Consumer electronics companies are hoping 4K Ultra High Definition TV will be the next big thing, but parts of the TV biz are proceeding like it’s already here.

The newfangled sets aren’t even in U.S. living rooms yet, but already select TV pilots are being shot by Sony Pictures Television with digital-cinema cameras to future-proof the programming for the time when 4K is commonplace. Cabler 3Net, in which Sony is a partner, is future-proofing with its Total D strategy, creating versions of its programs in 2D and 3D at 4K, 2K and HD resolution.

Netflix’s “House of Cards,” CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and FX’s “Justified” are among the growing list of shows shot with the Red Epic.

American Society of Cinematographers technology committee chair Curtis Clark finds the cameras even delivers superior results for today’s HDTV presentations. “It also has an advantage when you’re down-converting that to HD,” he says. “You’re super-sampling or oversampling an image and getting the advantage of that. In a sense it’s like when you scan motion-picture film and show it in HD.”

Such 4K cameras as the Sony F65 and F55 and the Red Epic weren’t made for broadcasting, but high-resolution cameras have quickly found a home in TV sports. Shooting with a 4K camera gives lots of extra pixels to zoom in for replays and still get a full HD TV image, not a fuzzy, pixilated picture.

“Not only can we use the F65s that way, we’ve been using Phantom cameras and other extreme high-speed cameras to do slow motion for sports broadcasting, and it gives us some very effective new looks at an old product,” says David Stump, chair of the camera subcommittee at ASC.

Sony F65 CineAlta
Recording option: 4K, QFHD, 2K, HD
Bit count: 16-bit Analog-to-Digital conversion
Shooting speed: 1-120 fps (adjustable in one-frame increments)
Sensor: 8K
Pixel count: 20 megapixels
Latitude: 14 stops

Red Epic
Recording options: RAW (5K; 4.5K; 4K; 3K; 2K; 1080p; 720p
Bit count: 12 and 16-bit
Shooting speed: 1-120 fps 5K, 4.5K; 1-150 fps 4K; 1-200 fps 3K; 1-300 fps 2K
Sensor: 5K
Pixel count: 14 megapixels
Latitude: 13.5 stops

Sony F55 CineAlta

Recording option: RAW (4K or derived 2K)
Bit count: 16-bit
Shooting speed: 60 fps out of the box; 180 fps with planned upgrade
Sensor: 8K
Pixel count: 8.9 megapixels
Latitude: 14 stops