Posted in education on February 28, 2017 1:02 pm EST

The Ultimate Image Capture

A Church Designer exclusive report on, and sampling of, affordable 4K cameras for church specification.

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TAGS: 4k cameras, camera, gear, products, technology, video,


By Alex Schwindt

Many of us working in ministry can remember the days when using PowerPoint in weekend worship was considered cutting edge. Seeing how far video technology has advanced over the past decade or two, it’s almost embarrassing to admit even remembering those days of 640x480 VGA resolution. Today, 4K video is steadily becoming the standard for new generations of film and video application, presenting real creative and practical possibilities for churches.

4K cameras capture imagery at a resolution nearly 4,000 pixels wide—four times the resolution of the previous HD standard— and it yields stunningly sharp results when displayed correctly.

Seeing the recent boom of 4K televisions and monitors at the local Best Buy or Target, you may be tempted to wonder whether the term is really anything more than a marketing ploy. And given the rise and fall of in-home 3D a few years ago, you are probably right to ask. Simply stated, 4K cameras capture imagery at a resolution at, or nearly at, 4,000 pixels wide (usually 3,840 to be precise). This is actually four times the resolution of the previous HD standard, and it yields stunningly sharp results when displayed correctly.

Beyond creating footage that’s sharper, 4K video also utilizes a higher sampling bit-rate, which means 4K cameras are capable of capturing colors that look considerably more accurate and cinematic than HD cameras. All of this additional resolution and color data also presents new options in post-production, long after the filming is wrapped.

4K in Action

In the ministry world, there are already a number of ways 4K cameras are being incorporated into both established workflows and emerging media expressions. The most obvious is within the context of image magnification (IMAG) systems for live worship and streaming. Many tech teams currently projecting in HD are already beginning to invest in 4K cameras ahead of eventual full system updates—for two important reasons: First, purchasing a broadcast-style camcorder is a significant investment, and 4K units provide a prudent level of future-proofing. Secondly, down converting, or “super-sampling,” 4K footage to HD almost always provides an image that is superior to anything shot natively in HD.

Another important application of 4K technology is in the rapidly growing arena of church filmmaking. Effective churches today are moving beyond simple video announcements and into the realm of filmmaking more comparable to the work of Hollywood. Film is a powerful tool for telling stories of life change, expressing complex spiritual truths, recapping powerful moments in the life of a church, and building excitement around upcoming initiatives.

As these ministry film teams work to help churches compete in the arena of ideas, having cameras that can truly capture high quality footage is essential. 4K cameras designed specifically for documentary and feature filmmaking have dropped in cost dramatically over the past two or three years, putting powerful digital film cameras in the hands of churches for the first time. Not only are these cameras capable of capturing cinematic footage, the increased resolution allows filmmakers to reframe and reuse the same shot, reducing the amount of production time and gear necessary to create high-quality projects. While "affordable" is a relative term given a specific ministry's setting and content, the cameras in this round up represent some relatively reasonable options in the 4K camera market today.

Understanding Church Client Needs

Yet another way that churches are beginning to use 4K cameras is in the area of live streaming special events that happen outside of the main auditorium. As social media juggernauts like YouTube and Facebook continue making live streaming easier to set up and access, it becomes increasingly possible for churches to use a single camera to webcast a special event, class or meeting with minimal additional production gear. All they have to do is set up the 4K video camera in an ideal filming location, sync it up to a nearby laptop connected to the Internet, and they’ve got a professional-looking, single-camera stream ready to go.

As with most new technology, taking the leap into 4K will constitute an investment in the future by your church clients’ ministries. Thanks to some newly released cameras already on the market, making that leap is more affordable than ever before.  continued >>