A lot has been made of the fact that the new iPhone 4S has "internal stabilization." As if that were enough to get rid of all the jumps and jiggles the lightweight (4.9 oz / 140g) HD camera collects in hand-held shots.
Not so fast. Apple has chosen a setting that eliminates some of the worst of shaky, unstable hand-held shooting, because they knew that more aggressive anti-shake would have required image compromises. Digital stabilization requires enlarging the image if it is applied to existing frames, but remember rule #1: Enlargement Compromises Detail.
So they wisely took a middle path. If you have an excellent two-hand grip on your iPhone 4S, or brace your arms as you shoot, the internal stabilization will take out the most persistent shake and vibration.
You *can* get better shots with it compared to the iPhone 4. See our test of this idea on this vimeo page:
What we did for this test was very different. We shot an ambling walk through a garden—twice.
Once, just hand-held with only the internal iPhone 4S stabilization at work. The second time we walked with the iPhone 4S on our Steadicam Smoothee—a genuine Steadicam created for the iPhone 4, 3GS, iPod Touch, Flip HD and GoPro Hero.
Only one hand was used to support the camera during both walks. You can use the Smoothee with a two-hand technique for greater control.
The iPhone 4 camera mount fits the iPhone 4S perfectly. You use different mounts for different cameras, each pre-balanced to work right out of the box.
On the Smoothee walk, we were only able to approximate the course, framing and timing of the hand-held walk, but the two are close enough in sync to get the point across.
It's obvious from the test that the Smoothee imparts a huge stability benefit to iPhone videos.
That, combined with all the tonality, color balance and colorimetry enhancements in the iPhone 4S, produces HD video that will soon—we predict—be a part of shows and news you see on TV.
And you'll never spot it as coming from a cell phone camera!
If you wish, you can download the full 1080p30 file and see what the camera saw.