I wonder if I’m the only Apple-centric new-media geek on the planet who still has a first-generation iPhone. I know that my friends in the biz often laugh at me for it, but why? Anyone who understands anything about Apple knows that the company prides itself on computability. Every time there’s a new software update for the iPhone, my three-year-old device manages to keep up with those new-fangled little 3GSs with little trouble at all. There are of course certain things a first-gen phone can’t do that a 3G/3GS can, but I haven’t really noticed anything that makes me long for the inconvenience of a hardware upgrade.
The main thing (for me, as an all-in-one new-media journalist) that older models lack is built-in video capability, but even that is changing. This past December, Qik, a company striving to bring video technology to the mobile world, released an application that turns even my first-gen’s still camera into a useful video tool.
Here’s a video I shot with Qik last month. My only complaint is that I would prefer more frames per second since these doggies are fast, but all in all, I’m quite pleased. This app makes my “classic” first-generation phone feel a bit like a 3GS light, so to speak. Obviously the 3GS, which is built for video, does a better job with it over all: The camera in general takes clearer, more vibrant photos. The video, also, is clearer and less jerky.
You can see the need for a better frame rate and quality even more so in this video I shot at a hibachi grill near my house:
The frame rate for the default Qik video resolution of 200×152 is only 15 frames per second, which is half that seen in film. Shooting anything larger will kick the rate down even further, producing a choppier shot akin to old security camera footage. That said, the application is only $0.99 and hosting is absolutely free. If money is the only obstacle between you and a shiny new 3GS with video–or if you, like me, are too lazy and attached to your older model iPhone to make the switch–you might be better off with Qik. As noted above, you won’t get the same quality or clarity, but you will get usable video.
If you’re a 3GS-less journalist or anyone else looking for a quick, on-the-fly option for raw video production, I highly recommend this program. If not, well, why are you using your cell phone to shoot to begin with?
All in all, I give Qik for the iPhone 4 out of 5 stars. It’s cheap, reliable, accessible and all-in-all a well-programmed piece of software. I’d prefer a frame rate of at least 24 FPS, but 15 isn’t terrible.