Apple really wants you to be convinced that its iPhone can replace a cinema camera. As predicted, the ubiquitous codec ProRes has been implemented into the new iPhone 13 Pro, together with an ultra-advanced Cinematic Mode. The acclaimed cinematographer Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC, together with award-winning director Kathryn Ann Bigelow, claim that this new toy can replace a high-end cinema camera. Let’s read their thoughts.
Apple’s iPhone: Made for ‘Pro’ filmmaking (?)
Almost a year ago, when the iPhone 12 Pro was launched, Apple has recruited one of the most acclaimed cinematographers to try and make a movie using just the device. This cinematographer was Emmanuel Lubezki. From that point, Apple has declared its intention to present the iPhone as a legit filmmaking tool and thus, to bring it to the masses for all independent creators out there. Now, for the introduction of the new iPhone 13 Pro, Apple has recruited another award-winning director and cinematographer, Kathryn Bigelow and Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC, which both of them have worked on big-budget Hollywood masterpieces, like Zero Dark Thirty. Armed with demonstrations of the iPhone 13 Pro filmmaking capabilities, Apple puts maximum effort to convince us, filmmakers, to buy the iPhone 13 Pro instead of a large sensor cinema camera. Unfortunately, they might be right. Let’s read the opinions of the pros.
“The iPhone will change the language of cinema in a positive way”
Two time Academy Awards director Kathryn Bigelow and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Greig Fraser have discussed the new video features of the iPhone 13 Pro:
Bigelow: “The iPhone doesn’t require any ancillary pieces of equipment …with so much accessibility, I think all pretension tends to disappear. And so it makes the set and the filming process much less apprehensive…It’s a completely integrated process now”.
Fraser: “There were no limitations to what I could do with this particular camera. Whereas normally, everybody gets so precious about a camera lens- it’s so expensive or it’s so..it’s so fragile. One of the things that the iPhone couldn’t do up until now, was to create an idea of depth from a lens. With Cinematic mode, what’s exciting is, we can actually choose focus later. To me, that’s really bringing it up to the professional film cameras.
Whereas normally, everybody gets so precious about a camera lens- it’s so expensive or it’s so..it’s so fragile. One of the things that the iPhone couldn’t do up until now, was to create an idea of depth from a lens.
Cinematographer Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC
iPhone as a professional filmmaking tool
Fraser adds: “We can actually go ahead and make these stories, and make these films using the tools on this iPhone. I believe that with the advent and with the addition of Cinema mode, we’re going to very, very soon see filmmakers make films in a different way, which is exciting. We have the iPhone that is a professional filmmaking tool, which is exciting as a filmmaker. That’s really bringing it up to the professional film cameras”.
We have the iPhone that is a professional filmmaking tool, which is exciting as a filmmaker. That’s really bringing it up to the professional film cameras.
Cinematographer Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC
Bigelow: “It might even birth a brand new genre”.
Fraser: “I have no doubt it will. Just given the size, and given the ability to move this camera”.
Fraser: “It will change the language of cinema in a very positive way”.
It might even birth a brand new genre.
Director Kathryn Ann Bigelow
Replacing a cinema camera
According to Apple, the “iPhone 13 Pro offers filmmaking capabilities not possible in even the most expensive movie cameras”. The biggest upgrade to the Pro camera system with advanced low-light performance, macro photography, and Cinematic mode.
The Cinematic mode on iPhone 13 adds shallow depth of field and shifts focus automatically. Check out the demonstration below:
“Hollywood in your pocket”
The Cinematic mode lets you shift focus from the foreground to the background, 3x optical zoom, advanced low-light performance, macro video, advanced stabilization, and the ubiquitous codec ProRes. Watch the video below which has directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and shot on the iPhone 13 Pro by Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC:
And this is the BTS video:
The Cinematic Mode
Now iPhone can shoot with a shallow depth of field and automatically add elegant focus transitions between subjects. The cinematic Mode can also anticipate when a prominent new subject is about to enter the frame and bring them into focus when they do. You have the option to change focus or adjust the level of bokeh even after capture. “It’s so computationally intense, we needed a chip that could handle the workload. Enter A15 Bionic” Apple says.
It’s so computationally intense, we needed a chip that could handle the workload.
iPhone 13 Pro video capabilities
Here’re the video capabilities of the iPhone 13 Pro:
- “Largest sensor ever” (there’s no info about the size)
- Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field (1080p at 30 fps)
- HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps
- 4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
- 1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
- 720p HD video recording at 30 fps
- ProRes video recording up to 4K at 30 fps (1080p at 30 fps for 128GB storage)*
- Dual optical image stabilization for video (Telephoto and Wide)
- Sensor‑shift optical image stabilization for video (Wide)
- 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 6x optical zoom range
- Digital zoom up to 9x
- Audio zoom
- True Tone flash
- QuickTake video
- Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
- Time‑lapse video with stabilization
- Night mode Time‑lapse
- Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
- Continuous autofocus video
- Take 8MP still photos while recording 4K video
- Playback zoom
- Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264
- Stereo recording
The iPhone 13 Pro is an advanced device, no doubt about that. Furthermore, it’s the most sophisticated filmmaking tool that’s also a smartphone. Can you make outstanding films with it? Absolutely! Will it replace cinema cameras? Not so fast! Nevertheless, it can be a decent entry-level video camera for those who seek to create their films instantly and still get professional-looking results. However, for the big screen, there’s no replacement for large sensors. BUT, we all know it is a matter of time that Apple will solve that as well.
Still looks like a phone and this dp is never gonna use it in a movie. So this is a youtube’s filmmaking tool and everyone knows what that means
are you out of your mind mr writer ? the focus pulls, the depth of field, the exposure control … are all computational and pretty baked-in/automatic. i thought you were going to review it and probe the idea as to whether it was an authentic filmmaking camera in spite of the fact all the cinematic characteristics of the camera are all synthetic … and to build your case: you quote the film directors who were bought and paid for by apple to pimp this device ? i’m speechless.
The content, resources, and final export are all of the exceptional quality. So far, the best iPhone 13 cinematographer review I’ve read! It has increased my enthusiasm for the phone tenfold after seeing how the new camera features perform in real-world situations. Maintain your incredible enthusiasm for apples!