How come phones are able to record 4K video, but compact cameras can't?

Most high-end phones nowadays have 4k video recording. So how come it's next to impossible to find a dedicated compact camera that can do it? You'd think a dedicated camera would be more advanced than a smartphone camera! Is it because of the processing power required to process 4k video?

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JanSt / MOD  Aug. 11, 2014 at 20:29

I suspect a) the processing power and b) some shady deal. Same way smartphones can only record 30 minute video clips max as to not to p*ss off video cam makers who sit on important patents...

shadders139  Aug. 12, 2014 at 12:22

I suspect a) the processing power and b) some shady deal. Same way smartphones can only record 30 minute video clips max as to not to p*ss off video cam makers who sit on important patents...

By shady deal- do you mean that smartphone makers have made a deal to stop compact camera manufacturers from enabling 4k recording? Because, surely it would be the other way around?

Or do you mean that video cam manufacturers have stopped compact camera manufacturers from having it?

Either way I'm not sure- there seem to be 2 compact camera's with 4k recording on the market- but they are very expensive at around £400-£500. It's frustrating because I want to buy a new camera, but I wan't it to be future proof with 4k recording (especially since my phone already has it, so not having it seems like a step back).

JanSt / MOD  Aug. 12, 2014 at 12:25

Any shady deal... I'm sure there is one. There always is.

CTPAHHIK  Aug. 12, 2014 at 18:30

There are plenty of cameras that can record 4K video, unfortunately all of them are professional ones. Since, 4K display technologies are very limited at the moment there is no need to jack up price of a product in order to include 4K recording.
You cannot future proof yourself here. Anything that costs £500 right now will be on Ebay for £40 after 3 years. It's foolish to assume that compact cameras (no matter the price) will be able to record watchable 4K video - It's a marketing gimmick. Good 4K equipment has four digit price tag attached to it. Stick with high quality (low noise) 1080p that can do progressive 30+ frames.

shadders139  Aug. 12, 2014 at 18:41

Anything that costs £500 right now will be on Ebay for £40 after 3 years.

Isn't that true of a lot of today's gadgets though? But I agree with you, it would be pointless to get a £500 camera now just because it has 4k recording. But I was just wondering why smart phones can include (without seemingly 'jacking up the price') but compact cameras can't?

I've already seen pretty decent deals on 4k tv's on hotukdeals, and this time next year they will be quite common (although it'll probably be 2 or 3 years before they are 'mainstream'). Since in the past I have kept cameras for 4-5 years it would have been nice to be able to buy one that I know I can still be using in 5 years without it feeling too outdated (but yes, I guess even the first gen 4k cameras will seem outdated in 5 years time)

CTPAHHIK  Aug. 12, 2014 at 19:00

I don't think any smartphones can do 4K video. I don't have 4K smartphone and there are no video comparisons on review sites.
I think it legal + marketing issue. No review will take off points for having only marginal quality improvement between 1080p and 4K in smartphone. As an end user you are unlikely to return smartphone when you find that there is no noticeable difference in quality between 1080p and 4K.
If you try to market a camera with 4K video recording that is not any better than 1080p reviewers will point that out and lower their score. You are also likely to return a camera that doesn't do 4K properly as you might be buying a camera specifically for 4K video recording. Nobody in their right mind will buy smartphone for a sole purpose of recording 4K video.

Smartphone support for 4K more indicative of decoding capability. I think it takes around 8 times processing power to display 4K vs. 1080p. If you have 1080p+ screen you will be able to take advantage of 4K video streams, only if phone is fast enough to process it. Try watching 4K YouTube (there are movie trailers) video clip on a PC with video hardware acceleration disabled - you need a quad core or fastest dual core desktop CPU. My i7 laptop stutters with 4K video when video hardware acceleration is disabled.

One more thing - Amazon Fire TV is unable to do 4K. I'm not sure why - Fire TV is too locked down to figure out. It might be bad video encoding or it might be that Fire TV uses CPU instead of GPU. Fire TV has one of the latest Qualcomm chipsets, which implies that there is no mobile CPU on the market that display 4K - there must be GPU decoding.

shadders139  Aug. 12, 2014 at 19:09

I don't think any smartphones can do 4K video.

off the top of my head- the note 3, the sony z2, the one plus one, the lg g3 (and I think a few others) can all record 4k video. But I do understand that you are making the point that these manufacturers may claim to have 4k recording- but the actual quality may not be that great and so it is more a marketing gimmick than useful feature. Personally, I'm not sure if this is the case. I think most likely if you recorded a home video on one of these smartphones in 4k vs 1080p and played it back on a 4k tv- I think you would most likely get a noticeable difference (even if it may not be mind-blowing), but I this is just an assumption on my part.

But yes you do make a good point that camera's will be held to a higher standard than a smartphone. But I'm not sure that's a major reason- camera manufacturers aren't necessarily above marketing gimmicks themselves and if they could implement 4k (even if it was shoddy 4k) I think they would just to get some quick sales.

I think the processing requirement is probably the main reason, but some of the factors mentioned in this thread will also contribute to why there are so few compact cameras with 4k

CTPAHHIK  Aug. 12, 2014 at 19:26

Yep, quite possible processing requirement is not there yet. There a lot of under £10 chipsets on the market - AM Logic, Mediatek, Rockchip, etc. I don't know if their GPU part can process 4K video. Their CPU definitely can't as Qualcomm chip in Fire TV would have worked.


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