4K Cameras: Camera, Lens Combination Crucial in Handling Tough Lighting

With the upgrade to 720p, then to 1080p, and now 4K and beyond that makes for far greater detail to be shown to your audience. This leads to the need for greater detail being paid to what you are capturing.

The new industry buzzwords sure do catch us, don't they?

How much bandwidth does it take to stream 4K? A lot simply put.

If we are talking audio, then line array is all the rage.

Or in lighting, it's all about LEDs let alone video display, where it's all about lasers and LEDs.

So how do you make sense of it all, and know what is right for you? I'll put the spoiler right here at the top of the article work with someone who is well experienced, that you trust will be able to educate you, and will lead you through the process of either getting into or upgrading your technology systems.

Especially camera systems.

When it comes to cameras there is not just one style "best" for all scenarios. Many churches, though, tend to have very similar situations, which makes discussing cameras (or other AV tech) pretty repeatable on church-related Facebook groups like Church Sound Media Techs or Visual Church Media.

Back in February, I wrote a fairly technical article about cameras, which was quite in depth about how a 3-chip or a single chip camera works. In that comparison, was an image showing the low light performance of different cameras. If you are in a well-lit area, the differences tend to be less stark, but in most house of worship environments, the light level is often a struggle for cameras.

Another point to be aware of is the great difference between the human eye and the camera.

Imagine sitting in a fairly dark dining establishment with your friends, and someone whips out their cellphone camera to capture the moment, but you are sitting against a window with daylight streaming through.

What happens to the image?

One of two things you either get the inside photo that turns out and the out-the-window is completely washed out, or the opposite, where the outside is in focus and well-lit and the group of friends are all dark.

The human eye doesn't have that problem, so why does a camera? Well, let's just say that God is a better designer than we as humans are.

Cameras only have a limited amount of dynamic range, and their ability to "see" the inside or outside is largely controlled by the iris on the lens, which lets in more or less light. Secondarily, the shutter speed affects this, as does the ISO, but to not overcomplicate this article the point here is that you need to choose a camera and lens combination that will perform well in your environment.

Secondly, if you are considering going into the 4K realm with your cameras, along with your video distribution infrastructure be prepared for a lot of things to come up that need to be addressed.

Let's take for example, web streaming.

How much bandwidth does it take to stream 4K? A lot simply put.

People watching on a mobile device or even at home with a fast internet connection will not really get a true, uncompressed 4K signal. They may think it is, but just like satellite radio, MP3 and all kinds of other audio streaming solutions, there is a huge amount of compression that takes place in the midst of streaming, and what this means is it takes all the details of the content, and reduces or eliminates a lot of it, in order for the file size to be small enough so that it can be quickly transported to you.

Video is far more data intensive than audio, so the compression algorithms can make a huge difference in the visual quality. (It shouldn't be discounted that there are really smart people, though, working on improving on this all the time.)

Remember back when television was standard definition? How much detail was paid to the news anchor and their makeup? There simply was not enough detail or resolution to the image for you to see small blemishes.

With the upgrade to 720p, then to 1080p, and now 4K and beyond that makes for far greater detail to be shown to your audience. This leads to the need for greater detail being paid to what you are capturing.

Some of you may know where I am going with this, but the simple answer is the most common issue that I see deals with lighting, and not just the lack of it, but the evenness and proper focus that lighting gives to a video image.

Before you invest into better camera infrastructure pay close attention to the product you are trying to capture, and how well it is lit.

Last week, the NAB show was held in Las Vegas, the industry trade show where all the broadcast-related people hang out and show off their new gear.

After that conference, some of you may be wondering, Stefan, what is the latest, greatest camera that I need to buy for my church?

Sorry to say, that this is not the intent here plenty of others are already talking about all the new releases and technology offerings that are hitting the market, as options for what to integrate into your video upgrade. Instead, the focus of this piece is more to make you think through what the reason is for a camera system in the first place. From there, then there is the question about how you intend to use it, along with determining the planning process for making the jump to a higher level.

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