Why the iPhone 13's cinematic mode is a gamer changer for content creators

Why content creators should be using cinematic mode on the iPhone

The iPhone doesn’t have an amazing new design nor is it rich in features, but it brings one feature that makes it a game changer for content creators.

For the last 4 years, Apple has used computational photography to mimic bokeh used in professional cameras. More recently they’ve used their lidar technology to make it even better.

Apple announced this for video with the new cinematic mode on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.

I’ve been waiting for years for this to happen. As a content creator, I rely heavily on my mirrorless camera because of the professional look I get with large apertures. Bokeh makes photos and videos more interesting and engaging because it eliminates distractions and keeps your eye on the subject.

That’s why the newer phones are next level for Youtubers, vloggers, and beginner videographers.

Why cinematic mode changes the camera industry

With the ability to shoot with shallow depth of field, why do content creators still need a DSLR or mirrorless camera? Currently, I’ve been creating courses and youtube videos with my Sony A7c with a 24mm 1.4 lens. The main reason I use this setup is for the shallow depth of field.

The iPhone, not only adds depth of field, but computational photography with the following features

  • Dolby Vision HDR
  • Racked focus
  • Editing depth of field in post
  • Focus shift when the subject looks away
  • Focus shift when new subject enters scene

HDR video recording

Pro cameras today don’t even offer HDR. The best way to get HDR with my Sony camera is to shoot in S-log and make color corrections in post. It’s insane that the iPhone offers Dolby Vision HDR and the ability to shoot in ProRes (iPhone 13 Pro) for more color-accurate video.

Racked Focus

Racked focus isn’t an important reason to buy the iPhone, but it’s a great feature to add emphasis to a story. If you’re into filmmaking, you’ll want racked focus. It can bring emotion into a shot, or shift attention to reveal the mystery in a story.

Racked focus doesn’t look perfect on the iPhone, but it’s a step forward.

Computational Focus Shift

Another feature that’s worth discussing is the new focus shift. With cinematic mode, the focus transition will change when a new person enters the scene or when the subject looks away from the camera.

I can see this working well for content creators who want to share a travel destination or product reviewers who want to showcase the latest gadgets or fashion.

Macro Photography

One other useful feature for users who purchase the iPhone is macro photography. The macro features won’t give you a 1:1 image ratio, but it’s not bad. This can be useful for wedding photographers who want a close up shot of jewelry, or a YouTube creator making a repair guide.

The added ability to shoot at 120fps will make the footage smooth.

Why I’m upgrading

You’ve heard this before. The best camera is the one you have on you. In most cases, I don’t take photos with my 3-year-old iPhone Xs. My best camera is the one I left at home, but pro cameras are heavy, and you can’t just put them in your pocket.

Pro cameras also have poor stabilization, and when you add a gimbal you add more setup time and heavier equipment. For years, I’ve bought expensive equipment, lenses, lighting, audio equipment, and over time a lot of it becomes forgotten and unused.

Recently, I’ve found that a minimal kit has improved my photography. And that’s why I think I’m going to give the iPhone 13 a chance. Right now I have the iPhone Xs, but I think the features in the iPhone 13 are worth the upgrade.

I probably won’t be buying the Pro version. The added promotion and other features are not important to me. I understand the pro version has better low light performance, but the sensor is smaller than my pinky nail.

Having a slightly smaller aperture won’t make much of a difference with a small sensor.

The mini is where it’s at. It’s small, light, and has improved battery performance.

Why the iPhone is still not as good as a Pro Camera

I won’t be trading in my mirrorless camera for the iPhone anytime soon. The iPhone is great, but it will never have the sensor of a pro camera.

If you’ve ever taken a sunset photo with an iPhone, you know what I mean. iPhones have banding problems and usually don’t do well in low light.

In some instances, the iPhone is more color accurate, but it tends to saturate images a little too much for my liking. It also has terrible dynamic range, and shooting in Raw isn’t even worth it. Sorry folks, Apple still can’t compete.


If you’re a content creator or do any video work that’s not professional, the iPhone is well worth the investment. The best feature by far is the ability to shoot video with shallow depth of field.

If you’re learning video or a beginner filmmaker, the iPhone is a great place to start.

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