Will the iPhone 6 Kill Filmmaking?

Posted by Valentina Vee on

By now, you’ve heard the almost universal praise for the iPhone 6 – a bigger screen, a better camera, more advanced software, a clearer screen – the list is never-ending. And while yes, the new iPhone can produce stunning HDR images such as the one below, let’s not forget – it is a phone (or rather, phablet), and not a filmmaking device.

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austinmann

Copyright Austin Mann

This photo was taken by filmmaker Austin Mann on an iPhone 6 Plus in Iceland as part of his series of tests of the new phones by Apple, as compared to their previous iPhone 5S. In nearly every test – from sharpness to dynamic range to re-focusing time, the new iPhones won out. Check out the video below:

“If the footage looks so great, then why can’t I just shoot with my new iPhone?” you may ask. This, of course, is a more valid question than one might think. The new iPhones still take photos at 8 megapixels, and while you may think that’s not nearly enough for anyone – 8MP is 3264 x 2468 pixels! That allows you to print at a maximum of 16″ x 20″ – larger than most photo frames and certainly larger than most computer screens.

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The new phones also have an aperture of f/2.2 – a faster lens than the kit lenses that come with most Canon DSLRs. Other features, including a built-in TrueTone LED flash, phase-detection autofocus, image stabilization (optical on the iPhone 6 Plus), and 10 fps burst mode on both the front and back cameras!

One of the shining features of this phone’s camera and processor, of course, is the ability to shoot slow-mo at up to 240fps (double the iPhone 5s and way higher than any DSLR).

Does this phone deserve praise? Of course! Will this phone replace most common point-and-shoot camera? Yes, it will. But it cannot replace the quality, speed, and fine-tuned details of most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, even accounting for its high-speed abilities. Why?

  1. There are no interchangeable lenses. Although you will probably soon be able to buy clip-ons like the Olloclip for the iPhone 6, nothing beats the ability to change the aperture of a lens.
  2. 2.2 isn’t really that fast. Even one of Canon’s cheapest lenses, the 50mm f/1.8 (aka the “nifty fifty”) can let in more light and achieve shallower depth of field.
  3. You cannot control the shutter speed. Thinking about capturing sports? Want to shoot a “milky” waterfall or a starry sky? You’re out of luck.
  4. You can’t shoot RAW. What’s the point of taking a photo or a video if you don’t have full control in post-production?
  5. There are no picture styles. You can’t shoot flat and you can’t fine-tune your settings. You can add filters only after the fact – onto a burned-in jpeg.
  6. There is no 24fps video option. The trained eye can see the difference between 24fps – cinematic, smooth motion, and 30fps – choppy, TV-style video. Even online video creators have adopted 24 frames per second as their standard shooting style.
  7. There is a limit on recording space. Even a 128 GB iPhone will fill up quickly if you’re shooting 1080p video! There is no way to record to external SD or CF cards.

While the iPhone 6 is bound to provide millions of users with much better-quality photos and far crisper, cleaner memories – it is not a device that will replace that professional camera on your shelf. So fear not, photographers and filmmakers! We have not yet reached the point where every Jo Shmo with an iPhone can steal your jobs.

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