The State Of 4K Today

Blackmagic Design’s Production Camera 4K records both RAW and ProRes 4K. The CinemaDNG RAW format the camera records is compressed, but still runs at 1.4 Gb/s. The ProRes 422 (HQ) 4K recording runs at 880 Mb/s.

Last, but not least, there’s Sony, with the widest variety of both professional and consumer 4K cameras. Sony has cameras ranging from the consumer FDR-AX100 4K Handycam to the high-end F55 and F65. Sony uses their XAVC format for 4K video at around 330 Mb/s for 24p. 4K RAW comes in at 1 Gb/s in 3:1 on the F5/F55 when shooing 24p. The F65 delivers 8K resolution at a hefty 2 Gb/s, and that’s with 3:1 compression.

No doubt this trend of 4K cameras will continue and grow throughout 2014. Of course, with 4K comes large file sizes, so here’s a breakdown of data rates and storage requirements for each camera [see previous page].


Visiting CES this year, you’d think that 4K TVs were the standard. Sony, Samsung, LG and just about every other TV manufacturer were showing 4K sets. This big push toward 4K consumer products is a strong indicator of an ever-increasing demand for 4K content. It also means that professionals can take advantage of the reduced prices of this monitoring technology. We’re already seeing large TVs fall under the $1,000 price point.

Professional displays are also available now. Sony (PVM-X300), Panasonic (BT-4LH310), TVLogic (LUM-300W) and Canon (DP-V3010) all have 30-inch to 31-inch 4K displays with both SDI and HDMI inputs. These are reference displays with 10-bit LCD panels, and all feature full 4K DCI resolution. That’s the full 4096×2160 resolution, as opposed to the Ultra HD (3840×2160) resolution found on the consumer sets. For now, these sets are pricey, but I’m sure we’ll see their prices drop over time.

So, the good news is, we now have plenty of 4K monitors and some especially fantastic ones for postproduction. However, live 4K output from a camera is still relatively rare. The C500, when combined with the AJA Ki Pro Quad or Convergent Design Odyssey7Q, can output 4K. Sony’s PMW-F55 can output 4K, and so can their FDR-AX100, FDR-AX1 and PXW-Z100 Handycams. The Phantom Flex4K offers 4K output over SDI, as does the Blackmagic Production Camera. This is a fairly short list considering the number of 4K cameras on the market today. The rule of thumb is that if the camera can record in a 4K video format (like ProRes), it can probably output it, as well.

Keep in mind that each camera has a slightly different way of outputting 4K, whether it’s HDMI or SDI over a number of cables, while the consumer sets generally just offer HDMI inputs. Both AJA and Blackmagic Design make SDI to HDMI 4K converters for this reason. Blackmagic Design also makes a 4K Multiplex box to convert between the various SDI outputs of different cameras, which can vary between one to four SDI feeds.