Shooting 4K Video with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for Professional Work?

Shooting a professional video with your mobile phone was unthinkable and sounded ridiculous a decade ago. It was far-fetched even 5 years ago.

Today, we have expensive corporate videos of premium companies like Bentley Motors, who recently shot an advertisement for one of their latest luxury cars with a bunch of iPhones.

Some smartphones outperform even some DSLRs in terms of sharpness and detail in video mode. Not to mention that some of them, like Samsung GALAXY Note 3,  shoots video in 4K (UHD) already.

Sure, there are a lot of downsides and a couple of solid reasons why we can’t simply call them “professional tools” by any means.They are not. They don’t have more than 9-10 stops of dynamic range, they have tiny sensors that produce “video-ish” images, and usually have a poor consumer video codec. Not to mention the awful rolling shutter artefacts that plagues handheld footage shot with any of them. One would definitely need some kind of tripod or gimbal to deliver steady, usable images. And despite all that, they can produce high-quality videos when they are used properly.

In this post we’ll try to find out how good for professional work could be the 4K video mode of Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is, and how does it compare to video capable DSLRs in those terms, for instance.

It’s clear that when a professional team, hired by technological giant like Samsung, uses the smartphone formidable results could be achieved. However, can any filmmaker pull off such a project without a solid budget and a size-able team at his disposal? Sure! As with any other tool that shoots video, we need explore all the weaknesses and limitations it has first before we can use it to get professional results. The right way to approach it is to test it in advance.

In the next quick camera test Alec Weinstein from Digital Media put the venerable Canon 5D mark III against the GALAXY Note 3.

According to Alec, this is not a comprehensive test. This is meant to showcase the strength of the Galaxy camera against what should also be a strength of the 5D Mark III.

This was a basic daylight test comparing the image quality of the two cameras. The Note 3 was shot in auto mode with the default camera application. The 5D Mark 3 was shot in neutral/flat style and treated in post to come as close as possible to the look of the Note footage. The treatment included contrast, saturation, sharpening, some color temp tweaks, and minor exposure tweaks.

The goal of this test is to let the audience decide for themselves the performance of the Note 3 when compared to the 5D Mark 3.

I’m not going to judge and make conclusions which one of those tools would perform better and how the Canon 5D mark III outperforms the Galaxy Note 3 in a real shooting situation or vice versa. The point here is that you can now pick your phone, pick a gimbal and shoot a smooth, professional video. It’s almost unbelievable how far we went in those terms.

Just look at the video below, produced with one of those phone gimbals.

ikan X3 Handheld Gimbal for Phone from ikan on Vimeo.

Those are some of the features of the Ikan X3 GImbal:

  • Record smooth video from your smartphone even with extreme movements
  • Fast to set up and simple to use even if you have never shot a video before
  • Securely holds your phone with an electric Gyroscope and 3-Axis stabilizers
  • Run, jump and maintain a fluid motion
  • Lightweight but very durable construction

There are even few smartphone footage dedicated Festivals already. It was a matter of time before a gyroscope gimbal for a phone is mass produced. The best part is that, now, every filmmaker has countless options and professional tools to choose from, starting at a very low price point. The hardest part is to pick the right tool for the certain job or project.

What do you think about shooting a short film or a feature film on a smartphone or tablet? Or would you prefer to use more trusted, reliable and tested tools for your next project? I’ll certainly consider shooting a narrative or documentary piece on a mobile gadget provided it is the right tool for the job. We’d love to see your opinion in the comments below.

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