The 4K Revolution Is Here.

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First off this truly is a revolution in the filming industry. Never has the entry price to a pro level state of the art video rig been this affordable. How will this affect photography? simple, as displays increase in resolution our photo files will show better and need to be of better quality as well. Just as the Apple Retina displays have forced changes in software so to will 4K. It will probably be a year or so if not sooner before  you start to see demos in your local box stores. Within a year or so you should be able to purchase and start watching 4K movies. One thing I do agree with though is what Tom Hogan said in this article:  basically we are better off with 1080 done right than just adding more pixels with the same issues that 1080 has with the lower end of video recording devices. Very few if any affordable videos cameras get it right.

4K is  the future of video. Although you can stream some 4K media right now with Netflix and Amazon prime It probably won’t be available for live streaming or satellite viewing for most of us due to bandwidth limitations, but it can be used for delayed streaming and viewing and for a Netflix type of mail service using an SD card or? instead of a DVD that is sent back and forth, it’s also probably cheaper to mail and prices for SD cards have some down to just a buck or two when brought in bulk like Netflix would. An SD card should last longer than a DVD that gets damaged from handling. This will probably start next year as TV prices have already come down to under $1,000 and will continue to decline in price just like HD did. You won’t need a player, just a TV with inputs for 4K or a device with an SD card slot or the TV itself will probably have an SD card slot. Who knows what will come from this.

Can you see the difference between 4K and HD?  Could you see the difference between SD & HD? the difference is about the same as going from HD to 4K. You may say you don’t need it, doesn’t matter because it will be here anyway and your future large screen TV or computer monitor will look better than you could have imagined a few years ago. As Americans are continually buying bigger and bigger displays over time 4K will make a nice upgrade in image quality particularly in smaller rooms where viewing distance is closer than optimum. All those 60″ -80″ screems will benifit the most. larger sets will probably have some sort of uprezing capability built-in to help make regular HD look better with the new screens. But beware most reviews show that the uprezing actually looks worse than regular HD, only the better more expensive TVs show promise here. There is also no 4K standard yet so your new 4K TV may find itself getting out dated sooner than you would like with lower resale value to boot. After all this time LCD TVs still have some combination of viewing angle, contrast or local dimming issues. Things we didn’t really have with Plasma. I suspect Oled technology will take over as it appears to be a much better although expensive (for the time being ) technology. The best LCDs are pretty good but I would take plasma any day or now 4K Oled if I could afford it. Some day.

These types of video cameras used to cost $20,000 and much more. But now the tech has also come down in price. You can now get a production camera for under $4,000. This is HUGE (Very bad news for the other brands in the industry that charge up to 5-7x more) news in the video industry as it allows almost anyone to get into serious video production with a much smaller budget.

Computer monitors are already coming out with 4K capable screens (apple is first of course with their larger retina displays).

Here is the first affordable 4K production camera body (see link below). Shooting 4K does not mean you can’t reduce the rez to normal HD and still have the master for later on. They shoot in the raw video format for best quality during editing. A two hour movie might take up 2/3 of a terabyte of hard drive space in the raw unedited format. Even if a pro only shoots normal HD now this rig is probably a better value and most likely produces better HD when downsized. The dynamic range is claimed to be a solid 12 stops which is getting very close to the best film. Film is still king in the highlights and digital in the shadows. Since lighting can be controlled in many situations digital is more cost-effective for those situations. As you can see in the above photo the capture device / body is only a small part of the overall package in a pro setup. The cost of all the accessories in the above photo cost much more than the $4,000 body, even the tripod probably cost much more than $4,000 and the Canon lens pictured is about $23,000 (that’s right $23,000 and that’s only half the cost of the top of the line lens).  You can also use standard photography lenses too. New modern design Cine lenses are generally much more expensive. You can also have certain still lenses modified for Cine and save a bunch of money if that works for you.

Note: this price is even inexpensive compared to analog or smaller digital  format pro rigs from just a few years ago.

Video lenses, top brands. Best value and at the low-end of Cine lenses are from Samyang & Rokinon, from there the prices go up fast and for a reason. You can also save some money and have certain still lenses modified for Cine.

What’s the difference between Cine lenses and regular photographic lens and why are they so much more expensive? And can I modify my existing lenses for Cine?

Optically they are not that different as far as image quality goes except that pro Cine lenses are manual focus only, after all a Cine lens does not have to resolve like a DX lens does with a 24mp sensor. It’s the rest of the mechanics that make the difference, particularly with manual focusing and clickless aperture changes. Here are a few sites that explain it better than I can or want to.

The bottom line is that you can get by with modifying certain lenses and save bundle to start with. The latest Cine lenses do look cool though even mounted on a DSLR.

Lots of Cine lens photos.

At the low end of the price range you can now get a consumer grade 4K (actually more like 2.7K) video cameras starting at $400 with the GoPro Hero 3+  These little guys are going to be popular for reasons other than just 4K. What makes the GoPro popular is all the accessories that you can get with one to help make your action movies with. Lots of videos on Youtube using this system. There’s no better affordable & fun to use action video system out there. With 720p @120 fps & 960 @100 fps & 1080p @ 60 fps & 1448p @ 48 fps & 2.7k @ 30 fps & 4k @ 15 (4k is not quite ar 24 fps yet) you can put together some nice effects. If only this had been around in my younger days. Note, even though  these cameras are sold as video cameras they still suffer from the rollling shutter effect that every other still camera has.

The one accessory you should not go without when using a DSLR or any video camera for video is external sound recording. Get something like the H4n zoom on Ebay and you will get far better sound than what a camera body can deliver even if you mount a mic in the hot shoe.  syncing sound is easy enough so don’t let that stop you. At the very least a high quality hot shoe mounted mic (a good one with isolation is needed)  is a necessity, even though the camera’s pre-amp is rather poor compared to external devices. Poor sound = a poor viewing experience.

Another issue with DSLRs is focus pulling ( a technique used often in film making), You simple can’t judge focus using the LCD to do this reliably. You need an external monitor such as the Zucuto eX Finder for example.   These units offer peaking and zebras to help see what is actually in focus. There are other brands and products a well that might suit you better.

Dont forget a dolly slider / slider for panning shots and even  combined with rotation and zooming or focus pulling for extra effect. They can get expensive.     or

You will absolutely need a fluid head, these are more reasonable in price for the smaller ones. Start at around $160  for solid models that can handle a decent load and rotate really smooth.  There are some in the $60 -89 range that might work for you as well if price is a factor. check the reviews carefully.

The biggest problem with DSLRs is rolling shutter effect and jitter with panning. Many also don’t let you adjust Aperture when in video mode (you can adjust it by changing modes than coming back to video) and that is a real pain. These  cameras usually don’t have focus peaking or zebras (these show you on the LCD screen what is in focus when manually focusing). They tend to auto focus noisily and have poor sound recording capability. While you might be able to make decent videos with them they are not designed as video cameras and the sensor / shutter is not optimized for video. True large format video cams work much better for serious film making and now that there are many of these to choose from  there is less interest from the serious amature film makers  then a few year back when the Canon 5D2 was the only affordable game in town.  Many DSLRs video is fair at best and good to very good only when the conditions are right (compared to the best dedicated digital video rigs). The Canon C series is a dedicated system for example, but cost a lot more of course.

One of the high end video brands.

My old Nikon D90 was the first DSLR to have video as a feature and the quaity was just plan awful, my iPad did much better. The D90 might have been able to give more isolation and cleaner low light video but the video never looked sharp IMO. In contrast the video from my iPad 3 & 4 is much more satisfying to view because there is detail and sharpness in the scene and the colors look better without processing. The newest D7100 is better and has more features but you still can’t adjust Aperture in video mode and it give plenty of jitter when panning at anything faster than a snails pace. Does have excellent high iso though and sharp enough video, a step in the right direction. I believe the Canon 5d2-3 are better suited for video overall and many wedding photogs are using those for video fusion.