Canon: 4K may not really matter, but you make it seem like it matters by insisting on not including it


posted Monday, October 16, 2017 at 8:08 PM EDT


Ok, most of the way through 2017 I feel like it bears saying this a little louder: by not including 4K in your new cameras and telling us it’s because it’s not a necessary thing, it makes me feel like it’s kind of a thing. Like if you were to notice something wrong with a situation, question it, and be told "don't worry about it." I don't know about you, but I would start to worry about it more and then compound that with concern that no one else seems to be concerned about it. I am specifically referring to Canon here. With today’s launch of the G1X Mark III, that is yet another camera they have released in 2017 that does not include 4K. Here is the complete list:

  • EOS 6D Mark II
  • EOS 77D
  • Rebel T7i
  • G1X Mark III
  • SL2
  • EOS M6
  • EOS M100
  • G9X Mark II
  • PowerShot SX730

That is nine cameras across the board from professional level to amateur that doesn't include Ultra HD. The last camera Canon announced that included 4K (excluding their Cinema line) was the 5D Mark IV, and the quality of that camera’s video capabilities has been suspect (so much so that Canon added the after-purchase functionality of C-LOG despite not packing it with the much more capable 1DX II).

That’s a lot of cameras that do not include high-resolution video shooting. I will be the first person to say that delivering in 4K is absolutely not a must. Most people still don’t have any way to view 4K content, and as a professional video shooter, almost no client asks for content to be delivered in 4K.

Canon has been reticent to take a stand on why their cameras don’t have 4K, but the general response is that the target market for the camera doesn’t demand it and therefore they are under no obligation to deliver it.

And in many cases, that’s a totally fair and accurate statement. But…

By not including 4K in any camera released in 2017 because you say it doesn’t matter, you sort of are making it matter with that kind of insistence coupled with a cursory glance at the rest of the market. Your competitors, and your biggest competitor in Sony, have been including 4K as basically a standard feature in cameras since 2015 and their market growth in that time has been astounding. I have a Sony point and shoot I acquired two years ago that shoots 4K with S-LOG. Did it need that? No. Have I used it? Absolutely: It saved me in a bind a year ago.

Look, like I said, shooting 4K isn’t a necessity for nearly anyone right now. However, the visual quality difference of downscaled 4K footage to 1080 is generally vastly superior to in-camera captured 1080 video. In the Panasonic GH4, the 1080 video was pretty bad, but the 4K was awesome. Only in their GH5 (released this past year) did they make the difference negligible. For the most part, many cameras still shoot muddy, lower quality 1080 when compared to the crisp, amazing and vibrant footage available when the same scenes are captured in 4K.

This goes for every single camera Canon has released this year. Video footage from all of them has been sub-par when compared to what I know Canon is capable of capturing (the 1DX II 4K video is sublime). I see video footage captured on the 80D or 6D II and am monumentally disappointed in the lack of detail and the bland color quality. So I may not need 4K for delivering in 4K, but I do need it in order to have quality 1080.

When a company tells its consumers what they may or may not need, it starts to feel weird. By not making 4K a thing and telling us that it doesn’t need to be a thing, you’re sort of making it a thing. It also doesn't help that when you do include it in a camera, you make a big deal out of it. 

Especially when your biggest competitor is not making it a thing… by including it in all the things.