October 18, 2014 at 4:45AM

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Do we really need 4K monitors? (not to mention the 5K Retina screens)

Apart from the tech/geek enthusiasm generated by the latest Apple 5k Retina monitor and the possibility of having dozens of micro icons on my desktop, could somebody point out the practical use and advantages of having such a monitor instead of simply having a FullHD one?
Taking into account the fact (as it has been well described in several blogs and websites) that our eyes need certain ratios between screen size/viewing-distance conditions to resolve more than 720p resolution, I can “see” no use for a 4k/5k monitor TO JUSTIFY THE PRICE TAG.
I can see the use for colorist working on productions to be released and distributed on movie theaters, but for editing I never needed anything over a 1920x1200 screen. And for VFX neither did I, since I can always zoom-in to fine tune small details that at the end are not even seen by the viewers.
What I’ve found most useful is to have a two-monitors-config that displays everything in front me, where the windows or tabs are big enough so I don’t need to be pixel peeping one single screen.

What am I missing? Is this just a part of a well marketed 4K hype? Could somebody who works with them point out the real-life advantages of such 4K/5K devices?

8 Comments

The new 5K monitor from Apple is actually an iMac computer with a 5K screen, so it's a pretty good bargain for $2500.

I do agree that a 5K monitor might be hard on the eyes if it's too small, but I haven't tried the new 27 inch Apple 5K display, so I can't say whether it's the extra resolution is useful or not. And you can plug-in other Apple displays via the built-in Thunderbolt ports, so a multi-monitor set-up is possible too.

October 19, 2014 at 10:52PM, Edited October 19, 10:52PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32221

It's not need 4k monitor for editing. You can edit the same way without.

October 20, 2014 at 5:02AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7588

If you’ve looked at the difference between an iPhone 3G screen and an iPhone 4 or 5 screen, you’ll get what Apple is trying to do. No, it’s not needed for a professional workflow (although photographers may find it quite beneficial). But a colorist working on films to be distributed in theatres is certainly not going to be using an iMac display.

What Apple is doing is trying to make pixels invisible to the average consumer. They did it first with their iPhones, then their iPads, then MacBook Pros, working their way up in screen sizes until the tech was affordable enough to apply it to their 27" iMac. Basically, it makes text sharper and more detailed. It makes images crisper (if the resolution is available in the image file) and it makes their products feel more high-quality to the average consumer.

Pixels are ugly. Apple’s trying to make them disappear to the naked eye. Unfortunately, as professionals, we work in pixels. We need to see them sometimes. So in that sense, a retina display could be harder to work with for some tasks (web development most specifically).

It’s not needed for editing. It would allow you to see the full sharpness of your 4K footage, but you don’t really need to see that to edit. But it does sound—and likely look—very sexy. And it’s fun to show off to your friends. :P

October 20, 2014 at 5:25PM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
1060

I am with Ryan. It's not need for editing, and more, the computer will be slowest than before because have to manager more pixeles... Is that because the new iMac retina is slower than the "old" version iMac top.

October 24, 2014 at 2:31AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7588

The extra screen real estate (more pixels) could make editing on a single screen easier... even more so with two. More resolution for different scopes, windows etc.

A 4k screen would be great for viewing sharpness of 4k material without having to punch in and miss a lot of the image.

Agree with others. Not needed but could be handy

March 20, 2015 at 9:50AM

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Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
759

It's the real estate that makes having the 5K that much better. I can't say I'm not biased having just acquired a fully specked one... But being able to view your rushes in HD without resizing your workspace is so useful, not to mention for multicam editing.
I can pretty much make the edit in that tiny viewer window on PP it's so sharp.

And just as we all fancy playing with the new Red, I must admit that watching it's images back in full resolution is a real pleasure and just as new toys give you the desire to play with them, watching those images gives makes you want to shoot.

March 20, 2015 at 6:16PM, Edited March 20, 6:16PM

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James Coote
Director of Photography
176

I recently bought the 5K retina, and I'd totally agree with most of what has been said above. It's definitely not necessary, but it seemed like an easy choice when compared to the similar prices of other 27 inch non 5K displays.

Also, totally agree with James. The extra real estate is really nice to have, it just makes all of your processes much faster and more efficient.

It's also a matter of looking a couple years down the line. Surely we aren't TOO far from a 4K/5K world. I am a young DP, and am assuming that many of my projects in the coming years will be shot in 4K. So, for me, it was a matter of preparing a bit for that inevitable future.

October 21, 2015 at 9:35AM

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Gabe Reuben
Director of Photography
253

I have a 4k monitor but see no advantage at all, got it due to needing a new monitor and it was a feature, I have no 4k content and shoot in 1080p for the foreseeable future and if I was shooting in 4k would just monitor in a lower resolution. However we all get to make choices, but the 4k monitor I have is being wasted for the 4k feature.

July 9, 2017 at 8:02PM

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