Comparing a $40K RED Gemini to the $1.1K iPhone 12 Pro Max

Tips & Techniques

Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re sick of seeing these. But you knew it was coming, right? And to be fair, with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple finally seems to have actually developed a phone with decent camera capabilities. So, a comparison was inevitable, really.

So, in this video, Jordy and the guys at Cinecom put their $40,000 RED Gemini rig against the $1,100 iPhone 12 Pro Max to see how the two stand up against each other. Unlike most such comparisons, this one’s actually quite interesting, as Jordy talks about the advantages that both cameras might have over the other when shooting in different conditions.

For this comparison, Jordy creates a product shot sequence using both the RED Gemini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The product in this particular instance is some Starbucks coffee. It’s clear, though, that while Jordy doesn’t know coffee (he describes Starbucks as “good”), he certainly knows his cameras. Jordy created the same sequence with the same shots and camera moves twice, once using the RED and once with the iPhone. The product lit by a bunch of KYU-6 LED lights, and on first glance, it may be difficult to tell which camera shot which sequence if you don’t know the telltale signs to look for.

Even though the camera in the iPhone 12 Pro Max is pretty good, the Apple camera app sucks – because it always does. So, Jordy used Filmic Pro to shoot all the iPhone footage in the video. This lets him shoot LOG, adjust his focus manually and get as high a bitrate as possible – along with various other features – in order to maximise the quality and dynamic range that the camera can produce.

The RED camera has the obvious benefit of being able to shoot raw video (and in some shots that benefit is very obvious) but the iPhone 12 Pro Max seems to hold its own quite well for the most part – of course, this will depend on your final use for the footage you shoot with it. Its shortcomings, however, are equally obvious under certain conditions, too.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is expensive for a smartphone, but we can’t really expect it to compare to a $40,000 cinema camera. Can we?

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