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09/11/2012

4K Or Not 4K – That Is The Question -Part Two

Native 4K Digital Cameras Systems
RED
RED EPIC and RED SCARLET
RED was the initial trailblazer on the march to 4K. Although the RED One was initially unstable at full resolution, it has been improved over time and both the latest RED EPIC and RED SCARLET cameras shoot 4K very happily onto solid-state drives which mount inside the camera. This latest generation of RED cameras effectively share a common 4K architecture and shoot reliably at 4K without incident. However, many of the slow motion frame rates of the EPIC are not available on the SCARLET, and the EPIC is also capable of shooting at 5K. Material shot on either camera will perfectly match if required.
RED uses a native RAW capture format called REDCODE, which is a process that requires de-Bayering in order to use captured 4K material. This may lengthen the post-production or “digital developing process”, but in exchange, these files have all the benefits of the non-destructive editing workflow that has become a standard with high-end digital still cameras. Furthermore, the development of the RED Rocket acceleration PCI card and faster computers means that this is no longer a long process.
It is a massive advantage that RED can record 4K on-board, unlike other systems which currently require external recorders. RED users should note however, that as REDCODE RAW files are massive, so media cards will need to be offloaded frequently onto large on-set archive devices.
Sony
Sony F65 Sony entered the race with the introduction of the F65 camera in 2012. This camera has a native 8K image sensor down-scaled to 4K in order to fight visual artefacts and the de-Bayering process. Its large size, compared with RED EPIC and Alexa, is similar to traditional 35mm cameras. As well as not being very portable, it suffers from very high power needs. Also, its high price and the massive files that it generates, has meant that the camera has struggled to achieve market penetration. Possibly the camera is ‘too good’ and even a little ahead of its time – only time will tell but it is still an excellent camera.
Sony FS-700 Sony has also introduced a little brother called the FS700 which will support 4K acquisition using a suitable off board recorder in a short while. The 4K off-board recording system has now been announced but we do not yet know if this will record de-Bayered 4K or require this in post. This is an important distinction, as this can be a very laborious post production process.
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