Big camera or small, shooting a film is all about doing awesome things with what you got. All across the interverse you’ll find heated discussions between opposing camera camps: Digital Cameras vs. Film Cameras, Varicam vs. Cinealta, RED vs. ALEXA, and just about every HDSLR vs. pretty much everything else. Each camp comes out swinging, but the truth is that every camera in existence has both strengths and weaknesses, and NO SINGLE CAMERA precisely meets every need of every production.
Now, a big part of these fanatical camera discussions concern the merits of “K”. But why is “K” important to filmmakers? The “K” term refers to the number of pixels wide an image is – specifically, “1K” represents an image 1024 pixels wide – so when you hear the term “4K”, this generally refers to an image 4096 pixels wide x 2048 pixels tall. Compared to a 1080P HD frame (which captures 1920 x 1080 pixels, or “1.9K”) you’ll see that “4K” gives you more than four times the visual real estate, which not only translates really nicely to big screen projection, but also aids green screen and effects work, image reframing, and more. So, more “K” represents an increase in both the level of detail, and flexibility of post-production… but is it critical to your next masterpiece? Absolutely Not.
Despite the slew of new 2K, 4K, and 5K+ cameras that are appearing on the horizon, films do not begin with a camera, they begin with A GOOD IDEA. And GOOD IDEAS become GREAT FILMS through CLEVER EXECUTION, not bigger pictures. A good idea cleverly executed in 4K will definitely be a joy to watch, but a good idea cleverly executed with an old school 640 x 480 pixel VHS camcorder can still be a great film. And in a world where big ideas and big budgets don’t always walk hand in hand, it is far more important to finish your film with what you can afford, than to bust your budget trying to incorporate the latest, greatest camera. Even slightly adapted to the topic at hand, the old adage really is true: “It’s not how many pixels you have, it’s how you use them!”