Monday, January 23, 2012

The future of cameras.

"Rich Lackey thinks 4K is the future, not out of necessity but because "we can sell it and fuel untold billions of dollars of business in cameras, post, data transmission and networking infrastructure, televisions, new portable devices and of course, content production. Since when has need ever really fueled consumption in the digital age."
                                                       - Digital Age Magazine

 For those who don't know 4K, it's basically a concept in digital cameras. Your basic DV camera which is now pretty much gone, was around 480 pixels (those little square dots that make up the picture) and now we have 720p which is HD and the higher amount 1080p which is the highest resolution to date and 4K meaning 4000 pixels. 

Sort of like the difference between 8mm film and Super 8 and then 16mm and 35mm. Obviously the picture at 35mm is way superior to 8mm (at least for those of you who remember 8mm).

Our movie world was fine with 35 mm as a standard for movie film and every movie you saw up until the 2000's, was most likely 35mm. It's the same film used in still cameras, both SLR and Rangefinder styles.

35mm is still being used now, many of the drama series still shoot it as do features. There are differences in both film and digital both pro and con for each format. And film will still be around for awhile.

But the point I'm getting to is this; how good does it have to be?

4K resolution is almost as good as film (and notice I said "almost"), in fact, on the screen it's almost comparable. Where digital fails is in contrast levels primarily in the blacks. Digital doesn't handle blacks as well as film does even at 4K.

Contrast is basically the difference between black and white. Film is believed to have a 1000:1 ratio while digital is much less. Thus film always wins. But digital at 4K is getting closer.

But the point of this blog was to suggest something else -- how good is good? Already actors dislike digital because it's so damn sharp and all those facial lines begin to really show up actor's facial flaws. In fact they're creating special make-up for actors to help hide them lines and imperfections.

And as the author of the quote at the top suggests, it really isn't about pixels nor 4K, it's about selling a product. Like Apple and Microsoft and thousands of other corporations, they have to continue to "upgrade" their products.

And so do the camera manufacturers. A big deal in the last few years was the introduction of the Canon 5D SLR (Single Lens Reflex camera and later to be dubbed the DSLR for Digital Single Lens Reflex camera.  And last December I saw the newer video camera replacing that Canon 5D and while you can get a 5D for around $5000, the new video camera started at $10,000 with no lens!

And then Canon is now introducing the new version of the 5D.

There's just too many damn cameras.

When I began shooting film around 1970, we only used film of course, but a person could buy a camera and keep it for the rest of their life! 

No upgrade, no new technology, no plastic casing.

And you could still shoot with it, even today in 2012. My favorite was the Arriflex 16mm BL and you can see that in the photo I used a few blogs ago.

It's a beautiful camera, still good in 2012 and still being used now and then through-out the world.

There were a handful of different film cameras, Beaulieu, CP 16, Auricon, Bolex and Eclair were 16mm. Arriflex had both 16 and 35 and the Eclair also had a 16/35mm camera. I saw someone using an Eclair NPR a year ago. This is me with a Bolex back in the 70's.

The Godfather of all film cameras was probably the Panavision camera, which is only available as a rental.

But there's another issue as well, something besides the constant upgrades we are required to make to our song list and cameras...

And that's the story.

You know, that thing where actors pretend to be other people.