8K Rant Continued

Most in the online community raving about 8K do not have the storage space, computer power, or even the dedicated hardware decoder required to edit it. Apart from YouTube, there is no 8K content. Many have complained of the difficulty playing 8K YouTube, either because of their computer or slow internet. I tried watching this 8K YouTube video on my 2019 16″ MacBook Pro and it was unplayable: 45 million views, 18,000 comments – most saying they couldn’t play the video! According to PCMag, no graphics cards currently support HDMI 2.1, which is required for 8K, so you can’t just use a single cable to connect your PC to an 8K TV. Streaming giant Netflix has expressed no interest in 8K and advertising agencies prefer 1080p because it streams more smoothly. If content is difficult to watch, consumers will skip it. Costs of media and storage, along with longer processing times and huge file sizes mean filmmakers have to pass those costs along to the client, making them less competitive. All that, and there is not yet a mirrorless camera on the market that can shoot 8K commercially.

8K content is indistinguishable from 4K. I already posted an example proving that the number of Ks is not the deciding factor in image quality. You’ve got to sit two feet away from a 60″ 8K television to see the difference in detail. And while most films on Netflix are shot with RED cameras, it’s impossible for any viewer to say with any certainty which shows were shot in 8K and which were not. The same cannot be said of HDR, which, unsurprisingly, few in online forums either understand or care about, but which is available to anyone with even an EOS R camera, and which requires no special hardware, no 8K television, no CFExpress cards, no vast amounts of storage and no extra computer processing power. And best of all, no overheating! Anyone viewing an HDR picture from ten feet away instantly recognizes the astounding improvement in image quality.

HDR contributes incomparably more to image quality than 8K. Rec. 709 covers 40% less of the CIE 1931 color space than Rec. 2020 and lops off as many as nine stops of the sensor’s dynamic range! But no one is interested because they’ve been fooled by marketing hype. Realistically, most consumer HDR televisions are able to display ten stops of dynamic range. Those extra four stops of brightness have been scientifically proven to be more appreciable than the difference between 8K and 4K, or 4:2:2 color and 4:4:4. That’s because our eyes are more sensitive to changes in the luminance of a video signal than to its chrominance. However, HDR is not only about brightness, but the greater amount of detail visible in the entire tonal range. That it’s even necessary for researchers paid by Warner Brothers to conduct double-blind studies to determine whether people can differentiate between 4K and 8K content (hint: most could not) is already an indication that the differences are marginal at best.

R5 8K RAW does not even meet the minimum published industry requirements for HDR video. UHD Phase A defines HDR as having a dynamic range of at least 13 stops(213=8192:1) and WCG as a color gamut that is wider than Rec. 709. According to CineD, using industry accepted IMATEST and Xyla, R5 8K RAW measures ~10 stops dynamic range, meaning it cannot even begin to exploit the dynamic range of today’s OLED television sets.

Until Netflix, studios, movie theaters, advertisers, clients and filmmakers think it’s viable, 8K will remain a novelty. And that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

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