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The ‘8K’ experience was the best part of UFC 258

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Notice how things looked a little more lush, colorful, and intense during UFC 258? Here’s the story on the new camera used to create that effect.

All you hardcores willing to shell out $70 for the UFC 258: “Usman vs. Burns” sleeper card last night (Sat., Feb. 13, 2021) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, were treated to not just a great main event, but a new camera being debuted on the broadcast. According to the commentary booth, the promotion had shelled out big bucks to get 8K cameras similar to what we’ve started seeing in the NFL and WWE recently.

You don’t need a crazy 8K television to get the effects of this ‘8K’ camera — the whole 8K hype surrounding all this is actually pretty bunk, but we’ll get into more detail on that in a moment. For now, let’s just share a couple of clips filmed on the new equipment so you can appreciate the overall look that was generated:

Okay, so now onto the technical details of the new camera: according to UFC’s Jeff Bottari, it was a Sony A7RIV DSLR with a 35mm 1.4 G Master Lens. While technically you could call this an 8K camera because it is capable of filming 8K resolution, we can pretty much guarantee it wasn’t filming at that resolution ... or even downscaling from 8K. It was the lens that gave everything the lush colors and interesting depth of field look that caught peoples’ eyes.

All the extremely crisp close ups of fighters with the blurred backgrounds? That’s known as bokeh effect, which is caused by the extremely wide aperture lens filming at high speed. It’s used to amazing effect in photography and cinematography and is now starting to show up more and more in sports. We’re sure some people will hate it, but we’re kinda down for any new aesthetic that differentiates 2021 UFC broadcasts from 2012 ones.

While most shots were complete wins, it seems like UFC still has some kinks to work out. As mentioned before, the A7RIV is a DSLR-style camera, not one of those big shoulder mount cameras. There were focusing problems, which we suppose are to be expected when you’re going for such extreme bokeh. There were a lot of rigid movements during the broadcast that make me wonder whether the camera was mounted on a motorized gimbal, making it good for stationary moments like intros and post-fight but not so much for the actual fights themselves. That could certainly change as UFC staff get more practice with the equipment.

But overall, A++ cool effect, UFC. Here’s hoping it scooped up a bunch more footage with this cam and it packages them similar to what they do with slow motion Phantom camera footage. Let us know what you thought of the bokeh aesthetic in MMA, Maniacs!

For complete UFC 258 results and coverage click here.