While I love the new iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max’s titanium designs and powerful performance, it’s the cameras that I’m particularly excited about, as they got some serious upgrades, especially if you’re into your video production. The Pro models can now shoot high-quality 4K Apple ProRes video in Log color profile for amazing-looking footage.
But what do Log and ProRes refer to, how is it better, and crucially, is it something you should use? Here’s what you need to know.
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What is ProRes?
ProRes is a video codec created by Apple in 2007 that has been widely adopted by video and cinema professionals. Typically found on high-end video cameras, ProRes files capture more data when shooting, resulting in better quality footage than you’d typically get from a phone or even some dedicated cameras.
What is Log video?
Log (short for “logarithmic”) is a color profile found on some professional video cameras and which is now also available on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Log footage preserves image information in the highlights and shadows, allowing for more flexibility in editing colors and contrast in post production.
Why does Log video look gray and washed out?
Log files straight out of the camera look flat and have low contrast and low saturation. The files are designed to be edited in programs like Adobe Premiere or DaVinci Resolve, where colorists will bring back contrast and color tone according to the look they’re trying to achieve, a process called color grading.
The low-contrast look of ungraded footage gives colorists the best starting point to tweak the video image however they want. Log footage always needs to be edited and graded before being used.
How do I edit Log video?
While Apple has yet to implement specific color editing tools for Log footage on the iPhone, you can get some of the way there using some of the exposure tools in the ‘Edit’ options in the Photos app. However, you’ll get your best results by transferring the files to your iPad, Mac or Windows PC and editing in dedicated video production apps.
My favorite is DaVinci Resolve by BlackMagic, which is an industry-standard piece of software used in professional productions and Hollywood films. It’s known for its flexibility with editing color, and I loved using it to see what looks I can achieve from video footage from both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and BlackMagic’s own Pocket Cinema Camera.
Resolve is available on Macs and PCs but there’s also an excellent iPad app version. Best of all, the software is free to use on all platforms, with only some advanced features requiring the paid-for Studio version. But anyone wanting to spice up their footage will find the free version more than capable.
Can my phone shoot ProRes Log video?
Apple introduced the ability to shoot with the ProRes codec on the iPhone 12 Pro, but right now only the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max can also shoot in Log.
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How do you turn on ProRes and Log video?
On your iPhone 15 Pro or 15 Pro Max, go into Settings, then scroll down and tap Camera. Then tap Formats, and within this sub-menu you’ll see a section for Video Capture. Toggle Apple ProRes to on and below will be the options for ProRes Encoding. Tapping on it will allow you to switch between HDR, SDR or Log.
Bear in mind that while you can toggle ProRes on or off directly in the Camera app, you have to go back to the Settings app if you want to switch from Log to HDR or vice versa. You can shoot 4K footage at 30 frames per second on the phone, but if you want to shoot at 60 frames per second, you’ll need to connect an external SSD drive via USB-C and record directly to that. While you can shoot ProRes footage without Log, you can only shoot Log with ProRes.
Do you have to use the iPhone camera app to shoot ProRes Log video?
No, Apple has opened up this feature to third-party apps. My recommendation is the BlackMagic Camera app, which gives the same level of control over settings as you’d find on the company’s professional cameras. It’s a superb tool for getting the best-looking video out of your phone and, like DaVinci Resolve, it’s free.
Should I shoot video in ProRes Log?
ProRes footage in Log profile is very specialized. It requires additional time in post production, and the file sizes are many times larger than regular video files. If you just want to shoot footage of your family gathering or your mates at the beach to upload to Instagram or YouTube, then you don’t need to worry about ProRes or Log.
However if you want to use your iPhone 15 Pro as a professional video production tool and you have the time and resources to color grade and edit your footage, then you should absolutely give it a go. The flexibility of recording allows you to get video out of your iPhone that would give dedicated cinema cameras a run for their money, and it makes the iPhone 15 Pro an exceptionally powerful camera for content creators looking to add some professional flair to their videos.
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