A Filmmaker's Review of the Apple iPhone 13 and Its Cinematic Mode

The video specs, both software and hardware, of the new iPhone have caused a bit of a stir as we have seen some impressive upgrades. It is clearly gearing more towards, if not professional videographers, then professional quality and features. But, how good is it really?

It usually is met with some confusion when I say it, but I'm not Apple's biggest fan. I have never owned an iPad or a Mac and have never come close to buying one. However, earlier this year I was offered an iPhone 12 Pro Max for a better price than an Android equivalent and I went for it. After all, much of my distaste for Apple products was financial. I'm still not an Apple disciple, though I am certainly impressed with the phone and do not regret the purchase in the slightest.

One particular highlight is the camera, which for a phone, is superb. Now, through the release of iOS 15 and the launch of the iPhone 13, there is even more reason to shoot with it. The question remains, however: how good is it at filmmaking and higher-end shooting of video? This video, by Tyler Stalman, is a good exploration of that.

There are a lot of positives and negatives for me. The positives are the Cinematic mode which allows you to change focus and aperture in post, ProRes video, and the f/1.6 fastest aperture to name a few. The negatives are the Cinematic mode taking finesse to make it look realistic, Cinematic mode only offering 30 fps, and a lot of unwanted artefacts for example.

My opinion on the iPhone and its filmmaking capabilities is generally that it would be excellent for behind-the-scenes footage, perhaps some b-roll, and for an extreme run and gun setup, but it isn't in the league of dedicated cameras quite yet. What do you think?

Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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I've got to admit cinematic video works better than I expected but it's still got a long way to go to replace actual camera and lens set ups.