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(Pocket-lint) - Panasonic has feature on its cameras called 4K Photo, something that it invests a lot of time into promoting - even offering a dedicated button for 4K Photo on some of its cameras. 

However, there's plenty of scope for confusion around what it actually is. So, to clear things up, we're diving into 4K Photo to quickly explain exactly what it is and what it isn't.

4K is about video, right?

If you've heard about 4K before it's likely in terms of video. There's 4K gaming, 4K Blu-ray and 4K televisions and yes, that's all about displaying video. 

But in the case of Panasonic's 4K Photo function, it's not a video that you end up with, it's a 4K resolution photograph, which is about 8-megapixels.

Normally, on your TV, that 4K resolution would be 3840 x 2160 pixels because of the 16:9 aspect, although in some cases you can capture 4K Photos in a different aspect, like 4:3 or 3:2, which are more common to photography.

So is a 4K Photo actually a video? Yes, a 4K video is captured, but the end result is a photograph that is 4K resolution.

How does 4K Photo work?

4K Photo is really a form of burst shooting. This differs from the "continuous" or "high speed" capture offered by Lumix cameras which is often around 12fps - because that function is using the full resolution of the sensor, for example, 16 megapixels. 

What 4K Photo offers is faster capture at 30 frames a second, which is much more impressive and able to freeze fast moving action in a way that 12fps can't. Take for example people jumping - 4K Photo is a better option, because you're much more likely to freeze the action in that scene.

That's because it's using 4K video capture to work this magic and then presenting you the option to save the perfect image as a photo.

The options you get differ from camera to camera because you're governed to some extent by the power on offer, but ultimately, 4K Photo works the same way across all models, using 30fps for capture and presenting an 8-megapixel image to save at the end.

Why use 4K Photo?

High speed shooting is good fun and produces some great results and it's what you'll pick if you want to capture something in action, like freeze a moment in motorsports or just your dog shaking water out of its fur. While you could take a single shot with a fast shutter speed, you'll probably miss the moment.

In these instances faster is better, so 4K Photo's 30fps capability is a real advantage to get the photo you want. 

The downside, of course, is that you're only getting an 8-megapixel photo at the end and that has some limitations if you want to zoom and crop. For that reason, 4K Photo is best suited to very deliberate scenes where everything fits well into the frame, for example, your dog, child, that classic exam results jumping in the air shot. 

So is 4K Photo really just a clever marketing term?

Shhhh, don't be so negative. Well ok, yes it is. 

Everything related to "4K" immediately brings to mind the latest tech and 4K Photo is no exception - it sounds advanced in a way that "8-megapixel Photo" wouldn't. After all, your smartphone camera probably has greater than 8-megapixel resolution on the back, so the message would get lost.

The real message is that 4K Photo is about grabbing the perfect moment in fast moving action giving you a great sharp shot, perfect for sharing.

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Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 3 January 2017.