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iPhone 4 vs Canon 7D Comparison [Video]

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The iPhone 4 comes with a 5MP camera that can film video in 720p at 30FPS. How does this compare with other high definition video cameras, such as video from the Canon 7D? More specifically, how does a filmmaker view the iPhone 4’s video capabilities? Sean Michael Duran from Take Zer0 wrote about what he thought of the iPhone 4 as a film making tool.

Here’s a snippet of what Sean had to say:

The iPhone 4 has a fixed f/2.8 aperture and a relatively large 3.85mm lens (which seems to be approximately the equivalent of 35mm on a crop sensor or 56mm on a FF). It has an automatic, variable shutter speed between 1/15 and 1/10000; an automatic ISO of around 80-1000; and the sensor is 1/3.2″ and has some new backside illumination tech to capture more photons (although, in low light, it’s still noisy as heck). Oh, and it records 1280×720 footage at 30fps (just like the original 5D Mark II firmware, it’s 30, not 29.97). The bitrate is about 10 mbps (not bad) and the audio is a low mono 66 kbps at 44.1 kHz. Here’s a good article with more comparisons and statistics, if you’re interested.

To adjust the exposure (and focus at the same time) you just tap an object in the frame. It’s pretty handy, I sometimes wish our 7D had a feature like this. You can focus in video mode, even during recording (it pulls focus way too fast to do any racking, though). The auto exposure and focus sometimes kicks in during recording automatically if too much changes in the scene (annoying).

So, do I believe this is a viable filmmaking tool? No. I think without at least some real control over exposure, you would have to make some huge compromises in the way you tell your story. But that isn’t to say the iPhone is useless in filmmaking. Having such decent quality in your pocket will make it that much easier to frame up shots, scout locations, and even document the process. It’s a great little camera.

Sean attached the iPhone 4 to his Canon 7D and filmed the following video (Vimeo). Note that the 7D video is out of focus at at times as he concentrated his time on the iPhone 4 (check it out in full screen):

[Take Zer0]

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  • This music video was “apparently” shot on the iPhone4. Looks pretty good to me. Not sure what post processing was done, but the result is very good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HymoNGR3G5w

  • This music video was “apparently” shot on the iPhone4. Looks pretty good to me. Not sure what post processing was done, but the result is very good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HymoNGR3G5w

  • This music video was “apparently” shot on the iPhone4. Looks pretty good to me. Not sure what post processing was done, but the result is very good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HymoNGR3G5w

  • MR

    No one would seriously consider an iPhone 4 for film-making, so the comparison seems quite silly to me.

  • Sam

    I would.

  • Joel

    i would agree with 'MR'. Its primary function is a phone, the fact that it has tonnes of other useful tools is a bonus. If your attempting to shoot a pro movie, why not purchase a pro HD video camera? Just a thought.

  • RyleyLamarsh

    I wouldn't

  • RyleyLamarsh

    No. Wait. Ya I would

  • RyleyLamarsh

    Naw. Nevermind.

  • Noahattic

    this is really a silly comparison. you cannot tell the differences in such a small window mode. everything will look good in a small window mode, even the first gen iphone with little 200 mp can make you feel like you can use that to make a movie.

    i mean it's nice to have a decent camera on my phone, if my phone doesn't drop phonecalls no matter how i hold it.

  • Some guy

    lol @ the music in the video “i wake up in the morning.” let's get a bite to eat.”

  • Watch in full screen.

  • nosnoop

    >No one would seriously consider an iPhone 4 for film-making, so the comparison seems quite silly to me.

    +1
    Sure, one can make a decent video if one works hard enough (I mean, it does not even have a tripod mount, for goodness sake), so it is more for the sake of I-can-do-it challenge, rather than for film making. One has to spend a lot of time creating a tripod mount solution, unless you want to make a “shaky cam” video.

    Seriously, most digital compact camera with HD video would be able to do a better (and easier!) job. They have tripod mounts and most importantly, they have better optics than iPhone 4.

  • Ralph

    wow this is a really interesting comparison, but seriously i will take the 7D to take picture and video everytime over the iPhone 4. I like iPhone 4 but it is still a phone, 7D is a mid-range DSLR. The quality of pictures coming of the 7D is 5x better than the iPhone 4.

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  • Chris Windsor

    anyone who is actually in film wouldn't use a 7D either. No serious person in film would use either. They would have a professional video camera so it is a good comparison. Its just showing how good the iphone 4 quality is compared to something else that we know is very good.

  • robrob

    The final episode of House last season was shot on a 5D Mark II, I can't see why it isn't a viable option for indie film makers (or professionals who want that depth of field that a DSLR brings)

  • Exactly. The game has changed.

  • As mentioned by others the Iphone isn't a film making camera. For what it is I think it's great. As the father of a 2 year old I've been able to capture so many magical moments on camera thanks to the iphone and immediately share them with family. Any quality improvements from Iphone 3gs is simply a bonus to me 🙂

  • Creekirving

    are you joking, iPhone 4 vs Canon 7D with video.

  • alex

    How can you even compare?

  • CLouD9®

    it was meant to be silly…it's just to say hey the iphone camera isnt bad at all…you are being to literal.

  • NorthernSoul

    The subway scenes in Black Swan were shot on the 7D. This statement isn’t true.

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