Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

Sony Professional: NAB 2013 – Why shoot in 4K? from Sony Professional Europe on Vimeo.

Because video manufacturers are constantly trying to outdo themselves DP’s find it very difficult to plum on one camcorder “fits all”, the Sony PMW-500 is the present choice if you are filming for television but sadly lacks that filmic shallow depth of field seen with the likes of the Sony F5 or the Canon C300.

Most DP’s hire C300’s when needed and when it comes to 4K…it’s ‘hire only” due to the cost of the equipment, BBC Scotland won’t allow 4K filming as the workflow in post is very expensive and lets be sensible who in the UK can watch a 4K production…hands up…!!!


Alister Chapman poses some viable options using 4K, Re-framing for an HD production, image stabilisation, archiving future proof footage and pristine master footage.

Some of us are old enough to remember these very same arguments when Sony were trying to justify the leap from DV to HD…I have never needed to reframe a shot in post though I could see a place for it using a presenter with a green screen background, you could shoot a wide shot and crop as needed, once again stabilisation has never been an issue, I can see the point in archiving and master footage but it’s horses for courses.

You won’t see any difference going from 4K to SD DVD, nor will you gain any benefits shooting on 4K for the web, you will see a tighter, cleaner image going from 4K to Blu Ray,

Not one corporate client of mine has ever hinted in the last 5 years to film in HD let alone 4K, it’s been up to me to film in HD to give the client a better SD end result mainly onto DVD.

If you want to work in 4K you need to have an NLE that allows your 4K workflow, FCPX as far as I am aware allows 4K but you need a Black Magic Ultra Studio 4K to view your 4K footage onto a Sony 4K monitor (not yet available).


I for one am not convinced to move over to 4K this year, I moved over to HD in it’s infancy and it almost cost me my reputation, once burnt and all that.

NAB 2013 was rather disappointing this year, Sony and Panasonic had one shoulder mount each on offer and most of us are questioning…why ? Shoulder mounts are becoming dinosaurs in the video industry, sadly, and at a price of around $20K these camcorders will not be flying off the shelf any time soon.

Canon brought out the XA-20 and XA-25 but at the expense of the magical 50Mbps, these new camcorders are 1080 50p AVCHD…once again I don’t quite see the market for these camcorders, they should have improved the XF range of camcorders first.

JVC brought out the GY-HM70 shoulder mount semi pro camcorder aimed at education and event productions, not one of their better designed camcorders.

The company who once again kicked the buts of all the major video manufacturers was Black Magic Design who appeared with 2 new camcorders, the 4K Cinema Camera and the Super 16mm pocket camcorder…fantastic. BM have had their problems with duff sensors but lets hope that’s all behind them now, the pocket S16mm camera priced around the £700 mark will set the heather alight.

Will the Super 16mm pocket camera finally kill off the DSLR as an alternative for video… well according to some of my readers apparently not, as the smaller sensor may not give you that filmic shallow depth of field seen on many Super 35mm cameras like the Canon C300 and the newer Sony F5.




Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

11 thoughts on “The drive for 4K and a not very exiting NAB 2013

  1. Good analysis. 4K is years away. The compute power and storage requirement to handles the data is truly immense, something many videographers simply do not understand. BM is definitely spot on. The pocket cam will rock for sure. May buy one if the pocketbook can handle it.

  2. the JVC GY-HM70 looks very interesting for me. I don’t need XLR inputs. Just a shoulder camcorder the films good in bright and low light.

    I agree the other JVC shoulder camcorders are more professional looking and have al those professionel in and outputs but you will pay a lot more for those.

  3. You have summed up what many think quite succintly here about 4K and the crop of new cams.

  4. I expect Sony will bring out a Prosumer 4K by next year, just like they brought out the FX1 which I bought when it come out. I used it as a 4×3 DV cam multicam with my other DV camcorder, moved to 16×9 DV with the other camcorders and also used alone as HDV camcorder and used to pan and scan around the HDV image in a DV ptoject many times when 1 camera was the only option. Made the final edit look like it was done with 4 or 5 cameras. This was back in 2005 using Vegas to pan and scan with keyframes. When the other little AVCHD camcorders I now use made the HDV look a little dated I moved to my NX5U. If Sony does come out with a 4K camcorder like the demo shown at CES I will likely replace my NX5 for the same reasons I got the FX1.

    I think we will also see 4k in the home next year too as the TV’s will likely be able to also show 3D and cover all the bases.

    The broadcaster will be in a squeeze between the film industry delivering 4K content streamed to boxes like the one announced by Sony and home users being able to do so as well. Broadcast standards used to be the rule but with the increase in use of the internet and the variety of devices available to the public that may change considerably. Sony seem to have a lot of people signed up to XAVC-S.

    Ron Evans

  5. “The S16mm pocket camera will finally kill off the DSLR”…BS!!!!…the bm pocket camera is not the dslr killer, stop dreaming!…all of you past dslr killer post have been wrong!

    HDW : Finally we get a camera that’s cheaper than most DSLR’s unlike the majority of large sensor cameras like the C100, FS700, EA50 etc. You would be a fool to use a DSLR in place of the new BM pocket camera and a camera thats made for purpose unlike a DSLR !

  6. Crazy talk… super16 won’t get you shallow depth of field very easily..(which is what attracted people to DSLRs in the first place) and the DSLR is way too established to be killed by anything. It’s a tool…like any other – it has it’s uses and always will do. I moved up to Super35mm over 2 years ago, but i still use my Canon DSLR a lot… it’s still a great camera for situations where a ‘video camera’ can’t be used. Made for purpose/fit for purpose? What does that matter? The BM pocket camera is not large sensor… DSLR killers don’t exist and why should they? The DSLR is a filming tool with a history now. It’s place is as important as any horrible fixed lens nightmare from the ‘corporate video’ sector… nothing to see here but another tool to use in filming…move along. We don’t need ‘killer’s or ‘game changers’….just tools.

  7. “You would be a fool to use a DSLR in place of the new BM pocket camera”

    Again the client/producers makes the call on what cameras will be used on a job not me! with that said I will own one, but I would be shocked if it replace’s the Dslr in the usa…On most of my dslr jobs the client/producers don’t wan’t any footage that needs any color correction. The client/producers want easy to achieve bokeh.

  8. Hi Phil, we’ve shot 4K for BBC Scotland so they have no issues with this at all. If indies choose to shoot 4K and deliver SD or HD then this is fine – we shoot on a RED Epic and the workflow is not quite straight forward and the quality is stunning.


  9. Opos, that should have read the workflow IS quite straight forward :o)

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