Apple brings ‘Cinematic Mode’ to iPhone 13

Like portrait mode for video — but with the promise of putting ‘cinematic’ quality videography in your pocket.



Apple on Tuesday released a new iteration of the iPhone with a whole slew of updates across all of its mobile devices and while photography, and videography in particular, has remained one of the areas in which the company’s phones have consistently outperformed their competition, ‘Cinematic mode’ moves the conversation to a whole new level.

Cinematic mode

Reminiscent of ‘Portrait mode’ on existing iPhones, cinematic mode now means owners of the newest model can make use of rack focus, allowing video shot on the phone to switch focus from one subject to another, to lend more character and atmosphere to anything from birthday clips, to pet videos or even your daily chores and more — the feature is already accessible by your TikTok app and Apple roped in two time Oscar-winning Director Kathryn Bigelow, and Oscar-nominated Cinematographer Greig Fraser, to demonstrate how cinematic it looks.

Much like Portrait mode harnessed the look of a professional still camera, video captured on Cinematic mode can, through Apple’s algorithmic prowess, now emulate a more Hollywood and ‘cinematic’ feel.

The automatic shift is enabled by the company’s A15 Bionic chip and advanced machine learning algorithms.

While the footage shown in the demonstration did feel gimmicky — the algorithm sometimes seemingly taking that millisecond too long to rack focus — the effect, according to Apple, can be manipulated even after capture. Users can also adjust the level of bokeh in the Photos app and iMovie for iOS, and soon in iMovie and Final Cut Pro on macOS, the company said.

Cinematic mode records in Dolby Vision HDR with iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also introducing ProRes, an advanced format used for commercials, feature films, and broadcasts. ProRes offers higher colour fidelity and less compression.

The cameras

Cinematic mode is complimented by “the most advanced cameras ever in iPhone” with new sensors and lenses for all three rear cameras.

The all-new Wide camera has, according to Apple, a larger sensor with 1.9 µm pixels, the largest ever on iPhone, for less noise and faster shutter speeds. Coupled with the larger ƒ/1.5 aperture, the Wide camera on iPhone 13 Pro models offer improvements in low-light when compared to previous models.

Sensor-shift optical image stabilisation (OIS) — unique to iPhone — is available on both models, stabilising the sensor instead of the lens, so images are smooth and video is steady, even when the user is not.

iPhone 13’s Ultra Wide camera will feature a wider ƒ/1.8 aperture and a new autofocus system allowing for images that are brighter and sharper. The autofocus capability in the Ultra Wide, coupled with advanced software, now adds "the never before possible on iPhone” macro photography — users can capture sharp images with a minimum focus distance of two centimetres. Macro also extends to video including Slo-mo and Time-lapse.

iPhone 13 Pro models are also set to feature a new 77 mm Telephoto camera offering three times optical zoom.

'Photographic Styles’ and other related features

The refreshed line-up also features ‘Photographic Styles’ which allows users to bring their personal photo preferences to every image. Night mode will now be available to all cameras on the pro models with improved colour, contrast, and lighting for subjects.

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