Things have now wrapped up in Vegas at CES. With an event deemed one of the largest consumer electronics shows in the world, it’s no surprise that manufacturers will be presenting their top of the line products, what they consider the ‘next big thing’. It’s again no surprise that we find 4K technology at the forefront.
In this article I’ll aim to round up all the latest 4K announcements, starting with probably the most exciting and relevant to our readers – cameras.
In addition to Sony’s latest 4K camera offering we covered in a recent article, we have a new 4K camera from another big player.
There was much anticipation as to when Panasonic was going to jump on the 4K train; it was heavily implied through online documentation that it would come from a micro four thirds mirror camera system, and it has. The GH 4k camera has been revealed, with little more than what seems a re-labelled GH3 to look at in a glass box. Confirmed specs are 200mbps intraframe codec recording, recording to SDXC memory cards and a mini HDMI for live view output. A list of rumored specs include:
CES 2013 saw debut of the Panasonic HX-A100, a waterproof wifi enabled wearable camera. This year panasonic has brought the POV cam up to date giving it a 4K boost. Like the GH 4k, the ‘prototype’ looks very similar to it’s predecessor. We also don’t have a spec sheet for this, but going by the HX-A100 I’d expect the 4K cam to shoot up to 120p at 720, reducing to at least 30p for 4K.
Next we look at TVs; they’re not a subject we usually cover as the link with filmmaking is somewhat indirect, but when ingesting coverage from CES, it’s hard to ignore how many manufacturers have been investing in the technology. Fake 4K, quad 4K, curved 4K, projected 4K, we have it all.
Sharp Quattron Plus
This system is the aforementioned faux 4K; the television transforms HD content 4-fold by create sub pixels from real pixels. A cost effective way of viewing resolution greater than HD without hitting the bottleneck of limited 4K distribution. Does it work? Gizmodo were impressed when comparing it to standard HD side by side.
Panasonic’s offering combines a Smart TV with the latest 4K LED technology that they claim to be plasma-level image quality. They’re Life+Screen line includes screens from 58-65 inches, with also mention of an 85″ 4K LED screen in the future.
Samsung QUHD 8K TV
Is the whole 4K movement a little underwhelming for you? Try Samsung’s prototype 8K television. As it’s name suggests, this quad 4K panel displays a staggering 8K resolution display. The drawback (besides the astronomical price)? There’s no content that will truly take advantage of this. The prototype was displaying an image made up of multiple camera sources.
Sony latest 4K panels and show throw 4K projector
Sony has bolstered its 4K arsenal with release of two TVs opening up a new XBR X950B line. These 4K panels come in 85 and 65 inches, boasting features such as 3D, Wi-Fi, screen mirroring with NFC OneTouch and MHL 3.0.
The more exciting announcement from Sony comes in form of a 4K short throw projector. This stunning piece of tech takes the contemporary approach of less-is-more in its appearance; you simply place the projector close to any wall that can accommodate its 66-inches to 147-inch adjustable display. You’re not likely to see too many of these about, as the projected list price is under $40,000!
LG Flexible OLED 4K TV
We’ve seen curved TVs from Samsung in the past, and to be completely honest, without experiencing one first hand I’m yet to gain an opinion on how effective/relevant these may be for filmmaking. The price like a lot of revolutionary tech will reserve the format for premium paying consumer users. I can’t see this affecting how we shoot anytime soon. CES saw LG present a prototype OLED 4K curved TV; the said inferior Samsung is not OLED. The LG is 77″ and won’t be available until a fair bit later on in the year.
When I saw the first television commercial for Sony’s 4K TV a couple of months ago, my initial thoughts we’re “way too premature”. And I stand by this. 4K content is currently still so niche. We don’t broadcast in 4K, there’s no 4K disc format, and online content is very limited. We still don’t even have a standardisation; there are two resolutions currently in use, ultra HD at 3840×2160, and 4K is 4096×2160. Investment in the format for end use can easily wait another 18 months.
Netflix’s latest announcement offers reassurance to the format however. CEO Reed Hasting’s was quoted at CES that all future original Netflix content will be shot in ultra HD. More news like this will provide relevance to the format, more desire to own technology that can cater for it.
For filmmaking, I stand by those who consider 4K’s primary uses not for final output. But for reframing, stabilizing, and downscaling to enhance HD. There’s many that will disagree. Either way, 4K has arrived and it’s building in numbers. Should we embrace, and get in line for the latest 4K consumer TV? Maybe not just yet. As filmmakers, more relevance lies in the form of 4K acquisition, and 4K monitoring. 2013 paved the way for the former, I’m excited to see more of the latter.
Asus has responded with announcement of a 4K 31.5″ monitor. It offers an UHD resolution at 3840 x 2160. It’s ultra thin and features dual HDMI for simultaneous output. Asus has a previous track record for good quality v price (I own an Asus myself as a result), with a price looking to be $799, one half of the formula is already complete.
Dell has released a few 4K monitors now; the initial two carried fairly steep price tags ($1,299 for the 24 inch model and $3,322 for the 32-inch). However their new 28″ display, the 2815Q is a little more entry level conscious, beating the Asus in price at just $699. Like the Asus, it will have a resolution of 3840 x 2160 via an anti-glare TN panel. The usual USB hub, HDMI and mini display outputs are included.
Last is a release from Lenova. The ThinkVision Pro2840m shadows the spec of the Dell; it has a 28″ 3840 X 2160 display. It utilizes an unknown panel however is said to meet a 72% color gamut. The monitor has edge-to-edge glass and features touch sensitive controls; I’m not overly fussed on this, I can imagine it being a heaven for greasy fingerprints surrounding your screen.
The next step from these computer displays would be reference monitors. This category can often make one wince when considering the damage a purchase can do to the wallet. Naturally, a 4K reference monitor is not going to let you off lightly.
Panasonic has recently announced a 31.5″ monitor entering this category. The Panasonic BT-4LH310E is a 2k/4k LCD reference monitor. Here’s an extract from Cinescopophilia:
“Boasting a 4096 x 2160 resolution 10-bit horizontally-aligned IPS LCD panel with high contrast (1450:1) and 178o degree vertical/horizontal viewing angles, the BT-4LH310E monitor supports 4K 4096 x 2160, QFHD 3840 x 2160, 2K, HD and SD work-flows.
A true cinema production tool, the BT-4LH310E supports DCI-P3 colour space, which is defined by more than 96 percent coverage of DCI-P3, and facilitates digital cinema workflow with a LUT upload function. The BT-4LH310E can also accurately display industry standard colour space with 100 percent coverage for ITU-R BT.709, EBU and SMPTE-C.”
At £28K, this won’t be at the top of many people’s realistic wish list. But this doesn’t come close Canon’s 40K offering. The DP-V3010, announced towards the end of last is a 16:10 4K reference monitor. It has a 30″ 4096X2560 display, providing a 2000:1 DCI complaint contrast ratio.
With the speed of the industry moving at its current rate, this article will undoubtedly become out-dated very soon. But with the doors just closing at CES in Vegas, it seemed only fitting to provide you with an overview of some of the current/future 4K products we have to look forward to.