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4K resolution and Photography

It is difficult to keep up these days with ever evolving technology. Technology is always attempting to improve upon a previous design or take it to the next level. In entertainment and even in our handheld devices, we have seen screen resolution and detail improve over time. We watched as the standard definition DVD at 480p was overshadowed by Blu-ray at 1080p HD and our videos and movies looked more and more amazing. Even though this was great for video, most photographers like myself were underwhelmed. While it is a great step forward in video resolution, compared to photography, video is still very low res. I don’t know how many times I have been excited about photographing a location with my Nikon D800e at 36MP only to scale it down 80% or more to fit on an HD screen. This is why print media for photography is still so important. Currently, only in print do people get to see the full detail of what most photographs have to offer. This is also why significant steps in digital resolution can be exciting to photographers, steps like moving from regular HD to 4K resolution.

4K or UHD, as you may have heard, is the new resolution format that is starting to take hold in the entertainment industry.

4K explained more in depth.

As an avid movie watcher, I would not be all that ecstatic about 4K resolution, but as a photographer, this is another step closer to really delving into a display that can reveal the detail of a photograph and in my case even time-lapse video. Don’t get me wrong, I think I will always prefer a large print, but being able to show many photos on a large digital display that might actually do the photographs some justice is intriguing. If you were interested in using at least a 60-inch screen or even a projector to display your work to a group of people, 4K may actually be good enough to not require excuses about why your work looks so terrible on screen versus print (as was often the case in the classroom).

To put it simply, as screens get larger, the less impressive HD appears. A 30-inch screen has the same amount of pixels as a 60-inch screen, the pixels are just bigger. ;I think it would be hard to tell the difference between 4K and regular HD on a smaller screen, but once you exceed 50 inches,  4K really shines. Let’s face it, big screens and big pictures capture attention and if I have the choice of displaying my exceptionally detailed image on a large digital screen in HD or 4K, I would always choose the higher resolution. It is pricey and obviously technology changes, but from the standpoint of photography, let’s not let video have all the fun.

Now we just have to let technology catch up in other areas.



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