4K Resolution and the Future

When I was at NAB in 2012, the biggest topics that were being covered were 3D and 4K Resolution. Just a year ago, the only somewhat affordable camera that was capable of recording 4K was the RED Epic and the RED Scarlett. I remember when Canon had released their Canon c300, many people were disappointed in the fact that it couldn’t record 4K resolution, even though having a 4K sensor. One of the major selling points for me in purchasing the Sony FS700 was the fact that it could record RAW 4K in the future. Seems like that future is here, as I just received an email from AbelCine stating that my FS700 was eligible for a 4K firmware update.

For those of you who don’t know what 4K is, it’s the resolution of the picture in digital cinematography. As Wikipedia puts it: ” The term 4K refers to the horizontal resolution (instead of the vertical) of these formats, which are all on the order of 4,000 pixels.”



Now just a little over a year later, more affordable 4K cameras are now available. The new GoPro Hero Black Edition is capable of doing 4K at under $500, but it’s only limited to 12FPS. Canon’s released the big brother to the C300, known as the C500 which is capable of doing 4K, but at the price of $26, 000. Then there’s RED who has actually moved on from 4K, and their new Dragon sensor promises 6K imagery! I’ve always found it fascinating how fast technology advances and how easily accessible now the equipment is. When I was shooting films in high school, during the early 2000’s, our max resolution at that time was 480i! It wasn’t until mid Post Secondary that HD equipment was really accessible and even then it wasn’t true 1080P. So what do I think about the whole 4K craze and will I be upgrading the firmware on my FS700? Although I do believe that there are many benefits to higher resolution, my reasons for updating at this point won’t be to show off 4K imagery in all it’s glory. There are barely any TV’s currently that can display a 4K image, and the only media distribution format I know of currently that can really showcase 4K is RED’s Red Ray system. For me, 4K would be used for a 2K or HD distribution. With the resolution being so high, one could technically “zoom” into the 4K image and re-frame without any resolution lost if the final showcase is still in an HD or 2K format. This is especially beneficial to shooting interviews, cause you could technically shoot it wide and then have the power to zoom in during key moments to a specific point. Think about using SmoothCam or the Warp Stabilizer plug-in at that resolution, there would be minimal to no distortion in the image. At the moment, because there are no real options for showcasing 4K resolution yet, I believe that’s the only benefit of shooting in 4K. I just recently saw on the FutureShop website that Sony has released a 60 inch 4K TV set, but at the price of $7800.00. I think in the next 2-3 years is when we’ll start seeing 4K become the norm, and it’s then that I think we’ll be ready for 4K distribution. Who knows though, maybe we’ll skip the entire 4K movement, and move right into 6K?



The Canon 1DC – Canon 4K DSLR

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