Market Readies for Flood of 4K Cameras

Still, Atomos' CEO asserts: “We know that 90 percent of filmmakers are recording in HD today and will be for the next year or two."

At least 20 new 4K cameras will hit the market between now and NAB 2014, according to Jeromy Young, CEO and founder of production technology developer Atomos. Some can be expected to be announced at IBC next month in Amsterdam.

“By early next year there will be a plethora of 4K cameras at affordable prices,” said Young. “We believe the true catalyst for 4K will come when people are using Sony Handycams and DSLRs from Nikon and Canon in 4K on a regular basis.”

The Australian vendor, maker of HD-SDI hard disk recorders like Samurai, has advance warning of release dates for the cameras in order to develop products that link with them. He did not reveal further details of plans, which are under NDA.

“Companies like Blackmagic Design have offered the earth at no cost, and it has forced other manufacturers to take note,” said Young. “I believe you will see far more activity from the more mainstream manufacturers that will blow those kind of solutions out of the water.”

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That might include Sony, which previewed a prototype set of cameras last spring at NAB that seemed intended to marry high-end motion picture requirements with the design of a handheld DSLR.

“Fundamentally the market is changing from a product design standpoint,” Olivier Bovis, Sony's head of AV Media, said last spring at NAB. “From new DSLR products to cameras from GoPro, everything is up for grabs in terms of how customers want to use them.”

Despite the 4K buzz, Young expects HD to dominate for a good while yet. “We believe 4K is a niche area. We know that 90 percent of filmmakers are recording in HD today and will be for the next year or two.”

With Samuari, users can take compressed HD versions of 4K files along with all file naming, timecode and metadata tagging straight from Sony, Red and Canon cameras into editing and color correction packages for editorial before conforming with the higher resolution originals.

Atomos does not yet market a product that can record RAW 4K. “We have as much reservation about moving to 4K as people have about buying Ultra HD (4K) TVs," said Young. "Once the new raft of 4K cameras are in play we will develop system for the 4K market in a very big way.”