When Phil Schiller said that the new iPhone 11 Pro was the first mobile device that Apple has ever given the name "Pro" to, there was a reason. That's because after we saw the demo, it became abundantly clear that mobile filmmaking was a thing, and Apple was dead set on giving them a cinema-grade camera to shoot with. And thanks to an upcoming release of FiLMiC Pro, that's not going to just be hype. The future is here.
The iPhone 11 Pro Camera
The major thing to notice about the iPhone 11 Pro is the third lens. Now the iPhone comes with a 12mp 26mm f1.8 wide angle camera, a 52mm f2.8 2x Telephoto, and a Super Wide 13mm f2.4. The still image capability of all three is damned impressive, being able to grab the same image simultaneously from all three cameras, and then zoom out between them to reveal up to four times more of the image in the ultrawide mode.
In addition, the still camera can preimage 9 still shots between two cameras, and then when you press the shutter for the image you want, the computational machine learning will analyze all 10 images in a microsecond, combine them and give you an image that has details at just about any area of the photo. And they also have a new micro mode for up close and personal portrait photography. And there's also a low light "Night Mode," which is clearly Apple's answer to the Google Pixel's Night Sight camera.
A friend of mine said it reminds him of the 16mm Bolex camera, which had a three-lens array that a shooter could instantly switch from lens to lens to grab a shot, rather than take time to reset and change out the lenses. And that is an excellent way to look at it. In the iPhone camera app, users will not only be able to take multiple pictures but will also be able to change from camera to camera while recording video in real-time. That's awesome.
FiLMiC Pro + iPhone 11 Pro
And here's where the new FiLMiC Pro turns things up to 11, literally. Apple invited FiLMiC Pro to the Steve Jobs Theater to highlight an upcoming build of the app, which gives mobile filmmakers some game-changing new features. Now a cinematographer will be able to not only switch between shots in real-time from all four cameras (including the Selfie camera) but will have a kind of video switcher to see each image and choose it with a simple touch of the screen. There's also a refined director's viewfinder, which will enable users to zoom into each focal length from the SuperWide camera to the 2x telephoto, all while recording at 4K at 60fps.
FiLMiC Pro also has a nifty picture in picture (PiP) option, which will give documentarians a unique perspective for interviews with two separate cameras recording streams at the same time as discreet files. According to FiLMiC, If using the selfie camera as one of the camera selections, then the video can be composited together with an inset for the selfie camera or can be recorded as discreet files. The current Apple API for this feature supports up to 1080p video when recording with multi-cam. That's something Apple didn't mention in the presentation, but still, I was gobsmacked by this. Mobile filmmakers can now shoot twice as much footage, reducing their set times. That's just wild. The new version of FiLMiC Pro will be available later this year.
Credit: Apple/FiLMiC Pro
One thing is certain, I'm sure all the lens manufacturers, including Moment, are burning the midnight oil to redesign their product lines to take advantage of how Apple is changing the game. It certainly means that we're going to have to buy all those lenses again. But will we mind? I doubt it. We're pretty used to buying new cases and lenses when the iPhone gets redesigned.
And while this version of the iPhone 11 Pro seems more like a Tock part II in the tick-tock development cycle, it is without a doubt a HUGE update. This is a professional filmmaker's smartphone camera, and it may be the first time that mobile shooters will have a smartphone made just for them, rather than using a consumer smartphone to create a niche film style. The iPhone 11 Pro clearly indicates that mobile filmmaking has become a serious art form in our industry, and Apple has given mobile shooters the tools to take their films to the next level. I can't wait to see what Soderbergh does with it.
But I have only one question. If the iPhone 11 Pro can record multiple streams simultaneously and can fire off 9 still shots before you press the shutter button and give you a computationally perfect image, then why couldn't they give us portrait mode for video so we could have some BOKEH? It seems like the A13 Bionic chip is powerful enough to handle it. Oh well, maybe next summer at WWDC.
The iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999 for 64GB, $1099 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max. But you can save money by trading in your old iPhone X, dropping the price $599/699 respectively. That's a HUGE trade-in allowance. Pre-orders start this Friday at 5am. Shipping starts September 20th.