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Apple’s New iPad Pro Ads Were Shot and Made Entirely on the iPad Pro [video] (petapixel.com)
116 points by plg 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments

Everytime I see one of these "Shot on ____ ", I think about the following:

People used heavy film cameras, awful lenses, rusty shutters amidst a raging war to take incredible pictures (Magnum photographers). If they had iPhone cameras back 50 years ago, they'd kill to get such a small camera system in their pockets.

Good photography (and cinematography) is largely a conceptual thing - put the right brain behind the tools, however limited, and they'll produce incredible content. This is hardly surprising. It is the Jimmy Hendrix equivalent of using an eBay cheapie to shred incredible music. Or look up Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi film shot with a total budget of $7000. No shit!

I definitely get this argument but take some pictures with the newest iPhone, compare with some pictures taken with one of those fancy Canon cameras, and the difference is night and day. With almost no effort a really nice camera will produce shots that are extremely hard to do nicely with an iPhone

It’s also the difference between a random bike and something really well maintained with tires pumped to perfection. Super expensive bikes won’t get you to the Tour de France, but it sure makes riding a lot easier

Aside from framing, the reason the footage looks is well-controlled lighting and good camera mounting. Any camera will take a good photo outdoors in sunlight, but indoors it's all about how the scene is lit.

SLRs have enormous sensors. The largest common sensor size in computer vision is 1". That's smaller than micro 4/3. APS-C and full frame are huge. Big sensor means more photons, which means less noisy images. Combine that with a big ol' lens and a good processor and you get nice well-exposed images without any effort.

People are disappointed by phone images because they take snaps indoors or in low light, and their pictures come out grainy and noisy. In the iPad Pro advert the scenes are lit so brightly that the sensitivity of the sensor is basically meaningless.

Indeed. Similarly, a lot of the "shot on iPhone" (etc.) footage was shot on a iPhone... that was in a bespoke mount, using professional studio lighting-- usually continuous lighting since flash sync with a camera phone is difficult. Exempli gratia: https://petapixel.com/2017/06/30/truth-shot-iphone-style-ads...

For studio photography, the lighting is more important than the camera. I once brought a pro-grade DLSR, a $400 entry-level DSLR, and a final-gen film SLR to the same shoot, and created images with all three using the same lighting setup. The difference in results wasn't immediately obvious.

Modern camera phones have good sensors, so if you drop one into an otherwise-professional studio setup, you'll get good results.

cf. https://www.diyphotography.net/samsung-used-my-dslr-photo-to...

> People are disappointed by phone images

You think? I'm amazed by the photos I get on my phone (Pixel) and that my wife takes with her iPhone. The low light performance is especially shocking.

I used to have an SLR and sometimes I think about getting a Leica just because they are beautiful, but if I'm honest my phone is a better camera than I really need.

I have family pictures taken on a Kodak Discman from the 80’s, which is of similar thickness but the photos are terrible.

So I appreciate the quality of mobile phone photography in such a small form factor

People also seem to be enamored with bokeh (the blurred background), which is far easier to achieve on a full-size camera at a wide-open aperture than on a phone. Portrait mode and similar have been able to emulate the effect, but they still look very fake in comparison.

No doubt, fancy cameras are designed specifically to produce better quality images.

I think the core of the issue that I am getting at is how the average consumer spends thousands of dollars on their gear. Pixel peeping, gear talk, MTF curves, the bokeh battle, the whole culture is preoccupied with the details. And yet, they don't have anything to show for it in terms of results. To me personally, it doesn't bring joy. Joy to me is creating something incredible that is avant-garde, unique and something that gives me goosebumps. To others, amazing gear brings joy so there is something to be said about consumer spending in form of stress therapy.

The other point is that it creates an artificial barrier to newcomers where there is so much chatter about this gear and that gear.

I remember reading through interesting threads on Rangefinder Forum's Philosophy of Photography section(1) that shaped my thinking on photography: For many, great technical skills and gear are the end. For artists, they're the beginning.

After all, what do we do but capture fleeting moments in a living world? Looking at moments, captured, we experience the same spark, the same life, that the photographer saw. We connect, as humans. That's powerful.

The lenses, cameras, and phones that we love to obsess over are great. I love gear as much as the next person. But gear is dead, where the world around is brimming with life. And to obsess over the gear at the expense of the art waiting for us outside the window and over the hill is to lose something precious.

1: https://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=1... "Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography.""

The one gap that smartphones still have is depth of field versatility, which is a function contingent on focal depth and it's impossible to build into tiny cameras.

Having said that, depth of field versatility is only one tool, and often it's a hindrance rather than a help (e.g. we're trying to find the hyperfocal depth and maximize depth of field). For a wide gamut of photography realms such as landscape photography, city life, etc, it is absolutely true that a modern smartphone can compete with any SLR and create perfect results.

I sort of agree with you, except the difference is really far more to do with the lenses. I have a "fancy" Nikon camera but the fancy part is really in the variety of lenses I have.

What the lenses do is give you more options for photo taking in situations where your phone cameras have difficulty. This is usually to do with tricky light situations. For example, having large, fast lenses for night time shooting.

If I was just shooting vanilla day time photos in well lit situations I could make extremely passable photos with any of the modern iPhones.

Also, sensor size. There's only so much you can do with way fewer photons. Imagine what the insanely clever/powerful iPhone/Google Pixel brains could do with proper lenses and sensors.

With a lens added, the iPhone will beat most fancy digital cameras.

Indeed. Several years ago over lunch two coworkers were debating whether Leica or Nikon made better lenses. So I said: “Take a look at the photos of your last vacation. Then look at any random issue of National Geographic. Ask yourself: Am I really being limited by the glass?”

Blessedly the topic of conversation changed.

Yep. Everyone thinks that they’re a great photographer, and that if they just had the right camera/lens/phone, their pictures would be perfect.

I once had to help judge a couple of photo contests where members of the general public sent in pictures. They were taken on everything from low-end telephones to high-end mirroess rigs. 99.95% of then were utter crap, regardless of the platform. Poorly lit. Out of focus. Half the subject out of frame.

People will spend $3,000 on new camera gear when they should be spending $200 on a basic photography class at a camera store or community college.

Strongly recommend taking a photography class. Photography skill is a lot more important than the camera.

Bought a DLSR camera a while back and enrolled in a weekly photography class at a film school for a year. Now I barely touch this camera. It's pretty bulky and I can take equally nice shots using my smartphone camera (good enough for sharing with friends and for own memories).

The only times I would want to use a DLSR camera over my smartphone is when I intend to make a big print of the photo, so I care a lot more about the resolution.

Personally I don't use a DSLR because they are large, but i do use a professional camera and I can say, hands down, that after you achieve a level of quality for the photo, the control you have over the camera is the most important thing.

You cannot get a decent amount of control with a phone. Want to shoot at 1/15 and get partial and intentful motion blur? Want to do night time street photography, shoot at 1/60, 2.0f and cap the iso at 3200 max?

A phone may be OK for a selfie, but any kind of real artistic expression beyond really basic photography concepts and you won't get far.

Better cameras make photography easier and more successful. You don't need $3K but a $1000 DSLR kit can do amazing things for you and make it fun to practice.

> Poorly lit.

Better cameras capture more light.

> Out of focus.

Better cameras auto-focus faster and choose target points better.

> Half the subject out of frame.

High resolution cameras can capture an image for later cropping without early zooming.

I bet your coworkers loved having some smug asshole barging in and shitting on their skills unprovoked while they were trying to have a conversation about gear.

We were a long-time team. Well calibrated on each other. Fuzzy thinking was called out on a regular basis.

Are you saying they called you out for your fuzzy thinking, and changed the topic of conversation to be more welcoming to your outsider perspective? You have sharp and kind coworkers.

You are needlessly offensive.

Tools are rarely a problem. The person using the tool is more often the problem.

This is the equivalent of someone wondering if they should the latest MacBook or the latest Surface to do some very basic sysadmin.

It doesn't matter!

Said otherwise, with total result as the sum of contributing factors like tools_factor + skill_factor + luck_factor + …, the partial derivative of tool is not significant.

For a lot of people speculative chatting about the tools is the point, more than taking pictures per se.

That seems correct. I have never understood the propose of such speculative chatting.

Maybe the conversion was not about achieving or improving a task, but idle talk for social purposes?

What's the purpose of taking pictures and fixating on the past?

Anything can be meaningless if you axiomatically don't care about it.

> What's the purpose of taking pictures and fixating on the past?

Personally, I find no value in that, but I respect differences of tastes.

> Am I really being limited by the glass?




Those are the factors which make Nat Geo photos look like they do.

The glass absolutely limits potential and conversely good lenses can claw back a bit from disadvantage in the other aspects.

Ask yourself how many Nat Geo photos were taken with a $100 Yongnuo 85mm lens versus a $15,000 Canon 200-400.

Sounds like you just obnoxiously interrupted a conversation that didn't involve you.

You must be fun at parties.

To this point, there is great photography from mid 2000s camera phones (crappy noisy VGA sensors). See for instance Robert Clark's work:


These are amazing! Thanks for pointing them out.

You say that because you don't understand how photographic apparatus works.

magnum photographers didn't had "awful" lenses, the lenses they had were incredible for the time and still today they are incredible and a used 50mm Leica lens from 50 years ago is still worth more than an entire iPhone today, new iPhone.

And that's if they were using the "amateur" 35mm film, medium format (120mm), was even better.

What they lacked in technological sophistication, they compensated in just BIG FAT glass and BIG FAT photosensitive area compared to a phone today, and less versatility (no zoom, e.g., no through the lenses focusing, e.g.)

You really don't understand, tech can do many things, but it can't surpass physics.

While smartphone camera sensors have come a long way, lens technology did not progress as much. You still have a fixed focal length and quite small fixed aperture.

This means that your cannot control one of your 3 parameters of the exposure triangle, which is a big limitation. Also it leads to the user not being able to control the depth of field. A smartphone camera sensor is still too weak/small to offer good low light performance and your lens isn't sharp enough to allow for radical cropping.

Those are things that amateurs/non-enthusiasts don't realize but lead to any old 35mm film camera being much more capable in the hands of a skilled photographer. That being said, research on computational photography is currently making big steps and could narrow that gap quite a bit.

There are large lenses for phonecams, if you are willing to use an eternal add-on. We've gotten rather demanding that all our technological magic fit in a 3x5x0.5inch box.

Apple lover 'fan boy', photographer (not professional but good enough to make money doing it). I think the thing the commercials don't make apparent is the concept of 'right tool for the job'. Just because something can be used to produce a particular product does not mean it's the most efficient or best way to produce that product. Of course you can do all of these things with the ipad and have a good product in the end. The question is will it take more time (than it should) and produce as good a product in the end as the dedicated tool etc? Most likely not. Not the point of what they are saying but you know if you need to mow a big lawn you'd rather not use a small mower you want a professional mower built for the task. Generally at least.

Reminded me of this: https://youtu.be/OkPter7MC1I

Article for those unwilling to sit through a video: https://petapixel.com/2017/06/30/truth-shot-iphone-style-ads...

The cameras on phones are already so much better than what I could pull off with an old snap camera in the film days. To me the improvement of camera systems isn't in an of itself that interesting -- but the degree to which it can give more/better data to software that can then produce a photo I'll enjoy more than I could had I "done it myself": that's what matters.

I still have a snap (digital) camera to shoot things I can't with a phone. The pictures aren't as good.

As a side point: what do I mean by can't shoot on a phone? On a whitewater raft; climbing; on a multi-week backpacking trip (only one small, spare battery needed); sleeping in the snow; has controls that can be used via feel while wearing gloves; non-digital zoom. These are all niche applications and while adaptors (cases) can be found to use a phone in these situations they are much worse than just getting the right tool for the job. Which sits unused on my desk more than half the time.

Offtopic, does anyone know a good app for video editing which kids age 8+ can use? I'm thinking of normal film editing, but perhaps a stop-motion capability would be nice, so they can animate their LEGO figures :)

I teach stop motion classes for kids. Several of my students say they use the iPad version of iMovie and they seem happy with it.

For stop motion animation, there is an app called just “stop motion” which is pretty good. It is free, but there are some in-app purchase upgrades that may be worthwhile.

We like to start kids off shooting 2D scenes, with the camera up above the table. You can balance your phone on a stack of books for free, or for about $35 (IIRC) you can get a gadget from amazon that is like the arm from a clamp-on desk lamp, but with a selfie-stick-style phone/tablet holder instead of a lamp. Either way, I recommend grabbing the earbuds that came with the phone/tablet and plugging those in, because you can use the volume buttons as a shutter release that won’t jiggle your whole set up.

(Both iMovie and Stop Motion are available for iDevices of all size. I don’t know what is available for Android, but I am sure there are options.)

Years ago I used to do stop-motion just using an old iPhone and Apple’s QuickTime Viewer. It would let you import an entire directory of photos and spit out a video from them.

Apple has a habit of adding and removing and re-adding features to its base programs, so I’m not sure if it’s still available in Mojave. Might be worth a check.

My wife taught the kids at primary school how to use PowerPoint. After they were given a camera to take some pictures around the school, some of them randomly figured out they could make stop motion animations. I was blown away.

Six year old kids can do amazing things, as long as their environment doesn't railroad them down boring paths.

Don't these kind of articles just show that it's the craft of the professional that makes the difference?

If a person can do something good with any old piece of kit, doesn't that say more about the person than the kit?

No because the kit can limit you.

If you tried to film this advert on a VGA webcam and edit it on an Amiga I don't think you'd get results this good no matter how skilled the person was.

It may take someone skilled to get the best out of the kit, but they're showing that they kit doesn't limit you.

Though, you could get some awesome results from VGA webcam and edits on an Amiga, I'm sure. :-D

If the film maker was good, the output would be good regardless of the terrible camera. It would just be a different ad. Not focused on flawless lighting and gliding smooth lines etc.

An interesting example of this is an episode of DigitalRev's Cheap Camera Challenge, whereby the filmmaker Phillip Bloom was tasked with producing a short film using a Barbie with an integrated 240p camera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VS3C183G8g.

As long as the quality of the camera meets a certain standard, then yeah, cinematography is mainly about creative framing, good lighting, etc.

The thing about better cameras is that they just give you more options, features, flexibility etc. - but if you don’t know anything about the craft, you won’t be much better off with a $50,000 camera vs. a $500 one!

"The thing about better cameras is that they just give you more options, features, flexibility etc"

Yes I agree, that's not really highlighted in an advert though.

If a camera has one feature, you use that one feature. You cant tell from a film that's used that one feature whether the camera was expensive or cheap. Especially when the point of the film was to show off the camera, and that one feature.

I think the point is just to show the iPad has all the capabilities you need to produce high quality videos.

Hats off to them. Film editing is such a time consuming mind numbing tedious process for me. I have tried it with family videos with a normal keyboard and mouse and to imagine doing it on an iPad, touch only...

I don't do it a lot but I am pleased at the speed I can do it now

It was mind numbing and tedious editing when I had a pentium 4 editing to VGA resolution

now its like 1080P on my laptop and things go super fast. 2K, 4K, 8K has zero utility for me so this is perfect.

Ipads are also fast enough, but I like the idea of having a fast enough networking connection to still render on more powerful machines nearby or in the cloud

I would generally consider iPad to be much more limited by its UI than its processing power.

A touch interface can make editing much easier than doing it with mouse and keyboard (proper hardware excluded).

I've been converted to the "add peripherals" side, personally. The standards are developed enough and the selection is broad enough to dial in whatever balance of price, portability, ergonomics and device features is desired - at the extreme end, a USB OTG hub connecting your full size mechanical keyboard, MMO mouse, graphics tablet, game controllers, and flash drives, and at the other, pocket folding Bluetooth keyboards and mini mice. It turns a phone or tablet into "just a screen" - a viable entry level workstation only held back by software and processing capacity.

I have done some minor video producing with a proper equipment and then small flocks on iOS / Android.

I understand the filming part, though iPad probably does not offer any advantage of mobile cameras.

But is there a need to edit on iPad? Any laptop with a proper desktop UI is much more powerful for this purpose.

iPad Pro has more than enough power to edit on, and when applications are designed to be interacted with via touch or pencil, the experience is a productive one.

I don't do video, but a photographer (Ted Forbes) who's YouTube channel I really enjoy released a video yesterday about how he's switching to LumaFusion and gave some reasons and thoughts on why.


I'd say it's more practical to do it on the iPad, but I haven't tried.

I've been doing movie editing for more than a decade and doing it on the iPad seems like such a smooth experience. I just want to edit that timeline with my fingers. Note that I haven't tried it byt this is my intuition.

In this video someone mentions, "It was a really cool challenge". I think that sums it up well. It's like hitting a nail into a piece of wood with a shoe. It's technically possible if you're given the constraint and enough time, but for your own sanity you'll wish you had a simple hammer.

Buck Knives used to have a demonstration where their knives could be used to cut a bolt with a series of many light taps.

But if you want to cut bolts in real life you should probably use a bolt cutter...

This makes me kinda regret buying a different laptop. The iPad pro is perfect except for the following reasons:

* It doesn't sit well in your lap. So if you don't have a table and you want to type that's annoying

* It's not a great environement to code and run tools

I wish it could fix these issues, but in truth I'm wondering if it could without becoming a laptop.

>* It doesn't sit well in your lap. So if you don't have a table and you want to type that's annoying

I'm not sure why there isn't a better detachable keyboard/tablet system out there. One of the main reasons I still travel with a tablet and a laptop (even if it's only a small Chromebook) is that the laptop is so much more ergonomic to just grab and stick on my lap which I often even do in, say, a hotel room even if there's a table available.

That's not great at all for your back though, so even laptop don't solve that perfectly. But it's the best we have.

Doesn't that pretty much describe the MS Surface Book?

Surface is better but it’s still not really like a laptop. Though probably comes closest. (I’m also not really in the Microsoft ecosystem so Surface isn’t that attractive to me.)

This is great marketing, but I don’t see the purpose to arear facing camera on the iPad. I have never needed the one on mine. I find it cumbersome to use and the rear camera bump ruins the design on the new one in my opinion.

The camera is the least important aspect in getting a good image. With a good lighting and good production even a cheap phone can get a good image.

With correct lighting and direction you can shoot a high quality ad on pin hole camera made out of carton.

It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

But a good craftsman doesn't use shitty tools. Sure, he could work with everything, but given the choice...

And tens of thousands of dollars of professional lighting.

Ask a pro photographer what he would prefer:

1. a cheap entry level DSLR and ultra-expensive light setup

2. the most expensive DSLR and cheap household light setup

Most would pick 1.


It's debatable. For hi-key, sitcom style full coverage lighting you've got to take the roof off the place and drop in a lighting grid, but with a high-end DSLR and good glass you can light a scene with candles, if that's the look you're going for. A lot of hi-end documentary interviews are shot with only natural light from a window.

When watching YouTube videos and Kickstarter videos where amateurs are trying to pass themselves off as pros, the most common and grievous error has nothing to do with the image, it's the sound that's all fucked up. Unplug the refrigerator and get a proper microphone! Digital cameras have come a long ways in 20 years, but onboard mics are still garbage.

>And tens of thousands of dollars of professional lighting.

There have been great (and even award winning videos) shot on iPhones (or even cheapo dslrs/compacts) with no "professional lighting" or just natural light.

A random example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyr9NwyszNY

Your video shows no cloud full brightness summer lighting. Hardly what's considered a difficult setup.

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