The 4K Wave Rolls into the NAB Trade Show

Ed Lee
Apr 25, 2013

NAB takes over the Las Vegas Convention Center

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show has been running for over 85 years and this year it was estimated that over 92,000 media and entertainment professionals from over 150 countries filled the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) from April 8 to 11.  

At this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, Ultra HD (4K) displays were the talk of the show. If 4K displays are to succeed, they will need 4K content and that is where the NAB trade show comes in.

4K everywhere

The theme of this year’s NAB show was 4K content creation, management, commerce, distribution, and consumption. Unlike 3D imaging, which we have always felt was a niche application, we believe that 4K is the next step forward in imaging, as it is pushing the boundaries of existing products, services, and ecosystems.

Currently there are only a few 4K cameras available, mostly for professional use, ultra HD displays are just starting to get to market (Best Buy currently lists on its website a 55” and 65” Sony 4K Ultra HD TV for $5,000 and $7,000, respectively), and the infrastructure to distribute the content is still in the very early stages of development. Although it will likely be several years before the technology is fully developed and implemented, it is not too early for vendors to start planning for the introduction of 4K technology into their products and services.

NAB was a time for imaging companies like Canon, Sony, Nikon, Blackmagic Design, and Panasonic to show off their video capture products, from broadcast and video cameras to DSLRs.

Canon's booth was quite impressive

Canon in the last few years has built a solid lineup of cinema cameras, video cameras, and DSLRs. While most DSLRs top out at HD video capture resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels), Canon’s EOS-1D C camera hits the 4K mark (4096 x 2160 pixels), which along with the EOS C500 cinema camera gives Canon two cameras with 4K capture ability.

Sony had a massive presence at NAB

Sony had the largest booth at the show and filled it with products from its Professional Services group, which covers the full gamut of professional broadcast and acquisition products, software/workflow and displays.

In an acknowledgement that certain consumer products have crept into the professional realm, Sony had on display its line-up of NEX and Alpha digital interchangeable lens cameras, under the heading of Large Sensor Video Acquisition, as well as its point of view (POV) action cameras.

Nikon promoted HD-SLR video production

The theme at the Nikon booth was HD-SLR Video Production. The company was showing off its D4 and D800 DSLRs to an enthusiastic crowd of Nikon shooters. Additionally, it had a running display of movies that have been shot with its DSLRs.

Blackmagic Design wowed the attendees with two compact cinema cameras. The first was the Pocket Cinema Camera, which is the size of a compact point and shoot camera, uses a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, features a Super 16mm sized 1080 HD sensor, offers 13 stops of dynamic range, and is priced at only $995. The second was the Production Camera 4K, which uses a 4K Super 35 mm sized sensor, offers 12 stops of dynamic range, is compatible with EF mount lenses, records videos to a solid state disk (SSD) recorder, and is priced at $3,995. The size and prices of these cameras break new ground.

Panasonic’s booth was filled with its broadcast and video cameras, but tucked in a corner was the Lumix DMC-GH3 digital single lens mirrorless camera demonstrating its video capability for filmmaking. Attendees liked the $1,300 price point for the camera body, which is almost one-third the price of a Canon EOS 5D Mk III.

InfoTrends Opinion

The 4K revolution is rolling forward and digital capture vendors would be wise to jump on this bandwagon early. With the digital camera and camcorder markets maturing, vendors are searching for the next feature or technology that will get buyers back into the market. InfoTrends believes that 4K has the opportunity to be that feature. Camera and camcorder vendors should have 4K video capture on their road maps for their higher-end products. Over the next few years, as 4K TV become widely available and more affordable, professionals and consumers will want to capture and display 4K content on their new TVs. We believe that this will be a solid reason for many professionals and consumer to upgrade their existing cameras and camcorders.

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