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Action Mode on the iPhone 14 is indispensable to vloggers, film-makers, parents and fitness coaches

The 12-year-old at home loves to jump down, spin around to the beats of Harry Belafonte

Mathures Paul Published 25.07.23, 10:52 AM
Vishal Bhardwaj filmed Fursat using the iPhone 14

Vishal Bhardwaj filmed Fursat using the iPhone 14 Pictures: Apple

The 12-year-old at home loves to jump down, spin around to the beats of Harry Belafonte. Like any girl of her age, she is a bundle of loveable mischieves and the years I spent working from home made me realise the little things I had missed earlier, encouraging me to record videos… plenty of them, enough to give Christopher Nolan a run for his miles and miles of film reels (let’s not get into my video making capabilities). And I have realised something simple, I don’t have to be a vlogger to make memorable videos. At the same time, I don’t want to turn in anything mediocre. After all, mediocrity breeds….

Last year, Apple introduced a feature that made the dad in me balloon a couple of inches with joy — Action Mode. Game-changer has become a throwaway term these days, so best avoided. Use it once and you will realise that Action Mode is indispensable.


It’s one of the features that made it possible for Vishal Bhardwaj to film Fursat. And it helped make K-pop sensation NewJeans new video, ETA, worthy of a million replays.

Brilliantly designed

Action Mode is a stabilisation mode found on the iPhone 14 series. It combines sensor-shift stabilization with digital stabilization that’s applied during the processing after the video has been recorded. That’s why when you’re looking at the screen while recording a video the image will appear shaky but then when you play it back it’s as smooth as Tony Bennett’s voice. It’s somewhat similar to how action cameras use digital stabilisation and it really does a great job on the iPhone 14.

You may say there are action cameras offering something similar. But will you buy an action camera for daily use? Will you take an action camera everywhere? It’s always safe to remember that the best camera out there is the one near you or on you.

Plus, Apple made some changes to its camera system last year to ensure every aspect shines. Now that the main camera sensor is larger you get videos and photos that match very expensive video cameras. Even though Action Mode brings down the resolution (since it has to crop in) from 4K to 2.8K at 60fps, it’s worth having using.Not just Action Mode, the Cinematic Mode too works way better than before after iPhone went with 48MP sensor. You don’t always have to shoot in Cinematic Mode in order to get a shallow depth of field. There is more blur in the background with Cinematic Mode but even with video mode it’s pretty good. If the subject is close to the camera and the background is far away, it can create a natural depth of field.

iPhone 14 powers the NewJeans music video ETA

iPhone 14 powers the NewJeans music video ETA

Bhardwaj to NewJeans

Earlier in the year Vishal Bhardwaj decided to shoot his short film, Fursat, on the iPhone 14 Pro because of the capable camera setup. It is about showcasing creativity and not dealing with compromises. “I didn’t know how much iPhone could handle, but the way it did was just fantastic. I’ve never had this kind of scale in my films ever before. And this can tell you about the scale iPhone can achieve,” he said.

The 30-minute film starring Ishaan Khatter and Wamiqa Gabbi has the same scale as a lavishly-mounted Bollywood film, complete with dance and action scenes. Almost every other frame comes packed with people, so the iPhone needed to work overtime.

“I think Action Mode is the most amazing update. For it to be held in your hand and run with all your might looking at the actor, one can get extremely steady shots, without an external gimbal,” said Swapnil Sonawane, director of photography. He is equally impressed by the other feature: “The way Cinematic Mode shifts focus is the way the focus puller would, it’s an emotional shift focus, which is what was absolutely beautiful about it.”

Or take a look at the new video ETA from NewJeans, the highest-trending K-pop girl group. The group is known for its energetic moves and the iPhone 14 Pro managed to capture it. The director, Woo-Seok Shin, kept running behind the group with the iPhone 14 Pro in hand. Using scenes from the music video that were shot with Action Mode, they cut between the iPhone camera shaking and the smooth output footage to clearly show the stabilizing effects of Action Mode.

“The fact that we shot this music video with iPhone makes it unique compared to our previous works. We hope the message we wanted to communicate through this shot on iPhone film finds its way to and resonates among our audience,” said Woo-Seok Shin.

Even Hee-Jin Min, the executive producer, is in awe of the iPhone. He said: “iPhone’s presence in the production of this music video goes beyond a powerful, convenient tool for filming — we wanted to encapsulate the vibrant energy of the Gen Z represented by iPhone as an essential part of daily life, incorporating iPhone into the choreography itself.”

If that’s not enough, check out another brilliant video that captures the power of the Action Mode. Titled Grand Escape, the director Sinan Sevinc wants to empower and inspire the younger generation of Turkey by showing what can be achieved with the capabilities of the camera on iPhone 14 Pro. The film highlights the advanced stabilization capabilities of Action Mode to capture the hustling, jumping and jostling through the Grand Bazaar’s narrow alleyways; Cinematic Mode to seamlessly shift focus for a more immersive story; macro videography highlighting even the smallest details; Slo-mo to create drama in action sequences; and amazing low-light performance for dynamic video in various lighting conditions.

“iPhone 14 Pro has all the necessary equipment built in to make great films, whereas when I was at film school, we needed so much gear before we could even begin shooting. And this device fits in your pocket so you really can film anywhere,” said Sevinc. “Action Mode! It’s like an integrated gimbal and it’s so easy to use. Even if the camera shakes while filming, you can smooth it out to deliver amazing results no matter how bumpy the surface, which for us shooting skateboarding was huge. It will allow anyone to shoot mad action and bring a pro look to their films.”

For actor Bartu Kucukcaglayan, the iPhone is “the device I grab first thing every morning and carry with me in my pocket all day”. “Normally, when you are acting, you feel the superiority of a huge camera in front of you; with iPhone it was as if that hierarchy had been removed. Acting or being part of reality is a difficult balance for an actor to strike, and iPhone helped me a lot in this regard.”

The popular actor, writer and musician is surprised by Action and Cinematic modes. “Whether you’re shooting a 30-second memory or a 20-minute movie, the end result would fit industry standards. Nowadays, it’s visually and aurally more elegant than ever to tell your story or share a lived moment with people using iPhone.”

Sure, the gimbal has some extra functionality when it comes to wrist movement but for everyday use, nobody wants to carry another device. The iPhone 14 Pro camera has so many things going for itself — excellent autofocus, brilliant night capabilities and, of course, Action and Cinematic modes. Repeating something I believe in, the best camera out there is the one near you or on you.

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