Here’s a video I recently shot using my iPhone 6:
It was great fun filming something like this without the usual heavy gear and with great flexibility.
Some beautiful films have been shot using the iPhone – from short films to promos and corporate films. Last year Bentley, the car manufacturer, released a beautifully made black and white film shot entirely on the iPhone.
But whether it’s an epic travel video or a simple interview, it’s worth remembering about the basics. So here are my five quick tips for shooting with the iPhone:
1. Clean your lens.
Yes, seriously. I can’t remember how many iPhone – or mobile in general – videos I’ve seen where the quality of the image was seriously compromised by smudges, dust and other weird objects. Mobiles are naturally full of fingerprints and dust. That’s unavoidable. But when you want to shoot, give your lens a quick wipe (or a more thorough clean, if you have the time). The quality of the image will instantly improve immensely. There are multiple third-party lenses that can be used to add versatility to your main lens, but you need to look after it the same way you would if it was a ‘proper’ standalone lens.
2. Go beyond the native video app.
The latest iPhones have all sorts of improvements the previous generations didn’t have. You can vary the frame rate, exposure and even create a time lapse without any third-party software. But that’s about it. There are multiple apps that allow you to control what and how you film. Filmic Pro is one of the most popular ones. It allows you to manually control almost everything: from exposure and shutter speed to ISO, focus and even colour temperature. It also supports stereo microphones (see #5 below) and offers audio meters for sound monitoring.
3. Use the AF/AE lock function if you’re using the native camera.
If you don’t want or need a third-party app, use what’s available. When in camera mode, touch and hold the screen where your focus should be. This way you can lock the focus down and the phone won’t refocus halfway through the shoot. This also locks down the exposure, which you can adjust by swiping up or down. When filming in the slo-mo mode, you can switch between ‘regular’ slo-mo (120 frames per second) and extreme slo-mo (240 frames per second).
4. Use a tripod.
The latest iPhones come with impressive image stabilisation capabilities. In most cases, minor hand shake is vastly reduced or even eliminated. But there are plenty of situations where a tripod will be necessary. You don’t have to use big tripods for DSLRs or professional video cameras. A smaller and nimbler one like the JOBY gorillapod might give you sufficient support and offer additional flexibility (it can be attached to handrails or placed on uneven surfaces, for example).
5. Don’t forget about audio.
With apps like Filmic Pro, you can use third party microphones for better audio quality. This might be particularly useful when recording interviews or voxpops. Bad audio can spoil the best video, and relying on the internal mic is not a great idea when shooting a video for professional use. Rode, Tascam and other manufacturers have released iPhone-specific microphones for videomakers.
Bonus tip: don’t forget to hold your phone horizontally….