Why Cameras Will Need to Record 4K at 60p

Why Cameras Will Need to Record 4K at 60p

It was about five years ago that I first tried this out, and it’s crazy to me how camera manufacturers will omit such a great feature.

When Sony debuted the FS7, a fusion between ENG and cinema, they pushed the specs of what a camera could physically do. You could easily record 4K footage at 60 frames a second. Granted, you only get about 10 minutes of record time on a 64GB XQD card, but it’s a huge win either way.

Then Panasonic released the GH5, and it was able to record 4K 60p onto an SD card. It’s “Variable Frame Rate” mode also played the footage back at your frame rate of choice (like 24p) and it was butter smooth. Of course, Panasonic is dealing with a much smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor here. A lot less data to deal with.

Why It’s Useful

When I’m shooting Fashion Week content backstage, things move extremely fast. I often need to get a gorgeous shot of an lipstick application, and I’m only going to get a few seconds to do it. Shooting 4K and delivering in HD gives me the needed bandwidth to both reframe my shot in HD, and deliver vertical content if needed. However, I only have a couple seconds of action, I need to slow it down. When I’m shooting in 60p, I get three times more lipstick goodness and I can really hone in on the best snippet in post.

Right now I’m stuck. I feel like you can’t offer a client that’s seen the beauty of 4K 60p, anything less. And that means that I can’t switch to a lot of other great camera systems. I’m extremely happy with Panasonic’s GH series, and will rent others when needed, but the lack of support for 4K 60p in the market is extremely frustrating.

In a crammed backstage, with awful lighting, having the ability to push my footage with 4K 60p makes all the difference.

Where It’s Missing

At Fstoppers we’re all excited for the FUJIFILM GFX 100, a new medium format beast that is set to create some serious competition in the market. It’s able to shoot 4K footage, but not at a higher frame rate. If it had that feature, I would be far more excited.

I understand that it’s a stretch to expect so much from one camera, especially one with such a large sensor. However, I would expect it from cameras with smaller sensors. Sony’s FS5 can’t record 4K at 60p, nor can Canon’s C300 Mark II (the C200 can). I realize that these sensors are bigger, where Panasonic and Fuji have been able to get great the results with smaller sensors.

Until last week, Panasonic’s S1 and S1R cameras were the only full frame mirrorless bodies to shoot 4K 60p. Now we can add the S1H to that list, at 10-bit too. Albeit, the sensor is cropped in this mode. Nonetheless, I appreciate that the option is there. Canon, Nikon, nor Sony, have this in any of their equivalent cameras.

I feel like we’ve been awaiting Sony’s a7S III for some time now. Every major industry conference brings new rumors, because the king of low light isn’t so hot anymore. In my opinion, Sony will want to crack 4K at 60p before they launch any update. With such a small body, I’m sure they’re running into overheating issues that have plagued them in the past. Perhaps this is why we’re left waiting so long?

What camera feature can you not live without? Has built in stabilization spoiled you? Or even something as simple as a menu layout? Let us know in the comments.

Stephen Kampff's picture

Working in broadcasting and digital media, Stephen Kampff brings key advice to shoots and works hard to stay on top of what's going to be important to the industry.

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"Of course, Panasonic is dealing with a much smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor here. A lot less data to deal with." ??? Why would 4k60 be less data on a m43 than on a larger sensor??

It's more about processing power with a larger sensor, sensor readout speed (relates to rolling shutter), and things like that in my understanding. Not so much about just data, if the bitrate is the same. These cameras are also usually downsampling something like 6k to 4k too for sharpness so that factors in as well when it comes to processing. Sort of how the camera I own (fs5) can output raw 4k 60p, but can't record it internally - processing power to compress that and write it to a card.

Cue the "but most people watch content in 1080p not 4K. 4K isn't necessary. Derr Derr." Knuckle-draggers.

This is often from people whose preferred manufacturer doesn't offer the feature someone is rationally advocating for.

Why the frustration if you already have a camera that does what you need?

Why would you want to switch to another system if you're "extremely happy with Panasonic’s GH series..."?

If being extremely happy isn't enough, what will be?

There will always be something else to covet. You can't find happiness that way.

I like 4k 60p (or 48P) a lot for similar reason. Two cameras that can shoot it are the 1DX Mrk II and the RED ScarletX

"I realize that these sensors are bigger than Micro Four Thirds, where Panasonic and Fuji have been able to get great the results."
Fuji is using a APS-C Sensor, if 35mm Fullframe is 1, APS-C has the crop factor of 1,5 and Mircro four thirds has 2 as a crop factor. The Fuji sensor is way bigger compared to a Panasonic one.

The wording is weird, you're right. I'll fix that.

Fujifilm X-T3
Released Sept 2018
30FPS @16MP Sports Shooting