The iPhone 4S as a production camera?
By now you’ve likely seen the iPhone 4S vs Canon 5D Mk II side by side comparison that Robino Films put up on Vimeo. They are reproduced at Boing Boing and my friend Steve Oakley’s blog. On the face of it the iPhone 4S camera stands up to the 5D MkII very well. Improved resolution to 1080 and real time rolling shutter and stabilization makes this a very much improved video camera over the camera in the iPhone 4.
What isn’t obvious about the test, and what makes it unfair, is that the iPhone 4S camera is a fixed wide angle, fixed lens and limited manual control with the basic camera app. (I expect third parties will create a better camera app in time for the 4S camera.) A DSLR by comparison has a wide selection of lenses, usually manual control and generally more flexible.
The iPhone 4S camera has the advantage that it’s likely to be always with you, and going to give you a decent picture whatever comes up, but is it a production camera?
Not in the classic sense, but I can see it becoming a “C” camera in some circumstances. For example, I’m in the early planning stages for a reality show next year that will be in very cramped circumstances, with limited space to store gear, so every tool has to do multiple duty. Current planning is that our primary camera will be a NEX FS100 with other NEX family cameras as confessionals/B cameras.
Some interviews will need to be recorded and for interviews I’m a big fan of multiple camera setups, simply because it makes editing easier in my opinion. So A camera is the FS 100, An FS 7 for the B and in a Glif mounted on a Gorillapod is an iPhone 4S as a safe, wide shot of the whole interview setup. Something to fall back on!
As an aside, I’m also thinking of using the heavier duty Gorillapod as a way of mounting a Lightpanel 1×1 for soft scene lighting, balanced with some judicious on-camera Lightpanels mini. There are Gorillapod models that will support the 1×1. This is because storing C-stand(s) will be tricky.
In reality production, having a camera that’s ready in seconds makes it more likely a shot will be obtained when needed! I’m sure you know the adage very well: “The best camera is the one you have available when needed!”
And while production cameras don’t get updated every year or two, the iPhone (and all smartphones) do. Just one year after the just-barely-ok iPhone 4 video comes the vastly improved iPhone 4S camera. In mid-to-late 2012 will be another release, with better camera software and tech.
Oh, it’s a halfway decent point-and-shoot still camera as well.