Can iphone Be Use To Shoot Movies and Music Video On 4k?
Should you use an iPhone to shoot your video? Like so much in movie making, the answer is: It depends. Let’s explore the pros and cons of iPhone cinematography so that you can determine whether or not using an iPhone as your primary camera suits the movie you want to make.
II. Pros of Shooting with Your iPhone
You may well already have an iPhone – perhaps you’re even reading this on one! In the words of visionary photographer Chase Jarvis, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”
Did I mention that you probably have an iPhone in your pocket?
Apple’s flagship device is designed to go anywhere and everywhere with you, which means that even if you’re shooting somewhere crowded, cramped, or in motion, your camera can adapt. The iPhone’s small size lets you get really creative with where you place the camera and what angles you can choose. Gone are the days of having to dig holes in the floor to get an extreme low angle, à la Orson Welles in Citizen Kane!
Recent models shoot 4K.
Not so long ago, 4K was exclusive to higher-end cameras, but now you can get it on the same device you use to scroll through your Facebook feed. Beginning with the iPhone 6s, 4K became the standard, empowering filmmakers to milk some pretty impressive resolution out of the device.
Of course, it’s important to note that an iPhone’s 4K is not necessarily comparable to, say, the 4K of a higher-end camera like an ARRI, RED, Blackmagic, or even a GH5. The iPhone, like many consumer DSLRs, shoots in a compressed H.264 Quicktime format, with an 8-bit 4:2:0 color space. While you certainly can create beautiful images with these specs, you’ll start to see visible compression artifacts when you do intensive color grading, which happens less with footage shot on higher-end cameras.
For example, if you’re shooting gradients in a compressed format, then you might start to see color banding in the image, especially if you’re raising the contrast or brightening anything. The issue isn’t unique to the iPhone – color banding can happen in any video shot on a camera that records to a compressed format, from GoPros to DSLRs – but it’s worth noting.
Regardless, Apple has spent a lot of time and money refining the iPhone’s camera, and it shows. In fact, 4K video at 60, 30, and 24 fps is a key selling point of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X models. Moreover, the sensor is larger and faster than previous models’, featuring a 12-megapixel primary camera.
You have a choice of framerate and zoom, along with optical image stabilization.
In addition to 4K at 60, 30, and 24 fps, all three new iPhone models shoot 1080p video at 60 and 30 fps. For comparison’s sake, the 7 Plus and 7 shoot 1080p at 30 fps. The new models also support 1080p at 240 and 120 fps, compared to the 7 Plus’ and 7’s 720p at 240 fps. The 7-megapixel selfie camera records at 1080p, too. In other words, you’ll be working with HD video, even in slow motion and when you’re indulging Myspace moments.
From the iPhone 6s Plus onwards, there’s optical image stabilization to help counteract shake and allow longer exposures.
“What does that mean? It’s when the camera uses information from the phone’s gyroscope and accelerometer to precisely move the camera’s optics to compensate for the movement of the phone. So if your hand is shaking a bit, or you’re walking while you’re shooting, the phone can calculate and correct for that movement.”
The 8 Plus and X also include optical zoom and a digital zoom of up to 6x, while the 8’s digital zoom is capped at 3x.
There are apps!
Although many cameras receive firmware updates, the iPhone has the extra advantage of access to third-party developers who are constantly dreaming up new and exciting apps to keep unlocking the iPhone’s cinematic potential. We’ll take a look at some of the best apps in just a bit – but first, we need to point out that shooting with an iPhone does present some unique challenges.
III. Cons of Shooting with Your iPhone
You have less control over the image.
The iPhone’s lens(es) are fixed, and the aperture is not adjustable. The 8 and 8 Plus include a wide-angle lens that opens to an f1.8 and a telephoto lens that opens to an f2.8, while the X includes a wide-angle lens that opens to an f1.8 and a telephoto lens that opens to an f2.4.
The iPhone’s small, so it can be hard to stabilize.
The iPhone’s compact form factor is a double-edged sword. It’s great for facilitating unique angles and on-the-fly adaptability, but it can be difficult to achieve steady shots if you’re moving a lot and operating the camera handheld. Granted, most iPhone models feature image stabilization these days, but you’ll probably want to use a tripod or shoulder mount to help with smoothness.
Low light is not the iPhone’s forte.
Because the iPhone’s image sensor is relatively small, it produces noisy images under certain conditions. In low light and at higher ISOs, the noise is especially apparent, even though the aperture is reasonably wide.
Wide-angle lenses can be creatively limiting.
Before the 7, iPhone models were stuck with a single wide-angle lens. The iPhone 7 Plus and models thereafter feature two lenses, but that second lens is still fairly wide. Relegation to wide angles has its drawbacks, especially when it comes to framing up medium and close shots. For example, a wide-angle lens doesn’t accommodate shallow depth of field the way that longer lenses do. And while you certainly can move your camera closer to your subject to get a closer shot (circumstances permitting), you most likely will notice a difference in the look and feel of the image then if you’d used a longer lens. Wide-angle lenses tend to exaggerate space and shapes and “bend” lines, which can be unflattering for faces.
It must be noted that you can buy attachable lenses for the iPhone. We’ll talk about lenses more when we get to gear!
IV. Maximize Your iPhone Cinematography: Apps and Gear
“The Film Look”
Apps allow you to address some of the shortcomings of Apple’s native camera app. Arguably the most well-known app (and what Sean Baker used for Tangerine) is FiLMiC Pro. It’s a robust, professional app that’s frequently updated with fixes and new features.
Some of these features include 24p functionality with easily-adjustable ISO, shutter speed, and focus settings, affording greater control over the image. You can achieve so much using FiLMiC Pro that during Zacuto’s comparative camera shootout back in 2012, an iPhone 4 with FiLMiC Pro held its own amongst professional cameras like the Canon 7D and C300, ARRI Alexa, and RED Epic.
FiLMiC Pro enables shooting at a high bitrate, which means fewer compression artifacts in the image. While the iPhone natively records at 32mbs, FiLMiC Pro can record as high as 100mbs! The app also brings useful tools including exposure and focus peaking indicators to the table, and more recently, greater control over the color, saturation, and contrast of the image. A log picture profile was introduced, echoing the log functionality of high dynamic range cameras.
Another great app is MoviePro, which is similar to FiLMiC Pro in that it allows you to shoot at even higher bitrates (up to 130mbs). Anecdotally, however, MoviePro seems to be less user-friendly.
When you pair apps with some iPhone-specific gear, beautiful things can happen. Further good news is that, compared to many professional cameras, cinematography equipment for iPhone devices is relatively inexpensive.
Because the iPhone’s aperture isn’t adjustable, you might want to purchase an adjustable Neutral Density (ND) filter for as little as $17.
How does an ND filter help? Well, it addresses some of the limitations of the iPhone’s fixed aperture. Most professional cameras have an adjustable aperture – this allows their operators to control exposure and depth-of-field without compromising other settings. With a fixed aperture, however, controlling exposure means adjusting the ISO and/or shutter speed, which can have unwanted side effects.
For example, if you’re shooting outdoors on a sunny day, then the iPhone’s shutter speed could increase quite a bit in order to ensure proper exposure. This would affect how the motion looks, with everything tending toward weirdly choppy and jittery. An adjustable ND filter allows you to lock your shutter at a more traditional speed and then adjust exposure using it instead – just slide the filter’s ring to your desired setting.
Stabilizers for Video On 4k
It’s probably a good idea to invest in a stabilizer for your iPhone, despite the optical image stabilization. A safe bet is DJI’s OSMO Mobile, which will help you steady the camera in your hands. Alternatives include