4K/5K: Does resolution matter? That Depends...

With the introduction of HD some 15 or so years ago, we saw a huge difference from SD (standard definition).  But, what if I told you the main reason SD didn't look so good is because the image was stretched beyond its limits.  This created distortion, blurry images, and just overall bad results.  Since the mass production of the HD television, we've noticed that even SD images look a lot better.  Why? because they don't have to fit the screen (although we all want it to).  Later, came 4K (UHD), and they have since announced 5K resolution and are now planning 8K resolution in the future.  There doesn't seem to be any signs of getting smaller.  Now, before I go on, I want to clarify that I do not sell TVs, having said that, this might accidentally become a good guide on buying a TV.  As a video professional, I'm going to share a few secrets that may help you pick your next TV, but I really want to help you save some money on your next production project.

 

Resolution is the size of the image. So the size of your screen has a lot to do with it, Anything below 65" can't really show UHD.  Theres also the distance, and then peripherals (i.e.: DVD/Blueray player, cable box, projector...).  So there really is a lot to consider when you decide on how high up the resolution spectrum you want to go.  If you're producing a commercial, most cable outlets don't broadcast in 4K yet, they still broadcast in 720 or 1080.  For you 4K enthusiasts, that's why watching a movie on your Blueray player or streaming Netflix looks 1,000 times better than broadcast TV.  You're stretching a 1K image to 4K dimensions.

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But 4K isn't useless.  You can still get that resolution if you have a Blueray, or even a 4K huge screen with an internet connection to stream it.  Most theaters even project 4K images. A lot of film makers, and even production professionals like us will opt for 4K cameras because that image can be scaled down and still look good vs a small image being stretched, blurred, and distorted.

 

So, what is the takeaway from all of this?  If you do business with a production company for a project and ask them if they shoot in 4K, ask yourself what the scope of the project is, because it may not be necessary, they might already shoot in 4K, but might be scaled down in post depending on the application.  Also, beware of companies that want to charge you extra for 4K, as stated above they already shoot in 4K, so they already work in that capacity and are just looking for a reason to charge you more.  Oh, and if you did get something out of this about 4K TVs, you're welcome.