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The rise of 4K and the Conundrum of the 1DC

Just a few years ago, I darkened the door of my first broadcast exhibition.  There have been many since.  Back in those days the big beast striding the halls was 3D.  The massed ranks of the electronic industry were desperate to convince you that you needed a 3D strategy.  If you only cared about 2D then your market was about to be flat.  As I wandered the shiny things and flashing lights of this year's BVExpo in London 3D was notable mainly by its absence.  So what are the cool kids playing with this year?  Well that would be 4K sir.  I wouldn't say that it had quite the same razzmatazz behind it as 3D did, but there was definitely an underlying theme.


Like 3D, 4K is not something you can easily see at home without the right equipment.  So a show like BVE is the best place to get your own eyes on the effect.  What 4K is about is resolution.  With at least 4x the number of pixels as 1080p, 4K or UltraHD is a big jump in resolution.  Technically it presents fewer curve balls than 3D, it is mainly a question of data and how to deal with it.  However, there are still a lot more unknowns than there was with 3D.  Even in those early days of 3D we knew a lot more about how it was going to reach our screens whether that was at the local multiplex or in our own lounge.  Most of the cinemas I frequent are already projecting in 4K but the domestic arrangements are still barely pencilled in.

So if you are not producing your output for the Odeon or Vue, should you care?  Is this another fad?  My own feeling is that it is more than a fad.  I personally think it is inevitable but that its rate of advance is far from certain.  These are my latest thoughts based on the show floor and attending Philip Bloom's presentation on the Canon 1DC.

On the show floor, a number of stands had 4K monitors of around 50inches or less.  The did look good but then so does a high end 1080p monitor.  Even very close its very hard to see a pixel and this has a benefit on disguising noise.  The problem is that you don't have to move very far from the screen for that to be also true of HD.  I am not sure that I would be able to tell them apart on a 50in screen at say 4m - roughly what I have in my lounge.  The same was pretty much true when I moved up from 720p to 1080p.  This is very typical setup in the UK.  Love it or hate it, 3D does offer an alternative experience.  The gain from 4K in the living room seems marginal.

Philip Bloom made his presentation in the 4K theatre.  This featured a commercial 4K projector but the screen was on a more domestic scale.  It can be hard to judge in a much larger room but it looked quite similar to my own 8ft screen.  All the 4K material Philip showed came from the Canon 1DC of which more later.  So we are still at a domestic scale albeit a much higher end source.  It didn't really change my opinion, once again it looked good, but not a huge upgrade over a good HD projector.  I am sure 4K has a lot more in hand but I am still unconvinced the domestic scale quite warrants it.  At the moment that is academic as there is still a gap which is the delivery mechanism.  Sony have something planned to support their devices but I haven't seen any firm details.  Just as I write this there are stories breaking about 4K streaming on the PS4 and talk of 100GB files.  If you live in the sticks like I do then it might as well be delivered on gold bricks.  RED also have plans but again details are sketchy and I wonder about what content they will have the rights to deliver.  This is a notoriously difficult area to navigate, especially internationally.  The data rates I have heard mentioned for RED are much lower, almost in the too good to be true bracket.  They have some clever guys there but I have seen instances in the HD realm where data rates have not expanded to match resolution multiples to the detriment of overall image quality.  There is a lot of hard maths involved in balancing data rate, resolution, frame rate, colour and compression. Any compromise here would undermine the 4K advantage and put me off entirely.  I don't want to seem negative, I just have high expectations.  I have seen films at the cinema recently like Skyfall and Lincoln projected in 4K that have looked sensational.  Skyfall was not even acquired in 4K but it did not seem to impact the end result to my eyes.

Acquisition is perhaps the area we know most about.  Available on RED from its inception and increasingly appearing in camera systems from Sony, Canon and others.  The Canon 1DC is more or less the entry level option available now.  There is this strange dichotomy where it is "cheap" for a 4K camera but very expensive for a DSLR.  It is twice the cost of its very close relative, the 1DX.  One advantage it has is that 4K recording is on board - something its more expensive relative the C500 can't manage.  The downside is that the codec used is more limited.  Compression is higher than alternative products particularly when it comes to colour space.  So is it worth the money over the 1DX?

Philip Bloom at BVE London

One person who thinks so is Philip Bloom.  Philip explained that he had all the reservations I have shared before using the camera.  He had already been converted by the performance of his 1DX, used very effectively here in this Olly Knights music video.  He still regarded himself as a 4K skeptic.  However, after trying a 1DC he found himself trading up.  The primary reason was the detail in the image.  Comparing images from a still frame (say, from a time-lapse sequence) with a frame from a video sequence can be depressing.  So much detail is lost in the moving frame.  This is just not the case with 1DC.  Philip equates the moving frame quality from the 1DC in 4K with a medium jpeg.  This was very clear in the image blow-ups that Philip shared with us.  This was the killer feature that convinced him, bolstered by the advantages of being able to reframe for HD or high quality masters.  It's not the perfect camera, it still has most of the DSLR foibles and the codec is limited in speed and gradability.  However, Philip feels that its improvement in image quality combined with traditional DSLR strengths of size, low light capabilty and stills ability is worth the investment.  It was hard to disagree looking at a new music video project shot on the 1DC.  Though I must admit that I soon forgot to pixel peep and just enjoyed the images and the song - just how it should be.

4K interface unit and recorder for FS700

For me personally the 1DC doesn't really fit my needs.  Some time in July (allegedly), Sony will release the 4K upgrades for my FS700.  Like with Phil's move from the X to the C there will likely be a substantial investment required.  An investment difficult to justify on the basis of need (stop laughing - I know thats never stopped me before).  It may also be sometime before I can even enjoy the full benefits of the improved acquisition.  Even discounting my early adopter nature, I still have a nagging doubt that I may regret not adopting 4K in the long term.  This coming from a man contemplating ordering a skip to dump my VHS tapes and driven to distraction by accidentally watching the DVD of Skyfall before he discovered where they had hidden the Blu-ray disk in the box.


It's Raining Cameras

Last year, I went to NAB for the first time.  After a couple of years of watching my social media contacts having a much better time than me I decided I would join them.  It was a great trip and it was great to meet everyone.  If there was a disappointment for me, it was that NAB2011 was more notable for the cameras that were not released than it was for those that were.

This year, I was not able to make the show so Murphy’s Law has kicked and we have loads of new large sensor cameras making their NAB debut.  Many of these are not brand new at NAB but there is a distinct flavour to the latest announcements.  There is no doubt that the early buzz was all around 4K.  This prompted a veritable twitter frenzy about whether you needed 4K.  I have covered this ground before in so I will move on to the cameras themselves.

First up is Canon.  Despite recently having given us the C300 and the 5D Mk3, Canon still had some new toys to tempt us with. 

The more expected of these two is the Canon 1DC as Canon teased it at the C300 launch.  Unlike the C300 this is a proper convergence device.  As a stills camera it has the same spec as the 1DX which means it is a full frame, professional grade DSLR.  As a video camera it has some significant upgrades over the 1DX.  The most significant and its ticket to the NAB in-crowd is a 4K capability.  This is recorded to the CF card in good ole MJPEG at 24p.  This is an odd choice and I am guessing that what we are really getting is an image sequence rather than a movie file.  Its more like the stills shooting being sped up to 24fps rather than the movie resolution being doubled.  It is also the first Canon DSLR with a clean full HD resolution video out (8bit 4:2:2). HD recording has the same codec options and speeds as the 1DX/5D3 but adds 1080p50/60.  Canon has also added Canon Log Gamma.  UK pricing is a slightly speculative £10,000 inc VAT which would make it twice the cost of the (now very delayed) 1DX.    There is no doubt that it is the king of DSLR convergence as it out features everything in a DSLR shell.  No lesser man than Shane Hurlbut did the demo shoot for NAB and the twitter consensus was it looked great on the big screen.  Personally, I am just wondering who it is for.  By 4K standards it is not particularly expensive but unless you need 4K you can have a couple of D4s or four D800s with only a small drop in feature set.  More significantly, you can also have the much more shooter friendly C300.  If you do want 4K, it is significant that the recording is onboard.  With cameras like the FS700 we don’t know when 4K recording will come or how much it will be.  The 1DC is 4K out of the box but you have just that one way of getting it.  Its also worth noting that the eurotweeters were unhappy about the lack of 25p.  You lose many of the current advantages of 4K if you can’t downscale to HD easily.

Canon’s second camera is a big brother for the C300 - the C500.  Back on their shared birthday, the RED crowd mocked the C300 for being “only HD” and lacking RAW or high 1080p frame rates.  The C500 is here to kick sand back in the face of RED for only twice as much money as the C300.  OK, maybe that loses some of the impact.  Since its launch, the C300 has built a enthusiastic following.  Its picture quality and ease of use have given it a kind of baby Alexa reputation.  The C500 takes the same sensor but significantly beefs up the picture processing to give 4K out and is the first implementation of Canons own RAW format.  Speed has also been enhanced to up to 120fps.  I know that Canon has been working with Codex on a recorder.  Codex is the Rolls Royce option for external recorders (the worked with Arri too) with all that implies.  This is the first major manufacturer to venture into RED Epic territory, although technically its probably more of a baby Sony F65.  Its taken years for the industry to be get up to speed on RED’s RAW workflow.  How will Canon fare?

RED haven’t produced a new camera for NAB, the Scarlet is making its NAB debut but the real news is about a new sensor called RED Dragon.  This is the fulfillment of REDs main theme for NAB2011.  Its not a new camera but a new sensor which is inline with RED’s commitment to modularity and upgradability.  Resolution is up to an unprecedented 6K.  This may seem excessive given the debate about 4K but logically some of the advantages 4K acquisition has for HD delivery pass on up the line once you hit 4K delivery.  Of more immediate use is improved low light performance and dynamic range (without HDRX).  The cost for an Epic is expected to be around £4000 which is not exactly cheap but is a lot less than, say, trading in your C300 to get a C500.  Availability can be REDs achilles heel and the upgrade process won’t kick off till October.  Scarlet owner have an upgrade path too but they will have to wait longer which will give them more time to save.  Scarlet will be dearer because you effectively have to swap in Epic parts to get to Dragon.  Note that this is not the long awaited Monstro chip.  It is a touch bigger than the Epic but it is not yet full frame.


Sony’s only new large format camera is the FS700 I talked about recently.  The F65 was at NAB2011 last year if only in concept form.  Am I still enthusiastic about this camera now its in the context of all its piers?  I think the answer to that is yes.  It still represents what passes for value for money in the pro video market.  The upgrades from the FS100 are worthwhile and, in the case of the high speed, innovative.  It’s not upgradeable in the RED sense but the 4K 12bit RAW out shows some potential.  I just can’t think of many projects you might want to shoot that you couldn’t with the FS700.  I think Sony predicted the FS700 launch would get lost in the noise at NAB and launching before was a smart move.

Canon may have thought that launching 2 cameras would guarantee them the show buzz and for about 24 hours they were right.  Then the Aliens landed! 

Video processing specialist turned software guys Blackmagic Design lived up to their name and made Canon’s buzz disappear and reappear at their own stand.  Blackmagic’s last trick was to make the cost of getting hold of the feature film class grading software Resolve they acquired first shrink from $100,000 first to $1000 and then disappear entirely.  OK, that is a slight over-simplification but it shows they know have to think outside-the-box and drive value.  Blackmagic debuted some Thunderbolt connected SSD recorders last year at an attractive price.  This year they decided that as they do processing, recording and software all they really needed to do was find I nice sensor and they could make a camera - so they did.  What they have come up with is the most blue sky thinking camera I have seen.  Its a camera designed to be as filmic as possible.  It is not a convergence device, its not going to replace your 5D in that regard.  It has a Johnny Ive-like singularity of purpose.  They knew their customers wanted a camera with excellent grading capability and wide dynamic range (13 stops).  This meant shooting RAW.  Rather than go proprietory as the majors have they used the open CinemaDNG format.  It shoots at 2.5k and 12bit which gives scope for cropping but you can also shoot HD in ProRes (Apple) or DNxHD (Avid) formats.  As befits the makers of Resolve, your Colourist will love you for shooting on this. To cope with all this data the camera has an integrated SSD slot.  Again this is just a standard 2.5” SATA drive you can buy down at PC World.  To get the data into your NLE or Resolve you can just pop the drive in an enclosure or use the integrated Thunderbolt port.  This can also be used to connect your laptop to use the Ultrascope monitoring package that is bundled along with a full copy of Resolve (over £1000 value).  For more traditional forms of monitoring and audio there is SDI out and 1/4 jacks.  To top it off is a high res touch screen  monitor with an iOS-like interface that should make the designers of the major’s menu interfaces hide in shame.  So here we have a piece of gear with a hat full of ground-breaking tech and it costs £2300.  No really, I meant to type that.  OK then, don’t believe me - google it yourself.  When everyone picked themselves off the floor and hit the twitters there was a huge buzz.  This was shortly followed by the kill joys and fanboys chiming in.  

So where do I stand.  A week ago I was happy to imagine buying an FS700 (currently my camera budget is imaginary).  Now, here is a camera which I can buy three of for the same number of (imaginary) pounds stirling.  As I said earlier, the Blackmagic is a very focused device which will get you as close to film as you can for £2k.  The sensor is slightly less than MFT size, close to Super 16mm film.  This means a 2x crop.  As it uses EF or ZF 35mm lenses this means a struggle to find good wide angles and a increased depth of field.  Its also no speed merchant, frame rates span 24 to 30fps.  Its OK in low light but not exceptional.  It has a native ISO of 800 but early indications are it goes up to 1600ASA.  It does not take stills.  In fact it is almost the polar opposite of my 5D Mk II.  The FS700 is much more of a workhorse.  If you are not shooting a movie the AVCHD codec is perfectly adequate.  You have all the niceties of built in ND, XLR, decent AF, peaking, zebras etc and a long shooting time.  If you want to pimp up the image by recording externally (8bit 4:2:2) you can, but bear in thats going to cost you about a third of the cost of the Blackmagic on top of the base price.  Expect much more than that to enable that 4K RAW option.  I expect a new breed of 4K recorder to appear but the current ones cost more than the Blackmagic on their own. So, in summary, if you are working professionally on a mix of jobs and you want something that blends Sony EX3 convenience and versatility with a DSLR aesthetic then the FS700 still has the best feature set for the money.  If you were waiting for REDs 3k for 3k Scarlet and feel disenfranchised by how things turned out then Blackmagic has delivered it for you.  Just don’t sell that 5D MkII you bought while you waited just yet because it fills in a few gaps in the feature set.  If you just want carry round one device to shoot stills or video to a high level of quality then a DSLR like the D800 or a compact interchangeable like the GH2 or NEX7 would be a better bet.

I think the Blackmagic is the first camera worthy of the woefully overused term “game changer” since the Canon and Vincent LaForet shocked us with Reverie.  You can pick holes in its feature set but the real revolution is that Blackmagic set out to design a set of features in and the costs out.  They have not skimped on the technology, much of it is a step forward at any price.  Then they have decided on a price that presumably makes them some money.  They have not chosen to position it in a range or in a market and it came out at 2 grand.  If your allegiance is to another brand, how will it make you feel the next time you cough up 3 grand for a piece of firmware or £15 per Gb for proprietary media.


What the 4K!

Every so often my twitter stream will burst into life about 4K and the 4K Jets and the HD Sharks will get ready to rumble.  It may be a new 4k product announcement or a post on Red User which will act as the catalyst.  It seems far more polarising than say, 3D, as an issue.

I think there are a lot of aspects to this battle for hearts and minds - worth a little reflection I think.  If we look at acquisition then there just a couple of systems capable of 4k (or more acquisition).  Of these RED is the poster boy for 4K as Sony's F65 is only just starting to appear.  

F65 Prototype at NAB

Now most people would agree that more resolution is better (possibly not older actresses).  I saw a demo on the Sony stand at NAB2011 and it was deeply impressive despite the screen being huge and the audience being unrealistically close.  It is also true that it gives you more flexibility in post for reframing and cropping.  It certainly true that throwing resolution away usually works better than adding resolution.  Major motion pictures shot on film (though not all) tend to be mastered at 4K and many cinemas are equipping with 4K digital projectors.  RED claims this makes them the future-proof option.  30 years in IT leads me to believe that future-proof is a myth - perhaps future-resistant is more accurate.

The challenge at the moment on the acquisition and production side is the maths.  4K has four times more area roughly then 1080p.  That means 4x the data - all other things being equal.  That data is going to be present in your entire pipeline if you are going to master in 4K.  This has obvious implications in storing, movement and computation required in post.  This will increase costs and increase time.  Over time, improving technology will reduce this but it has significant implications now.

Currently, 4K equipped cinemas are the only place the public is likely 4K footage natively.  Will this change in the near future?  There are signs that the consumer electronic industry is going to put its faith in 4k as the next big thing after 3D.  CES this year had a smattering of 4K models.  CE Manufacturers always need a next big thing, its essential to their business model to persuade you that the consumer durable they sold you 2 years ago is no longer sufficient.  Interest in 3D is waning, they need a new flag to wave.

Toshiba 55" 4K TV

I happen to have a 3D set bought recently and a 3D projector waiting for an install.  Am I a 3D evangelist? Not really, I was really making the move to 1080p and 3D was just a bonus.  Its not that I don't like 3D, I enjoy the experience when its done well, but there is hardly anything to watch.  I have 2 sources of material: Sky and Blu-ray.  Sky has one channel which is about 70% repeated material (my impression, I am not sad enough to measure it) and a few blu-rays.  Even cinema releases which were 3D don't seem guaranteed to get a blu-ray disk.  If they do its normally dearer list price and less likely to be discounted.  

What have I got plugged into my setup.  I have a Blu-ray player (1080p), PS/3 (720p/1080p), SkyHD (720p/1080i) and AppleTV (720p). My amp is theoretically capable of handling and upscaling to 4k but compatibility is always in doubt till some standards emerge.  The signal path is via HDMI1.4 which can do 4k24p.  I do expect to see a jump in quality in my new 1080p projector over the old 720p one slightly offset by a bigger screen size.  However, I see no real difference in percieved resolution at my 3.5m viewing distance between my new 47" 1080p LED LG TV and my old 1024 x 720 Pioneer 42" plasma.  The step up in resolution to 4k is more marked than that between 1080 and 720 but I am not convinced it will be obvious at TV panel size.  How big do you have to go before you notice 4k.  In the world of AV consumerism there is the much feared WAF.  This is not a technical term but stands for wife acceptance factor.  Flat screen TV has faired well in WAF because the resulting sets maybe larger but they have taken up less space.  Get over 50" though and the sets are starting to draw to much attention to themselves and the WAF plummets relegating them to dedicated media rooms and bachelor pads.  This is probably less of an issue in the US where homes are typically more spacious, but any new format has got to succeed globally. 

I am the kind of early adopter guy who would buy 4K so what would it mean to me and how would I get it?  I think we can rule out broadcast.  In the UK, only the death of analgue has freed up enough space for a few HD over-air channels.  Sky too tends to worry about how many channels not the quality or we would not still be on 1080i.  Download services could distribute a file but how long are you prepared to wait.  In metropolitan areas it may be OK but I am limited to 5mbps out here in the sticks.  A single 4K movie not compressed to mush would probably exceed the typical UK monthly download limit for most punters.  So we are looking at some kind of disk or device to deliver the movie.  Blu-ray could do it but most current players arent going to be able to cope.  Even the ubiquitous and future-tolerant PS/3 is probably going to fail as its missing HDMI1.4.  If blu-ray can be stretched to fit (and in this I include at the pressing facilities) it just might gain a foothold with a slow burn dual play approach similar to 3D.  The disruption level is similar in that case.

I can't see a brand new physical format succeeding now.  DVD had the full weight of the industry behind it and its take off was slow in the UK taking a few years to hit critical mass and oust VHS.  Most of us early adopters have a drawer full of Region 1 disk we played on hacked DVD players.  We bought them so we had a decent choice back in the day and now we cant trade them in against blu-rays.  Blu-ray had a more troubled birth as it was fighting not just against DVD but HDDVD too.  It won the format war in the end but even after all this time it still has a smaller section in HMV than DVD.  Look round the rest of the store and you see racks of CDs.  CD is 30 years old and no higher definition format has come close to unseating it as a retail format.  The threat to CDs comes from a variety of formats that are worse - an interesting lesson for video.  Even HMVs future is far from assured - condemning video sources to online or a small selection at supermarkets. 

So winding right back to where we started with acquisition, how important is 4K?  If you are filming big budget features then it seems to make sense to feed the growing number of 4k projectors.  Not that I have seen any issues with Alexa films at my 4k equipped multiplex.  For lesser budget features then its a finely balanced decision.  What is going to provide the most production value up on the screen?  Any skimping you do on other crafts to feed that 4k pipeline are only going to be more visible in your end product.  For TV, Indie Films and Commericals I think its a long time before most of the 4k benefits start paying back with time being so critical.


NAB 2011 - Some Thoughts on the Show Themes

My entry into this media world was through the DSLR.  The DSLR revolution we called it for a while.  As a DSLR enthusiast, it was clear that its not a revolution anymore - its absolutely mainstream.  Both its strengths and weaknesses continue to inspire hardware and software designers to find new ways of using it.  The old revolutionary council has not lost its enthusiasm and even its most vociferous opponents are more likely than not to be making their pitch down the lens of a Canon EOS.

Duelling Gurus - Bloom v Laforet - Different approaches but both still evangelising DSLRs

That said the show was a bit dull from a DSLR gear point of view for me.  I think there are a few reasons for the lack of progress.  Firstly, most of the major photo shows have been and gone and thats robbed NAB of any scoops.  Secondly, the Japanese Tsunami has had a major impact on the supply side.  Even if the manufacturers have a new story to tell, they will be wary of doing it when the shipping date may be a long way out. Whilst there have been worthy additions to the video capable DSLR market over the last year nothing has really extended the envelope and NAB has done nothing to change that.  About the only area where there was a buzz was EVFs.

Zacuto EVF

Zacuto saw a lot of interest in their new EVF and sitting right behind them on the show floor was Cineroid who beat everyone to shipping last year and now are preparing a metal bodied version with a choice of outputs.  I believe there was a new entrant from LCDVF but I didn’t get to see that.  I did get to see a prototype from SmallHD using a larger 4” screen.  This is more overtly a dual purpose device but it is going to sacrifice a little pixel density compared to the Zacuto.  Redrock Micro seem to have fallen by the wayside a little with their design which wasn’t one show.  I was told, but not by RRM, that they were reviewing the design or price point due to the coming influx off dual purpose flip designs.




If there was a vibe about this year then it was not DSLR or 3D it was 4K.  RED has been banging the drum about HD (roughly 2K) not being enough.  However, with 4K cameras on the way from Sony and JVC and 4K lenses from Canon, I just get the feeling that the electronics industry is looking for what comes next. 

Canon's PL mount 4K compatible zoom lenses

With Full HD already pinned on 1080p they need a new moniker to rally round.  4K has the advantage that it breaks the cycle of getting into ever more desperate superlatives.  There are alternative names floating round like Quad HD or perhaps even Cinema HD.  Remember, obsolescence is part of their business model - so change is inevitable.  Of course from a content creation view 4K is not just Quad HD its Quad Hassle.  Top movie productions and post houses may be used to a 4K pipeline but not the rest of us.  With Thunderbolt, CUDA, 64bit and all that I think the post and hardware vendors are just about ready but the display and distribution side for anything except movie theatres is nowhere near ready.  To see the difference from 1080p you are going to need a very large display device.  I must admit I struggled to see the difference in the RED Theatre at the show which was using a Sony 4K projector.  I liked the short they made but there was no shock and awe for me on the image quality. 

Sony F65

Sony’s own theatre showing footage from their new F65 was more impressive if partly because the screen was huge and the room was not.  The demo material was more overtly “demoish” than REDs but what impressed me was the latitude and the lack of noise.  But would I expect to see a difference on a 50" or smaller panel on a wall 3m away like most people have - I just don't think so.  How is that 4K image going to reach me.  My rural internet connection struggles to deliver me AppleTV 720p in a reasonable time.  Broadcasters are not going to sacrifice 4 HD or 16 SD channels to show one 4K channel and current blu-ray players would are going to struggle with the format or the capacity - probably both.  The market is still trying to digest 3D and I guess it will be a while before the marketing machine gets into its stride.


Canon - what are they up to?

We are on the verge of NAB and Canon have surprised us by announcing two PL mount cine lenses.

Now the odd thing about that is that Canon don't really have a suitable camera to utilise these lenses.  They could have just wanted to take the opportunity to tap into the market being opened up by the likes of RED, Arri, Sony and Panasonic.  Nothing wrong with that, but it just doesn't feel like Canon's style.

What interests me is the prominence of the word 4K in the press release.  Lenses don't really have a K as such, they are fundamentally analogue devices.  Its phrased in a way that they mean good enough for 4K (4096x2160).  Currently thats a pretty rare beast in digital capture - only RED springs to mind.  Its importance in the film world comes more from being a resolution coming out of high-end film scanners.  Given past technology demonstrations by Canon, could they be looking to enter the arena with a 4K camera?  Are they trying to push the 4K concept in a way which would make it seem the natural successor to 1080p or Full HD as it known (slightly embarrassingly).

Now 4K may be 4 times the resolution of 2K/1080p but its still, at 8MP, a bit pants in the photography world.  To use PL lenses and have a 4K sensor would suggest a dedicated video sensor and a mirrorless design.  Think in terms of a higher resolution F3.  Canon have experimented with form factors too so an EPIC/FS100 shape is a possibility - maybe even a touch of my old friend Thunderbolt.  This is all unashamed speculation on my part but then Canon has given us plenty of time to dream.

So, is it all over for DSLRs?  Have they had the brief time in the 1080p sunshine? I am not so sure.  Say you were designing a new full frame sensor for the 5D MkIII.  More megapixels is probably a given and I have heard lots of numbers bandied about but 28MP often comes up.  Now full frame isnt ideal for cine work unless you are mad for shallow depth of field because cine lenses vignette.  So what if you to ignore the pixels outside a S35 frame and those you don't need for cine aspect ratios.  When you do the math, it turns out thats what's left is 4K.  Now this cropping technology is nothing that new.  A similar approach is already being used in the 600D and Panasonic GH2.  Just saying ...