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26 November, 2014

CNN shootout in London: iPhone 6 vs a Pro TV camera

An iPhone is meant to complement the material gathered by expensive, complicated and time-consuming pro gear. 

In this video, a CNN camera operator makes direct comparisons that are biased towards the kind of difficult filming environments where a pro camera performs best.

The video has generated many comments but I am weighing in here to hopefully provide some perspective about such comparisons.

An iPhone 6+ (properly kitted up) can produce great video.

I show examples of the gear and apps that dramatically improve quality at  

A mobile device can do things that a dedicated TV camera cannot.  For example the Hyperlapse app by Instagram uses accelerometer data to make smooth motion shots. 

The iPhone can also quickly cut shots together and upload rushes back to the news desk while the reporter is still out in the field. 

All mobile devices have small sensors, and as a result, have limitations when filming in low light conditions. 

An external lighting source (or two) is essential in these situations.

A pro TV camera also is very heavy, expensive and makes the operator a target when filming in tense situations. An iPhone is much safer to use and less likely to cause back problems. 

A pro video camera gives a camera operator manual control over iris (exposure), focus frame rate and other settings critical to getting the best quality. 

The Filmic Pro app gives an iPhone video journalist many of those same controls.

If the CNN cameraman had used this app to film and set the frame rate to 25 fps, the iPhone video he made would not show the light flicker that is common with a frame rate mismatch. 

A frame rate of 25 fps is used in countries where the frequency of the electric current is 50 cycles per second (England, for example)

A frame of 30 fps is used in countries where the electric current is 60 cycles per second (USA, for example)

It is a false expectation to suggest that an iPhone should replace it entirely. It is a different device with very different limitations and some extraordinary strengths for field production tasks.

I share tips for getting the best quality video from smartphones in the

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