An iPhone Camcorder Review?
When I started shooting movie professionally I primarily used camcorders.
Now I am speaking about in the affordable/indie film markets… I also shot more expensive Varicam and Betacam on client work (and even some 16mm in the late 90s and early 2000s), but most of my own work was mostly shooting Sony, Canon or Panasonic 3-chip camcorders.
Below is generation nonetheless of a Canon XH-A1 HDV camcorder (on a jib) we used on an electronic series I directed called”Pink” back in 2007.
The point is that I am very used to camcorder-style setups and really prefer them in several ways to the DSLR or mirrorless cameras so widespread today. Obviously camcorders are still widely used today as well, but mainly for information or event work versus narrative or commercial work. So I really don’t use them as frequently now (although you could surely make an argument that the Canon C200 or ARRI Amira and similar body design cinema cameras are basically camcorders).
When I learned about the IndieVice – a camcorder design rig for your smartphone – I had been curious.
Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know exactly what you are thinking (and I’ve believed and said it also ). If you are shooting on mobile shouldn’t you actually keep it mobile?
My answer is yes and no.
Yes, even in case you’re trying to maintain your setup minimalist (and be inconspicuous) or just shooting fast b-roll shots or are traveling, etc.. But for a few tasks – no. And especially now that phones are becoming so good and in several cases rival much more expensive cameras.
I’d compare it to the above DSLR cameras. When they came out they were pretty much laughing stocks of the business. It was embarrassing to appear with one on set – or if you did you rigged out it with a matte box, follow focus, external monitor, etc. (that of course people still do today – perhaps more honestly ).
You not only rigged them out to look”more professional” though, in addition, it was/is since they are often hard to operate with being such a small form factor. Notably shooting handheld along with monitoring (small LCD displays are hard to see in the first place, then add getting crucial focus or shooting out in bright light it can be extremely hard ).
Nowadays I would argue the exact same can be said about smartphones.
Does using a rig like the IndieVice make your installation look professional, even more importantly it actually makes using the telephone easier for certain kinds of jobs.
That is a subjective call. But here you don’t require a conventional camera if you don’t already own one. Everybody has a smartphonebut not everyone has a Sony a73.
Also, mindsets are rapidly changing together with the standard of mobile video technology. A couple of years back I’d say that this was more a novelty, but today I think that it’s a completely viable option for many jobs.
Is your IndieVice for everyone? No, not at all.
But for those that are thinking about using their cell phone into more specialist environments and using a bigger form-factor (camcorder) look and feel, it is a very interesting option to consider.
Btw, I’m working on a complete review movie that will be coming soon and I will add it to the article when it’s ready.