I wrote an entire post a while back about what filming in log is and why you should do it. The gist of that post is that it helps you fit more luminance values into the same amount of disk space. This gives your shots more dynamic range at no cost to you and allows you to tweak the colors in post. It’s a win-win for a marginal amount of extra effort.
So you think I’d be insanely excited when apps like Filmic Pro opened up filming in log on your iPhone. Right?
Wrong, actually there’s not a ton of sense to filming in log on your iPhone. Well, the iPhone 12 or later at least. Let’s find out why.
iPhone 12’s Can Shoot HDR Video
Modern iPhones have incredibly fast processors. The A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12 is capable of some truly impressive benchmarks.
Because of this, starting with the iPhone 12, Apple has enabled HDR for video. You can check to see if the setting is turned on by going to
Settings -> Camera > Record Video, then turn on HDR Video.
When this feature is turned on, your iPhone will take multiple photos at different exposures simultaneously and then blend them back together on the fly for better colors in both the highlights and shadows of your image or video. Impressive.
HDR is Dramatically Better than Log at Increasing Dynamic Range
When you film in Log, you gain 2-3 stops of dynamic range with the only cost being some color correction work in post.
However, the iPhone’s HDR feature is capable of dramatically more than 2-3 stops of dynamic range. It’s taking the normal image, an underexposed image, and an overexposed image. It then blends all three images back together on the fly.
Filming in Log can’t possibly compete with that. HDR is giving your video way more than 2-3 extra stops of dynamic range. Plus, there’s no need to color correct in post.
This technique is so effective that I honestly think it’s a feature that will be in all modern cameras a few years down the line. The only downside to filming this way is that the shots may almost seem fake as capturing these exposures previously wasn’t possible. So all footage that really takes advantage of it will look quite new to us.
But, they’ll be incredible photos.