The iPhone At A Glance

best smartphone to film on
filmmakers film production

The first thing to note is that the iPhone 15 Pro and the 15 Pro Max are significant steps forward for amateur filmmakers and film production for one massive reason, the USB-C port.

The USB-C update alone, should make everyone not just filmmakers consider upgrading their iPhones.

Previous iPhones could shoot some nice-looking footage, but it was a bear to work with on set. Getting the footage off the phone was just annoying.

All of that is now gone with USB-C.

You plug in a USB-C drive, and it just works. In that classic “Apple” way, it didn’t need to format the drive and the other footage on the drive was still there.

It was GREAT. Rather than worrying about filling up the phone, you just shoot and shoot and shoot, and when that drive is full, you swap to another drive while you can back up the first drive.

If you run out of hard drives, you can still shoot to internal storage, but then you’ll still have faster offloads with the direct USB-C connection than you did with the old iPhone connection. In a pinch, Airdrop is always there as well.

4K 60p Log

Internally you are limited to 4K 30p (which is a lot), but when recording externally, that opens up 4K 60p.

That’s just astounding. It was only a few years ago that a lot of folks doing action sports work started defaulting to 4K 60 fps for everything they shot. Not every camera could do that at the time and now your everyday iPhone can.

The more significant news here is Log recording, which allows filmmakers to shoot in a broader range of exposure fitting into a smaller dynamic range file. This is a big step forward for the iPhone and adds a tremendous amount of flexibility to the post-production process.

If you are having trouble finding it, you need to go to your System Settings and find it there; it’s not in any of the individual camera app settings. Look in your ProRes settings, and you’ll find it.

The Camera App

One thing to remember is that with the iPhone, the native camera app is targeted at the consumer. So it processes the image to be ready to share on social. For many short filmmakers, this is frustrating since you find the camera applying corrections to your images you might not have.

We recommend using a non-native app for both photos and videos. This is a filmmaking blog, so we will stay out of the still space, but for video, the Blackmagic Video app is astounding.

It’s free. It’s incredibly powerful and it worked with the 5x zoom straight out of the gate.

It gives you a nice and clean image that isn’t heavily processed. Knowing Blackmagic, if they can figure it out, they’ll enable Blackmagic Raw to the external drive when they can.

However, it is still an iPhone with a small sensor, so it isn’t going to look like an Alexa 35 straight out. But you’ll be happier with your results if you use a better camera app.

That 5x Lens

The previous iPhone Pro models (and the current 15) have a 3x zoom, equivalent to about a 77mm focal length. This has been a really useful addition when doing a blocking rehearsal and pre visualizing your scene.

However, it’s not quite as far along as a lot of the competition (film production companies jobs are safe). Apple has stepped up with a new Pentaprism 5x lens to get you closer to the action.

Even if you are not a filmmaker, this is a game changer in general life. If you are going to your child’s school play and want a close-up of them, the 5x lens will be much more crisper than you had before. It’s absolutely worth doing.

For a lot of people, it means better pet photos without spooking your pet. And that’s great.

However, we think it’s a valuable filmmaking and film production tool as well. If you regularly shoot a lot of longer lenses, like 85mm or a 150mm, having a real optical 5x lens built in the iPhone is going to lead to better photos and better quality videos. Especially if you decide to shoot natively with the camera.

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