I recently had a (friendly 🙂) discussion with a director friend of mine about an upcoming project that we'll be shooting. For him, the camera's resolution (the higher the better) is what mattered most. For me as a CamOp and DoP, not so much!
For many people, a camera's resolution is one of the most important things of the camera. Personally, I could hardly give a flying fudge about a camera’s resolution. Sure, it can be great to work with 4K or more. But in the end, to me at least, the Dynamic Range and Color Science is what matters most about the camera itself. Not to mention the fact that a 4K camera in reality ‘only’ gives you 2.8K of actual pixels to work with and a 5.7K camera will roughly give you 4K pixels (if you’re in luck, it still depends on the camera) to work with.
Take a look at ARRI’s Alexa for instance. It came out over eight years ago, and is still unbeaten in its true Dynamic Range and Color Space (it is getting close though, so ARRI better step up their game 🙂).
The original Alexa is ‘only’ a 2.8K camera originally, making it the perfect Full HD camera. ARRI intentionally designed it that way, whereas nowadays manufacturers simply throw in extra resolution into a camera, mainly for consumer reasons.
I care for the images, the ‘look and feel’ of them, and in choosing a camera that is right for a specific project and/or story. I hardly ever take a camera's resolution into account when deciding which camera is best for the job.
When I think about it, most manufacturers of professional cinema cameras are still trying to compare its cameras to the ARRI Alexa when it comes to Dynamic Range and Color Space, but none of them have quite succeeded yet.
So, now that you know what I’m looking for in a camera, and what matters most to me, I can’t help but wonder:
What matters to you?