Can I shoot this on my iPhone?

The world’s most popular camera

Luxury carmaker Bentley has produced a new short video shot entirely on iPhone 5S and edited on iPads. The video is raising a lot of eyebrows because of this and I thought I’d share my thoughts. For years now, I’ve heard “Can I shoot this on my iPhone?” from clients. To be honest, the photo and video technology has come a long way in mobile phones in the last few years and will undoubtedly only get better in the few years to come. The iPhone can shoot pretty impressive slow motion video and the stills it takes are good enough to replace even a pro-sumer camera for most of us. As of now, don’t get caught up in mobile phones shooting 4K video- this is purely a marketing gimmick and won’t produce breathtaking video that you’re most likely familiar with 4K video.

With that said, I don’t believe the iPhone is approaching the quality to replace professional dedicated video cameras just yet. In the Bentley ad above, you’ll be quick to notice that everything is in black and white. This was intentional as the camera can’t hold up against dedicated video cameras in color reproduction or latitude (the amount of the image that is properly exposed). The greater the latitude the better, the more pleasing and natural the image will be. Black & white images can easily hide this and let you focus on the car or the people talking, in this case. As an aside, I do find it odd that a luxury carmaker would want to hide details that make up it’s brand, but that’s another story.

If you watch all the way to the end there is a short Behind-The-Scenes on how they made the video. Look closely and you’ll notice that the production company outfitted the iPhone with specialized lens mounts to use higher quality glass lenses and focal lengths. While this will improve image quality somewhat, it still comes down to the weakest link, and in this case it would be the plastic over the iPhone lens. They also used a gyrostabilizer to provide cinematic quality smooth shots. This will do wonders for the production value and lets the audience focus on what they’re suppose to . With the small CMOS sensor that the iPhone carries this is really important as it can be very sensitive to handheld operator and shaky.

Having never ridden in a Bentley Muslanne I would only imagine it to be very quiet inside. With that said, since they used all kinds of special equipment for the video, I would guess that they used some kind of audio tools or microphones. There’s not a lot of background noise and it actually sounds pretty good- another important factor in the overall production value. They could have removed the background noise with filters a little bit but it’s hard to tell without actually knowing.

So, is the iPhone ready for broadcast production? In my opinion no, not quite yet. Although that hasn’t stopped Apple itself or Bentley. But then again, if Bentley shot this spot on proper cameras would that warrant a blog post? Not on this blog, or this one, nor this one either. Did it change the overall budget that Bentley put forth? I doubt it, since Bentley was most likely charged on the value of the spot, not what it cost to produce. But we are getting there. I’ve always been a fan of using the camera as a tool, and if an iPhone is the best tool for the job I’m all about it. The reason why Bentley chose to shoot this one on iPhones is because they wanted to show what you can do with their car (since iPads are installed in the back seat with keyboards) and what’s in your pocket. Apple, obviously, wanted to show off their flagship product. Overall, both spots look pretty darn good, and the accessory tools that went into making it are a huge reason for this.

Here’s a behind the scenes on Apple’s commercial shot with a ton of iPhone 5S’s:

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