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$50K RED Raptor vs iPhone 13: How Much Does Gear Matter?

Beginner with pricey camera takes on pro with a phone in filmmaking challenge
Photo of Red camera vs iPhone

It’s an age-old question in filmmaking: does having high-end gear at your disposal make your content better? A new video from Parker Walbeck’s YouTube channel attempts to answer that question by pitting a beginner filmmaker with a $50,000 RED Raptor video camera vs a pro using an iPhone 13.

In the clip, which we have embedded below, Alyssa Dye (the beginner) and Jake Weisler (the pro) are tasked with making video content for a product from KUVRD called WaterBears, which can be used to clean phone screens or camera lenses. The founder of the product, Cary Decker, is on-site and will be appearing as on-camera talent during the shoot.

Alyssa has been shooting video for under a year, while Jake regularly makes video content for a wide array of clients. For the challenge, Alyssa will be shooting her video using the 8K Red Raptor, expensive cine glass and has a whole production van full of high-end equipment at her disposal. Jake, on the other hand, can only use an Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, a tripod, and a five-in-one reflector.

In the first portion of the video, we see Alyssa fumbling her way through operating the high-end equipment she’s using on her shoot. Although Jake serves as her production assistant during her shoot, and helps her set up lighting equipment and will answer her questions about the gear, he won’t tell her what to do with it. For someone who has only been shooting video for under a year, she does an impressive job, even when some of her interactions with the client feel a little forced and awkward.


Next up is Jake, who is only using the iPhone to shoot. Before he begins, he asks what platforms the video content will be posted to and asks the client to casually explain what the product is—all before he starts filming. He then uses that brief pre-interview to tailor his shooting style and questions to a fairly narrow scope. Because the video will be primarily used on social media platforms, he decides to shoot everything vertically and leaves plenty of head space above the client so that he can add in text elements to the final piece.

The final segment of the video finds Jake and Cary sitting down together to review each of the videos that were created that day and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both of them and attempts to settle the age-old debate of if gear matters as much as the person operating the camera.

Check out the full episode below to see how each of their shoots came out. Which one do you think did the better job given the circumstances?


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