January 26, 2021

Stunning cinematic video from the new iPhone 12 Pro Max

In this time of super-tech, you might be considered a ‘crazy stuck in the mud’ to not be thinking seriously about mobile phone videography and what it means for the future of cinematic video. So as I am sure you are not a ‘crazy stuck in the mud’  you may have been as excited about the new iPhone 12 Pro Max as we were.

Huge screen, bigger sensor, lower f-stops, larger lenses, Dolby Vision HDR and the A14 Bionic six-core CPU…it’s all too much to take in at once. I would even go as far as to say that reading the specs for this iPhone was like reading some form of tech-erotica.

iPhone 12 pro max in gold

iPhone 12 Pro Max Gold next to its box

So if you want to get more from your mobile videography in the future then please read on and we will give you our pros and the cons and what we found out when we started shooting with the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

iPhone 12 Pro Max - Some Basic Info:

The main wide camera has a 26 mm-equivalent f/1.6 lens in front of a 12 MP sensor. It features a sensor-based optical stabilisation system, which is a first for Apple (most phone camera modules shift the lens rather than the sensor to offset camera movement). 

There’s an ultra-wide 13 mm-equivalent camera and also a 65 mm-equivalent tele-module that offers a 2.5x zoom over the main camera. There is a LiDAR sensor for building depth maps. On paper, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has the most impressive imaging capabilities to date in an Apple phone.

iPhone 12 Pro Max line-up

So how does the iPhone 12 Pro Max perform?

The Dolby Vision HDR support does indeed deliver the high dynamic range it promised and there was pleasant tone mapping when our video was played back on a compatible display. Dynamic range displayed a wide improvement, though some highlights still clipped in extreme situations.

Texture and noise were well balanced, with low noise and plenty of detail present when shooting outdoors or in moderate indoor lighting. Light levels had to get quite low before noise became intrusive and the detail dropped. Colour was generally pleasant, despite some slight white balance casts that were sometimes visible. Autofocus was accurate and fast, with quick, smooth shifts when our subject distance changed. Stabilisation was very effective both when we were walking and running. Exposure is generally accurate.

Overall video performance - excellent.

Showing the lenses of the iPhone 12 Pro Max

The new larger lenses on the iPhone 12 Pro Max

Some negative Issues

It was only when we tried to use our third-party utilities such as lenses, gimbals and filters that we realised the price for Apple's secrecy around this iPhone was paid by third party support businesses which were mostly pushed off the cliff by Apple on the day the iPhone 12 Pro Max was launched.

DJI Osmo 3 gimbal

The iPhone 12 Pro Max was just too heavy for it to handle. While it did balance at a stretch, the gimbal simply collapsed when things started to move more sportily.  Even using the available counterweights to try and spread the weight just made things worse.

Mounted on the DJI Osmo

Movi Cinema Robot gimbal  

The iPhone 12 pro Max swapped the position of the wide camera (26 mm) to the inside of the phone body with the result that when the phone is mounted on the Movi Cinema Robot gimbal the centre motor post is visible in the shot. This is also the situation if you try to use the native ultra wide (13mm)

Movi Cinema Robot gimbal

Moment Lenses

to mount these onto the iPhone 12 Pro max you have to have a Moment case for the iPhone. The secrecy around this iPhone meant that Moment had no chance to have a case ready for when the iPhone 12 Pro Max was launched and are talking about Jan/Feb 2021 before they can supply the cases we need to mount our lenses onto.

Moment lenses and case

GOBO Filters

To mount these we needed our Moment Lenses and of course we could not mount them because there is no appropriate iPhone case available just now.

In Summary

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a massive step forward on the journey towards achieving cinematic videography with a mobile phone and it’s a journey we should all enjoy.  Any time I say something negative about this iPhone I simply try to remember that it is a pocket-sized phone/computer that has over 11 billion transistors inside it…crazy and amazing…just like the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

If you’d like to see the time-lapse work we have delivered for others visit our website lamedia.co.uk and if you have any questions or think we got something wrong or simply want to let us know what we missed… e-mail us at [email protected].