Reasons to shoot with 4K
As a Photographer and Videographer I'm constantly faced with decisions about when to adopt new technology. The most recent addition to the mix is 4k resolution. Like many, I was reluctant to jump on the 4k bandwagon. Most of my resistance came from the fact that most consumers have not switched over to 4k televisions, so why should I shoot in 4k if they can't watch the finished product in 4k? But recently I had the opportunity to shoot several 4k videos with a GoPro camera and discovered several advantages to this format. Advantages that have more to do with post production and are valuable even when the final product will be down-sampled to 1080p. This is what I've found:
Sharper 1080 Footages
I've found that even when I'm going to output the final product in 1080, shooting footage in 4k results in sharper, more detailed images. This advantage is immediatley recognizeable. But I've also discovered that shooting in 4k helps in the post production process offering me far better control of the final product. Images shot in 4k have four times as many pixels to work with than images shot in 1080. Resizing and smaller grain (less noise) all benefit from this increased resolution. The difference in image quality and better control makes shooting in 4k an absolute must for me.
Another great feature of shooting in 4k is the ability to stabilize footage in post production. Pans and zooms are a regular part of my repertoire. Because I shoot with a hand held GoPro camera my shots often come out uneven and jumpy. This is where the additional pixels offered by 4k really help by giving me better control of resizing, and stabilization. Now can shoot the footage by hand, then simply edit the images to remove all of the shakiness and unevenness. The result has been the most stable, crisp panning effects I've ever produced.
One final advantage of shooting in 4k is the ability to crop images in post production and print studio quality stills. To my surprise, the 4k video images that I've cropped and printed are indistinguishable from those I've shot with a high priced professional camera. For me this means, I can take one camera to a shoot and later crop all the stills I want to from the footage. This is a huge advantage without sacrificing any quality.
So far, we've just considered the advantages of shooting in 4k and down-grading to 1080p for output. But soon more and more displays will be capable of handling the increased resolution required for 4k viewing. Unlike most of the recent technology flops (i.e. 3D), the industry is ready for 4k to take over the market. Making the jump to 4k now, not only gives me enhanced capabilities in the present, but also prepares me for the future. Making the jump 4k has been worth every penny of the investment and I expect it will continue to pay rewards.