Camera: Video Quality
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus receive a few new features and video performance upgrades. While 4K video recording is still absent, there is a new option for recording 1080p video at 60 FPS. Slow motion video gets a faster shooting mode too, with an option for 720p at 240 FPS in addition to the 720p at 120 FPS mode available on the 5s. Both the 1080p at 30 FPS and 720p at 120 FPS modes record at the same bitrate as the 5s.
The Focus Pixels in the new camera sensor provide continuous autofocus during video recording. Not only does this make recording video easier (no more tapping on the screen to refocus), it also drastically improves video quality. Objects in the video always remain in focus, no matter how much they move relative to the camera, eliminating blurry videos.
Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus rely on electronic image stabilization (EIS) while shooting video (the 6 Plus does not use OIS in video mode), however, it receives a significant upgrade. Apple’s new cinematic video stabilization does a better job keeping the video stable and smoothing out vibration and hand shake.
In the two videos above, the rear cameras for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 are held as closely together as possible while shooting HD video outdoors. The iPhone 6’s cinematic video stabilization greatly reduces the amount of motion caused by walking along the sidewalk. We can also see the continuous autofocus at work on the iPhone 6 when zooming in on the flowers.
These two videos highlight the iPhone 6’s continuous autofocus feature and the dramatic effect it has on video quality. The iPhone 5s sets its focus at the beginning of the movie and never changes it as the camera moves closer to the dark side, producing a rather blurry video. With the iPhone 6, however, Darth Maul’s face remains in focus for the length of the video, regardless of his position relative to the camera.
In these boring videos of cars driving past the camera, we see the advantage of shooting video at 60 FPS versus 30. Just as an LCD screen with a higher refresh rate exhibits less ghosting and motion artifacts during high action scenes, the 60 FPS video looks smoother and shows less ghosting behind the cars.
Above is a comparison of the two slow motion modes. At 240 FPS, the definition of each wheel can easily be seen, while at 120 FPS they’re still spinning a bit too fast to be perfectly clear.
Here’s another example of a 240 FPS slow motion video. It doesn’t show anything new, but I think it looks pretty neat.
Apple’s Focus Pixels, along with a faster ISP in the A8 SoC, combine to produce some nice enhancements to video quality. While not everyone will utilize the new slow motion, 1080p/60 FPS or time-lapse video modes, the continuous autofocus and cinematic video stabilization features greatly improve every video you shoot with the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.