Written by Branden Scott Stewart

The rising popularity of 4k is clear; but is it worth investing in?

What is 4k?

4k refers to the size of the image. Wikipedia defines 4k as:

4K has become the common consumer-friendly name for ultra high definition television (UHDTV), although its resolution is only 3840 x 2160 (at a 16:9, or 1.78:1 aspect ratio), which is lower than the 4K industry standard of 4096 x 2160 (at a 19:10 or 1.9:1 aspect ratio).


Basically, 4k is an Ultra HD image.

4K Resolution

What are the advantages to using 4k?

One of the biggest advantages toted by 4k-fiends is the ability to adjust your framing in post. The common claim you’ll hear is that you can set up one shot, and so long as you’re delivering in a smaller format, you can use that one wide shot and zoom in in post or your close ups and mid-shots.

While this feature is great, I find that it defeats the purpose of 4k. If you’re using a 4k camera to deliver in HD, it’s cheaper and easier to simply frame your shots in the traditional way with a HD camera.

Sounding familiar?

The other advantage to 4k is the same as the advantage that HD has over SD.

When the transition was happening from SD to HD, people had a good reason to stay in the SD format; for one, if HD televisions weren’t popular, than it didn’t matter if your image was HD, people would still be seeing in in SD.

That argument held true for a while. Then the marketplace determined it wanted bigger and better. Larger screens, clearer images; and HD took over. Now, it would be near impossible to get a gig delivering in SD.

The same thing will happen with 4k.

We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.

-Friedrich Hegel

The marketplace will always want bigger and better; and one day everyone will have 4k TVs, and one day everyone will stream everything from online.

So, is it worth it for me?

In short, yes and no.

Everything is headed to 4k, so if you have the budget to make that jump, do so. But don’t feel behind the curve if you do not. The popularity of 4k will be slow to catch on, just as HD was slow.

For an indie filmmaker, there is little reason not to slowly migrate into 4k. Cameras capable of shooting 4k images are coming down in price, and it’s cheaper than it ever has been to get hard drives that can hold terabytes of information. So ease yourself into the work of 4k. It’s well worth it.