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iPhone 7: The Five Most Important Features for Church Media

steve-jobs-1249665_1920Under Steve Jobs, Apple had the latest and greatest gadgets. It was the bloomer and leader in the mobile tech industry. Jobs reminded me of Henry Ford. Jobs didn’t event much in the way of new tech, but he was really brilliant at perfecting, designing and packaging it. Since his passing it is my opinion that Apple has not been as revolutionary as in the golden era of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Apple has kind of plateaued. But possibly the greatest acheivment of Steve Jobs was creating a brand loyalty. Once an Apple fan, most always an Apple fan. That being said, with the release of the new iPhone 7 and 7plus Apple may be revolutionary once again. It’s pushing the bounds in phone camera technolgy.

iphone-518101_1920The phone camera may be one of the greatest aspects to the modern smart phone. When the first phone cameras came out , the images were griany, blocky and pixelated. But the iPhone 7 stands head and shoulders above the earlier phone cameras. Let’s look at the specs of the new camera.

  •  12MP camera12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras
    ƒ/1.8 aperture Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture
  • Telephoto: ƒ/2.8 aperture
    Digital zoom up to 5x Optical zoom at 2x; digital zoom up to 10x
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • Six‑element lens
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash
  • Panorama (up to 63 megapixels)
  • Sapphire crystal lens cover
  • Backside illumination sensor
  • Hybrid IR filter
  • Autofocus with Focus PixelsTap to focus with Focus Pixels
  • Live Photos with stabilisation
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
  • Improved local tone mapping
  • Body and face detection
  • Exposure control
  • Noise reduction
  • Auto HDR for photos
  • Auto image stabilisation
  • Burst mode
  • Timer mode
  • Photo geotagging

Five Most Important Features for Church Production

5. 12 Mega Pixels. There is some debate about how important mega pixels are. Mega pixels tell the sensor of the digital camera how much information to recieve. The fewer the mega pixels the more grainy or blocky the image will be. Remember when those first phones had 1/2 or 1 MP? Wow how we have progressed! 12 MP will really allow you to to have a high resolution, clear image. But mega pixels arn’t everything. Consider the fact that a 3 mega pixel image will be quite adequate to view on a monitor. A 10×8 print only requres about 7 MP. You can have a 100MP camera, but without adequate light or sharp focusing, then who cares? Mega pixels are only as effective as a good photographer.

4. Auto and Optical Image Stabilization. This may not be as exciting as other aspects, but trust me, you will need this. Your hands are naturally shakyEven the most steady hands will shake when taking pictures. I’m going to tack onto this list, the feature face detection. This is not new but it’s worth noting.   The camera detects faces, making them pop out from the rest of the photograph. The camera also has auto focus pixels. With this you can tap to focus on the subject, just in case your subject is not a person. Combine these with the stabilisation techniques and you have the makings for a great portrait.

3. Six‑element lens And Quad-LED True Tone flash. The six element lens will aid in the clarity and brightness of the image. Speaking of brightness the new flash looks awesome. It’s not just a burst of light that will drown out your subject. This flash will adjust to match the color temperture around you. It’s bright and effective. A advancent in point and shoot photography.

2. Exposure Control and Noise Reduction. Much of the noise reduction comes with the additional mega pixels and the faster lens apeture. That being said the iPhone 7 camera sensor is a bit smaller than previouse phones. This should have resulted in grainier pictures. But some internal calculations with the noise reduction helps insure a quality picture. One trick to manualy change the exposure is tap and hold on the object you want to focus on. While doing so swipe up for more exposure and down for less exposure.

1. Wide angle and Zoom Lenses. Thecamera has two lenses; the normal wide lens with a constant apeture of f/1.8, and a 2x zoom lens. The zoom has an aperture of f/2.8 which is still pretty nice. These apetures will let in 50% more light according to Apple. This will help when shooting indoors under low light conditions. Ultimately also helping create the blurred background, bokeh that only professional DSLR’s and lenses could acomplish. I’m excited to get my hands on one of these phones and test it out on my own.


Do Better Cinematography


I am a graduate from VBC and completed the film and TV tracks and internship. I have a true passion for cinematography. Cinematography by definition found in Webster dictionary is: the art, process, or job of filming movies : motion-picture photography. For church use this might more correctly be labeled as videography. Non the less this is a powerful medium that when used right can illustrate and visually demonstrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Obviously one of the great uses for cinematography is shooting church services or getting the spoken word on to the screen. That screen might be broadcast T.V.,cable, or the internet. No matter if your shooting live services, testimonies or if your doing a more theatrical production, doing better cinematography is important.


Where to start? I think the obvious choice is the camera. What kind of camera do you need to purchase for your church? Well that depends on what you want to use it for and how much money your willing to spend. Lets begin by looking at general videography and a camera for live shooting and broadcast in service. To get something worthwhile its my estimate that your going to need to spend between $2,000.00 and $3,000.00 just on the camera. Honestly your probably going to need something closer to $5,000.00 but I’m going to try and find you the right tool for at or under $3000. The top camera and studio equipment store that most professionals buy from is B&H (http://www.bhphotovideo.com).

Lets look at some good options:

1.Sony HDR-AX2000 AVCHD. It shoots 1080p HD. It has a wide angle 20x G-lens, with manual  zoom, focus and iris rings. Thats a big perk because it’s going to give you more manual control when shooting. Manual control is what you want to look for to fine tune your videography. Anyone can operate an expensive camera on automatic mode, but to really get your shots to stand out you need to learn to use the manual modes.  The camera includes dual XLR inputs for recording audio. Thats another nice feature for shooting. If you buy a camera without audio capabilities your going to be limited to the internal audio which will most assuredly not be as nice, smooth and clean as professional audio. It has 3 built in ND filters which come in handy on a bright sunny day. It shoots on memory stick pro and SD card. The day of mini dv is well past. (Yah!) Over all the general specs on this camera are really great which is why its my 1 choice for general videography and live shooting.

2. Panasonic AG-AC130A AVCCAM HD. This camera shoots 1080p HD. It has a focus assist so you can know exactly when your in prime focus on your subject. Thats a nice feature because its hard without a big external monitor to know when the subject is truly in focus.  It has dual SD card slots and 2 channel XLR slots, and has 3 ND filters. No mention about an iris ring, focus ring or zoom ring. I assume it has at least one of these but there is no mention of it.

3. Panasonic AG-HMC80 3MOS AVCCAM HD. If you want a nice shoulder mount camera but one that has less manual options you can look at this camera.It shoots 1080p HD and at speeds of 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps. The normal recording speed for film cameras is at 24 frames per second so this camera can also be upped to 30 and 60 frames per second. It has a 12x HD lens and dual XLR inputs. Again audio recording options are almost as good as how clean and nice your picture looks.  It has a multipurpose focus ring which would really limit your speed when changing settings.

Its important to get some good audio recording options. Buy a shotgun mic if one does not come with it. You will also want a nice lavaliere mic set. You can also purchase a Zoom recorder and even get a decent basic one from Best Buy for $100. See my audio recording article and Hub for more on this subject.http://seanfliehman.hubpages.com/hub/Do-Better-Video-Production-Audio

There are a host of other cameras bellow these options that you can buy cheaper and a host above these that are way more expensive, just remember you get what you pay for. For my research these three are the best you can get for $3000 or under.


Now lets take a step further. The above cameras all shoot at 1080p HD which is great but these days theres a new quality. You can if you want to, shoot full cinema style at the highest resolution possible which is 4K. Now you can buy the RED camera which is the Rolls Royce of cameras at $50,000 for just the body. But unless your Dreamworks or Universal Studios or have a big budget your not likely to be buying this camera. The alternative is the Blackmagic Production (cinema) camera.



The Black Magic Production and Cinema camera shoots in 4K resolution and cost around $2000. Wow now thats a good deal! Its small and has a tough outer shell which makes it easy to handle and hard to break. It has a touch screen like your iPhone making it easier to alter camera settings right on the screen. About that screen:

The built in high resolution 5” LCD touchscreen can be used for entering metadata directly into the camera by simply typing on the soft keyboard, so it’s as easy to use as any smartphone. Shot number can automatically increment, so you don’t have to enter it for each shot! Entering metadata directly into the camera means every time you record the shot information is recorded into the media file so editing software such as DaVinci Resolve 11 or Final Cut Pro X can quickly identify and locate the shot you need when you are in post production saving editing time and eliminating manual logging.-https://www.blackmagicdesign.com

It has a 35mm sensor: If you need higher resolution, global shutter and a more creative depth of field then the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K models feature a large Super 35 size sensor and professional PL or EF lens mounts, so is the perfect choice. You get incredible Ultra HD images with 12 stops of dynamic range for feature film quality shooting. The minimal crop factor lets you shoot with super wide angle lenses so you get images that are big and beautiful, plus have the dynamic range to capture highlight and shadow details far beyond that of any traditional video camera. –https://www.blackmagicdesign.com

Continuing on you can shoot on wide dynamic range.

Video cameras clip highlights and shadows giving you images that look like video. Some cameras use multiple exposures or “HDR mode” to simulate wide dynamic range but that doesn’t work well with motion video where you have movement. Blackmagic Cinema Cameras shoot each frame with wide dynamic range so you get brighter highlights without clipping and rich detail and shadows. The ultra wide dynamic range 2.5K sensor has so much range that you can even shoot indoors with correct exposure and still get full detail through windows outside! This is the secret that allows feature film imagery when color grading with DaVinci Resolve.-https://www.blackmagicdesign.com

Lastly the camera has industry standard connections:

When you’re on-set the last thing you need is to hold up dozens of very expensive people while you look around for a custom camera cable! The Blackmagic Cinema Cameras use standard connectors so you can simply use regular video, audio and power cables plus you save money because you don’t need to purchase custom accessories. You get 3G-SDI or 6G-SDI on the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K model for monitoring, ¼” mic/line audio inputs and a Thunderbolt™ connection for live streaming from the camera and scopes when using the included UltraScope software. When you want external camera and lens control a LANC port is included.-https://www.blackmagicdesign.com

The Black Magic camera is very cool but you may not be prepared or even find it necessary to shoot at that level of production. The cheapest way, cost wise to shoot quality film style shoots is with the DSLR. May I suggest Cannon cameras. The general rule is that Cannon is better for shooting video because of the higher quality h.264 codec. Most people will tell you that Nikon is the photographers camera. What it really comes down to here is sensor size. For the sake of argument lets just say that the larger the sensor the the better the picture. A large sensor will give you a shallower depth of field, greater dynamic range and better low light sensitivity. Lower light sensitivity is what really matters in my opinion. That along with the right settings will allow for your images to not be grainy.

My camera 3

Now if your choosing Cannon I’d go with a 60D and up. Lets make this simple and put it into laymen terms that if it has a “D” in its name then it is professional grade. The Rebel series is great but the sensor is not as good as the “D” series and many of your shots will be disappointingly grainy when shooting in lower light. Take my word on that. The next thing to look at getting is some good glass aka the lens’s. Prime lens’s are going to be your choice. Prime lens’s are one that has a fixed focal length only. Prime lenses come in a variety of focal lengths from wide angles used for setting establishing shots or landscapes to tele-photo lenses. I would imagine in most film making or church production your not going to need a tele-photo prime. Primes also make you think about your shot more so you get exactly what you want to see.  I’d go with a 10mm (Wide), 35mm, (Semi wide) 50mm (Medium-Close) ,and 80mm (Close). Thats a nice range for shooting. Try to get lens’s with a low f-stop setting. F-2 or lower is the best and will allow the lens to receive the most light in for a better picture.

Great video on shooting with DSLR.

lens 2

lens imageNow you’ll need to buy the right tripod. I hate it when I have a sticky tripod and it j-j-j-jerks along when I pan. It ruins the shot and my desire to keep shooting flies right out the window. No matter what tripod you purchase make sure it has a nice smooth fluid head. My I suggest Manfrotto brand. The next step will be to buy a tripod that has an exchangeable head on it. The purpose of this is so you can attach say a slider on it. A good slider will give you the ability to have some nice, smooth long pans that a normal trip can not give you. There are a ton of toys you can buy from this point on you’ve just got to decide whats important to your churches production. Anything and everything is available from tripods, heads, rigging and so forth. May I suggest Cowboystudio.com. They have some great rigging choices, soft boxes, lighting kits, backdrops and the works. But most importantly they have them for affordable prices. While your purchasing your fun new toys don’t forget about some of the essentials like extra battery, extra cords, power strips, and the proper recording cards. Most of these cameras listed take SD cards and may I suggest 32GB or higher. 64GB would really be the best choice.

There’s a ton more that I can say about better cinematography and I’ll have more articles to come. For now I hope this helps and that it will get you started. Thanks for reading and let me know if I can be of service. Happy shooting.

For further education and enjoyment watch these great video.

If you really are only able to shoot with iPhone or iPad please see my Hub pages article on how to do some great videography on your iDevice.