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CES 2014 SONY Press Conference 4K Cameras

Brian Smith talking with President and COO of SONY Mike Fasulo about his photography in Haiti.
Brian Smith talking with President and COO of SONY Mike Fasulo about his photography in Haiti.
Brian Smith and Mike Fasulo

This is an exciting year for SONY with the new roll out of the 4K handycam fdr-ax100, a7, a7r, and a5000 Compact with Interchangeable lens. 4K (ultra HD) was all the rage at SONY's press conference Monday night Jan 6 2014. Mike Fasulo President and COO of SONY provided a description of what 4K content and hardware provide. In short, 4K is a higher quality resolution. An example is that 2K is 1080 pixels screen resolution which is a top of the line regular HDTV format. So, by comparison 4K is twice the depth and resolution at 3840 pixels. As more and more monitors and screen displays come out there is a need for more and more content at this specific 4K resolution.

One answer is the 4K handycam fdr-ax100 (30 frames per second at 3,840 x 2,160) at a retail price of $2000, as Mike Fasulo described in his pitch "4K for 2K." This camera is packed with technology including m2m (machine 2 machine) communication. The camera is back illuminated with a one inch CMOS image sensor. If we look at the evolution of cameras, we see them get less expensive and smaller in one part due to CMOS being less expensive than the CCD image sensor. The CMOS has a weak blooming effect, which means that with overlaoded light exposed to the sensor, there is a bleeding effect of the light into other pixels. A disadvantage to using CMOS is capturing high speed photography such as a speeding car, the car will be in focus, where the background may be tilted. CCD does not have this problem, instead, capturing all the quality into one frame store with less noise. Sony has used the Exmor R CMOS image sensor to deliver the 4K quality even in low light. This camera has a large diameter lens optimized for 4K shooting. It has wi-fi and NFC which allow quick delivery to tablets and smart phones. It is not only limited to 4K but can down convert in camera to playback super sampled HD quality not matched by conventional HD footage. This is one hand operated for ease of use. Further updates to this camera are to come out this Spring including faster wi-fi connections. To learn more about this camera.

4K cameras have already been used at the Worlds Series, ESPN, X-Games, Oblivion, After Earth, Smurf's 2, Evil Dead, and Remastered all 5 Seasons of Breaking Bad. New shows using 4K are Trophy Wife, The Micheal J. Fox Show, The Blacklist, and original 4K series on Hulu. To view this, viewers may want to purchase a 4KTV. Of course SONY offers its own line of XBR 4K Ultra HD TVs. Mike Fasulo went on to describe "SONY is the first and only manufacturer to provide m2m 4K live production infrastructure including camera, server, and projection system. What this means is bringing to the home a much more immersive experience than we see now." He went on to say that while broadcasters and production companies are successfully testing resolution that the distribution of 4K is happening right now, which from the above links is true. If the HDTVs are not to your liking, then try on a Headmounted Portable 3D Goggles HMZ-T3W, which is the same as looking at a 750 inch screen. Fasulo described the this as "a theatre on your head."

At half the size and weight of conventional DSLRs, Fasulo described the next generation is DSLRs from SONY, the a7 and a7r. "By using SONY lens adapters with a7 and a7r cameras, any other manufacturer's glass will continue to pay off" stated Fasulo. Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Brian Smith (SONY artisan of Imagery) went to Haiti with the a7r to test with. And he described it as lightweight and just really easy to work with. The photos displayed which he took were extremely sharp in detail. Some images he took using this camera are now in the American Museum of Natural History. Before leaving, he game a tip to "look for light and don't be afraid to get in close."

Last was the a5000, the newest camera even smaller than the a7 or a7r. This retails at $600 and is the lightest APSC interchangable lens camera. Both wi-fi and NFC capable. This is a mirrorless camera with built in pop-up flash. It also has free and paid apps to expand capability.

With the m2m technology, all of these cameras can be controlled by cell phones to do time-lapse, lens-compensation, Smart Remote Control with both Android API and iOS API, multiple exposures, and bracketing. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings spoke about more and more content being provided by his company to provide more content for the hardware. El Fuente is one of the samples of 4K available to see on Netflix. This was a great press conference to learn more about 4K content and hardware. So, the hardware exists and now it is your turn to produce the content.

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