Could a Phone Replace Your DSLR? FiLMiC Pro Review

FiLMiC Pro Thumb

What’s FiLMiC Pro? Well, FiLMiC Pro is an app. An app that lets you have finer control over your phone camera’s internal settings.

Aren’t there lots of apps like this? Yes. However, this app is specifically for filming.

AND it lets you shoot in LOG!

Using the App

Note. Ok, first off, this is not an ad for FiLMiC Pro. This is a rundown/review on what we have found by using the app for a week or so. We should also mention here that for the best results using this app you obviously need a reasonably new smartphone with good camera specs. We used an iPhone X while testing the app out.

We’re not going to run you through how the app works, you can watch the video above for that, instead we are going to give an overview of using the app and our opinion.

Your Guide to NDI
FiLMiC Pro UI
FiLMiC Pro UI

The interface is well designed and when first opening the app you are presented with all the tools a cameraman/videographer may need from his or her camera.

Having access to manual control of the ISO and shutter speed when filming on a phone is incredibly useful and already begins to make the app a good purchase. What really starts to set it apart is the the minor details that you wouldn’t have thought were possible on a smartphone camera app.

FiLMiC Pro gives you a histogram, a waveform monitor (Luma & RGB) and timecode. It also has onscreen displays for zebra, false colour and focus assist. Tools we use everyday on our DSLR’s or higher end cameras.

FiLMiC Pro LOG Profile
FiLMiC Pro LOG Profile

The real gift of the app though is the ability to shoot in different bitrates, framerates, resolution, colour profiles, including LOG (through an in-app purchase) and white balance controls.

The only thing the app cannot give you control over is the aperture. You phone will have a fixed aperture dependent on the make and model. The iPhone X we used had a fixed aperture of f2.2, which is still good enough for some decent depth of field.

How does it fair in the field?

To be honest, it did pretty well.

We were able to shoot 4K footage at up to 60fps (at 100Mbps) with a DJI OSMO and Shure top mic for iPhone attached and get beautiful looking footage and audio.

The pain is actually getting the footage out of the phone. That 100Mbps (FiLMiC Extreme setting) really makes for some large file sizes. The best way we found was to hook your phone up with a cable and use the Image Capture app within MacOS.

FiLMiC Pro Extreme
FiLMiC Pro Extreme

Where the app does let you down is in lowlight. Now, that might not be fair on the app as you are restricted here by your phones camera capabilities and no matter how good the app may be it cannot change that hardware inside your phone.

We found noise to be a bit of an issue in any sort of lowlight and had to make a concerted effort to try and avoid it. There is a toggle for noise reduction in the app but it isn’t that noticeable when turned on. One other drawback was the battery drain. Wow, this things eats your battery alive! Make sure you have a charger spare when using this app.

Having the flexibility of shooting LOG on your phone is unbelievable but we actually found the flat profile to be more reliable when it got into the grading suite and preserved more detail and colour than LOG did. So that in-app purchase may be unnecessary after all.

Can it replace a DSLR?

No.

Is the short answer.

But it could get you out of a sticky situation should one of your cams run out of juice, storage or break.

You can get some amazing footage out of your phone using this app but it does seem that if you have the proper gear to hand then you wouldn’t choose this over the DSLR right now.

As phone camera hardware improves and more accessories like the Moment anamorphic lens start to appear we could see a shift away from the lower end DSLR’s in favour of the app.

It’s definitely worth checking out either way.

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