Every so often, I venture out of my usual workspace to cover events in person like last week’s Pepcom New York City tech event. My workflow for these events has evolved significantly as portable video technology has improved.
These events used to be a two person job using a much larger camcorder, but a year or two ago I switched to a GoPro that allowed me to operate as a “one man band.” For my latest trip I experimented with using my iPhone 15 Pro Max which has superior video options versus the GoPro.
The iPhone’s versatility, especially with its camera options, make it an attractive alternative to the GoPro. The iPhone boasts ultrawide, standard, and telephoto cameras, providing a range of shooting possibilities along with the ability to switch between them even while recording. The video quality, particularly the ability to capture fine details, is a significant advantage over the GoPro. The iPhone’s optical and digital stabilization features also do a great job keeping things smooth and steady.
The foundation of my setup is a small Manfrotto “pixi” tripod, which doubles as a handle. This tripod’s adaptability make it easy to switch between handheld and stationary shots. To secure my phone, I used the Glif, a robust phone mount that I’ve come to trust over the years. Its sturdy construction ensures the phone remains in place, regardless of movement or angle. Unfortunately the Glif has been sold out for quite awhile and I’m uncertain if its manufacturer, Studio Neat, intends to make more of them.
Lighting is crucial for any shoot. I employed an old Lite Panels LED light that I’ve had for well over a decade. Its brightness and compact size, powered by AA batteries, make it a reliable choice.
Sound quality is paramount, and for that, I turned to the Sennheiser AVX handheld mic. Its reliability in congested areas, like trade shows, is unmatched. The cardioid head I added to the mic better isolates my voice from the surrounding noise, ensuring clear audio in the final footage. Note that the AVX handheld comes with an omnidirectional head. You can see an example of both microphones in a trade show environment here:
However, connecting the microphone to the iPhone presented a challenge. The iPhone’s lack of a headphone jack meant I had to use an Anker USB-C to headphone adapter, coupled with a TRS to TRRS adapter. This setup ensured seamless audio integration with the video.
While shooting, I primarily used the iPhone’s standard camera app. The absence of audio monitoring meters was a minor inconvenience, but the overall experience was smooth. The transition between shots, especially when switching from a subject to myself, was slightly rocky, but manageable. In terms of storage, the iPhone’s 256GB capacity was more than sufficient for the footage which I was recording with the phone’s HEVC codec.
The iPhone’s battery was surprisingly good throughout my coverage. The event spanned roughly two and a half hours, and by its conclusion, my iPhone still had about 75-80% battery left. To be fair I wasn’t shooting for the entire time but I did have the phone on the camera app, unlocked, for most of it. For added assurance, I carry an Anker battery pack, offering rapid charging via its USB-C output.
Overall I was pleased with how well this set up worked for a solo operation. For the next outing I’m going to use the awesome new (and free) video BlackMagic Camera App that provides much greater manual control along with on-screen audio meters. It apparently was released just a day or two after my live shoot!