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Old February 7th, 2014, 05:16 AM   #1
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4K too sharp?

There is no getting around it anymore as all camera manufacturers are starting to produce 4k camera's, I don't expect my "1080p" gear to be outdated the first following few years (shooting weddings mainly) but I realize that sooner or later I will have to step on that 4K train as well. What got me thinking was a comment I got from a client yesterday when he saw one of my wedding demo's shot with a gh3.

There was one particular shot of a building, (see below, this is a lower quality jpeg image but just to show which image lead to the comment from the client) with lots of fine detail which stood out according to him and he found it too sharp compared to the rest of the footage, for him it had the impression of looking through a window kind of sharpness and he didn't like it.

This is the first time ever I had this comment and I just asked myself what 4k, even downrezzed to 1080p will have for an effect, are we not getting up too a point where footage can be too sharp? I can imagine that a bride is more happy with the softer footage of a 5dIII when there is a close up of her face instead of a razor sharp image revealing every pimple.

Has anyone had a similar comment?
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4K too sharp?-building.jpg  

Last edited by Noa Put; February 7th, 2014 at 01:54 PM.
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Old February 7th, 2014, 05:27 AM   #2
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Re: 4K too sharp?

Hi Noa

Image 4K video on a 4K TV!! I cannot see brides buying 4K stuff just yet but I can see the issue with detail being simply too high!

I walked into our lounge today and forgot I was wearing my reading glasses that I use on the computer and the image on the TV suddenly looked horrible ..taking off the glasses everything looked quite noral again but my simply magnifying the screen a tiny bit (they are just 1.5 dioptre ones) made the image a bit too sharp.

Imagine brides with acne issues ..they will be shown up in perfect detail for all the world to see and we will end up trying to soften our images so the girls look normal!!

Sometimes I even find that 1080 HD video on TV looks a bit artificial after you have been watching an SD program ... so you can imagine what a 4K image will look like !!! Every mistake a makeup artist used to be able to get away with will be noticed on 4K !!

Oh well get a 4K camera and turn detail down to it's bottom setting ... hardly seems worth all the effort??

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Old February 7th, 2014, 06:22 AM   #3
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Re: 4K too sharp?

Given that most brides still want SD / DVD I'm thinking HD will be fine for weddings for some time to come.

4K will give you more options for reframing. Just shoot 'everything' wide and resize for DVD close ups that are amazing!

But, until the cameras get just as good in low light I fear 4K may be a step too far at this time.
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Old February 7th, 2014, 06:35 AM   #4
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Re: 4K too sharp?

I didn't find your building too sharp but I'm sure there are those who will look better rendered in SD. Seriously though, is there a filter that can be applied in post which mimics a 1/2 black frost?
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Old February 7th, 2014, 06:53 AM   #5
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Re: 4K too sharp?

The image is a lower quality jpeg but on my tv it does have sharper appearance, what's a "black frost"?

Quote:
until the cameras get just as good in low light I fear 4K may be a step too far at this time
I have not seen any proof but the new panasonic gh4 has improved low light sensitivity so wouldn't be suprised it will be a excellent performer in dark venues.
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Old February 7th, 2014, 07:02 AM   #6
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Re: 4K too sharp?

Dave hit the nail on the head. The only real consideration i've given 4k is for unmanned wide angle shots.
Concerns of low light performance in new affordable models temper my enthusiasm.
The manufacturers would be wise to make sure their lenses don't have a great deal of distortion at wide angles, also.
That said, i'm still looking forward to Sony's release next month of their $2,000 4k camera.
4k delivery to brides en masse is years off. Concerns about image detail remain, by then we should have some fairly easy filter for softening complexion based on sampled skin tones.
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Old February 7th, 2014, 07:26 AM   #7
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Re: 4K too sharp?

The concerns with low light is also an issue. SD cameras could get away with 1/3" chips and in the dark of a reception they lit up the image as if you had stadium floodlights. Look how awesome the Sony V2100 used to be in low light?? that's also because it only need to resolve a tiny image of 720x480 and 4:3 format.... Manufacturers then add the awesome 1920x1080 image and the same lenses and 1/3rd chips struggled in low light!! Imagine the problems of getting enough light for a 4K image .... with the bigger chips we are using nowdays faster lenses mean less DOF and problems when your brides nose is razor sharp but her eyes are fuzzy?? I guess image processing will also need to get a LOT better so 4K cameras can produce a noise free image at a wedding reception at 20,000 ISO!!

The high res we start going to the more cameras need to have modified optics and electronics.... I'm happy with 1080 ! Most of my brides own a 50" TV but only a standard DVD player!!

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Old February 7th, 2014, 07:39 AM   #8
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Re: 4K too sharp?

Low light performance will indeed be an issue for many first generation 4K cameras - well the ones likely in my budget range. The reasons why (sensor technology limitations, pixel size, physics of light reasons) are well know and have been well discussed on here at some length before by a number of people who have expert knowledge in this aspect.

The other thing I would worry about on a practical filmmaking level is nailing focus in any kind of run-n-gun situation with a 4K camera. When a film has so much fine/sharp detail in it, then any shot that is slightly off critical focus will look (even more...) horrible than it does in Full HD.

So unless these 4K cameras have superb hi-res LCDs and even better viewfinders than most HD cams (especially for outside sunny conditions) PLUS class leading focus tools then ensuring critical focus is going to be a BIG problem. This of course assumes you're not the type that will shoot everything super wide plus at a high F stop to get maximum DOF....that look will become tiring pretty quick if overused!

Seems crazy, a few years ago it was all about shallow DOF, soft focus... the DSLR/Cinema "look" (to paraphrase it severely). Now the manufacturers are pushing this very high resolution...seems they have a lot of 4K TVs in their product pipeline that they want to sell.
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Old February 7th, 2014, 07:44 AM   #9
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Re: 4K too sharp?

My visit to a potential client last night was quite enlightening, as they watched a dvd of one of my weddings. They commented how sharp and clear the footage was, much of which was shot on the Lumix FZ200. Their tv was a 42" HD and they asked if I filmed in HD. They weren't aware that dvd is standard def so I bought up the subject of 4k. They had seen a couple of 4k tvs on display and were very underwhelmed, not being able to see any difference.

I will definitely get a 4k camera at some point for the crop factor, but it will be a weird state of affairs of we are having to use softening filters to reduce resolution after all the expense of upgrading to higher quality. I reminds me of the digital revolution in audio, when so many of my studio clients wanted analogue effects to soften the digital clarity!

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Old February 7th, 2014, 09:25 AM   #10
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Re: 4K too sharp?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
The image is a lower quality jpeg but on my tv it does have sharper appearance, what's a "black frost"?
It provides softening without intruding into the highlights. Here are some shots someone did with various types/strengths
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Old February 7th, 2014, 11:00 AM   #11
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Re: 4K too sharp?

You might as well throw the artistic flair out the window with 4k ...

It's too sharp in my opinion.

Perfect for documentaries, wild life & nature.

Not for weddings!

Nobody wants their defects amplified by 4000 pixels ! the only reason Canon is doing so well is because of that softer image it produces (that can obviously be sharpened in post). It really does look artistic/cinematic straight out of the camera!
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Old February 7th, 2014, 01:26 PM   #12
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Re: 4K too sharp?

I think that bit of softness in the image combined with a narrow dof is what appeals so much to brides, it's that dreamy soft look that makes everything look smoother, I wouldn't say it's "cinematic" as I have seen several blockbuster movies on blu-ray and they are all pinsharp and if anything deserves the term "cinematic" it's the movies with a real story that end up in cinema.

It was the Canon 5dII that has created a look which seem to be very popular, I do prefer a higher rez image where you can see all fine detail but with 4k I"m sure a softening filter will be used more then once, or even turning down sharpness in camera but then again it would defeat the purpose of a 4K camera, I too see the main benefit in cropping the image in a 1080p project, especially in a church where you could have the altar and lectern in one image and use the parts of the image you are interested in in post.
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Old February 7th, 2014, 01:41 PM   #13
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Re: 4K too sharp?

Same here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
My visit to a potential client last night was quite enlightening, as they watched a dvd of one of my weddings. They commented how sharp and clear the footage was, much of which was shot on the Lumix FZ200. Their tv was a 42" HD and they asked if I filmed in HD. They weren't aware that dvd is standard def so I bought up the subject of 4k. They had seen a couple of 4k tvs on display and were very underwhelmed, not being able to see any difference.
A year or two ago I was talking to a professional videographer (did weddings, commercial, and home videos for relators) about some camera related things and mentioned that for our particular camera (I have the same one) when recording to the SD media card that the video will only be in SD, not 1440CBR. He was really surprised! Seems he'd been saving his video clips to the SD card a lot and didn't even realize the file footage (hate that word) was in SD! He said it looked great on his HD TV. And so did his clients!

Besides all the issues that have been mentioned about the potential problems with 4K, there is the point of diminishing returns. The manufacturers like to have flagship gear for advertising buzz, but that doesn't mean we have to run out and buy the latest thing if it really isn't needed. I'm sure there is a time and a place for 4K, maybe for industrial video, sports?, nature?, but the question about if it is needed for, say, weddings, is a good one. Thanks for generating the discussion topic.

Footnote: In the recent newspaper "Sale" ads from Sears, I noticed they are closing out their 1080p TV sets and going with 4K sets. But that doesn't bother me.

Disclaimer: Okay, so I wear bifocals!

Last edited by John Nantz; February 8th, 2014 at 12:27 AM. Reason: Should be 1080p instead of 1080i
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Old February 7th, 2014, 04:33 PM   #14
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Re: 4K too sharp?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
...are we not getting up too a point where footage can be too sharp?
No, we're not. That's almost a non sequitur.

The point many miss here is that there's a difference between capture and delivery. Capture in 4k might have a number of advantages, from giving some room for reframing, to improved color from down sampling. Using a 4k camera implies improved lenses, because with a 4k capture the lens aberrations will be that much more difficult to hide. Etc.

Sharpness, or "too much detail" in the final delivery, is a choice, just like color, contrast, and where you set your black and white points are choices. You think it's too sharp? Apply some blur. You can do this selectively, on a tracking mask if that's what you want.

If we do it right, 4k should offer us more options. If we do it wrong, more headaches. Which it is, is up to each of us individually. But it's certainly not the fault of the hardware.
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Old February 7th, 2014, 05:12 PM   #15
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Re: 4K too sharp?

Fair play Bruce.

You've sold me on 4K with those points. Blur can always be added in post. But for those of us that aren't fussed about sharpness can wait until the time is right to jump on the 4K bandwagon.
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