iPhone 14 Action mode: First impressions and how to use it

During its September event, Apple announced a new digital video stabilization feature coming to its iPhone 14 lineup called Action Mode. The demo videos looked pretty smooth and fluid, but of course I was skeptical and wanted to put it through some real-world testing.

What is action mode? According to Apple, Action mode aims to correct significant camera shake, vibration and unintentional movement when recording video. This new option for the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro is built into the camera app as a toggle in the top left when video mode is selected.

“It uses the full sensor with more overscan and advanced roll correction so video looks incredibly stable when you’re in the middle of the action. Just turn it on to get great-looking, smooth videos without having to carry extra gear like a gimble. It also supports Dolby Vision HDR.” Apple explained.

Action mode can record in up to 2.8K at 60fps, a step down from 4K when it’s off, but it still supports HDR with Dolby Vision, ensuring fairly sharp video quality.

Action mode in the real world

Here are a few videos recorded with Action Mode turned on. Let’s start with a walk first.

Both videos are shot at 1x zoom, but as you can see, as part of its stabilization software, the action mode crops a considerable amount of the camera’s wide-angle view. In this case, you may notice a slight decrease in bounce when walking. But where Action Mode shines are in hard moments. Here’s a video where it’s activated while running.

Where Action Mode falls short

Aside from the crop and a maximum capture quality of 2.8K, the only major downside I see with Action mode is that it needs a lot of light to work properly. The reason for this is the iPhone 14 Pro’s relatively small 1/2.55-inch wide-angle sensor. Which is even smaller on the iPhone 14.

My apartment building’s stairwell is fairly well lit with massive windows and artificial lights, but Action Mode prompts me with a “More light needed” message. It will be interesting to see if people struggle with this feature in gloomy environments.

Final Thoughts

Based on first impressions, Action Mode is another great new camera feature that Apple has added to the iPhone 14 range. It’s great smooth looking video with just a tap and without the need for stabilizing equipment like a gimbal.

It will be interesting to see how this competes with GoPro, which has its own version of video stabilization and has long been hammered by phone makers improving their camera systems.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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