Apple’s iPhone 5: the evolution of consumer video cameras

To a fanfare of publicity Apple introduced the iPhone 5 this week. Sure, we know you can read about this just about everywhere at the moment, but we thought it might be interesting to highlight just how the video camera built-into the device compares with the handheld video cameras many of us began making movies with just a decade ago.

Things have moved on. We took a look at Videomaker.com’s Best Products of the Year Awards 2001 to help illustrate this. We’re skipping the high-end cameras for the sake of this quick picture, but even there in terms of image capture quality, at least, the iPhone’s base stats seem fairly impressive.

Interestingly the best DVD authoring system at the time (in the over-$4,000 category) was Apple’s PowerMac G4 with SuperDrive. Now we’re not arguing that iMovie on an iPhone can match the software we used for movie creation even at that time, but if you want to make a quick and dirty edit of recently captured footage, the things you can do on the device would never have been possible even then.

Comparing the cameras:

Canon Optura 100MC

  • Image stabilization
  • 1.33-megapixels CCD
  • 1280-x-960 pixels, 640-x-480 resolution
  • 2.5-inch viewfinder
  • 10x optical zoom
  • Adjustable focus, exposure, shutter speeds
  • Price: $1,899

Sharp VL-NZ10U

  • Still image
  • 3-inch viewfinder
  • The zoom toggle, which offers 10:1 optical zoom and a whopping 300:1 digital zoom
  • Manual exposure control and the accessory zoom microphone for more advanced users
  • 8MB(!!) SD Memory card
  • Price: $1,199

Apple iPhone 5

  • 8-megapixel image capture
  • Still image and video capture (at the same time)
  • 4-inch viewfinder
  • Slightly awkward zoom
  • Image stabilisation and face detection
  • Support for panoramic still image capture
  • 8GB on-board storage plus auto sync over Wi-Fi
  • Price: From $199

Now we’re not saying the iPhone’s going to replace the current state-of-the art camera equipment.

We do, however, find it pretty interesting to note that the explosion of consumer DV cameras put movie-making into the hands of the consumer.

Now, with the iPhone and other video-capable smartphones available on the market, that disruption spreads even further into everyday people’s digital lifestyle.

With this in mind it’s no great surprise that the first feature film shot entirely on an iPhone appeared last year, when celebrated South Korean director, Park Chan-Wook shot a 30-minute film called ‘Night Fishing’ (trailer for which is below).

We’ll be interested to see how people begin to use their iPhone 5‘s in future, as newly-created videos show up on YouTube, Vevo and the other movie-sharing sites. Bringing these powerful new technologies into the hands of consumers is a democratisation of artistic resources we can’t help but feel excited about, particularly as that’s part of what Dreamtek is all about: enabling creative people to be creative the best way possible.

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