You see it on photography forums all the time: “Look at the 13MP Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone. It has the ability to record 4K video. Well, 5 minutes at a time. Why doesn’t the (Nikon/Canon/Sony…) professional still camera do this?”
Really? The big manufacturers of professional quality digital still cameras should pour millions of dollars into making sure their mass-marketed gear can produce 4K video, instead of just broadcast quality HD 1080p? Before they’ve worked out a 24-70mm F2 zoom?
Was just thinking about all the 4K videos my friends with Samsung Galaxy Note 3’s (Amazon/eBay) are producing. You know, the smartphone they used to film the sequel to “Avatar.” How groundbreaking and brilliant to finally put major-motion-picture-level film capability into the machines… that are purchased by the tens of millions to play Angry Birds and send selfies.
OK, just kidding about Avatar II being filmed on a smartphone. It’s actually being filmed in 3D, using an array of Logitech webcam equipped, self-organizing Roomba vacuum cleaners.
OK, perhaps some of the above claims are not perfectly accurate. But it is perfectly accurate to point out that when my niece was learning to write in first grade, her attempts to write both capital and lower case letters would not have improved, had I given her the exact set of oil paints and brushes Rembrandt used in 1642 to produce The Night Watch.
So let’s consider the skill set, experience, inclination, storytelling ability, source concepts and material, lighting, audio recording equipment, microphones, storyboards, control of background vistas and ambient noise, camera dollys, tracks, gyroscopic stabilization and other camera holding equipment, ease of reproduction and viewing, storage media and communication bandwidth, editing tools and computer power, teams of grips, assistants and talent managers, editors, directors and sound effects people to scratch the surface of what is needed beyond the demands of a good still photographer, to produce the quality of films that anyone would care whether or not they were produced in 4K video instead of mere 1080p HD…
Those do-justice-to-4K-film-making resources, efforts and talent are as about as available to the typical stills photographer (who rarely brings themselves to spend $15 dollars on a white card), as my 6-year-old niece…
…was close to producing something like Rembrandt’s The Night Watch during grade school recess.
I’m all for pretending that if you buy an object that has something in common with a great piece of art that you admire, you’ve almost become a world-renowned artist. Why else would I be saving up for the same diamond-edged filleting knife that Wolfgang Puck uses to prepare canard à l’orange?
But please Canon, Cosina, Fujifilm, Leica, MxCamera/Metabones, Nikon, Olympus, Ricoh/Pentax, Samsung, Sigma, Sony, please do not divert manufacturing and marketing resources away from making faster, brighter, more flare-resistant, lighter and smaller lenses and camera bodies and adapters, with perfect clarity in ever-lower light, to instead bringing 4K video into the finest and most compact still cameras.
Still photographers have absolutely no idea how (nor personal capability) to make a Hollywood quality movie. Even if we did have the slightest idea of how to make such a big screen epic, there are only a few thousand teams of people in the world that would be held back in their filmmaking potential by having anything better than perfect-quality 1080p HD video and slow motion capability.
Still photographers use their equipment to record things they stumble upon in the world. 4K video cameras are what a few teams of people might use, over a period of weeks or months, in due justice to a rush of greatness, to create a convincing world and a living, breathing story within that world. Those are different activities, one done by billions, the other done by thousands, calling for quite different tools.
I guess still cameras use digital image sensors, “just like” big screen crews nowadays build their team and work around a metal device enclosing a digital image sensor.
I guess my niece could have used a paintbrush to learn how to write cursive, just like Rembrandt probably used a paint brush to make The Blinding Of Samson. But please, let’s not reduce the number of teachers in the public schools or slow down the development of ever-lower-light still cameras in order to make sure all the Head Start kids and SLR-carrying photographers in the world, have access to 4K video equipment.