Smartphones are becoming serious video journalism tools

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smartphone video filming

When I first starting working as video journalist with a Sony PD 150, people would say, " that's not a proper camera".  They questioned whether something so small could create useable video and argued that the picture quality was not quite as good as bigger cameras. 
 
As time went on, they became more accepted.  In fact, instead of being at press conferences as the only "small camera", I would turn up and find one or two over-the-shoulder cameras, alongside rows of smaller cameras like mine.
 
Now I see the same thing happening with smartphones.  I train journalists from across Europe on shooting for news on iPhones.  I remember running a course in Geneva in mid-summer.  There were lots of discussions early on about whether a smartphone was of any use when broadcasters have big, expensive cameras.  While the trainees were out on an exercise there was a freak storm.  Trees came down on cars, it was complete mayhem.  Then it stopped.  Naturally they all gathered footage and sent it back to their newsrooms.  We made the news on five national broadcasters across Europe that day, because the bigger cameras were not there.  Like the old saying goes, " the best cameras is the one you have at the time". 
 
This ended one argument.  Sometimes a smartphone is the only device you have with you so it definitely has a benefit. Getting a few shots on  your iphone in an emergency is how most broadcasters approach smartphones right now.
 
However, earlier this year I went to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This is where all the big manufacturers and tech companies show their wares.  There I tested the new Sony Xperia Z2 smarthphone.  It shoots incredible 4K pictures and has a fantastic stabiliser to stop your shots looking shaky. I was blown away when I was shown them back on a giant screen.  The picture quality issue with smartphones is fast disappearing. 
 
There are also better apps and accessories. You can now use Pinnacle editing on your iPhone.  There are gimbals for smartphones that allow you to film as if you had an expensive steadycam.  
 
What is most exciting is that this is just the beginning.  These devices will get better and better.  Any video journalist who ignores the smartphone trend will be making a mistake. I am not saying all other cameras can be thrown out...but I am saying that the smartphone is becoming a very serious tool in the way video journalists work.