Amazon
- Google Pixel 4 XL (starting at $849.56) on Amazon
- Nokia 9 PureView (starting at $499.00) on Amazon
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (starting $1099.99) on Amazon
Speaking of cameras, its hard to not find a phone without multiple lenses nowadays. What lenses are included varies between manufacturers, but you'll usually find some combination of wide-angle, telephoto, and/or ultra-wide.
These three cameras are not the same, and they don't capture light the same. You'll be hard pressed to find an ultra-wide lens with optical image stabilization. And even though the gap between telephoto lenses and the primary wide-angle lenses have shrunk, there is still a downgrade in performance when using the telephoto.
Whether you are capturing video or images, your best bet is to go with the primary wide-angle lens. It will do the best job of capturing lighting, details, and contrast. With the phones we recommended previously, you will have some form of stabilization on both images and videos, so movement shouldn't significantly affect quality. And with focal length usually equaling to 1x optical zoom, the portable light we recommend should be close enough to blanket you in light for the best photo possible.
This article was produced during Gadget Hacks' annual Health & Fitness special coverage. Read all of the Health & Fitness series.