First Look @ FiLMiC Pro

Filmic Pro

We used to start reviews like this with a question …

Could a smartphone replace your “real” camera? Well now it seems, that some people have just decided the answer to that question is “yes.”

Why? For all the reasons you might expect. Smartphone cameras have vastly improved over the last five years. Computational photography has propelled the results you can get from a very small sensor into the realm of acceptable to good. Convenience seems to trump application for some people and online sharing sites like Instagram cater to smartphone shooters.

There’s one more reason that people are switching to smartphones or at least treating them like more serious cameras. The apps you can get today for your smartphone camera give you the kind of control over the phone’s camera that you have over your DSLR.

FiLMiC Pro is such an app. It is a professional stills/video camera app that turns your smartphone into feature packed professional stills or video camera. It has an excellent user interface, responsive auto and manual control, and a custom image processing pipeline that gets better with every update.

Here are some of the features and note – many of these are similar to those we both use and expect on DSLRs…

  1. Clean and intuitive user interface with responsive on screen reticles to quickly set and lock white balance, auto exposure and auto focus.
  2. Fast switching between auto and manual controls.
  3. Full screen exposure and focus assist including peaking, zebra and false color.
  4. Comprehensive control over recorded image parameters such as resolution, frame rate, and target video encoding bit rate.
  5. On screen waveform and audio recording levels.
  6. Full white balance control including color temperature and tint, white balance presets, custom presets, auto white balance and white balance lock.
  7. Choice of gamma encoding profiles including natural, dynamic, flat and FiLMiC LogV2.
  8. Control over black, white and mid point, shadow and highlight control with histogram.
  9. Saturation and vibrance control.
  10. In-camera noise reduction.
  11. Gimbal integration.
  12. Integration with Zhihyun Smooth 4 and Movi Cinema Robot smartphone gimbals.
  13. Anamorphic desqueeze of preview only and optional desqueezed recording using Moment lenses.
  14. Remote control via FiLMIC Remote app.

In our brief testing, we can say that almost all these features work as expected. There is a small learning curve but there is a learning curve none-the-less. Some features like LOG shooting are a bit of a kludge, but most of it is straightforward.

We do believe the app is more useful for video shooters than still shooters. There are other apps (Such as Firstlight – also from the same people who bring you Filmic Pro) for stills shooters that are simpler and more straightforward, and which cost less, but don’t support the things video shooters need. 

If you are a video shooter, you’ll enjoy the multiple resolutions, and recording quality formats…

Resolution, Frame Guides, and Recording Quality

Filmic Pro offers a lot of choices for recording both frame rates and resolution. You can choose to record in the following resolutions and frame rates:

  • UHD 2160p at 24,25 and 30fps
  • 3K 1836p at 24,25 and 30fps
  • 2K 1152p at 24,25 and 30fps
  • HD 1080p at 24,25,30,48,50,60 and 120fps
  • HD 720p at 24,25,30,48,50,60, 120 and 240fps
  • SD 540p at 24, 25, 30, 48, 50 and 60fps

The frame sizes you can choose are 1:1, 4:3, 16:9, 17:9, 2.2:1, 2.39:1, 2.59:1 and Ultra Panavision 2:76:1. 

CONCLUSION

The app is primarily marketed as a video app, but as both as creators who shoot both stills and video shooter, we found it helpful either way.

It is a tad buggy here and there, but the company is devout when it comes to updates and fixes and I am certain that they are going to continue to try to improve it.

And if you noticed them at the Apple iPhone 11 launch, that was no accident. The fancy multi-camera video capture demo they did on stage was stunning. That feature is not shipping as of the date of this writing, but once it is, we believe the FilmicPro App will jump to number one for video shooters using iPhones.

We personally do not believe that smartphone cameras can (yet) take the place of a DSLR, but in a pinch, and for certain applications, they can be powerful image-making tools and for those who want that experience, FilmicPro is a perfect choice.

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Scott Bourne

Scott Bourne (ASINWP) is a professional wildlife photographer, filmmaker, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He’s been involved with photography for more than four decades and his work has appeared in more than 200 publications.

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