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Insights & Thoughts

EBU Calls 4K ‘Unsatisfactory,’ Leans Towards Higher Quality 1080p. Where Do You Stand?

By Anthony Thurston on July 20th 2014

With more and more 4K TVs hitting the market, the EBU (European Broadcast Union) took some time to publish their thoughts on broadcasting in 1080 vs 4K. Their conclusion was that 4K resolution by itself is unsatisfactory, and that they would prefer a higher quality 1080p signal (more dynamic range, higher frame rates, better sound, etc).


This comes at a critical time for 4K, as more and more devices are getting the ability to shoot in 4K, yet there are still relatively few affordable options for actually watching anything in 4K. Devices such as the new Panasonic GH4, have proven that 4K, especially when downscaled to 1080, offers much more detail and clarity.

While I agree that broadcasting in 4K seems a bit over the top right now, given the limited number of devices capable of actually displaying it in that resolution, that could change sooner than expected. Personally, while I like the sound of a higher quality 1080 stream, I feel like any efforts to push one out would not be done until after 4K is more commonplace, meaning more of an argument for just going with 4K.

[REWIND: GH4 Blows away 5D Mark III in Video Quality]

From a photography and videography standpoint, these are important things to consider when you are shooting and delivering your wedding videos and slideshows now. Are you going to shoot and deliver in 4K, shoot in 4K and deliver in 1080, or just stick to 1080 until 4K is more common? It is an important decision for your business.

So, where do you stand?

[via Planet 5D]

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Anneliese Possberg

    I think a high quality, sharp full HD is better than a heavily compressed 4K. I have recently filmed a wildlife doc with a BMPC and a GH4, which I had for testing. I still prefer my BMPC and I don’t regret any moment I bought a full HD cam with a fantastic codec which I can grade nicely in post. As a nature documentary filmmaker I don’t have always the time to check the settings properly in the cam – what happens with a 4K cam like the GH4 is that it needs a heavy compression due to the actual technical limits. That means I cannot edit too much in the post, the settings during the filming are burned in the image. Plus, focussing in 4K on small field monitors when your subject is in constant move (like wild animals love to do) is a nightmare! The chances are high that half of the material is out of focus – so better a sharp full hd material with my subject in focus than a blurry 4K.
    And in Germany only few broadcaster send material in HD (half HD) in legal 709 – a horrible color range. It is a little bit too early to discuss about 4K. First make the HD properly. So I agree to EBU’s opinion. One right step after the other. This 4K hype is more the marketing of the producers to create a new demand in a saturated market – at this point at least.

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  2. Herm Tjioe

    This is like a reprise of the HD standard over a decade ago. Same thought process, same arguments, and I believe same outcome will arise.

    I invested in the HD move as early as my budget could afford. At the time camcorders outputting in 1440 was the max, without HDMI external recorders (which was something one has to jury-rig) Then the software post-processing hardware. At the time YouTube was barely able to handle 360 resolution. Good thing I did upload the highest possible resolution. When YouTube upgraded their output capabilities it automatically posted my videos in the original higher than then available output.

    It really pays to leap ahead rather that listening to self-serving EBU opinions.

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  3. Sham B

    Glad I ordered the BMPCC over the weekend rather than wait a bit and save for a GH4, especially when the BMPCC is now half the price. My decision seems to fit in nicely with the EBU recs… Although my main reason for going with BMPCC is because learning video grading with proper (unhacked and standard) editable/grading codecs is probably a better investment than learning with hacked output or high bitrate/4k versions of prosumer codecs.

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    I think this isn’t the time to broadcast in 4k given most 4K capable televisions have a high price tag……… 1080 is the best way to go. With time the 4K TVs will eventually be affordable just like the previous tv technologies and then at that time we can all experience the full 4K experience

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  5. Greg Faulkner

    I don’t do any video in my paid work but the personal stuff I convert to 720p with Handbrake lol On our 50 inch Plasma TV at home from 15 feet away I can’t see any difference so I can’t see me investing in a 4k TV anytime soon

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  6. Phil Bautista

    I love the look of 4k but until more content comes out, I just can’t justify the cost of getting a TV. I would consider a monitor or laptop if I got into heavy video work but I’m not right now so it’s to early to get into for me.

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