These days, you have the ability to take impressive, high-quality videos wherever you are with your iPhone in your pocket—provided you know how to use it, that is. It’s never been easier to shoot like a professional without the need for professional equipment. If you’re ready to put your iPhone video basics to use, keep reading for a quick primer on your phone’s video capabilities, with plenty of tips and tricks that you can start using right now to become an iPhone video pro.

iPhone video basics: You can add additional gear onto your iPhone to improve its features and capabilities, though you definitely don’t have to. 
iPhone video basics: You can add additional gear onto your iPhone to improve its features and capabilities, though you definitely don’t have to. 

How to Record with iPhone Video

The default Camera app on your iPhone has everything that you need to shoot stunning videos. You can get even more features and control by downloading an additional video app or adding on gear accessories, but if you’re just interested in testing out the basics, then you’re already good to go.

Your full range of features will depend on what iPhone model you have but will include all or some of the following:

  • Standard video mode
  • Cinematic mode
  • Time-lapse mode
  • Slow motion mode
  • QuickTake mode

Here’s what to know about each mode, plus instructions for using them.

Record in Standard Video Mode

When you open up your iPhone’s camera, it’s automatically set to shoot in standard mode. Unless you adjust the settings (more on that in the next section), your videos will be recorded at 30 frames per second (fps) and at 720 pixel (720p) resolution.

To record a video:

1. Open up your iPhone’s Camera app and scroll to “Video.”

2. Tap the Record button to start filming. You can also press your up or down volume button. When you’re done, simply tap the Record button again to stop filming.

While recording, you can pinch the screen to zoom in and out. And if you want to take a still shot during the video, simply press the white Shutter button to the right of the Record button.

Record in Cinematic Mode

If you have an iPhone 13, you can shoot in Cinematic mode for a more professional-looking video. Cinematic mode has a few features that allow for higher quality videos, including Dolby Vision HDR and a depth of field effect. This gives you a clearer picture, plus the ability to seamlessly shift the focus from the foreground to the background (and vice versa).

To record in Cinematic mode:

1. Open up your iPhone’s Camera app and scroll to “Cinematic.”

2. Tap the f/number button (the little circle with an italic “f”) to adjust your depth of field before recording.

3. Tap the Record button to start filming, or press your up or down volume button.

4. If there are no people in the frame, tap the screen to choose your focus point. If there are people, your iPhone will put a yellow frame around the person who will be in focus and a gray frame around the person or people who are not in focus. Tap a person’s gray frame to make them the focus of the shot.

5. When you’re done, tap the Record button again to stop filming.

iPhone video basics: Use Cinematic mode for an improved depth of field.
iPhone video basics: Use Cinematic mode for an improved depth of field.

Record in Time-Lapse Mode

Did you know that your iPhone also functions as a time-lapse camera? This feature takes video in intervals and then combines them, making it perfect for capturing a sunset or filming a cooking tutorial.

To record in time-lapse mode:

1. Open up your iPhone’s Camera app and scroll to “Time-lapse.”

2. Tap the Record button to start filming and again when you want to stop, keeping your camera focused on the same scene throughout.

For best results, use a tripod so that your camera stays perfectly steady throughout the entire video.

Create Stop-Motion Magic 

Quick & Easy Stop-Motion (iPhone + Android)

Record in Slow Motion Mode

With slow motion mode, your iPhone automatically reduces the fps of your video so that it appears that things are moving slower than they actually were.

To shoot in slow motion mode:

1. Open up your iPhone’s Camera app and scroll to “Slo-mo.”

2. Tap the Record button to start filming, or press your up or down volume button. When you’re done, tap the Record button again to stop filming.

If you have an iPhone 11 or later, you can shoot in slow motion mode with your front-facing camera in addition to your rear-facing camera. And in all models, you can press the white Shutter button to the right of the Record button to take a still photo while you shoot.

Record in QuickTake Mode

We’ve mentioned taking still photos during videos, but with QuickTake mode, you can do the reverse and record a video while in Photo mode. This can be helpful if the perfect shot arises when you haven’t had a chance to switch over to Video yet.

To shoot in QuickTake mode:

1. While in Photo mode, hold down the white Shutter button to start taking video.

2. Continue holding the Shutter button down to continue recording. If you want your phone to keep recording without having to hold the button down, slide the Shutter button to the right to lock it in place.

While recording, you can swipe up with your finger on the Shutter button to zoom in. And if you’ve locked the button, you can zoom in just by pinching the screen.

iPhone video basics: instantly film video in Photo mode by holding down the Shutter button to activate QuickTake.
iPhone video basics: instantly film video in Photo mode by holding down the Shutter button to activate QuickTake.

The Best iPhone Video Settings

Even without a fancy video app, you still have your pick of some pretty great features on your iPhone’s camera.

If you want to take the guesswork out of shooting quality videos, optimize your settings from the get-go, and you’ll always know you’re getting the best-looking shot. Do keep in mind, though, that some settings result in larger videos that take up more storage. So if you’re worried about space, you’ll only want to change the settings for specific videos instead of having them set in place.

As for what those optimal settings look like, here are the sort of settings you’ll want to use to shoot professional-level videography on your phone.

Resolution

Your iPhone’s default resolution is set to 720p, but you can bump this up to 4K resolution for the clearest videos. (If you’re low on space, opt for 1080p instead.)

When you choose your resolution in Settings, you’ll see various fps pairings. For the smoothest and most high resolution videos, shoot in 4K at 60 fps.

Frames Per Second

Your frame rate, or frames per second, affects how smooth and responsive your video is. 30 fps is the default and is just fine for most filming purposes, though if you want a more cinematic feel to your video you could slow it down to 24 fps. For the smoothest shot, bump it up to 60 fps.

Grid

The same Grid feature that you can use to shoot well-balanced images in Photo mode can also be used to shoot videos. Turn it on for instant guidance on how to compose each frame for maximum effect, and use the Rule of Thirds to dictate what goes where. Ideally, you want the main focus of your shot to be on the gridlines or at a point where two lines intersect.

How to Change iPhone Video Settings

To change your iPhone video resolution settings, or any of your other video settings, go to Settings and scroll down to the Camera app. You can select your resolution and fps under “Record Video,” and your gridlines can be toggled on under the features marked “Composition.”

3 Essential iPhone Video Tips

Whether you want to film videos for fun, for self-promotion or for licensing purposes, here are a few final tips for improving your iPhone video basics:

  1. Learn how to edit. Taking pro-quality iPhone videos is as much about editing as it is about filming. Become familiar with your phone’s video editing basics to make sure every frame stands out.
  2. Pay attention to lighting. The lighting in your frame will have a direct effect on your film’s quality. Make use of natural light by positioning your camera with a window behind it, or use artificial light to get everything just right.
  3. Get an external mic. Outside accessories aren’t necessary, but they can certainly help. This includes an external mic, which will guarantee that your sound always comes in crystal clear.

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