Gradually over the last five years, the iPhone has been adding features that have moved the mobile device closer to a serious cinematic tool. With a 5x optical telephoto lens, Log recording, and 4k60 recording to an external SSD, the iPhone 15 Pro max, is even closer to being a serious cinema camera.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the new features that make the iPhone 15 Pro Max worth considering as a cinema camera in your pocket.
Multiple lens options
First and foremost, Apple has redesigned the 3x telephoto camera to have a 5x focal length with a 35mm equivalent of 120mm.
While rumors suggested Apple would adopt a periscope zoom lens, the real design is what Apple calls a “tetraprism” optical array, a folded glass structure that reflects light back and forth to create a 5x focal length.
The tetraprism array is supported by a new 3D sensor‑shift optical image stabilization and autofocus module, that moves in all three directions. The 3D sensor shift makes 10,000 micro adjustments every second to assure the image is rock steady.
Coupled with two other wide and super wide camera lens options, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max now has up to seven different lens options that mobile content creators can deploy to capture the action.
These options range from. 13mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 48mm, and 120mm.
The 48 mp image sensor uses computational photography to merge four pixels into a larger single pixel, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a remarkable dynamic range and now supports the MPAA ACES color gamut.
This is the industry standard for managing color throughout the life cycle of a motion picture or television production.
Apple has also added 10-bit Log encoding in ProRes. Log preserves all the scene image data as ‘flat’ footage to preserve the detail and dynamic range which can then be brought to life during color grading.
Apple also has a dedicated AV1 encoder alongside its A17 Pro chip and 6 Core Pro Class GPU. This additional processing power will no doubt push the image quality of the video even further without losing overall resolution.
High Speed data transfer via USB-C
But what may be the most useful option for mobile filmmakers is that Apple has finally let go of the Lightning connector in favor of USB-C.
In what many believe is an effort to comply with EU regulations, Apple finally gave content creators a more valuable data pipeline for offloading video files faster, as well as being able to record video to an external SSD.
Being able to record to an external source isn’t new, but it was always limited to 1080p due to the throughput of the Lightning connector.
Now with USB-C, users can transfer data at speeds of up to 10Gbps, giving users the capability to record 4K at 60 frames per second to an SSD and external monitor recorders.
Add to that, camera-to-cloud support through Frame.io and FiLMiC Pro, and it’s doubtful mobile filmmakers will ever have to stop filming to offload their original camera files again.
Apple is also looking to capture 3D video for use with its new Vision Pro headset. By combining the 24mm and 28mm cameras, the iPhone 15 Pro can capture Spatial Video for more immersive viewing when using the Apple VR headset.
It’s not clear if it’ll be anything more than a visual gimmick that 3D has traditionally been for the last 75 years, or if this feature will have any use outside of the Vision Pro’s ecosystem, but it at least represents another avenue for content creators to experiment with.
Overall, if content creators need an upgrade for a mobile device that has been left behind, then the iPhone 15 Pro Max will open up several valuable tools to expand their cinematic repertoire and stretch their filmmaking skills to the next level.
While it’s a tough sell for those currently owning an iPhone 14 Pro Max, they can be comforted by the fact that Apple is offering up to $1000 trade-in value on models 11 and above.
And the best part is, that the rumors of a huge price hike never materialized, with the 6.7″ iPhone Pro Max starting at $1199 for 256GB. Even $999, the 6.1″ 128GB iPhone 15 Pro is a great bargain for shooting video.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are available for preorder starting Friday, September 15, 2023, with shipping expected on September 22, 2023.
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