How good is the 4K camera on the iPhone 11 Pro? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 20 Old 11-03-2019, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
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How good is the 4K camera on the iPhone 11 Pro?

In some ways, compared to our pricey DSLRs, it's actually embarrassingly good.

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post #2 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 04:20 AM
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It seems hard to believe that the iphone is running its sensor at 4kp120 in order to make 4kp60 HDR, as the author claims. More likely Apple is using "single-shot hdr" technology, which replaces a global exposure setting for the image with local/regional exposure settings. Anyway, this video clearly shows the limitations of image processing software like DaVinci Resolve that only allows a single global exposure setting for an image.
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post #3 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 05:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Either way, the DR is truly impressive. It obviously has some powerful computational ability at its disposal. Despite some obvious imaging limitations, from a DR perspective, it put the A7iii to shame. My wife recently bought the 11 Pro, but I had never tried shooting video with it because of my lack of interest in cellphone video.

However after watching Max’s video, I took it outside to shoot a late day, very high contrast scene every camera I’ve ever owned has stumbled on. I watched the clip back on my OLED via AirPlay, and I too was stunned. Yes, it can still look like cellphone video and does little to change my opinion about using it as a videocamera or wanting to buy one for myself (I have the X and that’s fine), but dang, you’ve got to give kudos when it’s warranted. IMO, in this respect, it’s warranted.

As Max mentioned, it would be very nice if our DSLRs were able to pull off some of these tricks, even as a selectable option.
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post #4 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 07:44 AM
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This kind of HDR looks from the current crop of flagship phones, notably the iPhones and Samsung doesn't suit everyone's taste. At a short glance or watching it scene by scene it may look impressive since the DR as it appears on screen really is superior to the conventional, non-professionally lit scenes but if you watch it for a while you could get the feeling similar to watching the pictures on mailing pastcards in the old days. Perfect exposure, punchy colors, absolutely no blocked up shadows or evenly saturated blue sky and so were people faces or skintones in those pictures. Mostly matte-perfect, no dark shading or blown-out foreheads or cheekbones etc. So after a while it's usually kind of tiresome and this is what not only myself but a lot of my colleagues and clients feel about overdone HDR video image. But make no mistake, this is entirely subjective as there are also somebody who like it or at least don't mind that it looks the way it looks.
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post #5 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Ken Ross View Post
Either way, the DR is truly impressive. It obviously has some powerful computational ability at its disposal. Despite some obvious imaging limitations, from a DR perspective, it put the A7iii to shame. My wife recently bought the 11 Pro, but I had never tried shooting video with it because of my lack of interest in cellphone video.

However after watching Max’s video, I took it outside to shoot a late day, very high contrast scene every camera I’ve ever owned has stumbled on. I watched the clip back on my OLED via AirPlay, and I too was stunned. Yes, it can still look like cellphone video and does little to change my opinion about using it as a videocamera or wanting to buy one for myself (I have the X and that’s fine), but dang, you’ve got to give kudos when it’s warranted. IMO, in this respect, it’s warranted.

As Max mentioned, it would be very nice if our DSLRs were able to pull off some of these tricks, even as a selectable option.
Ken Just out of interest what is its sensor size and have you or your wife tested the 2x optical zoom on the 52mm telephoto lens.
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post #6 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Ken Just out of interest what is its sensor size and have you or your wife tested the 2x optical zoom on the 52mm telephoto lens.
Chris, I’m not sure of the sensor size, but both the telephoto (2x) and WA lenses are definitely not as sharp as the normal lens. That’s disappointing.
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post #7 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 12:02 PM
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Ironically, that technology does not have high dynamic range. Rather it is adaptively reducing/remapping the dynamic range of the sensor to match the dynamic range limitations of the display+viewer. Personally I like the look and also wish every video camera had an "instant HDR" setting. However this is not new technology and not even particularly computationally demanding. DxO has had an "instant HDR" option for at least a decade, which renders each RAW image in psuedo-HDR without any perceptable delay.
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post #8 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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But it's quite different to have that technology for stills as opposed to 4K60. To do that on the fly does require quite a bit of computational muscle. I think the bottom line is we really have no ideal how Apple is pulling it off. We can conjecture, but I don't think anyone knows for sure.
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post #9 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 05:01 PM
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But it's quite different to have that technology for stills as opposed to 4K60. To do that on the fly does require quite a bit of computational muscle. I think the bottom line is we really have no ideal how Apple is pulling it off. We can conjecture, but I don't think anyone knows for sure.
True it requires some computational muscle. I think we can safely say that Apple isn't reading 4kp120 from the sensor and tone mapping frame pairs on the fly to get 4kp60 HDR.
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post #10 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 05:06 PM
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It kinda makes sense since 4K is only 8MP, and iPhone sensor/lens is designed for 12MP.

Where comparing still photos, its 12MP iPhone vs. like 20MP+ DSLR. The extra resolution of the sensor is not really that useful when you are only looking at an 8MP image (4K video frame).

And plus iPhones have arguably WAY more processing power than a DSLR's processor.
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post #11 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 06:15 PM
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And the chipset on the new iPhones is more powerful than the best chipset Android phones now have, the Snapdragon 855+ or the equivalent from Samsung and Huawei. On the flagship Android phones, namely the two most powerful, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and the Asus ROG2 gaming oriented phone only the Note 10 can shoot HDR video with EIS at 4K/30p but only SDR video at 4K/60p without EIS. While the Asus ROG2 can't even shoot HDR at any frame rate though the EIS works all the way up to 4K/60p, a very rarity on Android phones. The latest iPhones can do them all at 4K/60p.

There is one thing Max Yuryev didn't mention in his video. The issue of variable recording frame rates that the shooter has no control over. In fact, the shooter typically has no clue what the exact frame rate his phone is recording the footage at any given moment.

This has long been a curse in cellphone footage since the onset of the first Android phone and iPhone. Not sure if Apple has found a solution to this because no maker on the Android side, or Google, has been able to. To me at least until this downside is corrected cellphone footage would remain distinguishable from real camera footage despite everything else looking apparently equal.
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post #12 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 06:33 PM
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True it requires some computational muscle. I think we can safely say that Apple isn't reading 4kp120 from the sensor and tone mapping frame pairs on the fly to get 4kp60 HDR.
They could do it using 4K60 however, and blend information from alternate frames to get the HDR (one primary frame and two alternate frames on either side). You don't require 120 fps to do that and since alternate frames would likely not move much you would be able to get high and low iso info for each portion of the frame that way, then composite it to generate a fake 4K60 with a higher dynamic range than otherwise possible natively.
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post #13 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 06:39 PM
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And the chipset on the new iPhones is more powerful than the best chipset Android phones now have, the Snapdragon 855+ or the equivalent from Samsung and Huawei. On the flagship Android phones, namely the two most powerful, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and the Asus ROG2 gaming oriented phone only the Note 10 can shoot HDR video with EIS at 4K/30p but only SDR video at 4K/60p without EIS. While the Asus ROG2 can't even shoot HDR at any frame rate though the EIS works all the way up to 4K/60p, a very rarity on Android phones. The latest iPhones can do them all at 4K/60p.

There is one thing Max Yuryev didn't mention in his video. The issue of variable recording frame rates that the shooter has no control over. In fact, the shooter typically has no clue what the exact frame rate his phone is recording the footage at any given moment.

This has long been a curse in cellphone footage since the onset of the first Android phone and iPhone. Not sure if Apple has found a solution to this because no maker on the Android side, or Google, has been able to. To me at least until this downside is corrected cellphone footage would remain distinguishable from real camera footage despite everything else looking apparently equal.
Variable frame rate is what allows them to have better specs in terms of resolution/frame rate since they are not constrained by bandwidth. A proper video camera has to deliver it's framerate no matter what is going on in the scene, while a cell phone will reduce frame rate when there is lots of motion and increase it in a largely static scene with relatively little motion.

If cell phones had to deliver a constant frame rate they would not be able to achieve these high frame rates.
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post #14 of 20 Old 11-04-2019, 07:29 PM
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Yes, and then add to that the fact there is one critical parameter missing to control the exposure, the variable aperture, it would be very difficult to render footage with a rock solid frame rate. Since he lowest ISO on most phones is normally ISO80-100 and the lens is always wide open at f1.6 to f/1.9 with no ND filter, there is no other way to get decent exposure except for cranking up the shutter as high as needed. Have you seen cellphone footage shot in 4K/30p at 1/1000th or faster? I have, and quite often too as editing phone footage is the majority of the work I do nowadays. The motion is never pretty as you can imagine and when this awful judder goes into the timeline, the first thing my computer has to do is determining and normalizing the raw footage frame rate. An additional step all NLEs, not just the FCPX, have to take before you can start doing anything else creatively.
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post #15 of 20 Old 11-06-2019, 11:08 AM
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Anyway, this video clearly shows the limitations of image processing software like DaVinci Resolve that only allows a single global exposure setting for an image.
Whaat? Of course you can! You are not at all limited with Resolve! How can anyone even say that? Any region of the image; you can define by its tonal range, hue, saturation, primary or secondary colors, luma or a masked boundary, individually or in any combination thereof.. can be defined for a regional exposure change, gamma, contrast, brightness, color and so on. You can have the boundary track a moving subject. Let's say you want to adjust skin tone. By defining the tonal range, just that range will be affected by what you change. But if there are other faces with the same tonal range that you don't want changed by this, you can mask off the others and just affect the one you want even as that person moves across the frame she is tracked. This is nothing short of Edgar Allan Poe's Dream within a Dream!

Also noticed in Max's video, where he claims what you can and can't recover from raw, that he is not even using the available controls in the raw panel. Whatever you change in the raw panel is non-destructive because the changes made are only to metadata. He might as well not be using raw. This has nothing to do with a rant against iPhone. It's great, I have one.

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post #16 of 20 Old 11-07-2019, 06:25 AM
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Whaat? Of course you can! You are not at all limited with Resolve! How can anyone even say that? Any region of the image; you can define by its tonal range, hue, saturation, primary or secondary colors, luma or a masked boundary, individually or in any combination thereof.. can be defined for a regional exposure change, gamma, contrast, brightness, color and so on. You can have the boundary track a moving subject. Let's say you want to adjust skin tone. By defining the tonal range, just that range will be affected by what you change. But if there are other faces with the same tonal range that you don't want changed by this, you can mask off the others and just affect the one you want even as that person moves across the frame she is tracked. This is nothing short of Edgar Allan Poe's Dream within a Dream!

Also noticed in Max's video, where he claims what you can and can't recover from raw, that he is not even using the available controls in the raw panel. Whatever you change in the raw panel is non-destructive because the changes made are only to metadata. He might as well not be using raw. This has nothing to do with a rant against iPhone. It's great, I have one.
Tom, My comment was based on Max's use of Davinci Resolve in the video, and his failure to provide a local tone mapping for the Sony and Blackmagic footage. He demonstrated that no single global setting would simultaneously correct the overexposed and underexposed regions of the image. Does Resolve have an "instant HDR" feature that automatically provides a local tone mapping with one button press, that simultaneously corrects both overexposed and underexposed regions of the frame? And if not, how much manual effort is required to construct an effective local tone mapping for a video in Resolve?
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post #17 of 20 Old 11-07-2019, 01:54 PM
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Tom, My comment was based on Max's use of Davinci Resolve in the video, and his failure to provide a local tone mapping for the Sony and Blackmagic footage. He demonstrated that no single global setting would simultaneously correct the overexposed and underexposed regions of the image. Does Resolve have an "instant HDR" feature that automatically provides a local tone mapping with one button press, that simultaneously corrects both overexposed and underexposed regions of the frame? And if not, how much manual effort is required to construct an effective local tone mapping for a video in Resolve?
Resolve does have a one button feature to automatically correct exposure and color.

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post #18 of 20 Old 11-07-2019, 03:11 PM
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Also, when you stack exposures, you are combining the dark parts of the brighter image with the bright parts of the darker image, overall making the dark parts less dark and the bright parts less bright. Strictly speaking, that’s lower DR since DR is the ratio of the brightest tonal values in the image to the darkest. That said, it is recording more scene DR, similar to log except without the color desaturation or grading latitude.

In Resolve it’s pretty cool that you can blur the background to create an artificially shallow depth of field that looks like a full frame camera. I would think that’s a logical path for iPhone to take artificial intelligence to the next frontier with small sensors.

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post #19 of 20 Old 11-07-2019, 08:22 PM
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Resolve does have a one button feature to automatically correct exposure and color.
Does that button perform local tone mapping, like one shot HDR? Or does it pick a global exposure setting for the frame?
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post #20 of 20 Old 11-08-2019, 07:17 AM
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Contrast and color. It does not have an instant hdr button.

HDR Colorist and Conversions
INTO THE CAVE OF WONDERS
Directed by MANUEL BENITO DE VALLE Produced by PEDRO PABLO FIGUEROA
Cast MANUEL ANGEL REINA, CLAUDIA GARROTE
LOVETHEFRAME STORIES, SOUNDTRACKS AND FILMS
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