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 1/3.2â€³ and has some new backside illumination tech to capture more photons (although, in low light, itâ€™s still noisy as heck). Oh, and it records 1280Ã—720 footage at 30fps (just like the original 5D Mark II firmware, itâ€™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. Hereâ€™s a good article with more comparisons and statistics, if youâ€™re interested.
To adjust the exposure (and focus at the same time) you just tap an object in the frame. Itâ€™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 isnâ€™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. Itâ€™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):