Since the release of the iPhone 4 nearly a year ago, media organizations have been spending a lot of time talking about the benefits of such a device for newsgathering. It's a vast improvement on the 3GS in terms video quality. Going from 640 x 480 pixels to 1280 x 720 instantly made video producers like myself stand up and finally take a look at the iPhone for video newsgathering.
We purchased the "4" a month ago and I wanted to put it through a battery of tests to see exactly what it could do. My colleague, photographer Mike Deal, has had one for some time and has been testing out different apps for photos, videos, FTP and so on.
There's no question the iPhone is great at capturing video, but to use it for professional news coverage, it's full of limitations. But there are also a wide variety of solid solutions. See below:
Issue: The shakes -- You have to have a steady hand in order to get good video. Otherwise it just looks like (and is) bad amateur video.
Solution: Ped 3 tripod and a monopod. It makes for a much smoother handling of the iPhone.
Issue: Audio -- Look, the audio on an iPhone and almost every other handheld device sucks. Every good video producer will tell you that audio is equally (if not more) important as video.
Solution: It's a little-known fact that you can't just plug any mic into an iPhone. The vast majority won't work. Please welcome the iRig handheld mic, by IK Multimedia. It's a beauty and works great.
Issue: Audio monitoring -- With the iRig mic you think you've got good audio, but it'd be great you were able to monitor it. Unfortunately the mic is plugged into your headphone jack, so you can't.
Solution: If you can't hear the audio, the next best thing is being able to see it. Cue the FiLMiC Pro app It's got an audio level meter so I can see if the audio is high, low or just right. The app also has a white balance and focus adjustment option.
These are not perfect solutions, but they go a long way to taking the iPhone from an amateur device to one for professional reporters. The experimentation will continue, but in the mean time, check out my first video shot entirely on the iPhone 4 and using the gear mentioned above.