Apple is a Camera Company Now (Again)

Abstract digital artwork featuring a stylized apple with a lens in the middle, surrounded by dynamic, colorful geometric shapes on a dark background.

30 years ago, Apple launched the QuickTake 100 that was, until yesterday, its last “real” camera. But with the announcement of the Final Cut Camera app yesterday, Apple is once again a full-fledged camera company.

Before yesterday, the QuickTake 100 was the last time Apple built the hardware and complete software for an image capture device. Even though the iPhone has been equipped with a camera from the beginning, Apple has relied on third-party developers to make its camera hardware actually useable for anything other than quick snaps. As a result, I argue the company dabbled in camera development but shied away from jumping all the way into the pool.

Over the years, the company repeatedly said it likes to give its app developers the ability to make the most out of its hardware. Sure, you can just use the default camera app, but at a certain point, it’s just not powerful enough. That’s why Apple itself relied on Blackmagic’s camera app in its productions, including the very impressive “Scary Fast” event from last year which was visible in the company’s behind-the-scenes video it published shortly after.

But with Final Cut Camera, Apple signaled very loudly that it is shifting its perspective: it’s now making the software required to take full advantage of its capture hardware. There really is no other definition of a camera company than that.

Beyond the capture device, Apple makes the AI that performs background computation to overcome the limitations of small camera sensors and lenses. It makes the chips that power that AI. Apple also makes the software you edit videos on and the computers you use to do so.

No other entity that we would call a “camera company” does all that.

A smartphone screen displays a camera interface focused on a stylish man wearing a cowboy hat and leather jacket, lighting a cigarette. various camera settings are visible on the screen.
Final Cut Camera | Apple

In fact, the only company that comes close to what Apple is doing is Blackmagic, the company it now suddenly finds itself competing with. While Blackmagic’s camera app still has features that Final Cut Camera doesn’t (at least from what we can tell at the time of publication), the reverse is also true.

Apple’s new software syncs with Final Cut for iPad to allow for the creation of a real-time multicam setup. The upcoming feature ties its mobile devices together for real-time capture in a way that Apple has never done before. Up to four iPhones running Final Cut Camera connects with Final Cut on iPad to allow a director to see all four angles in real-time and indepenedntly adjust the settings of each connected camera from a single iPad and prepare the edit simultaneously. Editable clips are sent directly into Final Cut Pro for iPad, while full-resolution files are processed in the background. It’s immensely powerful and takes full advantage of Apple’s ecosystem.

This is a workflow that other companies based their entire value around, and here it’s just a feature — a bonus — of owning Apple products.

And if you’re thinking that this can’t be that good because it’s “still a smartphone,” think again: thanks to ProRes Log, Apple’s iPhone is a ridiculously good video capture device.

Suddenly, Apple’s offerings are competing with another camera company: Logitech. The Mevo system and system of iPad apps promises something similar, and while it’s addition of a Micro Four Thirds Mevo Core means the quality of footage can be significantly better than an iPhone, is that really enough warrant buying new hardware versus using what you likely already have in your pocket? The Mevo’s target audience — average folks who just want to make nice videos of little league baseball games and shoot a fun video of a local band — might very well say no.

Final Cut Camera was the missing piece of the puzzle and with its launch, Apple is finally a “real” camera company again.

For more on this topic, make sure to tune in to this week’s episode of the PetaPixel Podcast, brought to you by OM System. Right now, OM SYSTEM is offering one of their best spring deals yet. You can get the sleek and versatile E-M10 Mark IV camera body, and guess what? They’re throwing in a free M.Zuiko 14-42mm II R lens. That’s right, free! Visit OM SYSTEM’s website at and check out the E-M10 Mark IV bundle!

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