6 Reasons I Quit Using My iPhone for Video

iPhone in the Sand

I don’t use my iPhone for casual video. In fact I almost never use it to shoot video of any kind anymore.

This is a recent change for me (as of a few months ago), and I’ll explain why in a moment.

This is a contrarian position, I realize. It seems that most people are fine with using their iPhone to shoot casual video (such as for video blogging, which is the most common style of casual video I currently shoot). In fact, for several years I’ve even recommended the iPhone as a great video shooting option.

But I’ve changed my mind. It doesn’t make sense for me anymore, and I think it likely doesn’t make sense for a lot of people.

Here are 6 reasons I don’t use my iPhone for video anymore:

1. The iPhone is an expensive video camera to drop.

The iPhone is much more than a video camera, and the cost reflects that. If you drop it, it can be an expensive mistake.

Is this something to really worry about? I think it is. The iPhone’s design is thin and smooth, and it’s very easy to drop. Even with a protective case, it can still be a problem.

Luckily I’ve never dropped my iPhone while shooting video, but I was always aware it was only a matter of time before I would. And there were several times that it slipped out of my fingers, and I fortunately caught it right before it hit the ground. Ugh, that raises the heart rate!

2. The video camera and phone share the same battery (of course).

If you shoot a lot of video, you can quickly run down the battery on your iPhone. That’s one of the problems of using a device that has multiple functions.

If my battery dies on my video camera, I don’t want to be also without my phone, my email, and web browser. And vice versa.

I find it’s better to have separate devices that have separate batteries. I don’t have to worry that one thing is reducing my ability to use the other.

3. You can get the same quality (if not better) from a device that’s designed for video.

At this point, you might be wondering what camera I’m using instead of the iPhone for casual video. It changes depending on new product releases, but right now I’m using a Canon Powershot Elph 330HS.

It has a bigger, better lens than the iPhone. And the resulting quality of the footage is as good as (if not better than) the footage my iPhone records.

4. No optical zoom on the iPhone.

The digital zoom on the iPhone suffers from the same issues that all digital zooms do: they zoom the image and reduce quality.

The optical zoom on my 330HS actually zooms the lens. I don’t like to zoom much but sometimes it’s necessary, and it’s great having the real thing in my camera.

5. Better autofocus and autoexposure

In my experience, the automatic functions on the 330HS are better than the iPhone.

When I’m shooting casual video, I don’t take manual control over the focus and exposure controls.

I like the camera to do everything – focus, exposure, and white balance. And the 330HS does a pretty good job with these (not perfect, but better than my experience with the iPhone).

6. Removable SD card.

This is a small item and frankly isn’t a huge issue, but it’s still a matter of convenience.

To get the video off your iPhone, you likely attach a cable, so that’s an extra thing to carry if you want to transfer the footage to your computer.

With the 330HS, I simply pop out the SD card and stick it in the side of my Macbook Pro. No extra cable to carry.

There are downsides.

Of course there are downsides to all this. For example, I now carry two devices, the iPhone in one pocket, and the 330HS in the other pocket.

It’s worth it though because of all the additional advantages.

Another disadvantage — if I wanted to shoot and edit on the same device, the iPhone would prevail in that aspect.

But that’s not what I do. I like to shoot with one device, download the footage to my computer, and edit there.

Once I made the change to shooting with the 330HS, I immediately felt the improvement. Of course this wouldn’t be right for everyone, but it’s definitely right for me.

And my guess is that it would be right for many others, too.

36 thoughts on “6 Reasons I Quit Using My iPhone for Video

  1. Izzy,
    I’m not surprised you carry a Canon 330 HS. It’s the one camera I have with me all the time (I carry it in a holder on my belt). It’s an amazingly capable but affordable camera.
    Great minds think alike although you know your way around Final Cut a bit better.

  2. Good points, Izzy. However, I have found one use for using my iPhone 5 for shooting video: when doing an interview, I use it for the alternate/side shot…and only edit in short clips to add variety to the interview. Color correction is needed, but I found that the HD quality of the iPhone 5 is pretty good since right now I can’t afford to buy another video cam. I picked up a little tripod adaptor so it mounts on my regular tripod. It’s also good for time lapse videos.

  3. Hi Izzy,

    Thank you for haring your thoughts.


    Nummer 1: I was using an lifeproof case on my iPhone4s and it works great. Expensive but perfect. I am waiting to buy one for my 5S

    Nummer 2: a second battery for my Panasonic GH3 cost €79,00. An external accuracy for my iPhone and all other devices powered by USB is less expansive.

    Number 3: I own an iPhone. A separate device cost some extra money. Not buying it makes my iPhone cheaper. Ok it is still a lot of money :).

    Number 4: agree. Or buy a separate lens that you can attach to the iPhone. Maybe an interesting part for an new test :)

    Number 5: some apps are doing a great job. Filmic Pro is a great app. Video is another good app.

    Number 6: dropcopy solves that problem. From iPhone to iPad you are able to use Airdrop.

    Number 7: as always: the best camera is the camera that’s in your hand when you need one.
    For me is that the iPhone because that’s the one that’s always in my pocket.

    When I am prepared I am using my panGH3.

    All the best and I still love your articles, videos and your great talent to explain the most difficult chapters of video and photography.


    Fran’s van Cappellen

  4. Good points Izzy but the best Camara is the one you have with you. The iPhone was never designed to replace a video Camara (or anything else that it does) but does enable you to get some video at almost anytime. I would need a Batman utility belt to carry around all the kit I need on a day to day basis, the iPhone comes close to being the Leatherman of all tech kit. As for your points:-
    1/ Insurance
    2/ Battery back to phone
    3/ for its size and availability its pretty good
    4/ Agree but still its better than nothing
    5/ Agree (see point above)
    6/ iCloud

    Keep up the great work

  5. Martin – I agree.

    And luckily I always have two cameras with me. So I choose the better of the two (my Canon 300 HS), and then I don’t have to worry about all the other points. :)

    Thanks for the feedback…

  6. Hey Izzy,
    I just wanted to tell you I appreciate all your articles. They’re well-written, carefully thought out, and draw upon experience. Thanks! (I’m looking into paying for the members’ content.)

  7. Love this post. You have obviously thought this out. As a broadcast professional and professor, I too was on the fence about iPhone video, but now I’m all for it. For a home studio talking head vlog, or even recording a podcast with the right equipment, the iPhone works great. Yes the battery is an issue but all of the web videos or family videos I shoot are short. I have strong reservations about using a mobile device for a client project. The quality is great, and it’s super quick and easy to edit and upload videos with the iMovie 2.0 mobile app. I dropped and cracked my last iPhone and I wasn’t shooting any kind of video. For novices, and amateurs who want to learn, it is a powerful tool, and I think that more people should be doing this….

    Thanks Iz!

    Amani Channel

    1. I want to be clear that I’m not saying that the iPhone can’t “work great” for video. My article is about why I think something else might be a better alternative for many people (and especially why the alternative was better for me). I hope that helps clarify a bit… :)

  8. Love the site and all the content, however, this article was complete bs. The iPhone is an excellent camera for almost any casual video. Every one of the points above is silly and the topic of this post is almost pandering to clicks, but once you start reading you realize is a bunch of nonsense. Sorry, I still love you, Izzy.

    1. Joe – It’s okay to disagree. :)

      I have to say though: this isn’t BS, because it’s really what I’ve done personally (as of a few months ago). Because I’m shooting a lot of casual video everyday (for my personal video blog), this alternative makes a lot of sense for me. And the reasons I gave in the article are my actual reasons.

      Still, it’s okay to disagree. And yes, as I was writing it I thought, “This is basically the opposite of what most people are saying.” I usually stay away from any controversy, but this is my actual experience, so I decided to share it. :)

  9. Hmmm, got me thinking… Never really liked the iPhone video cam either.

    But the ability to upload straight to the net from the phone, instagrams & vines, is pretty handy. I’m wondering if anyone has DIY-ed a point-and-shoot to make instagrams/vines and upload straight to the web.

    Do you know of anything off the top of your head, Izzy? (googling now :)

  10. Hey Izzy,

    This is def not BS and it is something to think about.
    My son had his iPhone stolen and he had to pay full price– almost $700 to get his phone replaced because he still has the contract.

    By contrast my Canon SX 280 HS was under $300 and it has wifi! (If you have one call the company to walk you through. Makes so much more sense with the firmware update.)
    I still prefer editing in the iPhone with my apps, but I thought about what you are advising and gelt good that I am Already doing it!

    I love your work and pay for stuff when I can (your Final Cit tutorials are the bomb!) but thanks for making this one for everyone like the old days!

    Will be back to my membership soon!


  11. Completely agree.

    My iPhone video and still camera gets virtually no use. It’s only for those times where I absolutely need a shot and I don’t have a real camera with me. The thing is so limited in capability, user control, and image quality, I can’t visualize using it for any other reason.

    When I want people to see pictures of my grandkiddies, I take the shots with a real camera, dump then on the Mac and Photo Stream loads ’em on the iPhone to show around. If I want to upload and edit, the images go on my computer. I have the usual upload apps on the iPhone so it’s not like I don’t have the capability of instant upload if I wanted it. I just don’t like sacrificing image quality for a bit of convenience and frankly, I’ve never seen the need for an instant upload to FB or Youtube.

  12. Have you considered using an eye-fi card in your camera? Best of both worlds, right? You get the photographic capabilities of the dedicated camera and the internet-connected and editing capabilities of the phone (when you want them).

    Just wondering if this is something you (or anyone else) has tried…

  13. Hi Izzy,

    I completely agree. I have the Canon ELPH 300HS, which I use outdoors, mainly, for things like filming the kids and vacation shots. Just bought an underwater bag thing I’m looking forward to use in the summer. It is a bit of pain carrying both around, but I can get so many more shots than with the iPhone. For point and shoots that take great video, it’s hard to beat the ELPH line.

    Keep up the great posts.


  14. Hi Izzy,

    I like your reviews, tutorials and just general info. I got the opinion that you used top quality equipment for your videos. I like you use the iPhone for most of my video now and that is because I always have it with me. Other options for your points are covered a plenty.

    If I intended to go and take a video of a special subject I leave the iPhone in my pocket and dig into the camera case and take out my HFG25 LEGRIA Canon which is designed for video and video only. I find that the cheaper compact cameras give no better quality than the iPhone and you still have to ensure a fully charged battery, or spare replaceable batteries. For most the iPhone is a great video camera that iPhone owners, or other smartphone owners for that matter have with them and iMovie on the iPhone is an adequate video editor for most, those that want more can use the iMovie App on the desktop.

    No criticism intended, only expressing my feelings

  15. Hey Izzy!
    I’m currently a student at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. My camera of choice is the Canon T3i, after using quite a few (the 7D is my backup plan lol). Although DSLR’s are more convenient to shoot in some situations, I’m also used to the HVX 200 camcorder when it comes to major projects. Do you have any experience with any of these devices and what would you recommend to make my DFVP career a better one?

  16. Izzy,
    First just love the info you provide. Just looked at the AVCHD video and though I already knew about Clipwrap I found a couple little things I didn’t know. I just bought the Nikon J1 with two lenses. Yes bigger camera but it’s just amazing. Way better that iPhone.
    I’d like to hear what your thinking about the MacPro and how you’d configure it if you get one.

  17. Izzy,
    I wish the Canon Elph had a swing out viewer, so I could be sure I am framed when I do some talking head vids. You know of a way to use an iPad for a viewfinder for the 330HS – maybe video out cable?
    Great points here as always,

  18. I can definitely see this being a good idea for a good percentage of people, but for me personally, I can’t get past the issue of carrying an extra gadget around, plus I’m not overly concerned about the phone. You carry it around and risk it anyway. Depending on the phone you have, some of your points aren’t necessarily valid either. I have a Nokia Lumia 1020, and it compares favourably to my Panasonic Lx-5 in regards to picture/video quality. The lack of optical zoom is mostly made up for by the large 41 megapixel sensor where you can zoom in a great deal without losing quality (especially when lighting conditions are good). When I bought it, it came bundled with a camera-grip that is good to hold, provides protection, includes a built in battery and has a tripod mount.

  19. I’ve got an older Elph. SD780 IS. Used to carry it around with iPhone, but kinda got out of the habit. Great camera, but only 3X. Definitely looking into 330HS. I tend to use the iPhone for CRS (Can’t remember stuff). I take pictures of shopping lists, receipts, stuff like that. I’m very impressed by my new 5S, and if it is all you have with you, it does a great job. However, you make some really good points, especially about the cost of the phone. You may have just convinced me to upgrading the Elph and returning to my previous habit of carrying a camera around. Let’s see what Santa brings…

  20. I generally love your articles but this one left me scratching my head. Yes, my 5D mark III takes pretty good video too. The point of the iPhone camera is that it is always there with you. And as others have pointed out, “the best camera is the one… (etc.)”.

    So, yes, if you always carry a separate camera with you then there is no reason to ever use your iPhone camera.

  21. I didn’t read through all of the comments, so some of this was probably already mentioned. I actually just upgraded and decided to go with the iPhone 4 over this past summer. I downloaded the FilmicPro app and it works great for me when I am doing video as a hobby. But I have a Nikon Coolpix point and shoot camera that is similar to your Canon. I could have bought the iPhone 4s or 5, but i figured that I would use that money to put towards a DSLR or GoPro or something else. What I have found with the iPhone is that the FilmicPro app is great. I ended up buying a tripod adapter as well as a microphone for the phone. It works great for audio purposes as there is no way to plug in a microphone into a point and shoot camera.

  22. Just listened to the Roundtable episode “Memory Keeping with Video” and came over to check out your site. Even though I’m a long time Roundtable listener.

    I agree that your phone is an expensive camera to shoot with. I was recently in Disneyland and when I was in the hotel at night I realized I didn’t have any photos to upload to Facebook via wifi (from Canada, need to use the free wifi) because I didn’t take out my phone to snap photos or record video. I much prefer the strap around my wrist on my Elph 110. If someone bumps me and I drop my phone it would cost me $600 to replace.

    6. Removable SD card — no problem with my Galaxy S4 ;)

  23. I always have my iPhone with me but rarely ever use it for video. Not really much to video and when I do see something to video it is usually gone before I have a chance to turn it on and get it focused. Great for talking and reading email. Stinks for run and gun video. fun to make stop motion when days are boring and nothing to do except make a cup spin and walk along the table top. Short fun. Kinda boring now. When I know I am going to video I just bring my Canon or now my Sony A7R and setup and do a video. Easy. With my blog I can just video with my big stuff. Nope, iPhone is more a phone with internet access.

    Pete :)

  24. With all respect, I suspect your need to sell your advanced video trainings has tainted your opinion. A complete amateur with a iPhone and iMovie can make basic professional video – without buying your stuff. Couple real obvious reasons for “part timers” to use iPhone: no learning curve, no additional expense, no multiple devices, always available and charged, and a stream lined, very simple workflow.

    1. Hmm… I think you might not have read my article closely. You’ll find that I’m using another simple, consumer level camera which I think is better than the iPhone for video in many cases. Of course, the iPhone is a viable option. And for years I’ve recommended it. I just think there might be a better option for part-timers and casual shooters.

      And there’s no connection to my training videos at all.

  25. Keith,

    “always available and charged” – most people I’ve seen with iphones don’t have it fully charged, and at times can’t do anything because it’s not charged. Plus they may not have the space on their iphones for lots of video. Also, it really depends on the iphone model they have. The older models like the iphone 4 isn’t that great. It’s fine for casual pictures and such, when you don’t need that great quality, but for things I want to keep, not so great. Admittedly, the wifi on the 330HS is a bit sketchy with the older iphone, it still allows me the luxury of sending it to the iphone for emailing or texting. On the Nexus 7, it connects faster, and is a trivial task to connect. The expense of a new iphone is a big amount of money to spend on a phone (to me). I would be surprised if your iphone was close to fully charged all the time.

    John D,

    I had the exact same model camera that I would carry around with me. The 330HS looks and feels very much like the 780. The controls are pretty identical. Downside is no more CHDK. Upside is a higher resolution, much better in low light conditions, wider range (24-240mm), uses the SAME battery, picked it up on amazon for $109 (so it won’t break the bank), only slightly heavier and slightly larger, larger screen (but no viewfinder), able to use a much larger SD card (32G) (I use a microSD card), smarter AI. The slightly extra weight initially was of concern to me, but after getting the camera, I’m not bothered, especially with the many advantages it has provided me. Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *