There is a lot of scepticism about how much of an improvement 4k is going to be over blu-ray quality 1080P content. I would like to give some reasons why things are actually better than what many believe.
Firstly, viewing distances.
Many people mention the undoubted truth that we have to be seated at a close distance to our tv or projector screens of varying sizes to get the best or greatest benefit from going to 4k. And there is a graph which has been shown often on this forum which relates those distances to different screen sizes.
The problem here is that what is most important is not how close we need to sit to get the "best" or "greatest" benefit from 4k but whether or not there is a worthwhile improvement over 1080P at our current or chosen viewing distance that we are comfortable with.
To get the "best or greatest" benefit from blu-ray quality 1080P we need to be sitting far closer to our screens than we actually do, but we still get a worthwhile and significant benefit at normal viewing distances so as a society almost everyone has upgraded to 1080P tv's and projectors.
It will be the same with 4k.
At normal viewing distances there will be an obvious improvement over good quality 1080P.
Yes, it is true that, as this HDTV article points out..." there’s no denying that the jump from 1080p to 4K is not as pronounced as going from NTSC/PAL to 1080p..." yet there is still a noticeable improvement.
Someone owns a 40" HD tv and wishes to keep that screen size in the future. Most would claim that a 40" screen is far too small to get any perceivable benefit from going to a 4k tv unless we sit ridiculously close to the screen. Only when we go to much larger screens (usually 80-100"+ sizes are quoted) is it believed that 4k becomes worthwhile.
Whilst that view is understandable it is wrong, imo, because it just looks at the negatives of a small screen size and ignores the positives.
As this information from coolscan points out, with smaller screen sizes we get more ppi and that enables more detail to be apparent:
"Apple iPhone 4 is 329.65 PPI.
50" HD TV is 44 PPI.
85" 8K TV is 103 PPI.
A 50 feet wide cinema screen at 2K is 3.15 PPI.
A 50 feet wide cinema screen at 8K is about 12 PPI."
In other words, smaller screen sizes have benefits as well as drawbacks when it comes to seeing the increased detail and quality of 4k content.
Sensible and honest contributors such as Ken Ross have pointed out that they have compared 1080P content with 4k content in real life and there was little difference to their eyes and to that of others who were also looking at the content. The problem here is that those comparisons have been done under showroom or tradeshow conditions, and that makes it more difficult to perceive the increased detail etc that comes with 4k. Under home theatre conditions the differences are going to be more apparent, especially in a properly treated home theatre room etc.
It also needs to be remembered that 4k cameras, tv's and projectors will keep improving as technology marches along and that present day 4k content and equipment is right at the beginning of our 4k journey. Red, for example, are currently working on their 3rd generation 4k sensor which already shows significant improvements over their two ealier sensors.
With the new HEVC codec and its extensions, HDMI v2.0 and the BDA's looking at 4k blu-ray, all of which are known to regular readers of these forums interested in this issue, there are solid reasons to look forward to a noticeable improvement in image quality as well as detail.
And that image quality will also be apparent on small screens sizes as well, due to their greater ppi etc.
“There is actually a lot more information on 35mm film negatives than has ever made it to the screen because when you go from a negative to an inter-positive and then to a print you always had generational loss,” Sony Pictures chief technology officer Chris Cookson said. “When we scanned the negative for Laurence of Arabia in 4K we noticed that we got more detail than the inter-positive we got when we did the restoration. So in a sense, no one has ever really seen everything that’s in that movie. So now we’re scanning everything from negatives to prepare for 4K. It has a lot more information than what was used as the reference standard for HDTV.”
This additional information relates to not just resolution but to colour range, accuracy and depth and also has implications for contrast levels.
Statements such as the above give us practical reasons to expect that 4k is going to be a much bigger and more obvious improvement than many currently believe.
Of course there are many people who couldn't care less about such benefits but there are enough of us who do to support the many companies working to bring 4k to the marketplace.
All in all, I think there are many reasons to be positive about 4k in the future.