In preparation for my sabbatical to South America, I’ve been thinking a lot about what type of creative projects I’d like to work on during the 6 months that I’ll be down there, and decided that one of my primary focuses would be adding original video content on my Youtube Channel. Anyone who’s had their ears on the floor regarding recent video technology knows that 4K is all the rage at the moment. Though everyone speaks glowingly about this technology, was it really worth investing in new equipment?
I’ve generally been content with my current setup (a dslr which provides higher dynamic range on gigs where I can bring a full setup, or my pocket camera that I can have on me at all times, but still allows me to shoot in 1080p at 60fps).
Though I prefer going to my dslr when quality is of utmost importance, I find that I capture a lot of my content with my Sony W350 pocket cam, as it easily fits into my jean pockets, and really is a go-anywhere camera. I’m happy with the frame rate, and the quality it provides when viewed on mobile devices, but I’ve noticed that the image quality really suffers when viewed on a large monitor or television, and it’s small sensor size gives me a pretty shotty dynamic range when shooting footage indoors.
Up to this point, the cost of 4K cameras was too high to justify the bump in resolution, especially considering that I’ve been penny pinching for the past two years in prep for my trip. Luckily two things occurred that made me go out and dive into the world of 4K video:
- I realized that this may be a once in a lifetime trip, and I would probably regret not being able to capture the best quality video that I could.
- Panasonic released the G7: a sub-$1000 4K micro 4/3 camera, that provides all the manual functionality of my dslr’s, but now with significantly improved video resolution.
Following are some samples of videos that I’ve taken recently of my friends’ performances that help demonstrate the differences between 1080 and 4K video. This is by no means meant to be an in-depth look at 4K technology, or a G7 review. I hope to simply provide some real world samples to those who are considering shooting and working in a 4K environment.
In this first video (taken with the Sony W350), you’ll notice some blown out highlights, but overall, the image looks pretty sharp when viewed as an embedded video. Now press the button that expands the video to full screen, and you’ll see that though the video was shot in 1080p, there is a ton of pixellation (especially on the skin), and the overall image becomes quite soft.
Bajari de Yamulee – 1080p (60fps)
Now here are two samples of video taken with the Panasonic G7 in 4K mode. First, you’ll notice that the contrast is much more pleasing as I’m able to now shoot in a more neutral picture style…but that’s something that can be replicated with my previous dslr’s. What’s more important is what happens when you expand to full screen. As 4K video has 4 times the resolution of a video shot at 1080p, the amount of detail present in full screen mode simply blows both my pocket cam and previous dslr’s out of their casings. Look closely at the details/stones in the costumes to really appreciate the increased clarity that 4K video provides.
Ramon and Divna – 4K (30fps)
Elvis and Brianna – 4K (24fps)
Even when downsampled to 1080p, the image retains a very high level of detail while in full screen mode.
Kenny and Essencia – 4K downsampled to 1080p (30fps)
Though I haven’t had the opportunity to really put the Panasonic G7 through the ringer, so far, I’m quite happy with the clarity of the image, and am excited to see how best I’ll be able to use my newest tool.
So what do you think? Does the increased resolution make that much of a difference? Or am I just getting overly excited about something that doesn’t really make much of a difference to most viewers? Please feel free to share in the comments below. 🙂