The Professionals of Cinematography say that Now Is the Time to start shooting in 4K

by on October 7, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – October 7, 2014

As the growth of 4K video and display technologies keeps building more momentum, more professional photographers and videographers are starting to consider the benefits of switching over to 4K Ultra HD video capable cameras.

Ultra HD 4K recording essentially has two formats. Either it can be done in Cinema Grade 4K at 4096 x 2160 pixels or in home theater grade Ultra HD at a more commonly seen 3840 x 2160 pixels. Whichever of these a photographer considering switching to 4K chooses, the opportunities and sheer visual qualities are miles ahead of normal Full HD video at 1920 x 1080 pixels.

However, just as 4K video shooting offers impressive opportunities for some truly spectacular video, it also offers some challenges.

According to Brian Pridgeon, director of Product Marketing Management at data storage maker SanDisk, “These new technologies enable users to capture the sharpest video footage and edit without fear of losing any quality”. He also explains that “The decision to shoot a moment in video or photo has always been difficult, but 4K videos’ ability to use any single frame as a high resolution image allows photographers to now capture both without having to compromise quality”.

The SanDisk executive is referring to the fact that, given their resolution, 4K video cameras of all types allow for every single frame of video to be used as a single excellent image. Meaning that whatever footage gets captured at high frame rates will also contain a deep pool of images to choose amongst for the best series of specific shots.

Furthermore, given enhanced memory storage technologies like those built by SanDisk itself, the ability to shoot many hours of Ultra HD video footage without worry about saving memory for only what are likely to be the best shots is now readily available.

According to Pridgeon and to many other professionals in the cinematography and entertainment media fields, we really are on the cusp of a major revolution in 4K video shooting. The range of optimal video capture solutions the format brings to both pros and amateurs is just too broad not to be ignored. Furthermore, the sheer variety of both professional grade and amateur shooting devices now capable of 4K makes the choice to switch over all the more convenient.

Consumers and pros who choose to go Ultra HD can choose from high end professional production cameras that cost well above $15,000 USD or they can stick to something as simple as a consumer grade (but excellent) 4K DSLR camera that easily captures hours of Ultra HD video at a very decent 30 frames per second.

Even the latest smartphones offer 4k video shooting at the 30 fps mark, albeit for limited lengths of time (for now).

We’ve also seen the development of assorted high quality but highly affordable cameras emerging for all sorts of uses. These include the Lumix LX100 DSLR cameras from Panasonic, the GoPro Hero 4 wearable 4k action cameras for live shooting of fast movement and of course camcorders like the Sony FDR AX100 and the Panasonic HC-X100.

Black Magin Design's URSA 4K Pro Camera

4K cameras range from professional tools like the Black Magic URSA to smartphone video cameras

Whichever device professionals and amateurs choose to go with, the control of post-production processes like resizing, cropping, stabilization and noise reduction that Ultra HD gives its users is much greater than what is available with Full HD. Each picture frame of a 4K shot can be manipulated much more flexibly in terms of visual effects.

This isn’t just random conjecture, it’s also the opinion of highly experience professionals like David Newton, photographer and journalist who argued for 4K video on exactly these terms in a recent interview with Digital Trends magazine.

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