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iPhone 14 for content creators

Less than one week old, but my iPhone 14 is already hard at work

iPhone 14
image courtesy of author

Getting to grips

iPhone 14 was sort of a last moment purchase on my part – sort of…

As you know, I’d be umm’ing and ahh’ing over should I, or shouldn’t I for a while. The phone itself, I couldn’t give two hoots about. Nearly a week on, and I still haven’t really noticed the Dynamic Island, or even given it much of a thought.

Luckily, Crash Detection hasn’t had to come in to play yet, and I haven’t got lost on top of a mountain either! Nope, if it was just about the phone, for sure I would have waited. Next year’s iPhone 15 should be getting a USB-C connector, and that is the upgrade I really want. More on that later though…

What changed?

The camera reviews, that’s what changed. After the embargo lifted last week, and the reviews started to land in my YouTube feed, iPhone 14’s camera set-up really got my attention.

From what I was watching, it seemed that the cameras on iPhone 14 would be more than adequate for my needs. Every day, my camera gets used, in some way. Firstly, for taking the images you see at the top of these articles, and then quite often for taking images for my thumbnails for my YouTube videos.

Then also, each week, I use the video camera to record my newsletter video (you can subscribe here – it’s free too!), and then to record all the footage, both a-roll and b-roll, for my channels videos.

The other night, I recorded the footage for this week’s video. There is nothing like getting hands-on, to see what it’s really like, and how it performs. I started to edit it last night, so have now had a chance to look back at what I recorded.

If the cameras on iPhone 14 are something that you’ve been mulling over, and wondering what they are really like, then this blog will be good reading for you.

First, let’s take a look at the main camera.

iPhone 14 Pro – main camera

Bloody impressive, is all I can tell you – the hype you’ve heard is all true.

One of the first things I did, in the settings menu, was to enable the ProRaw camera functionality. The main camera on iPhone 14 is now a 24mm lens with an ƒ/1.78 aperture. You can capture images at up to 48MP in ProRaw, and the results are stunning.

The images, as you’d expect, are big at around 60MB, but the results warrant the file size. Looking at the images in Photoshop, on my M1 MacBook Pro’s screen, reveal just how good they really are.

You get endless detail in the shadows and highlights. That may not sound that important, but if you are doing anything graphically with your image, it is crucial. And blowing-up your pics, reveals minimal noise. These are commercial level images you are now capturing.

The majority of shots I’ve taken this week, have been of the iPhone 14, so I’ve not been able to use the main camera as much as I’d have liked. But as my focus will now shift to Apple Watch and AirPods Pro 2, the main camera will soon be getting a proper, daily workout. But, if you are looking for a good quality, stationary camera, and you’re not a super high-end commercial photographer, then rest assured, this camera will do you proud. I know ProRaw was available on iPhone 13, but now, shooting with a 48MP camera, really makes the images pop.

iPhone 14 – video camera

This is where it gets spicy. After the other night, having now shot at length with the camera, I am in a decent position to give you my opinions.

I know I was coming from the dark ages, and a standard iPhone 12, however, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. As the video I am making is all about the iPhone 14’s camera, it gave me a perfect chance to try out as many variations as possible.

First up, I used the native, main camera. I shot at 4K and 24FPS in ProRes. The colour is astounding. The sheer depth of colour I was able to capture blew my expectations. In many ways, it is similar to the main camera, I have just told you about. Shooting ProRes means you are not only recording in a pro CODEC, but the information you are left with, gives you so much scope in post.

Yes, I had good studio lighting, but only the same rig as I’ve been using for a good while now. The results, from a colour perspective though, were day and night. Also shooting with the main camera, gives you a really, subtle, lovely, natural, depth of field. The blur to the background, is super-soft, but all the better for it. It is ever so organic, and the camera can even rack-pull as well – meaning the focus will shift depending on the main focus of your shot. I had not been expecting that, but what a bonus it was.

Next, I tried out shooting in Cinematic mode. I’d used it on my girlfriend’s 13 last year, but didn’t really like it that much. The edges looked ever so ‘forced’ with quite a lot of noise around them, and it only shot at 1080 30 fps, even though it was supposed to be a cinematic equivalent. It’s all very different this year, on iPhone 14 Pro, though.

Shooting at 4K, 24 fps, the computational work they’ve done on the ‘blur’ is a huge improvement. Suddenly, it looks natural. I was, intentionally, quite animated with my hands when shooting. I wanted to see how the camera coped with all that movement. Again, it shook me, just how good it was. Virtually no ghosting, the camera kept pace pretty perfectly. And, again, the colour was super vibrant and accurate. You can’t yet shoot ProRes in Cinematic mode, but the quality trade-off is not that great. You can alter the depth of field after shooting, don’t forget. It appears that the default is set to around ƒ2.8, but I think it looks much more natural at a setting of about ƒ4.4. Have a play, see what you think. You have to process that, before you try to transfer the file, though. That is done on iPhone 14, not in your editor.

Side by side, these two files looked remarkably similar. There was a slightly better skin tone to the ProRes file, but what it will look like after the compression that YouTube applies, I’ve yet to find out.

That left me just one more option to try, and that was using my go-to app for the past year, FilmicPro. With this app, I shot in log V3+, ProRes rec 709, 4K and still at 24 fps. The app is totally geared for iPhone 14 and worked just fine. The results were very similar to main camera, but I think, overall, I just preferred the main camera’s results…just, though!

In post

The two files you shoot, natively from iPhone, actually require way less colour correction than I’d have thought. I know I had good lighting conditions, but even so, the colour accuracy from these files was fantastic. I think you could argue, that to fiddle too much in post, would actually degrade the colour that the iPhone has captured for you. Sometimes, less is more, and that rule certainly applies here.

With the FilmicPro file, obviously, as I was shooting flat in log mode, you have to colour correct. The good news is, though, that they’ve updated their free, log pack. You can download it from their site, and they are ever so easy to install and apply. They’ve now included 4 LUTS intended for iPhone ProRes files. They seamlessly colour correct the file to bring it, pretty quickly inline, with the native ProRes files.

Playback in Premiere Pro was way-improved running the ProRes files. For whatever reason, using the FilmicPro files before, was not as smooth as this. It was just a much better experience all round.

The bad bit

File sizes are a major issue.

I bought a 1TB iPhone 14 Pro, as I knew file sizes were going to be a factor, but nothing had prepared me for this. When shooting a-roll, for a typical 10-minute video, I’ll typically record for around 40 minutes, allowing for all the mistakes and out-takes! To give you some context, the week before, shooting in log V3 on iPhone 12 in FilmicPro, my 40-minute file was around 80GB.

This week, the file sizes were;

  • ProRes 4K 24fps 236GB for 45 minutes
  • Cinematic 4K 24fps 795MB for 5 minutes
  • FilmicPro 4k 24fps 33.5GB for 6 minutes

Now, it is not only the file size which is an issue. If you will be shooting a lot of video, make sure you buy a phone with enough storage (don’t forget to delete from your phone, after you’ve safely transferred it). But, the bigger issue is transfer.

These files are too big for AirDrop, certainly the largest one. Unless you know of another method, the only way I can find to get these files from the phone are with the lightning cable and the Image Capture app. It works, but it is so slow. That 236GB took about 2 hours to transfer.

If USB-C makes it to iPhone next year, that will help…but what are we supposed to do meanwhile? I’ve heard that the lightning port speeds may be improved this year with a firmware update. That could at least give us USB 3 transfer speeds of around 600Mbs, rather than the 480Mbs we currently have. Not great, but I will take any improvement.

Wrapping up

The camera on iPhone 14 has blown me away. I’d hoped it would be an improvement, but I really did not think it would be this good. The reviewers are not lying – Apple have smashed it this year, with this camera set-up.

Unless you are a high-end user, the set of cameras available to you on iPhone 14 will suit all your needs. And of course, that means, you’ll have all that camera with you every day! That saying about the best camera you have is the one in your hand, just became even more true with iPhone 14.

The one issue that Apple really must address is the transfer speeds, though. They proudly tell us, year-on-year, how improved the cameras are. They clearly know and understand the file sizes, and thus you have to buy a phone with at least 256GB storage to use ProRes. But with that knowledge, for the Pro phones, why not give us a better method of getting the files from the phones. There must be a solution – surely.

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