4K Video Cameras From Nikon – Videography Business Implications

Nikon’s first 4K Video Cameras are coming out soon, with the D500 and D5 hitting the markets in April 2016. However, before jumping onto the 4K bandwagon, you should consider if it’s the right fit for you or your video business (or video hobby for that matter).

For a videography business, you must always be asking yourself if the gear your purchasing will have a direct positive impact on your profitability. For instance, the Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VRII is an awesome lens. Awesome. But, for shooting wedding videos, it’s not all that more capable than the Nikon 80-200mm 2.8 – which is roughly 1/2 the price. If I was only shooting wedding videos and could do it over again, I would buy two 80-200mm lenses instead of one of each.

So, when I saw Nikon coming out with 4K video cameras (DSLR cameras), I asked myself if it would have a direct positive impact on my profitability. The answer is no, and in fact, it would wind up costing me money.

The Downsides of 4K Video Cameras for Wedding Videos/Videography Businesses

1) Storage – at 4 times resolution of 1080P HD, file size goes through the roof. From memory cards in your camera (which are getting cheaper, this isn’t that big of a deal), to needing more storage space on your computer. The raw files are bigger, the editing sequences are bigger, the render caches are bigger, it’s a huge drag if you’re not equipped.

2) Speed – with huge files not only need a place to live on your hard drive, but editing them in a sequences, playing them back un-rendered etc. can be painstaking without a top of the line processor and plenty of RAM. Editing 4K video is a whole different ballgame – and it’s expensive. Eventually, computers and pricing will catch up. I’ll read this article 5 years from now and laugh, but right now it’s not cheap to outfit yourself with a 4K video editor/editing machine.

3) No one wants it. OK, there is probably someone out there that wants a 4K wedding video, but even though we shoot everything in 1080p HD, 95% of our clients want a DVD, with many of them wanting JUST DVDs which means they don’t even end up with an HD version of their film. (We deliver on a flash drive, but no discs are produced). There isn’t barely a demand for HD video now, let alone 4K – which would have to be done on a flash-drive until the 4k discs hit the mainstream.

And, before anyone suggests that the clients, city, or region have something to do with this – the majority of our clients are 20 and 30 somethings in the Austin, TX area – many of whom work in technology. Trendy folks. Much trendier than me. Yet, DVD is still the most requested delivery method.

Don’t even get me started on 8K video.
4K Video Cameras Comparison

The Upsides of 4K Video Cameras for Wedding Videos/Videography Businesses

1) Cropping – I haven’t personally done this, but the concept is sound. If you shoot in 4K video but intend on exporting to 1080p or below, you can crop your video down to size and still get full resolution at those smaller sizes. The ability to crop video to the perfect frame would certainly give an editor more creative leeway.

2) Better stills from video – We’ve had several brides who were more impressed with some of our still frames than the images from their professional photographer. We’ve worked with some amazing photographers, but we’ve also worked with some very average photographers. When we work with those in the latter group, we often hear that they like the still-frames we pull from the video (and edit in lightroom) better than their photographer’s shots. At 1080 pixels tall, those aren’t suitable for printing very large.
Stills from 4k video won’t (and shouldn’t be) a complete replacement for a professional still photographer, but I have clients who would love to have higher resolution screen grabs from our videos.

3) Eventually, high-resolution will be the norm. It isn’t now, and it’s expensive to work with, but memory, hard-drive space, etc. are all getting cheaper everyday – and eventually there won’t be any discs produced. All delivery will be sent by either flash drive, or eventually, shared online.

Final Thoughts on 4K Video Cameras for Wedding Videos/Videography Businesses

If you’re starting a video business in 2016, we wouldn’t recommend spending the extra money or waiting until April for these new cameras to come out only to cost you more money than the market is willing to support right now. If you have a lot of cash sitting around and want to be one of the few offering 4K video, there is probably a market for that – but as of today it’s a very, very small market that isn’t likely worth going after.