How to Take Slow Motion Videos with iPhone 5s

The iPhone 5s camera has a great slow motion feature that most users don’t use. With a little practice, you can easily create slow motion videos with iPhone 5s that do a better job capturing moments than stills or full speed video. In this article, I’ll show you how I use my iPhone 5s to shoot slow motion videos, quickly edit and share online.

I own and use a number of very expensive professional DSLRs and camcorders. Even though they cost thousands of dollars, I prefer using my iPhone 5s to shoot videos of my friends and family because it’s easier to edit and share directly from my phone. The fancy professional cameras I use the most don’t even have a slow motion mode, which is another reason why I reach for my iPhone 5s instead of my Nikon or Canon cameras.

Here is an example of a slow motion video I took of my son in the park with the iPhone 5s. One thing I love about shooting slow motion videos is that it can make really mundane things much more interesting than a still or standard video. It’s also much easier to capture a moment in slow motion than trying to photograph a moving subject at a given moment.

iPhone 5s is currently the only iPhone capable of shooting slow motion video. Other iPhones, including the iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, and iPhone 4s, lack slow motion mode, although their camera apps look almost identical to the latest iPhone.

This article is in four parts:

  1. How Does the iPhone 5s Slow Motion Work?
  2. How to Take Slow Motion Videos with iPhone 5s
  3. How to Edit Slow Motion Videos from iPhone 5s
  4. How to Share Slow Motion Videos from iPhone 5s

How Does the iPhone 5s Slow Motion Work?

Before you start shooting slow motion videos with your iPhone 5s, it’s important to understand how it all works. Digital videos are still frames that flash in quick succession before your eyes. Standard video is recorded and played back at 30 frames per second (fps). To create a slow motion video, you need more frames to have enough frames to span over time. If you don’t capture enough frames, your eyes will detect jerky motion. To smoothly slow down the video, iPhone 5s records 120 frames per second in slow motion (slow motion) mode. 120 frames recorded in one second can then be played back for four seconds, stretching each second of the recording long enough for viewers to capture all the details. Each frame also records audio through the microphone on the back of the iPhone 5s.

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This is an example of what a video shot in slow motion mode looks like at full speed. My son spins really fast in the video to really capture his emotions.

And here’s what the action looks like in real time. Notice how you can clearly make out his expression as he turns and falls. In the slow motion version, my son has what my aunt calls ‘pure joy’ when she sees it on Facebook.

iPhone 5s has a faster processor that makes it possible to quickly process all this information so you can quickly record, view and edit slow motion video. Unfortunately, iPhone 5c and older models rely on slower processors that can’t handle slow motion video demands. While the latest iPads have the same fast processor as the iPhone 5s, Apple offers a scaled-down Camera app for taking landscape photos on iPads, with no Slow Motion mode or Panorama mode.

One of the things to consider before shooting slow motion videos with the iPhone 5s is that they can take up a lot of storage space, so make sure you have some free space before you start shooting. This probably isn’t an issue for most users with 64GB iPhone 5s, but it could be an issue for those with 16GB or 32GB models.

Slow motion video is recorded at 720p instead of the maximum 1080p used during normal video recording. This means that the video quality will not be as clear as you will see when recording in standard video mode.

How to Take Slow Motion Videos with iPhone 5s

iPhone 5s Camera App in Slow Motion Mode

To take slow motion videos, all you have to do is launch the Camera app on iPhone 5s and swipe up with one finger twice on the screen. The first time you swipe the screen, iPhone will switch to video capture mode. Swipe a second time and iPhone 5s will switch to Slow Motion mode. You can confirm that you are in slow motion mode because the words SLO-MO will be in yellow letters to the left of the record button. The text that says 120 FPS will appear in the upper right corner of the screen.

Simply tap the red record button to start recording. The iPhone 5s will record video at 120 frames per second, but the live video you’ll see on your iPhone will still be real-time. For best results, I recommend keeping the iPhone as still as possible rather than trying to follow the movement. Slow motion video exaggerates everything, including camera shake. If possible, use a pocket tripod like I used in the video demo above or fix it on a stationary object. If you have nothing to secure your iPhone 5s, hold the iPhone close to your body and rest your elbows on your torso.

I usually aim to capture only two to 10 seconds of action. This means eight to 30 seconds of playback. Sometimes I shoot longer footage but shorten longer clips significantly. Note that slow motion video takes up to four times longer than normal to play and long slow motion videos can be really repetitive and boring. For example, it might be fun to watch your child jump up and down for 20 seconds, but that’s 80 seconds to watch in slow motion.

Another thing to keep in mind is to pay attention to the sound when shooting. I recommend staying quiet while shooting, as slow motion mode will slow your voice down four times, making you sound like an angry beast. Everything sounds louder and bigger in slow motion, which means it draws attention to detail.

Apple makes it super easy to edit slow motion videos on the iPhone 5s. To get started, all you have to do is tap the image of your slow motion video recording in the corner of your iPhone 5.

The first step in editing is to see what you need to work with. I suggest you watch your recording and pay attention to the best parts of your video clips.

The first part of editing your video is adjusting the speed ramp. All iPhone 5s slow motion videos start with some standard speed video, then slow down four times slower than normal and then speed up to the last second by default. You can adjust where the speed slows down by sliding the small black bars on the blue dotted line in the video and then go back. Slow motion action should of course be in the best part of your video. Don’t forget to leave a nice video on both sides of the action you want to slow down.

Then hold the black bars with the left arrow to set a starting point. Then take the black bar with the arrow on the right side of the screen and select your endpoint. Tap ‘Trim’ If you’re absolutely sure you won’t need the part of the video you’re cutting, go ahead and select ‘Trim Original’. Otherwise, I recommend tapping ‘Save as New Clip’ to keep the original in case you want to start your edits over.

How to Share Slow Motion Videos from iPhone 5s

Sharing slow motion videos shot on your iPhone 5s works the same as any other video. Simply tap the box with the arrow pointing up at the bottom left of the video player. Tapping any of the six icons will bring up a prompt to add a comment or caption. The pop-up window changes depending on the service you choose. Built-in services for sharing include Messages, Mail, iCloud, YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo. All six of the services retain the slow motion effect. If you plan to share slow motion video, it’s best to do so directly from iPhone as some apps and services don’t play well with slow motion format. For example, Apple’s own professional photo editing application, Aperture, plays all slow motion clips in slow motion instead of maintaining the speed ramp at the beginning and end of clips.

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