If we look at 4k cameras, without giving too much thought the uses in terms of delivering 4k to an audience, some are a reasonable prospect as tools of high quality, for reasonable money, 4k may even become a run of the mill, selectable res on every camera sooner than we think in this numbers obsessed industry where more is...well more, try to buy an SD camera these days, yet there are plenty of 1080p cameras that can shoot SD.
I do feel like I’m writing about this as if it’s in the future, as far as the BBC launching Ultra HD TV channels it probably is but in terms of cameras, they are very much amongst us, and, there is a reasonable choice if you have the cash to spend, Sony F5, Canon C500, and the Red Epic which actually is 5K in modern digital terms, are widely available amongst others, these are serious filmmaking tools, for the price of a SD ENG camera only a few years ago. Even if you like your 4K DSLR shaped your catered for in the Canon 1DC.
It’s only when you start to look at the sensors in less expensive cameras you see the inevitable future of us all having 4k video-capability, the Sony FS700 is apparently 4k ready (whatever that might mean in real terms), even the tiny GoPro Hero 3 Black has a 4k sensor though only useable at 2.7k allegedly due to overheating at full res at useful framerates.
The 4k for 4k phrase that is banded is talking about the 4k incarnation of the Black Magic Camera, which is set to break new ground in terms of pixels per pound, it also boasts extended dynamic range and as long as you’re happy with its quirky design, represents a new era in ultra HD on a shoestring filmmaking.
So all well and good, but if we have no real use yet for 4k why so many all of a sudden? Well, the simple fact is, while we are talking about these hi-tech, new ultra HD imaging tools with 4k sensors it’s easy to forget that considering 4k amounts to between 8 and 9 megapixels, pretty much all of our DSLRs have 4k ready sensors and may of the problems with them are down to the huge amount of downsampling that has to occur, so basically this technology is already there, it’s only now that the processing chips and recording mediums are fast enough, efficient enough and maybe more importantly, cheap enough to develop cameras with fresh new numbers to band around to refresh the market.
I believe within the next year or two the £2000 4k maybe even the £1000 4k barrier will be broken, always remember though there is more to high quality filmmaking than resolution alone!