Archive for January, 2011

PostHeaderIcon When ‘Good Enough’ Is ‘Good Enough’

From YouTube to cable TV, from iPhone video to RED cameras, there is a common mentality sweeping the industry. I call it the  ‘Good Enough’ syndrome. This is the mindset that weighs the benefits of convenience and low-cost, and says, in any given application that image quality and image integrity is ‘Good Enough’. Perhaps this is the way it should be, given the current economic reality.  Still, I can’t help giving credence to the ‘Good Enough’ camp in at least one critical way: When it comes to very high resolution cameras – 4K, 5K and higher – in the great majority of cases HD or 2K resolution is, well, good enough.

It’s not that I can’t see the benefit of shooting higher resolutions for digital cinema and other big screen applications. My point is rather we also need the appropriate work flow to support such high resolutions – in post-production, storage and archiving. These are all systems that require serious expansion to accommodate the much heavier data load from 4K and 5K image capture.

And then there is the question of optics. We all know that 4K and 5K cameras do not necessarily produce 4K and 5K images – in fact they rarely do. The fact is that such very high resolution sensors capture not only greater picture detail which presumably we do want, they also capture much greater lens defects, which we almost certainly do not want.

So unless you like seeing ugly fringing in your images with rampant chromatic aberration, be especially mindful of the quality of optics used with your latest and greatest high resolution camera. It’s not just that “good enough” is sometimes actually good enough. It’s more that one must consider the entire picture and not just the native pixel count of a sensor.