NAB Perspectives: Canon Puts 4K Front and Center

A search through this year’s NAB halls for “most transformative” booth will uncover a few interesting candidates, but it’s Canon, which expanded the size of its booth to allow for a heavy emphasis on 4K products and workflows, that wins the prize. And given the interest in 4K cameras and related products, the expansion is more than justified.

“The consumer side is definitely going to be moving towards 4K in the next three or four years,” says Chuck Westfall, technical advisor for professional imaging, Canon. “And there will be a natural progression on the professional side.”

Canon’s C500 debuted at the show and is the company’s second 4K camera to be launched in less than six months. It’s capable of originating 4096×2160-pixel images with uncompressed RAW output for external recording, and Westfall notes that Canon made some big advances since introducing the EOS C300 last November.

“It steps up tremendously on the video side, as the RAW video can be output, but it can also record an HD proxy file to CF cards,” he says. “And there is an HD-SDI port for an HD-SDI stream.”

More important, Canon is already working with independent recorder manufacturers to capture the live feed off the camera. Westfall points to AJA’s Ki Pro Quad recorder, which can support both 4K and 2K recording, as a perfect example of future partnerships.

“It allows for RAW pass-through via Thunderbolt to Mac computers,” he adds.

Sports broadcasters and others can put 4K cameras to use today for such functions as “Super Zooms,” in which they can zoom in on a 4K image and extract a full-resolution 720p image without degrading the image.

But the camera can also offer improvements to an HD image. It effectively captures four pixels of information for each HD pixel (one red, one blue, and two green pixels) and then can output a lower-resolution HD image that has improved color, no fixed pattern noise, and low noise.

“For now, no one is ready to stream actual 4K images into a broadcast,” says Westfall, “but we are looking at ways to take the 4K data and allow the user to extract what they need out of it or also use it for digital image stabilization of a 720p or 1080i image.”

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