Is 4k Really Better than 1080p?

If you’ve shopped for video cameras, cameras, or even televisions, you’ll have come across the terms “Full HD 1080p” and “4k”. 

These refer to the video resolution or the quality and detail in playback. 4k, also called Ultra High Definition (UHD), refers to the almost 4,000 horizontal pixels it has, whereas Full HD 1080p refers to 1080 vertical pixels it contains. 

4k generally translates as highly detailed, crisp, and cleaner looking video than 1080p, especially when played on a 4k monitor.  

4k vs 1080p video: what’s the difference?

4k video is a substantial step up from 1080p, with four times the resolution of 1080p; in a 16:9 ratio, that’s 3,840 x 2,160 pixels compared to 1920 x 1080 pixels. 

On a screen, 4k video contains more than 8 million pixels compared to just 2 million pixels for 1080p. That starts to add up with finer detail in the rendering of hair or feathers, as well as better quality overall when viewing the footage up close. 

The possibilities with 4k

man shooting video of woman

Shooting in 4k doesn’t mean you’re stuck with 4k. You can actually scale down the recording to regular HD or other formats. Yet it still retains an edge against source material recorded in 1080p.

Even downsampled to 1080p, 4k looks better than Full HD because it captures four times the amount of information. 

Unlike 1080p footage, 4k can be cropped, zoomed in, or reframed without any loss of quality. This means you can create the effect of a second camera, cropping up to 300% closer, creating second angles, or even panning across the video as though to create a slider effect. 

4k is also great for interviews when you only have a single camera, where you can shift perspectives between full-body shots and close-ups. 

Is 4k video really better than 1080p?

While 4k is the way forward with video technology, there are still some reasons to shoot in 1080p. 

To start, 4k file sizes are far larger than 1080p, meaning you can only record on one memory card for a limited amount of time – and processing demands a lot of power from your computer.  

Filming with 4k also generates a significant amount of heat inside the camera, which needs to be dealt with. This draws additional processing power from your camera, leading to shorter battery life.

Finally, HD 1080p is better for slow motion, since 4k can usually only shoot at 30 frames per second. 

Should I shoot 4k or 1080p?

video shoot with camera pointed at woman in chair

If you have the option to shoot with a 4k video camera, as well as enough internal storage and battery power, it’s always recommended. Even if you downsample your 4k video later, the higher quality will still be noticeably different – and in the long run, you won’t regret starting off with a higher resolution. 

Great cameras for 1080p & 4K video recording

Now you know the difference between 4k and 1080p, you’re better equipped to start searching for a camera to meet your needs. 

There is a range of high-quality mirrorless, DSLR, and video cameras that offer superior video shooting. The models we’ve listed below are just a few of our favourites. 

Canon EOS 80D

This DSLR is particularly popular among YouTubers with great controls, good dual pixel autofocus, a solid battery life, a headphone socket, weather sealing, and 1080p slow motion recording. 

Check out the Canon EOS 80D today.

Sony a6500

The compact Sony a6500 has a quality APS-C sensor and capture high-quality 4k footage (although its 1080p footage isn’t great). You’ll also enjoy fast autofocus and good low light performance. In-body image stabilisation also ensures you capture smooth footage. 

Check out the Sony a6500 today.

Panasonic GH5

This is a powerhouse of a mirrorless camera, with incredible image stabilisation, 4K quality worthy of broadcasts, and a great high-resolution viewfinder. 

Check out the Panasonic GH5 today.

Sony a7 III

Sony’s most affordable 4K full frame mirrorless camera comes with five-axis in-body stabilisation, the ability to shoot slow motion HD at up to 120 fps, operates well in low light and has great battery life. 

Check out the Sony a7 III today.

Sony HXR-NX80 Compact NXCAM

This Sony video camera will help you deliver corporate and events videos with the ability to record 4K at 100mbps or Full HD at 50mbps. You’ll get fantastic sharpness thanks to a fast hybrid AF lock, while the camcorder supports an instant HDR workflow to help you produce stunning content quickly. 

Check out the Sony HXR-NX80 Compact NXCAM today.

Or check out our complete range of cameras, including video cameras, online at Camera House today.

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