The Truth about 4k

What the? I just bought my dslr to shoot HD and its worthless now?

Since the announcement of the Canon 1DC, the C500, and the blackmagic design camera, there seems to be a lot of attention on 4K video. With all this attention theres bound to be a lot of talk on the impending death of 1080p. But before you ditch all your “obsolete” HD cameras, and take out a second mortgage, lets take a look at what 4K really is and what it means to filmmakers.

What is 4K?

Basically put, 4K is a resolution much like 1080p. Where 1080p is 1080×1920, 4K Is 4096×1714. In case this is just a bunch of numbers, it’s the amount of pixels that make up the image. Usually the higher number of pixels the better the image quality.


4K footage shown on 1080p tv sets or monitors is still just 1080p. Yes there will be a slight increase in detail, but is the cost worth it? Also as of this writing the only web distribution that uses 4k is YouTube.

But what about that extra detail?

Now where the detail of 4K will be fully utilized is when you project the video in a theatre, or when you are shooting the next BBC/Discovery nature documentary.

What if I want to be future proof?

As 4K becomes a household standard, more and more clients will request that footage be in 4K. Which could be days, or a few years. Remember that HD broadcast television has only been a standard for a shot period of time.

So what should I do?

All in all there are many ups and downs to switching to 4K. Before you scrap your gear and sell off organs to make your movie, look to what your projects and clients are looking for. Now if you are upgrading or starting with a large enough budget I would seriously consider going with 4K to start with. Then again technology might leap frog to the next great thing. My only real advise get what you need to start making your film. If you sit and wait, technology and opportunity will pass you by.

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