While you might just be catching your breath after getting caught up with all of your 1080p, or even 2.5K devices, 4K cameras at the budget range are going to come fast and hard from the major manufacturers. JVC was the first out of the gate with a less than stellar solution, but there was no question other companies were working on the technology. Now we've got confirmation straight from Sony about what's right around the corner for lower-end 4K cameras.
Thanks to Cinescopophilia for the link -- here's a little bit about the new sensor:
The English version of the new Sony IMX144CQJ Exmor R sensor press release has surfaced. The IMX144CQJ sensor is a diagonal 9.33 mm (Type 1/1.7) sensor, which places it somewhere between a 1/2″ (8mm) and 2/3″ (11mm) sensor in size. The Sony IMX144CQJ has 12.40M-Effective Pixel High-Speed, and is a High-Sensitivity Back-Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor for Consumer Digital Still Cameras and Camcorders.
Basically the sensor will sit somewhere between the EX1/EX3/PMW-200 and the higher-end broadcast cameras. Of course, a sensor that small doesn't necessarily lend itself to being fantastic in lower light (or giving excellent shallow depth-of-field), but we all know that shallow depth-of-field is a bit overrated, and often it's really the dynamic range and color fidelity that make an image what it is. What is interesting about this sensor is that it is actually a native 1.33 aspect ratio, which means it will probably be able to take 4:3 still images -- or maybe Sony will sell this sensor for industrial purposes as well. Either way, it's likely this sensor has been in development for some time, and the release of the document from Sony means that lower-end 4K cameras will likely be released in the next few years. Here is a little more information about the frame rates (click for a larger version):
There will be more 4K sensors to come, but what's more striking for me is how far ahead of the game Sony's sensor development is than the other Japanese manufacturers. Of course companies like RED and Arri can get high frame rates -- but they have a very specialized business and they can work with a sensor manufacturer to design exactly the right sensor they need. Sony, however, is usually working on a far larger scale. If Sony can get 60fps at 4K, why can't we get 60fps at 1080p from many of these manufacturers? Yes the data rate is far higher for real 60p (or at least it should be), but there is such a demand for these frame rates that it seems like a no-brainer for a company like Canon to incorporate (though maybe strong sales have let them spend a little less time and money on R&D).
I know a lot of people would rather have 1080p at 120fps than 4K at 60fps, but I think there's another factor people aren't considering in the ensuing 4K battle. While RED has produced the first affordable (relatively speaking) 4K, 5K, and soon to be 6K cameras, it is still taking a bit of time for displays to catch up. Those are coming, however, and depending on your line of work, whether they need it or not (or can even benefit from it), once clients start really seeing material in 4K, they're going to want it. This transition won't happen for another few years, but if you have a competitive business, it's not too early to start thinking about a 4K game-plan and how that might fit into your business model.
What do you guys think? Will those who bought into RED's "future-proofing" have the advantage, or will display technology take long enough that people will have time to catch up?