Shooting in 12K (In Photo Ursa Mini Pro 12K Camera — Blackmagic Design)

Why Shoot In 12K? — The Benefits Of High Resolution Imaging In Video

The Benefits Of 12K

The obvious benefits to filmmakers when using a 12K or other high resolution camera (e.g. 4K, 6K, 8K, etc.) are the following:

  • Less noise in images due to bigger sensor size.
  • Captures more light for better quality images (ideal for low light filming).
  • Image quality looks more realistic and engaging to the audience.
  • Best for large displays greater than 30" and cinema screen size.
  • Finer details are captured.
  • Better bit depth color support.
  • Better for post production when it comes to editing.
Ursa Mini Pro 12K Camera (Source Blackmagic Design)

High Quality With Lower Resolution

The reason a director or cinematographer would use a high resolution camera (e.g. 12K camera) is due to higher quality when it comes to imaging. There is a lot more things editors can do with high resolution video than if the camera used was for a specific native format. It would be a waste of time and money to film a show using different format cameras just to support a specific display type. Imagine having to do three takes for a show just to have one version suitable for 720p HD, 1080p FHD and 4K 2160p UHD. Production budgets would sky rocket, not to mention filming and shooting time can take from days to weeks. Rather than doing that, it is best to use the highest resolution camera available to production to cover the various formats through the post process of downscaling.

Chroma Subsampling

The main reason why downsampled formats still look better on low resolution displays has to do with chroma subsampling. According to this technique, the human visual system has a lower acuity for color differences than for luminance. This is because the human eye is more sensitive to variations in brightness rather than color.

With chroma subsampling, 3 pixels is averaged into 1 by discarding some of the chroma information (Cb, Cr) but retaining the luma information Y’.

Post Production Benefits

When it comes to post, there are plenty available for editors to get creative. They have much more to work with in terms of data stored in high resolution formats compared to a lower resolution. This is why when shooting in 4K and higher formats like 12K, the storage device on the camera must be suitable for storing the video. The storage media must also be fast enough to handle data write speeds when capturing footage with the camera. CFast and UHS-II are ideal for high speed and high resolution storage.

High resolution gives more for editors in post to work with.

Online Compression

There is an interesting article about how online compression can still affect quality for downsampled content. If you are a content creator filming with a high resolution camera (in the article in mentions 4K camera) and downsample to 1080p, uploading the resulting content to services like YouTube will not preserve its quality. This is due to compression. When the codec compresses the video for YouTube’s content delivery service, the quality is lost in sharpness and detail.

At 400x zoom, the image on the left is the original downsampled 4K content. When uploaded to YouTube the result is much different due to compression. (Source Premiumbeat)


If it is quality (e.g. color, tone, depth, contrast) and flexibility that the content creator is looking for, using higher resolution with a 12K camera is definitely the best idea for imaging. The reason many filmmakers prefer shooting in higher resolution has to do with quality and creativity. Why continue to shoot with a 1080p camera at FHD when you can do much better with a higher resolution camera? This is not to say that every filmmaker should immediately replace their cameras and go 4K or 12K. There is still the costs to consider when using high resolution cameras because they are more expensive to purchase. Serious filmmakers (commercial or cinematic) probably should because there are plenty of more benefits and advantages to shooting with a 12K camera (4K or other higher resolution camera than 1080p) compared to a 1080p camera.



Multimedia, Imaging, Audio and Broadcast Technology

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Vincent Tabora

Editor HD-PRO, DevOps, Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Software Development, Engineering, Photography, Technology