What Is 4K All About?

You may have seen or heard about 4K by visiting stores or websites that sell TVs and other digital display products. You may have wondered how this technology improves on what exists already or if it’s even a necessary investment. Professionals and consumers have their own thoughts about this 4K trend and the implications it has on the market.

4K is shorthand for the ultrahigh definition video format, which typically displays at a pixel resolution of either 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels. Since 2010, usage of the 4K video format has seen a steady rise in popularity, with the first 4K disc media and disc players appearing in stores in early 2016. While there is excitement around the potential of the 4K video format, questions of whether it was released at the right time or whether investing in the format is practical, remain unanswered.

Some consumers are very enthusiastic about 4K and what it offers as a new media format. Chris Rearick, a gamer and computer enthusiast, had optimistic remarks about 4K.

“I’d say it adds to the experience. Good 4K has higher depth of colors and PPI (Pixels Per Inch). HDR (High-Dynamic Range) is part of the range of colors. HDR is pertinent if you get a 4K anything.”

Rearick is confident that 4K is the future of gaming.

“I think it’s becoming the standard. 4K is super affordable and I would say at this point you aren’t early adopting; you are just buying the new standard.”

Tihomir Lazarov, a commercial portrait photographer and filmmaker, believes that the release of 4K hardware may have been premature since the average consumer can’t justify the five-figure purchase of high-end cameras.

“In my opinion, the jump to 4K was a bit too early for most low-budget video devices,” Lazarov said. “It seems the winners of that transition are mostly the hardware manufacturers. With benefits come higher requirements for storage and hardware performance. These can only make the camera and computer hardware manufacturers happy, but not your wallet. According to the prophets of higher-resolution videos, 4K must become a standard and that will make videos future-proof with the ever-growing display resolutions.”

However, Lazarov is not entirely against the industry adoption of 4K because there are benefits that a higher resolution such as 4K affords.

“More resolution gives you the freedom to crop in post and deliver in 2K without losing significant quality.”

Some industry professionals have a very different take on 4K. John Brune, video production industry veteran with over 30 years of experience and three regional Emmy awards, provided an interesting counterpoint about the 4K trend.

“To fully appreciate the maximum resolution of a 4K image you need a screen at least 30 feet wide. With monitors as they are today if you sit six to eight feet away you won’t be able to distinguish the difference between 4K and an HD image. Anything larger than 4K is likely to be used for wall-panel screens since typically anything at or greater than an Ultra HD image is beyond human eyesight capacity.”

As a small business owner, Brune doesn’t see 4K as being a practical investment since there is virtually no demand for it in his line of work.

“I don’t have clients asking for 4K. The only people that really care about it are TV and camera manufacturers. I would have to spend twice as much on storage, a new computer, new gear, etc. if I wanted to adopt 4K.”

There are certainly compelling arguments both for and against the tech industry adopting 4K. While the push for 4K products may have been premature, it does have certain advantages and offers flexibility for consumers and professionals alike. 4K is becoming more affordable as time goes on, but that doesn’t make it a sensible investment for everyone in the industry. It’s one thing to buy a 4K TV, but it’s another thing to purchase or finance a new set of equipment for a business. For professionals that don’t have the spending power of a large corporation, investment in a new format isn’t always sensible, despite the advantages it may bring.

Will 4K receive widespread adoption like high definition, or will it merely become a stepping stone to yet another emerging format? Ultimately, it will be up to the average consumer to decide.

Disclaimer: John Brune is the father of the reporter. To avoid conflicts of interest, the reporter is not involved in his father’s business and this article has been through a rigorous editorial process.

 

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