Apple has always done its best to make sure that the cameras on its smartphones are among the best on the market, and so far it has always succeeded. The iPhone X and iPhone 8 have some of the best mobile cameras on the market today and the same thing happened with the iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 and all the previous generations at the time.
With this in mind, in this article I want to give you some tips and tricks so you can record better videos with the camera of any generation of iPhone . Of course the more current the device the better the quality of the recording, but you can still achieve great results with devices that are already a few years old if you take into account some important points like the ones we will see later.
Make professional-quality videos with your iPhone thanks to these tips and tricks
These cameras offer a very good image quality, both when recording video and when taking pictures. And they also comply with one of the most important rules in this field: the best camera is the one you have on you when you have to capture a memory and in that sense smartphones are something we always carry with us. Do you want your recordings to take a leap in quality and obtain more professional results? Here are 10 tips that will help you achieve this. You can also apply many of the tips for taking better photos with your iPhone that we explain in this other article.
1.- Use a tripod whenever possible
Using a tripod or other stabilization system can make a huge difference to your videos. With it you’ll get a sharper, more stable image , because you completely eliminate the movement of the image and yes… even if you have a good pulse it’s impossible to get the same stability as with a tripod or a stabilizer.
You can find many models of tripods compatible with iPhone on the market and also accessories to make tripods for reflex cameras compatible with smartphones. To give you some options, you can try this Joby GripTight accessory to place your iPhone on a tripod you already have or opt for an option like this flexible leg stand that can give you a lot of play. Another option if you need to be able to move while recording video is a “Gimbal” stabilizer like this one from Zhiyun.
2.- Do not use the digital zoom
Until iPhone 6s, Apple smartphones only had digital zoom. The latest models, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, also have 2x optical zoom with the addition of a dual lens.
The digital zoom brings the image closer via software and this results in a loss of image quality. This is why it is not recommended to use it when making videos.
In case your iPhone is one of those with a double lens you can use the optical zoom , although you should never go beyond 2x, since you would be using the digital zoom with the loss of quality that this entails.
It is also important to note that using the optical zoom has some implications. It’s true that you won’t lose image quality, but keep in mind that
- The telephoto lens is less bright than the wide-angle lens, so you shouldn’t zoom in in low-light situations – you could ruin the video you’re shooting.
- Beware of automation! The iOS Camera app is great for recording video, but it’s designed to automate everything as much as possible, so by increasing the zoom to 2x to use only the optical, there are times when you can get a bad move and automatically activate the digital zoom.
- Remember that the iPhone, whatever model it is, will allow you to zoom in up to 10x, but it will only be optical up to 2x.
3.- Configure your iPhone to record each video at the appropriate resolution and FPS
Depending on the type of video you are going to record, you will have to choose a specific resolution and FPS setting, as it is not the same to record a video of a landscape or some scene with very little movement as an action scene with a lot of movement, such as a basketball game or a car race.
From Settings – Camera – Record Videos you can choose the resolution and FPS with which the videos will be recorded and the options available are:
- 720p at 30 FPS – the most basic option with the maximum advantage that videos will take up very little space in the device’s memory compared to the other options.
- 1080p at 30 FPS – This quality is known as FullHD and with this frame rate (FPS) is a perfect choice for videos where there is very little movement.
- 1080p at 60 FPS: identical to the previous one in terms of resolution, but with more frames per second, so it is the option designed for scenes with more action (e.g. to record sports) where you expect smooth playback without sharp transitions.
- 4K to 24 FPS: Ultra high definition or 4K is the new trend in video and iPhone is capable of capturing video in this resolution from 6s onwards. 4K videos take up quite a bit of space, so choosing the right FPS in each situation is important. 24 FPS is the minimum and with this speed you get a result that will remind us of the cinema, as this is the usual speed at which films are passed.
- 4K to 30 FPS: in this case the video will take up more memory space and store more details, as there will be 30 images per second instead of the previous 24. If you do not plan to make big edits in the final video, the difference with the previous option is minimal when playing it.
- 4K to 60 FPS: the option to choose if you are going to record a video in which there is a lot of action and you want the transitions to be smooth and very pleasant.
It is important to mention that not all Apple smartphones have video recording capabilities at these resolutions and FPS. Each model has some capabilities and from the camera settings you can see which ones are available on your device.
4.- Don’t forget the sound
Depending on the type of video you’re recording, the sound may be as important or more important than the image, so don’t forget this point.
The iPhone’s built-in microphone may be sufficient if you’re filming in a place without too much ambient noise and you can keep it close to the audio source, but this is not usual, so you will most likely need some external element for better sound quality .
A good option is to use another iPhone to capture the audio thanks to the Voice Memos app. To do this, simply place the second iPhone near the sound source (a person speaking, a musical instrument, or whatever, depending on the video you want to create) and activate the recording.
In case you want to achieve an even more professional result you can use an external microphone connected to the smartphone . In the market there are lots of options with very different prices, a cheap option that offers great results is the Rode VideoMicro Me that you can connect to the iPhone through the headphone port (in the case of iPhone 7 or higher you will need to use the Lightning adapter that Apple includes with the devices).
If you finally choose to record audio and video with different devices you will have to synchronize them during the video editing. To do this, we recommend that when both devices start recording, you make a loud noise (usually a clap) so that it is easier to synchronize both timelines later in Final Cut Pro X or your editing software.
iPhone cameras have improved a lot over time in terms of brightness. Even so, to achieve an optimal result, the ideal is to use artificial lighting and thus achieve greater image quality , as well as eliminating changes in light intensity that can be caused by the sun falling, a cloud or similar when working with natural light.
A lighting starter kit is quite inexpensive these days, for example a continuous light set like this you can find it for less than 60 Euro and you can also use it to improve the quality of your pictures.
6.- Use the exposure block
Another point related to enlightenment and which is often forgotten. Normally we let the iPhone automatically adjust the exposure, but in a video this can mean constant changes in the amount of light the device’s camera captures due to movements of the subject you’re recording, changes in ambient light, etc, etc…
To avoid this and get the situation under control you should use the terminal exposure block . To do this, simply hold one finger on the iPhone screen in camera mode and hold it until the label appears AE/AF lock . Once the lock is activated, you can slide your finger up or down on the screen to brighten or darken the scene.
7.- Use creative modes such as Slow Motion or Time Lapse
The iOS Camera app includes by default creative modes such as slow motion or Time Lapse . Thanks to these modes you can take pictures with spectacular and above all very creative results.
You should be selective when using these modes and choose the scene to be shot very well using any of these modes. A sunrise or a car ride is very spectacular in Time Lapse and the same goes for a scene with a lot of action in Slow Motion mode… The ideal is to do a lot of tests and little by little create your own style.
It is also important for you to know that the slow motion mode has two different options:
- 1080p to 120 FPS.
- 720p to 240 FPS.
Once again, it is time to make decisions and choose between more frames per second and lower resolution or fewer frames but higher resolution. The choice will depend on the type of shot you want to shoot and the expected result . You should know that in slow motion mode, the more frames the image will be slower.
As for Time Lapse, you should also take into account some aspects that will help you achieve the best results:
- Have as much storage space as possible before you start recording the shot.
- Always use airplane mode to prevent a call or other notification from interrupting the video.
- Whenever possible, place your iPhone on a tripod to prevent unwanted movement.
8.- Use the grid to facilitate framing
Bad framing can completely ruin a video, and just as bad framing can make it a masterpiece. Just as in photography, video also uses the rule of thirds for framing (among others), so activating the Camera app grid can help you .
By default this function of the app is disabled, but you can activate it by doing the following:
- Go to Settings – Photos and Camera.
- Activate the Grid option switch.
9.- Use the headphone remote control to avoid movement when recording
The headphones that Apple includes with every iPhone have a remote control that is generally used to control music playback, but can also be useful when taking photos or, as in this case, recording video.
Touch the volume up or down button to start and stop video recording. This way you don’t have to touch the screen of the device and if you have it placed on a tripod you will avoid any kind of trepidation in the shot.
10.- Activate the airplane mode
Receiving a call or any kind of notification while you are recording video is very annoying and can often ruin the recording completely, so to avoid this it is best to activate the iPhone’s airplane mode before you start shooting .
To do this you simply have to unfold the Control Center and tap on the icon with the plane. When you do so, the device will disable mobile connectivity, WiFi and even Bluetooth, and you won’t receive any notifications (except perhaps from the Calendar or reminder app you use).
Can you really get professional video with the camera on your iPhone?
It’s a very logical question and the best answer I can give you is to take a look at this trailer:
What do you think? The film Unsane by director Steven Soderbergh (who among others has directed such well-known titles as the Oceans trilogy or Erin Brockovich) has been shot entirely using iPhone (and we assume different accessories to stabilize the image). In addition, the filmmaker has stated that this has allowed him to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and be much more agile when shooting, so much so that the entire recording has been done in seven days. Without a doubt, this shows that with an iPhone you can get professional quality videos and that the most important thing is the story.
Make professional-quality videos with your iPhone thanks to these tips and tricks
- 1.- Use a tripod whenever possible
- 2.- Do not use the digital zoom
- 3.- Configure your iPhone to record each video at the appropriate resolution and FPS
- 4.- Don’t forget the sound
- 5.- Lighting
- 6.- Use the exposure block
- 7.- Use creative modes such as Slow Motion or Time Lapse
- 8.- Use the grid to facilitate framing
- 9.- Use the headphone remote control to avoid movement when recording
- 10.- Activate the airplane mode
- Can you really get professional video with the camera on your iPhone?