Hello from Barcelona ... asking for some advice

Arbre 1 5
13 Feb 2018 7:46AM
Hello to everybody in this forum. I want to start being a youtuber. My setup is quite simple: an iphone 6 shooting video at 1080, with a tripod also holding a LED ring light, seamless grey paper on the background and a bulb illuminating the background, as well as a lavalier microphone connected to the 3.5mm jack of the iphone 6. I live in Europe.

I am quite pleased with the results of my face. However, the grey background paper is full of noise. I have tried to play around with the (very few) manual settings of the iphone 6, to no avail.

I was thinking initially to upgrade the iphone 6 to another, higher quality, smartphone. This would be the ideal scenario, since I would end up with a good smartphone for general purposes, plus a supposedly good shooting quality for my youtube videos. But I am wondering if I need a DSLR / mirrorless camera with a big sensor, or not, in order to avoid the noise I see in the background paper.

The point is that I will always shoot video under the same conditions, so I do not need a camera that will shoot well under all conditions. But I need that the camera does that specific task well. I am much less demanding on any other task.

I have been watching videos comparing several smartphones, as well as DSLRs, and there are apparently contradicting conclusions.

For example, DXOmark gives the Google Pixel 2 very high marks, suggesting the Pixel 2 could be a good "all-rounder" for me.

But then, some videos show the low light video performance of the Samsung S8 is better than the one of the Google Pixel 2, see around 4:30 in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=320Vk-Pk2aU

Other comparisons, such as https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/21/2017-smartphone-camera-comparison-iphone-pixel-note-mate/ show the Huawei Mate 10 Pro (in "Noise in 4K") has almost no grain under very low light video shooting, unlike the Samsung Note 8 (which should be quite similar to the S8).

And in comparisons between DSLRs and smartphones, there is a big difference when shooting under low light indoor conditions (which are the relevant ones for me), with smartphones having much more grain than the DSLR (I guess due to sensor size). See around 4:55 in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyJbIwWma3Y&feature=youtu.be&a= for a comparison between the iphone X and the Panasonic GH5.

So, my two questions are:

1) Is it true that no smartphone can shoot video under low light indoor conditions, in comparison to DSLRs? Especially, Samsung S8 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro (I believe the Google Pixel 2 and the iphone X have to be excluded, due to the video samples above).

2) If the answer to the first question is "Yes", then my second question is: is there a relatively well priced DSLR which shoots significantly better video in indoor low light conditions than any smartphone? Ideally, 4k, but 1080 would be OK too.

Thank you.

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sausage Plus
14 562 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2018 8:44AM
I think that whatever camera you use you'll want to have as much light as possible. Low-light cameras are ok for use where you have no control over the light but there is a downside in that the camera increases the gain to compensate hence more noise.
I have some flat panel led lights that are really bright and not too expensive - two either side of the subject and one or more on the background - or more.
For clear pictures there is no substitute for proper lighting.
Arbre 1 5
13 Feb 2018 8:49AM
Sausage, thank you very much for your reply.

Yes, I am thinking about buying two flat panel led lights, with their corresponding tripods, and put them on the sides of the ring light.

But here is my question: I have a dark grey background. There is a bulb on my back, illuminating the background. The idea is the bulb creates a halo around me, and the borders of the background remain quite dark.

An example of what I want to accomplish is:


around 0:04.

Instead, in my shooting the dark grey on the borders has a lot of grain. In the Wistia video, there is not grain at all.

So, I understand the grain is due to lack of light. Then, I understand your recommendation about flat panels. But then, if I have these panels, will the grey background become with too much light, and will it not appear dark grey, but light grey?
sausage Plus
14 562 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2018 4:44PM
You may have to increase the brightness of your light as well. If one overpowers another then either alter the brightness or move the light.or move the background further back. It may take a bit of experimentation to get it right.
Arbre 1 5
14 Feb 2018 5:23AM
Yes, experimentation is key, Sausage, thank you very much. I will do as you suggest. In fact, I have just ordered two flat panel LEDs, with their corresponding tripods, I think they will be quite useful to increase the light to the overall scene.

Then, a related question regarding equipment: let us assume I have experimented, and I have been able to illuminate well the whole scene. There are no low light spots in the composition, then. My question is: will a smartphone be able to shoot 4K video in a way that is indistinguishable from a DSLR such as a Panasonic GH4, for example?

I ask this because I have been watching youtube comparisons between phones and DSLRs, and it is not clear to me what is the right decision. It looks as if those videos choose the compositions that validate their previous pre-conceptions of who should win, either the phone or the DSLR.

What is clear to me is that in low light scenes, a DSLR is still superior to a phone, possibly due to the big sensor. But it is not clear to me what happens if the scene has already a good light: will the phone shoot video indistinguishably from the DSLR, or not?

I would highly prefer to use a phone to shoot video. I see it as a Swiss knife, and it helps me in my daily life. But if the quality of the video from any phone is not good enough, then I will buy a DSLR for the task. I will be a bit sad, because it is unlikely I will use the DSLR for other tasks (I bring my phone always with me, but I do not believe I would bring a DSLR), but if a DSLR is necessary for the task, I will do it. But I am trying to figure out if I can do it with a phone, just adding more light to the scene, as you suggested.
sausage Plus
14 562 United Kingdom
14 Feb 2018 8:59AM
I have to say I would never use a phone for what you are doing, with a dslr or even a proper video camcorder you have so much more control.
Phone cameras are fine outdoors for instance. A camera is just a tool and selecting the right tool for the job will give you the results you want.

Wait to see how you get on with the new panels, then you can make up your mind.
Unfortunately nothing is cheap in this industry if you want quality.

Good luck.
Arbre 1 5
14 Feb 2018 10:40AM
Yes, I will wait until I fully experiment with the new panels.

I used to like manual controls with DSLR before the digital revolution, when still we had chemical films. But then I left photos and videos aside.

Now I need to do videos for professional reasons, and I see that the most sophisticated phones have "pro modes" that allow to manually set exposure, ISO, shutter speed, white balance ...

I guess new DSLR have even more controls, but I believe these manual controls are quite good to have.

My main concern is sensor size. Clearly, phones may have good software and manual controls, but physics is physics, and if the sensor is small, there is only a limited amount of light to get in.

As a consequence, I understand that low light video will be challenging even for the best phones.

But my question is what happens with good lighting. Is the smallness of the sensor relevant then?

Probably yes. So, if one compares a shoot from a DSLR and a phone, the DSLR result will be "better" (or it can become better after using software). But in my case, my target is not to shoot at the maximum quality possible, since I am not a cinema director, but to shoot in a way that is pleasing to see, and that watchers do not think about quality of the shooting, but what I am talking about.

Clearly, if there is noise in the grey parts, it will not be pleasing, and watchers will look down on me.

But if there is no noise, and the result is pleasing, I do not care too much if I could get a higher quality with the DSLR, which only professionals could appreciate.

Instead, the comfort of always having the camera with me, and centralizing everything I do in my phone, is really powerful.

Of course, I always can buy a good smartphone and take a chance. If it works good enough, I do it this way. And if not, I later buy a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. But of course, I would like to avoid that if I can. I would like to know beforehand if a good phone would do well for me, under good lighting.
sausage Plus
14 562 United Kingdom
15 Feb 2018 9:20AM
Well, I can't help you with the advice on which phone is better, that will be for you to decide, but even something like a Panasonic GH4 is really good for video.
The small sensor size of phones will give you a greater depth of field,
Don't start looking into your pictures with a fine tooth comb, ordinary people don't see that, they are only interested in content.
But then again they won't watch it if the picture is blurry or the audio is muffled for instance.
See how you go with your setup for now.
Arbre 1 5
15 Feb 2018 10:48AM
Yes, good advice, thank you. I already have a lavalier mic to plug into the phone or camera.

I will try to improve with my lighting, and only after I am convinced I am doing the best with the setup, I will decide if I need a better camera or not. A better camera will not improve upon a bad lighting.

My only doubt is: if I see the phone is shooting OK with a good lighting, could have it been even better with a Panasonic GH4, for example?

In the end, I see offers from China, with a GH4 below 700 euros. A 25mm f1.7 is about 150 euros, so for less than 850 euros, I would have a good camera with a 50mm equivalent prime lens, which would be good for low light and a good bokeh effect. And this is more or less what a top smartphone costs now ...
sausage Plus
14 562 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2018 9:12AM
The GH4 will give you better resolution and control. It is great as a video camera (I have used one)
Arbre 1 5
16 Feb 2018 11:17AM
Thank you. And the Panasonic G7 with the 14mm-42mm 3.5-5.6 lens? I see there is a good offer for the kit, but I do not know if this lens will be good enough for video. For sure, at least it will need good light.

But this combination should still be better than a smartphone, right?
sausage Plus
14 562 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2018 4:21PM
Not familiar with the G7 but I would say it is good to use. The lens should be ok bearing in mind that the resolution needed for video is only 2k - 1920 x 1080.
Paul Morgan 17 19.3k 6 England
16 Feb 2018 9:07PM
Phones can be pretty capable but as with any camera good lihting is still needed.
Paul Morgan 17 19.3k 6 England
16 Feb 2018 9:09PM

Quote:Thank you. And the Panasonic G7 with the 14mm-42mm 3.5-5.6 lens? I see there is a good offer for the kit, but I do not know if this lens will be good enough for video. For sure, at least it will need good light.

But this combination should still be better than a smartphone, right?

You don`t need the latest and greatest for good video.

And your using an iphone

One of the best films shown at Sundance a few years ago was shot on iphones, its all about you and what you put in front of the lens.

Paul Morgan 17 19.3k 6 England
16 Feb 2018 9:29PM
Check out this article

Or this one.

Don`t get to hung up on the gear.

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