There are many things and criteria to be considered when evaluating smartphone camera performance. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has an excellent zooming system, and the Oppo Find X3 Pro is the best ultrawide angle camera. But which mobile camera is the best for video capture? That’d be the iPhone 12 series–specifically, the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Frank Liew, a chief market officer at Blackbird Concessionaires, Hong Kong’s official Ferrari dealer, believes so. He was, therefore, able to shoot a short movie promoting two Ferrari sportscars in Hong Kong.
“I’ve used the iPhone every day since the release of the 4 in 2010, and I use it to capture video clips,” says Liew. “And I was fascinated by how this everyday device that we all have in our pockets could make something beautiful.”
The two Ferraris Liew assigned to the market were the Portofino M, launched in Hong Kong, and the SF90 Stradale. Liew explains that he developed the “night-and-day dual world” concept with the two cars having different personalities. This involves footage of the Portofino M cruising along Central at day and scenes of the SF90 Stradale racing through Central at night.
The “Russian Arm,” a robot arm connected to a car’s roof to capture high-angle shots, is the industry-standard tool for filming short scenes of cars zipping through traffic.
“It is an industry-standard used for everything from car advertisements to Hollywood blockbusters,” says Liew. But, we don’t have access to one in Hong Kong. They are also costly to build.
So Liew built his version using an iPhone 12 Pro Max and a consumer DJI Ronin S gimbal. This was connected to a crane which is manually operated from a pickup truck.
The Russian Arm, which Liew jokingly referred to as “Trane,” was a makeshift that allowed Liew’s six-man crew to capture high-angle and low-angle shots of Ferraris in motion. Liew, however, wanted a different photo.
Liew recalls, “I grew to spend a lot of my time at the arcades [where] driving games were played,” “There was a video camera angle that seemed to hover behind the car. This allows you to see the entire back and not just the road.
“I wanted to recreate that shot.”
Given the weight and size of professional cameras, such a rig would have been quite expensive. However, Liew was using a lightweight, compact device that has excellent stabilization. So he strapped the iPhone 12 Pro Max onto some rods which hung out of the car’s back. The iPhone 12 Pro Max was equipped with an ultra-wide-angle camera that allowed it to capture both the vehicle and the road ahead. The iPhone‘s stabilization took care of all the rest.
Finally, Liew strapped his iPhone to a DJI Phantom drone to capture more aerial shots. Post-production was completed in three weeks to stitch the footage together.
The video, entitled “The Handover,” is a stylish and professional mini-movie. It showcases not only Ferrari sports cars but also highlights Hong Kong’s skyline and the iPhone’s video skills.
“They say the greatest camera is the one you keep with you,” Liew states. “And the iPhone 12 Pro Max is that camera that’s always there for me.”