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iPhone 15 Pro Max – a real camera killer

Believe it or not I now reach for the iPhone before my Canon…it’s THAT good!

iPhone 15 Pro Max

The more I use my iPhone 15 Pro Max the more I recognise how good it is.

There is a bit of a story to tell here – and it’s camera-based and it all came about because of starting a YouTube channel.

Before that, my phone was just a phone but once I made the jump and decided to start my channel the first thing I needed was – you guessed it – a camera. At the time the only camera I had was a standard iPhone 12 – so I had to make do with that. Ironically my dad’s first job was as a photographer and it was his eternal passion. I never took any interest in it though and when he passed away I had no interest in any of his gear. Wind that on 25 years though and I becoming just a little bit hooked.

I started the channel with no idea about cameras or video – so much so that I’d never used any video editing software – apart from a few casual play days with iMovie. As the iPhone 12 was all I had (it wasn’t even a Pro iPhone) I had to make do with it.

Looking back at those early videos you can tell that the camera quality was, shall we say, lacking! But it got me going and got me used to editing and using a camera.

I started the channel in September 2021 and the YouTube bug and my determination to not be beaten had taken a firm grip. I remember saying to myself that I’d spend no money on gear for the channel until I was monetised and started to earn money – turns out dreams are made to be broken!

The first and most urgent area that required attention was the camera.

Hopefully, you’re enjoying this story  -  if you wanted to say ‘thank you’, the best way is to clap, highlight and get involved in the comments. And my promise to you…If you get in touch I will answer! So clap, highlight and comment away…

Time to go pro baby

A year after I started the channel – almost to the day, Apple’s iPhone 14 event came along with the announcement that ProRes was coming to iPhone Pro.

Two things to remember here – I wasn’t going to spend any money on the channel until I was earning money from it and I didn’t have any knowledge about cameras.

ProRes sounded well, professional so I thought I’d have some of that! I had no clue what it meant, but it had to be good right? I’m such a sucker…but hear me out – there was at least a dash of reasoned thinking behind the purchase – the £1700 purchase!

I knew that the camera quality needed to be improved but I didn’t know how to use a camera – I also wanted that blurry background…I just wanted everything to look better.

At least I knew how to use an iPhone and it now had this ProRes thingy too, so my mind was made up I would buy my first iPhone Pro. If I were to have taken a jump into the unknown and bought a DSLR I could’ve lost precious time in uploading videos simply because I had no idea how to use the damned thing!

Up until that point, all my iPhones had come through cell providers as part of the normal 2-year deals that they sign you up to. My deal was to be up just a couple of months after the iPhone 14 was launched so I knew I could then switch to data only and recoup some of the money there at least.

Buying the iPhone 14 Pro would also have the added benefit of giving me content too – I’d be able to write about and make videos about it. I had heard that these ProRes files were going to be huge so storage was going to be something I needed to closely consider.

Although my file management is pretty good – meaning I’d always delete the file as soon as I’d used it, I would still need temporary space whilst filming. I always feel guilty about buying stuff like this so I hesitated a bit too long – which ended up costing me dearly.

I wanted a Pro Max but I couldn’t find one for launch weekend – back then I didn’t pre-order. I did however find a 14 Pro with 512 GB which I figured would be perfect. I left it in the basket overnight because of that stewing guilt that I suffer from.

Having stewed on it overnight, I woke up deciding to do the do – only to find that the 512 GB model was no longer available – the only one I could pick up locally that day was a 1 TB version – thus I had to lay down a whopping £1700 for the privilege! What I have learned from that is that no one needs 1 TB of storage on a bloody phone!

A flawed beauty

The whole ProRes thing on the iPhone 14 Pro was a bit of a scam in honesty.

Sure, you could shoot in ProRes but it was all but impossible to get the file off the phone. If you were only shooting a couple of minutes then you’d be able to AirDrop it I guess. But if you wanted to use ProRes for full YouTube 10 or 15-minute videos you were screwed.

The only way I found to get the files from my iPhone 14 Pro to the iMac was using the Lightning cable and Image Capture – but even then it was slow – so slow and often had a habit of failing & crashing halfway through the transfer anyway.

Why Apple launched ProRes with the iPhone 14 Pro with its Lightning port which only has a transfer speed of 480 Mbps I have no idea – but I guess they were doing that Apple thing of flexing and laying down the framework of what was to come.

It was around this time though – just after I started shooting on my stupidly expensive iPhone 14 Pro that I actually ended up buying a DSLR after all. I was at my podcast co-host’s studio and saw this Canon 90 D sitting on a desk in the corner. I asked him about it and he told me that he was selling it! Guilt crept in again – yet more money, but this was a real camera with lenses and all sorts – so just 6 weeks after buying the iPhone 14 Pro I bought the Canon.

Progressing

Luckily for me, Alex gave me a crash course in the basics of using the Canon – and I was on my way.

The video quality of the channel made a huge leap forward – I had the iPhone 14 Pro and the Canon but something snuck up on me…I was starting to fall in love with the art of video. I started to watch a lot of YouTube videos on cameras, lenses, and filters – I couldn’t get enough of it – and still can’t. It’s become a passion and a hobby – wish my dad was still around…what I could’ve learned from him…

After buying the Canon I hardly ever used the iPhone 14 Pro – not because it wasn’t giving me great video but because of that point I made earlier about file transfer.

The Canon felt more professional and had the benefit of using an SD card – which was the first time I’d used one – and now I understood how important SD cards were in a professional video workflow. But that was all about to change…

Enter the iPhone 15 Pro Max

As I said, I used the Canon from the moment I got it in September ’23 and through most of 2024.

I still love learning about shooting and editing videos and trying to make the finished product – the videos as easy on the eye as possible and visually appealing which is what got me thinking…

I picked up the 15 Pro Max in the fall of last year. I was always going to, but there were a couple of new features on it that piqued my interest – the ability to shoot log video files and the ability to record those files directly to an external SSD.

Through watching hours of tutorials I had a vague understanding of what shooting in log meant and on the iPhone 15 Pro phones it would now be useable. I didn’t think much more of it though – that is until Apple’s Scary Fast event last October.

I was as taken aback as anyone when Apple casually announced at the end of the event that the entire video was shot on iPhone 15 Pros. I had no idea – the video looked typical Apple – gorgeous! It was a master marketing stroke from Apple – the event was more an iPhone 15 Pro event than it was a MacBook event.

The penny dropped

That event got me thinking about my camera choice – even though I didn’t have the might of the very best video creatives and editors behind me – could the iPhone 15 Pro honestly be better than my Canon?

The Canon 90D was only ever a mid-range DSLR camera and it was almost 5 years old. In tech terms that is ancient, whereas the iPhone 15 Pro was brand new – the most up-to-date that it could be.

I watched a few videos from creators that I trust and the verdict was pretty unanimous – the iPhone 15 Pro was the camera of the year! Even if I had £5000 or £6000 would the results look that much better? More to the point would I be good enough to get the best out of a camera that expensive?

I downloaded the Blackmagic app that Apple had used and then spent a few nights and weekends learning how to shoot and edit in log – finally, I was confident enough to shoot and upload my first video to YouTube shot on iPhone in ProRes & log.

I was torn as part of me kept thinking a dedicated DSLR camera had to be better than a phone that happened to have a camera in it – but the proof would be in the feedback.

And the feedback was loud and clear – almost immediately.

I can’t recall ever having had any comments on the quality of my video – but suddenly viewers were asking what I was shooting with – they had noticed an improvement.

Not switching

The last three or four videos on the channel last year were shot on the iPhone 15 – but for one final hurrah, I thought I’d try out the Canon one last time.

Although it still looked great, it looked muddier and not as sharp as the iPhone. The colours were also sharper and punchier on the iPhone – I guess because of all the extra data that is captured when shooting in log.

Getting the files from the iPhone is simple and quick. I bought a dedicated SSD – the T7 from Samsung and it is every bit as quick as using an SD card.

So as crazy as it may sound, the Canon is now in semi-retirement! From now on all a-roll will be shot on the iPhone – it is head & tails better than the Canon. The only thing I am losing is a little depth of field – but that’s it. The Canon will not be left totally unused though the 50mm lens shoots fantastic b-roll product shots and I’ll also be using it for my podcast too.

But that is how far we have come an iPhone now beats a DSLR camera for quality. The saying goes ‘The best camera you have is the one with you’.

The iPhone 15 Pro is with me all the time and as it turns out is also the best camera I have!

Welcome to the future! I’m only wondering how much better can the iPhone get. Watch this space I suppose…

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