Thursday, July 1, 2010

iPhone 4 Video Recording: First Impressions!

The video quality from the iPhone 4 is phenomenal!  I already had a Canon SD970 camera with HD video recording that was excellent.  However, having an HD video camera built into the phone and in my pocket all the time makes shooting video much more exciting and more of a spare of the moment thing.

Video Format
The iPhone 4 recorded videos are saved as a .mov (QuickTime) files with 1280 x 720 (30 frames per second), which is also referred to as 720p HD.  This is not as good as 1080p, but videos look great both on a computer screen and on a big screen TV.  The videos are encoded using the H.264, which is pretty much standard for all Apple videos these days.  The audio is mono (not stereo), which is what you would expect.  In terms of file sizes, there's not a set formula as to how many megabytes per second the recording will take because the compression varies depending on the scenes being recorded.  However, in a quick experiment, I recorded two videos.  The first was 28 seconds and it used up almost 35 MB (or 1.25 MB per second).  The second video was 94 seconds and it took up 120 MB (or 1.27 MB per second).

The Bad News
Unfortunately, I found two issues with videos on the iPhone that I find annoying, but suspect that Apple will deal with them in future updates:

  1. You cannot email HD videos directly from the iPhone, regardless of how small they are and regardless of the type of connection you're on (3G or Wi-Fi).  The iPhone always shrinks the video before it e-mails it.  For example, my 28 second video that was originally 35 MB was shrunk to a 568 x 320 format when e-mailed, which reduced its size to about 3 MB.  This is a drawback and the only alternative for getting your HD video off your iPhone intact is to connect the phone to a PC using a USB cable.  As of of iOS 4.0, there's no wireless way to get an HD video off the phone.
  2. The videos from the iPhone cannot be played directly on the Apple TV.  This is more of a limitation in the Apple TV, not the iPhone but it's disappointing nonetheless.  You would expect these products to work well together considering that they're both made by Apple and the Apple TV is a great way to showcase your videos shot with the iPhone.  The workaround is to convert the iPhone HD video using iTunes to the Apple TV/iPad format.  The result is a slight reduction in quality (down from 1280 x 720 to 960 x 540).  Hopefully, this will be fixed with an update for the Apple TV in the future.

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