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Ultra HD 4K cameras give photo and video pros revolutionary new capabilities

by on November 28, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – November 28, 2014

Ultra HD video isn’t just about entertainment value and streaming 4K content off the web from Netflix. What it really promises is an entire series of new innovations in various video and photo related applications for professionals in both fields.

This is something that also isn’t going unnoticed in professional photography. To name just one example, at the fairly recent PDN Photoplus Expo in New York City held this last October, still photographers from all over the world convened to discuss and examine new camera technologies, and one of the hottest items up for discussion in a number of circles was the growing development of 4K resolution in photo/video equipment.

In fact, many photographers aren’t waiting around for 2015 and the new 4K photo/video technologies it brings along, instead, they’re jumping in already and getting their hands on technology that has changed their professional field in many ways.

This is the case because the high quality and affordable 4K UHD cameras of the future are already here, in the form of several excellent models for both photos and video. These include diverse lower cost models such as the Panasonic FZ1000, Panasonic GH4, GoPro Hero 4 Black and even the Samsung NX1 and also include higher end 4K video cameras and camcorders like the Black Magic URSA 4K production camera, the RED brand line of Scarlet 4K video cameras or Sony’s XDCAM Handheld Professional Camcorder.

GoPro Hero 4 4K mountable video camera

The GoPro Hero 4 is one of many new 4K video cameras that can provide exquisite still shots from their video

Most fundamentally however, the arrival of these and other 4K cameras has allowed for the development of what could basically be described as still pictures that move, in a vastly fine grained series of sequences.

Because 4K video cameras are capturing video at such high resolution at X frame rate (usually between 30 and 60 frames per second), they create what what is in effect a lengthy series of high resolution still shots that can be extracted from running video individually in sequences that break down to tinny fractions of a second.  Each still emerges as a photo of roughly 8 megapixels, which is more than decent for many even professional sequence uses.

This is an almost revolutionary development for photographers and because of it 4K cameras let them capture even the most finely timed movements with much less difficulty.

Panasonic has even begun using a term for the process, calling it “hybrid photography”, and there are even speculations that this very process inherent to ultra HD cameras could create a more thorough eventual merging of the videography and photography professions.

Of course, the still extraction capacity of 4K video cameras creates photos that don’t compare to the truly professional 16 to 18 megapixel resolution of actual photographers cameras but this is more than offset by the much greater range of photo capture flexibility offered.

There are also more critical voices in the photography profession which want to tone down the hype. One example is Jason Groupp, director of Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, who doesn’t believe that still photo specialists quite yet need to worry about videographers taking over there business with 4K stills from UHD cameras.

According to him, there is a qualitative difference between shooting video and photos that has a lot to do with lighting, point of view and other factors. He also argues that simply pointing a video camera and shooting for the sake of capturing a series of images isn’t nearly the same as seriously setting up professional still shots.

Nonetheless, numerous companies such as fashion houses, hotel chains and, of course, the porn industry, have been moving into “hybrid photography” to create what they call “living photographs and some of them have also been using an app called Flixel to help the process along because of its compatibility with 4K.

What Flixel does is create still images with one or two moving elements, captured as a rapid series of stills in sequence. So for example a static person can have their hair swaying in a breeze.

This is just one example of the possibilities 4K photography through video offers with the cameras that are now filling the marketplace.

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  • Brianbobcat
    January 15, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Sorry, but this was not a well written article. There’s the horrible statement of “The GoPro Hero 4 is one of many new 4K video cameras that can provide exquisite still shots from their video” which, if you’ve ever used a GoPro, you would know that the lens distortion of 4K GoPro footage makes it completely unusable. GoPro adding 4K is purely marketing. There’s also the countless spelling and typing errors which make it read like an amateur blog, not a reputable site. Several examples: “videographers taking over there business” should be “their”, not “there”; “…break down to tinny fractions of a second.” should be “tiny” not “tinny”, and lastly “…they create what what is in effect…”. Why two “what”s? You should really have someone proofread before posting.


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