If you’re someone who shoots videos on an iPhone, there’s an important new feature on the Apple iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max that you should take note of. Apple has once again captured the tech headlines with the unveiling of the new iPhone 15, and their presentation was mostly impressive (though there were a few cringe-worthy moments).
As expected, the new models are faster, lighter, and overall better in almost every way imaginable. There weren’t many surprises in terms of features and specifications, as most of the predictions and rumors turned out to be true. The pricing was also pleasantly surprising, with only a minimal increase compared to last year’s model. The base model of the iPhone 15 Pro Max now starts at just $100 more than its predecessor, but it now comes with 256GB of RAM, which is double that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. So, considering the added features and storage capacity, the price increase doesn’t seem significant.
There were many exciting features showcased during the presentation, including titanium bodies for the Pro models, impressive CPU updates with the A17 Pro chip, and a slick new customizable Action button, among others. However, the biggest headline for me was the introduction of USB-C.
There are several reasons why USB-C is a game-changer. First, USB-C connectors and cables have become ubiquitous in our household, as they are used in most modern MacBooks and have been included in iPads for the past five years. This means that we will have plenty of USB-C chargers both at home and while on the go. The switch from Lightning to USB-C alone makes me eager to upgrade from my iPhone XR as soon as possible.
But what excites me even more about USB-C is its potential for data transfer, which Apple briefly mentioned during the presentation. In a world where cloud storage and services are prevalent, you might wonder why using a cable for data transfer would be significant. The answer is video files. Video files, especially those recorded in 4K/60, are large in size.
In the past, when I used my iPhone to shoot videos, I often reached the storage limit of my 256GB internal storage quickly and had to transfer the files using the slow Lightning connector. With a data transfer rate of 480 Mb/s (USB 2.0), the process was time-consuming and made my video workflow inefficient. As a result, I resorted to using my Panasonic GH5 (and now GH6) as my primary travel camera.
However, with the iPhone 15 Pro, this could all change. The introduction of USB-C means faster data transfer rates. The device now supports 10 Gb/s data transfer speeds, allowing us to connect hard drives directly to the iPhone for real-time recording storage. This solves a major pain point for me when using the iPhone as a video camera. I can now use any USB-C drive, and it will run at 10 Gb/s when connected to the phone. During file transfer, I can copy footage over at a brisk 40 Gb/s (Thunderbolt 3). This significantly improves my workflow compared to previous iPhone models.
Thanks to these advancements and the adoption of USB-C, I find myself revisiting mobile filmmaking. The iPhone 15 Pro offers multiple optical focal lengths (13mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 48mm), and even includes a 120mm telephoto option. These options are more than sufficient for most video projects. Best of all, I no longer need to carry a bag full of lenses or spend time rigging up my camera when traveling. Instead, I can rely on the lightweight iPhone and a few accessories. Additionally, knowing that the Pro Max model features a large built-in 6.7” monitor gives me added convenience.
I will also likely revisit the Filmic Pro app, which I tried years ago and was extremely impressed with. The only limitation I encountered was the phone’s storage capacity, rather than any issues with the app itself.
However, one reservation I still have about using the iPhone for video projects is image quality. Apple’s engineering team seems to prioritize footage that looks visually stunning on social media platforms by enhancing saturation and sharpness. While this approach has its benefits in grabbing attention, I personally have a preference for more organic and “filmic” footage. I appreciate film grain and imperfections that give a vintage look to videos. For studio work on Stark Insider, we will likely continue using the RED Dragon camera whenever possible, as its footage straight out of the camera is beautiful and easily customizable in post-production. However, the RED Dragon is a heavy rig and not suitable for travel or run-and-gun shooting.
In today’s era, the Apple iPhone represents a departure from traditional film and legacy cameras. However, this can be seen as a positive aspect. Computational photography will continue to improve, especially with the integration of AI technology. This is an area where traditional camera companies like Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Panasonic face distinct disadvantages since they don’t possess the same level of expertise in software development as Apple and Google.
iPhone 15 Filmmaking capabilities
- Seven focal lengths: The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are speculated to have a new camera system with seven focal lengths, ranging from 13mm to 120mm. This will give filmmakers a wide range of creative options, from ultra-wide shots to extreme close-ups.
- Log ProRes: The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are also speculated to be able to record ProRes video in Log format. This will give filmmakers more flexibility in post-production, as they will be able to grade the footage to their liking.
- 10Gbit/s transfer speed: The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are also expected to have a USB-C port with 10Gbit/s transfer speeds. This will make it much faster to transfer footage from the phone to a computer for editing.
iPhone 15 Cinematography capabilities
- Improved Cinematic mode: The iPhone 15 is having an improved Cinematic mode, which allows filmmakers to create shallow depth of field effects. This is a popular cinematic technique that can be used to isolate the subject of a shot from the background.
- New video stabilization features: The iPhone 15 is also expected to have new video stabilization features that will make it easier to shoot smooth footage, even when moving. This is important for filmmakers who want to create professional-looking videos.
iPhone 15 Video capabilities
• 1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
• 3D sensor‑shift optical image stabilization and autofocus for video (5x Telephoto)
• 4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
• 720p HD video recording at 30 fps
• Academy Color Encoding System
• Action mode up to 2.8K at 60 fps
• Audio zoom
• Cinematic mode up to 4K HDR at 30 fps
• Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
• Continuous autofocus video
• Digital zoom up to 9x (iPhone 15 Pro) and 15x (iPhone 15 Pro Max)
• HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps
• Log video recording
• Macro video recording, including slo‑mo and time‑lapse
• Night mode Time‑lapse
• Optical image stabilization for video (3x Telephoto)
• Playback zoom
• ProRes video recording up to 4K at 60 fps with external recording
• QuickTake video
• Second‑generation sensor‑shift optical image stabilization for video (Main)
• Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
• Stereo recording
• Take 8MP still photos while recording 4K video
• Time‑lapse video with stabilization
• True Tone flash
• Video formats recorded: HEVC, H.264, and ProRes
To sum up, I’m excited to give mobile filmmaking another shot with the iPhone 15 Pro. I’m particularly interested in the Titanium Black model with 256GB of storage capacity.