We want to shoot 4K, don’t we all…. But do you need to? With the launches of Sony F55, Canon 1dC, Black magic 4K and the already on the market RED and their new Dragon 6K sensor, why do we crave for the ever growing number of K’s!?
Well, why wouldn’t you? Don’t you want to shoot on the latest kit with the best tech? Hold all that detail for the amazing grade! Won’t it make your pictures look great on Facebook and Instagram? Isn’t it something your twitter fans want to see, after all that’s the only reason their following you…isn’t it!?
We’ll you’re not wrong, but there are many other factors that should be taken into account. Digital is here and it’s here to stay. Only a few years ago people were debating the longevity of digital cameras and if they ever would have a place in the market; would they ever be taken seriously? It seems they have been!!
4K is here and its here to stay, at least until 8K arrives. For those of you who don’t know what all these K’s are, you’re in the wrong place. I am referring to the amount of pixels that are being squeezed onto a digital camera’s sensor. For the past few years we have been used to 1920×1080, which is classified as high definition (HD). 1080 simply indicates the number of horizontal lines of resolution being both recorded or watched. 4K works on the same principles, just that we have 4,096 lines of resolution rather than 1080, this ultimately creates a sharper image, or as it’s commonly being referred to ‘ultra high definition’ (UHD). Looking at the image below, it becomes clear that 4K records much more detail than the 1080.
So now we know what 4K is, which new camera should you shoot on? There are many now on the market, but lets compare a few and check out the pro and cons.
The Sony F55 is a very comprehensible camera, with it’s 8.9 effective megapixel sensor it shoots 16-bit, 2K/4K RAW upto 240 fps, 4:2:2 with a global shutter. Using the faster SxS media you can record HD/2K/4K and using Sony’s new bolt on AXS-R5 recorder and AXSM media it will record 2K/4K RAW. With it’s modula style you can build the camera to suit each job and it comes with a variety of lens mounts and viewfinders. Priced between £20K – £30K depending on what accessories you’re after. The Sony F55 enters the same market as RED. Sony have clearly spent some time looking at the market to try and launch the ‘perfect’ camera, and in many ways, they aren’t far off, but with the price bracket it finds itself in, many might opt to use the RED which has been dominating this market for a while.
Canon’s 1dC uses its 18.1 megapixel full frame sensor to record 4K, MJPEG H.264 internally usual CF cards. Or 8-bit uncompressed 4:2:2 via the HDMI which means we can use external recorders if you need. You can record slowmotion 50fps too, but only at 1080. It also means you can attach your Canon EF lenses that everyone seems to have. Lets face it we all own the Canon ‘Fisher Price’ 50mm f1.8. But all of this does come at a price. The Canon 1dC will cost you about £7,000 ex VAT, which stills seems a lot considering you have the same audio issues as all the other DSLR’s and the CMOS sensor will still cause issues with rolling shutter. Spending £7K on a camera that still needs many work arounds in post, doesn’t seem quite right these days. Simple things like sync clapping, can become a very timely process in the edit.
The Black Magic camera was first announced in 2012 and took the market by storm. Since then it has continued to grow and are now shipping the Black Magic 4K. A camera which offers cinema quality images with 12 stops of latitude, 4:2:2, ready to edit Apple ProRess 422(HQ) files in RAW, for less than £2,000 ex VAT. This almost sounds crazy just writing it! What’s the catch? Well here it is; it records to large SSD drives which take longer to back up, it has a wonderful touch screen menu, but can’t be seen in sunlight. It needs external audio to be plugged in and is as fiddly as the DSLR’s. And the Black Magic 4K sensor, is only 3840×2160! BUT ITS LESS THAN £2,000!!
So, I guess out of the few cameras here, there are no outright winners. This shouldn’t surprise you as the question shouldn’t be what’s the best camera, but what is the best camera for my project. Each production will have its own budget, style, production workflows, post production workflows, tech specs and then there is user preference.
I guess the final question is where will your footage be viewed, iMAX, TV, YouTube? If your creating online content for a standard definition (SD) viewing experience, do you need to shoot 4K? I own a rather large HD telly, but I still watch 75% of my content in an SD format. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re creating images for the bigscreen you want to show your work at the highest quality you can and if you’re doing a lot of post production then you’ll need the highest amount of detail as possible, so 4K is here and its here to stay, until 8K takes over in a couple of years. But there will soon become a point when there are so many K’s the human eye just want see the extra detail. Until that day come I fear the need for the ever growing lines of resolution will continue. Best start saving for that UHD TV!
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