Apple did something surprising with the iPhone last night

The camera module of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
iPhone 15 Pro Max Andy Boxall/

How do you flex your flagship phone’s camera chops? Use it to shoot the entire launch event of a flagship laptop. Or apparently that’s what Apple thinks. The company’s Scary Fast event last night was shot on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and it’s quite a solid statement to rest on the fate of a product that brings in billions of dollars for Apple each quarter.

So far, both Apple and Samsung have tried to one-up each other by using “Shot on XYZ” ads to sell their camera-focused phones. It’s a long history. Lady Gaga used an iPhone 11 Pro to shoot the music video for “Stupid Love” in 2020, and Selena Gomez also relied on the same phone for her “Good for You” monochrome video.

John Legend deployed a Google Pixel 2 for “A Good Night,” Ellie Goulding used a Nokia Lumia 1020 to record “How Long Will I Love You,” while Grimes took it a step further and recorded four songs on one phone. Recorded the video. In 2013, Finnish metal band Constantine used a Galaxy S4 to capture a music video for their track “World Undefined”.

But Apple’s latest event was the best demonstration yet of what the iPhone 15 Pro Max can do in expert hands. The video, which you can watch in 4K resolution, features candid shots, eerie moonlit cloud views, a drone capture of Apple Park, and of course Tim Cook walking across the smoke to say “Good Evening” for a change. Let’s give.

It’s amazing to see what a $1,200 phone can do, considering you can spend a few million on top-of-the-line filming hardware like fancy lights, cranes, rail-mounted rigs, dollies, and drones. And, of course, an entire film crew with experts handling everything from camera, sound and light gear to video grading, sound editing and post-processing.

The company generated $81.8 billion in revenue in Apple’s most recent fiscal quarter, ending in July, so it’s more than likely that Tim Cook didn’t think twice before signing off on the expense report for the event shoot. It also helps that Apple has its own movie and streaming show empire that keeps churning out critically acclaimed content starring Hollywood A-listers.

The Scary Fast event was shot on the iPhone 15 Pro series using the new Log Encoding feature, which allows an unprecedented level of control over adjusting color chemistry. But then again, handling the load requires an expert hand and expensive computing gear at the editing desk. Of course, Apple included Macs in its behind-the-scenes footage to drive home the right message.

If you’re curious, Apple’s filming crew used the Blackmagic Camera app to record the event. It’s a free app packed with professional-level controls. It’s also a somewhat odd situation, as the iPhone’s default camera app could use more such controls and modes to take advantage of its camera hardware.

Overall, Apple cleverly marketed two product categories at once. Praise! But don’t get carried away and spend over a thousand dollars to get the iPhone 15 Pro just yet. I recently toured the world’s highest motorable pass with an award-winning photojournalist and was stunned by the camera capabilities of the iPhone 14 Pro. If you need more inspiration, you can also read this interview about how a filmmaker shot his documentary film using the iPhone 11.

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