You didn’t really need 4K, and you definitely don’t need 6K

It seems like a new camera is announced every day, each smaller with higher resolution than the last. Before you rush to preorder a new 6K camera, stop to consider what moving to a higher resolution really means. Will the benefits of the technology really justify spending upwards of $3,000?

Who’s watching?

If you’re considering a 6K camera, one of the first things you should consider is how your customers will view it. There aren’t any 6K screens available, and if there were, how would your client know the difference? Think about when 4K first came out and we scaled it down to HD with no one the wiser. How many people actually make it to the HD channels on cable or have their playback settings turned all the way on when they watch YouTube? 

We are constantly scaling up HD footage for our 4K projects. Yet, I have never had a client point out that I have an HD clip in a 4K video. Most of my clients can’t tell if I delivered the project in 4K or HD unless I mention it. The next time you are on YouTube watch some comparison videos; I bet you won’t be able to tell the difference either. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Time to upgrade everything

Another thing to consider is that upgrading to a camera with higher resolution requires more storage space, faster computing power, longer upload times — and the list goes on.

A couple of years ago, I decided to upgrade to 4K. I had clients constantly asking for it (probably because it was a buzzword at the time). It seemed logical to meet their demands. 

After my first 4K shoot I realized that my project folders went from 15 to 20 GB to 150 to 200 GB.

After my first 4K shoot I realized that my project folders went from 15 to 20 GB to 150 to 200 GB. My upload time to YouTube increased from two to three minutes to five to eight minutes. My render and export time to export a three-minute marketing video soared from about five minutes to three hours! To fix these problems, I had to purchase 20 TB of extra storage space and a new iMac Pro. I also upgraded to a faster Internet service. So, at the end of the day, my $2,200 camera cost me nearly $13,000.

8K on the way

I know one of the most common arguments for moving to higher resolution cameras is that you’re future-proofing your gear. I reasoned likewise when I upgraded mine. Yet, the truth is that once 8K is available, we probably still won’t have 6K screens. Instead of upgrading to the latest and greatest, invest in equipment that will make your life easier and add production value. Keep your HD (or 4K) setup and buy some extra lights, a better tripod or an amazing audio setup. These will make a difference in your videos that your clients will notice, and so will you.

Bill Baraona
Bill Baraona
Bill Baraona is a video production and marketing professional based in Cleveland, Ohio. He also runs the day-to-day operations at Flex Media.

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