An introduction to 4K photography

Photography has come a long way since the advent of the digital camera, the commerical origins of which date back to the late 1980s, and now it looks set to make further advances still, with the growth of 4K photography. Having collaborated with Lumix UK, I’m going to give you a brief insight into how it looks set to revolutionise photography.

But before I do, let’s set the scene by delving briefly into the history of photography. Incredibly, the first pinhole camera dates back to the 11th Century but back then all that could be done was to draw over the image that was projected on to the page. It wasn’t until 1816 that the first partially successful photograph was produced. Between these two points in time, though, something even more significant to our lives today actually happened, and it has nothing to do with photography. It was the signing of the Magna Carta by King John in 1215.

This was hugely significant – not just back then but also to our lives today – because it is widely considered to be one of the first steps towards establishing democracy. Its relevance isn’t just confined to England but it has world significance, having been influential in the likes of the American Bill of Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It also brings me back round nicely to 4K photography. “Why?” you might well ask. Well, because I went to Cartmel Priory last weekend to attend their 800th anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Magna Carta – and to try the camera out.

Cartmel Priory

So what is 4K photography?

In layman’s terms, 4K photography (also known as Ultra HD photography) allows you to capture the exact frame that you want. I am using the Panasonic Lumix GX8 and, when set to 4K mode, it will shoot video at the rate of 30 frames per second in high photographic quality, leaving me to then pick out the precise moment (or moments) I want to keep as photographs, all of which can be done within the camera.

Let’s take an example from the Magna Carta celebration at the weekend, of two knights engaged in battle at a living history Medieval Encampment, Tournèe and Fayre. Here’s a sequence of shots, all of which represent less than half a second in time.


The knight wields his sword and gets ready to attack…


The sword edges a little closer…


But the other knight brings his sword across to defend himself…


The attacker exhales as he comes down with the force of the sword…




The two swords clash!


The sword bounces back off after the collision…


Notice at this point how the deflected sword just briefly catches the reflection of the sun as the blade turns ever so slightly…


The attacker’s head turns slightly, too, as the sword is deflected…


The other knight survives (for now, at least!) to face another onslaught…


…and the attacker doesn’t look best pleased!



I’ll talk about this more in later posts, as I get more to grips with the camera myself (I’ve not had it long!), but hopefully this gives you a brief insight into the kinds of things 4K photography allows you to do. In the meantime, I leave you with a few shots from one of the evening shows outside Cartmel Priory of the magical Son et Lumière that also formed part of the Magna Carta celebrations.

Son et Lumieres 1 Son et Lumieres 2 Son et Lumieres 3 Son et Lumieres 4 Son et Lumieres 5 Son et Lumieres 6

For now, just imagine the possibilities that 4K photography opens up… that safari where you just didn’t time that perfect moment quite so perfectly… that family shot where everyone was smiling wonderfully but Uncle Fred blinked at the precise moment you pressed the shutter… and so on.

What would you use 4K photography for? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Panasonic Lumix UK.

Comments (105)

  1. I really like Lumix products, and 4K photography opens up so many possibilities. The photographs you shared are very real time.

  2. Wow! The difference it makes when the light catches the sword is huge, taking that particualr photo really stands out. I need to find out more about 4K photography.

  3. Erin Bender says:

    My husband is an amazing photographer so I passed this article on to him. He is always looking for ways to become better. I love the heavy use of photos though made it much easier for even me to understand.

  4. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Paula… you’re right! Lumix products are fab, and the possibilites 4K opens up are really amazing. I’m quite excited about getting to grips with it more!

  5. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Kat… yes, I’m not sure if it’s the pick of the bunch but I thought it was interesting how the light caught the sword for just the slightest of moments. Just a fraction of a second that you wouldn’t have necessarily known about had it not been for 4K photography.

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Erin… glad that was useful! I tried not to be too technical (makes it easier for me as well as the readers!) so I’m glad this illustrated it well. :)

  7. Adeline Sheradelia says:

    Great article! Guess it’s time for me to explore all the wonderful possibilities with 4K photography! :)

  8. Denfor Hopkins says:

    4K photography opens up so many possibilities, so I can’t wait to try it out.

  9. Thank you for your introduction to 4K photography, you’re photos are fabulous and I’m looking forward to upgrading my own camera to 4K.

  10. Janice Papworth says:

    Great pictures and really highlights the quality you get with 4K. I especially like the glinting sword photo.

  11. Aleksandra says:

    Always good to learn new things on how to take interesting pictures….It is quite a challenge when you have a simple camera only :)

  12. William Gould says:

    This looks perfect for sports and/or fashion photography, both of which I have an Amateur interest in!

  13. Andrew Knight says:

    I really didn’t know 4k photography was so clear and crisp. couldn’t take my eyes off the wall illuminations, incredible detail. big thumbs up for those.

  14. Emily Austen says:

    I a dying to buy, try out a proper camera and know how to use it to get the best quality!!! Such a useful article – think I’ll go on to read the other related ones now…!

  15. Sue C says:

    It’s amazing how photography is changing so fast. I’d love to have a camera that can take good photos of a son et lumiere. I’ve never been able to capture night scenes.

  16. Emma Ellams says:

    Really great introduction. Your blog is really giving me back the bug for photography and 4K photography looks like a good place to pick back up! Fab photos too!

  17. Angela Ellis says:

    What a fantastic innovation 4K is. Although I am a fairly average photographer, I am excited at the possibilities this provides for capturing the one shot in a million you may miss without 4K. I will definitely be looking into getting one of these for our trip of a lifetime to the Galapagos.

  18. Anthony Goddard says:

    4k thats fab but just need a 4k display to take advantage of all the visual goodness. Of course when it comes to digital zoom your in a whole other territory

  19. An amazing sequence of shots. I can see how you could capture amazing thing this way. And the photos are so sharp and detailed.

  20. michael boothby says:

    I really didn’t know 4k photography was so clear with great details thanks for showing us this and great blog page aswell

  21. Greg says:

    We love this camera! Its capabilities speak for itself. The quality of each still frame is outstanding.

  22. Richard Eldred Hawes says:

    Enjoyed the article on 4K must give it some serious consideration as I currently do not have a camera capable of taking video at that level

  23. Sally says:

    4K videos for photographing fast moving events seems to be the way forward. I already have a GX7 camera and know the Panasonic quality, and appreciate the compact nature of the micro four thirds cameras.

    I love to photograph birds in flight, so a GX8 with 4K is on my wish list now. :)

  24. Raphaël Garagnon says:

    Although I am not sure it will be quality at its best, it is such a good way to capture the instant ! I need to try that !

  25. Peter Klemek says:

    It doesn’t provide the same quality as using the full sensor but 4K Photo mode is a very useful tool to have in the arsenal!

  26. Darrell says:

    I always have problems with night time shots – usually too blurry. The photos above are crisp & perfect. Really interesting blog. Certainly got me interested in learning more about 4K Photography. Love the idea of being able to choose the best shot. Would be great to use at something like Sea World with the dolphins leaping out of the water :)

  27. Nathalie Taylor says:

    4K looks amazing for Night time shots! I have never been able to get any good pictures at night time and have missed out on so many fantastic picture so this would really be perfect.

  28. Kele says:

    As an independent filmmaker/ blogger the possibilities with 4K photography are endless! It’d be very useful with editing footage into short clips and getting good stills to use as thumbnails per clip.

  29. Tom Bartel says:

    I didn’t know about the capabilities of the 4K mode of this fantastic camera. I just might have to try one out.

  30. Heather Reading says:

    I love this. I really wish I had tried a bit harder to take better shots, with the amount of travelling we’ve done over the years we could have had some wonderful memories.

  31. Robert says:

    These pictures are beautiful. I didn’t realize with 4K you could get such great stills. Thank you for posting this.

  32. fiona cullen says:

    Amazing action shots-would love to try out the 4K camera on wildlife and birds-love the way ot captures the movement and light

  33. Sarah Rowland says:

    I’ve just started out taking pictures and I’m looking for a camera that works well with children that can’t keep still

  34. Ana Marie Bacul says:

    I’m looking forward to create memories with this new eye candy. When it comes to photography, superb image quality is all that matters to me.

  35. Ellie Gingell says:

    I love Lumix, we love taking great photos as a family, especially when we go on our lovely days out.

  36. Elliot Lye says:

    Wow, some great quality shots here. I’d never considered how useful 4K recording can be. It’s got brilliant image quality and it looks like it can be trusted to capture moments in the best possible way.

  37. GEOFF WICKENS says:


  38. NICOLAS says:

    Great pictures, this is a top 4X4 camera to travel. Light weight & quality photos no matter day or night

  39. Quality looks great! Love the way you can pick the perfect frame from the 4K video feed. Definitely giving dslr run for their money

  40. Maria says:

    4k Photography is something I would love to learn more about or try out soon. Looks like the possibilities are endless!

  41. Sally says:

    This is such a useful post! I’m a total noob when it comes to photography so this was insightful. Thanks for posting!

  42. Fascinating! I’d love to step up my photography game (without the intimidation factor that sometimes come along with gear).

  43. Siobhan says:

    Great Blog! I love history – reminds me of the Tower of London, one of my favourite paces to visit! great pics :)

  44. Emma says:

    This seems like such a cool use of new technology! It’s amazing how far changes have come to the way that we use cameras & recording equipment, and the functions we now take for granted!

  45. madalin says:

    Thank you for your introduction to 4K photography, you’re photos are superb!!Certainly got me interested in learning more about 4K :)

  46. Nikhil says:

    Paul do you think 4K photos will be as popular as 4k videos? I mean how many platforms will really let you fill up their server with heavy images?

  47. Ooh, this sounds like fun for getting the perfect action shot! Then you could pick out just exactly the moment you wanted. The problem I have is remembering to set the camera up BEFORE the action starts, rather than thinking about it halfway through!

  48. Sandra Bald says:

    Really great introduction Shall have to share your article with my hubby who is after something like this for his 50th birthday present

  49. Gillian Brewster says:

    4k photography opens up so many opportunities,. An interesting but informative blog especially for a novice like myself but not to technical that I can’t understand it!

  50. Miriam says:

    these are some really amazing shots! this camera seems to be able to do great things for something so compact and sleek

  51. Paul Johnson says:

    Sorry, Nikhil, I’m not sure I follow your question – what do you mean by “how many platforms will really let you fill up their server”?

    With 4K photography, you don’t have to keep the video or all the images from the video – you can just extract the image(s) you want and then delete the rest, so the end result can be much the same as normal digital photography (depending on how many images you want to keep) in terms of how much diskspace it ultimately takes up.

  52. Emma says:

    Awesome post. Especially easy to understand for newbies to 4K photography like me! Particularly like the shot of the sword bouncing back after attack :]

  53. The power of photography is its ability to enable us create our imagination and replicate our present realities..

  54. Joanne Bean says:

    This really makes me want to get out there and practice! A very interesting read, and great example photos, thank you!

  55. Christopher greenall says:

    There are so many possibilities with the Lumix 4k. The pictures it take are truly stunning, and can really make an amateur photographer produce visually beautiful pictures

  56. Rebecca Williams says:

    I’m just getting into photography and really enjoying it, this is a great blog with some fab photos :)

  57. Alexandra Clements says:

    This is great! I’m getting into photography, and your site is really helping me. Thank you!!

    Alexandra Clements

  58. paul martin says:

    great introduction to 4k photagraphy with some great pictures thank you for taking the time to does this post

  59. Sarah says:

    Thank you for introducing me to 4k photography and showing me the great pictures with it! I’d love to step up my photography with this.

  60. Danielle says:

    I’m so excited to trade in my 2010 DSLR! Thank you for sharing these posts, looking forward to learning more!

  61. Pamela says:

    Hi, i am italian travel blogger. I love this luxury travel blog. Thanks very much for your posts!
    This camera is just incredible camera. Wow! I would love to have one :)

  62. Rhiannon says:

    Photography is definitely something I want to develop more of before we do our big backpack adventure this year.

    I’ve never even heard of 4k photography but you can really see the difference. This is something I want to explore more of.

  63. Christopher says:

    I’m new to photography, never heard of 4k photography before today, thinking of how it can help with alot of my scenic shots here in the Caribbean. thank you for sharing.

  64. Chrissie Curtis says:

    This really is fantastic! I had never heard of it before.

    I am pretty new to photography. Looking forward to learning more.

  65. Lucy McClure says:

    Wow, this really does open up what we can capture, this would be great for taking shots at the sports tournaments at Uni.

  66. Nicole says:

    What an intriguing post. Seems as if there’s always something to learn about photography. I’m just getting started, but this is really interesting!

  67. Zoe says:

    Wow, stunning pictures. The sword fighting demonstrations take me back to my childhood, I used to drag my parents halfway across the country to Warwick Castle far too frequently. My dad’s a photographer, and I think were we to go back now with a 4k camera he’d get some cracking shots.

  68. Neil Howard says:

    I need to upgrade to 4K, ASAP… The ability to record high quality photos as a Video. Also feature like post focus… It’s a game changer

  69. lynn savage says:

    Thanks, great intro to 4K. I’d make great use of this when photographing skateboarders and snowboards at events. It can be tricky to catch the perfect moment when the movements are so fast.

  70. Suzanne Heath says:

    I’d love to try 4K photography taking shots of my daughter on her horse, I suffer with motion blur or missed timing and this looks like the answer.

  71. Jennifer B says:

    great pictures your dog is so cute!

    I’ve never had the chance to try out a 4K camera looks great!

  72. Caroline says:

    The quality of the sequence of shots is so impressive. The versatility of 4K photography is great. Would love to try it out.

  73. Maggie says:

    Fantastic shots and detail fron 4K photography. I’d like to take photos in the wild with this camera.
    Welcome to the future of photography.

  74. Jennifer Ward says:

    Just when you think photography can’t get any better they come up with new exciting ways to use your camera. I remember getting my first digital camera and thinking it was amazing that you could see your photos immediately! This 4K is a whole new ballgame. To be able to pin point the exact second you want is amazing! And I love LUMIX cameras anyway! Can’t wait to try one of these bad boys! 😄

  75. Lynda says:

    Fantastic photo quality! This is perfect for food and travel. I would love to upgrade to this. Thanks for sharing this post.

  76. Mary Jones says:

    The effects of this camera are of professional quality, and a great aid for making exceptional advertising that would attract a wide audience. In other words, you could really make this work for you! Just my opinion..

  77. I´m amazed by the quality of the photos for such a small camera. We have been using a DSLR for two years, and we are considering to change our bulky camera and lenses for something light. But I´m always concerned about the quality of the shoots and videos. The introduction of 4K photography and the Lumix camera really surprised me! Thanks for sharing!

  78. Alica says:

    Fantastic article and very informative! I really would like to work with 4K! I need to start saving my pennies!

  79. Great pictures! I’m impressed by the quaity! Believe tha before buyin a new 4K camera I will need to buy another external Hard Drive. Going for a 3 Tera this time!

  80. Miranda says:

    Some great pics and a lovely introduction to 4k :) I would love to try this out but need to get the camera first!

  81. Jon says:

    Great intro to 4k, and love the ability to segment out the fotos at just the right moment in time. The night fotos are impressive. Must be able to have a stunning level of ISO for those. Heading to the rest of those 4k articles!

  82. Lavina says:

    This is an amazing post! I was looking for inputs to capture the northern lights and I chanced upon this…very informative!
    Seriously thinking of investing in a lighter camera!

  83. elinor semira says:

    Wow, the 4k photography looks really interesting. i would love to capture my family’s stolen moments, naturally looking poses ha ha.

  84. Lizzy says:

    When I first heard about the 4K photography I didn’t imagine it being very good. It looks fantastic though! Such a brilliant idea and so many new possibilities!

  85. Jane says:

    Great article!

    Just wondering how you find managing such high quality photos? What software/hardware specs do you use to process these images?

  86. rica says:

    amazing! this 4K photography is very interesting and can capture every exact frame, giving the final product as the best and real moments

  87. Martina Evans says:

    Love the great quality shots especially the ones that were taken at night. They’re so clear! I struggle with taking good quality photos so this really fascinates me. Thanks for sharing.

  88. Vicky Varley says:

    The picture quality is amazing, the detail capturing every moment in detail. Looks great for beginners aswell.

  89. Paul says:

    I’m really loving the new (useful) ideas that m43 cameras have been bringing to the table lately. I hope they keep it up..

  90. Looks an incredible camera thanks for a competition with such a wonderful prize. Picture quality is stunning

  91. Vidette Wong says:

    Great article! Tips would be helpful should I ever get a DSLR or CDC camera…. Or if I have the luck to win one :) Hehe. Everything looks so wonderfully professional!

  92. Lucy Garwood says:

    These images look to be of Fantastic quality. Lovely, vibrant results. I’m a real novice at photography and kit but the results from such a compact camera are very impressive indeed.

  93. Phil Boyle says:

    Great advice & ideas and appreciate the effort put in re the article I just wish I could afford an up to date camera . . Thanks

  94. Michele says:

    Interesting! Thanks for the lesson. I didn’t know much about 4k photography before reading this blog.

  95. Twenty says:

    is 4k video easy to edit on a PC? i got a PC with pretty good specs.. 12GB ram, decent graphics card etc.. still wondering if ill need a better ram.. i have a 3.1ghz or khz.. not sure on my processor

  96. Paul Johnson says:

    Hello Twenty, yes it is easy. It is much like you would for any photograph. From within the camera, you can select the stills that you want and then just transfer these images across to your machine to edit as you would normally.

  97. Alondra says:

    Great article, very useful for us beginners! Kuddos on the great site, the hard work shows- there is always plenty of good info for those of us in the travel industry here!

  98. Kat Glynn says:

    I’m a beginner to photography, but really looking to improve my skills.. some great tips and shots :)

  99. Susan B says:

    Great intro to 4k and great photos. Very useful for those who lack confidence. I would probably use it for my family and pets.

  100. Andrew Hall says:

    4K photography is the way to go. I’m looking forward to trying it soon. The pictures look amazing. It would make my grandsons running around look lifelike.

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