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4K vs 1080p. What does it mean and what do I need?

When choosing the best INNOVV camera to suit your needs one of the main differences you will see is in our front camera. Our K3 set up has all around 1080p Full HD while our range topping K5 camera has a 4K front camera partnered with a 1080p FHD rear camera. The question we often get is what this really means and what difference does it really make.

Its all in the Pixels

4K and 1080p refer to the number of pixels that are contained in each frame. When playing back your video on either a monitor or TV, video resolution (pixels) is shown in an aspect of 16:9 which is a standard ratio (size) for most playback screens. Since 2009 screens have not come out square, they come out wider than taller (widescreen) so 16 is the number of units wide and 9 is the number of units tall. It is a common standard size parameter that all manufacturers follow.

Strangely this is where the rules changed in measuring 1080p vs 4K. When 1080p (Full HD for the marketing wizards of the time) was introduced on TV’s and monitors the 1080p was a measurement of 1080 vertical pixels and 1920 pixels horizontally. It was a game changer at the time and provided many with a sharp resolution picture.

Fast forward to today and we are now seeing 4K as the standard for TV’s and computer screens. This means each of those screens (having the same 16:9 ratio) has four times the number of pixels in the resolution.

It’s in the maths.

For those maths buffs, 4K screens boasts 2,160 pixels vertically and 3,840 pixels horizontally. This gives a 4K screen 8,294,400 pixels – FOUR TIMES (4K) more pixels on a screen than the older 1080p screen which boasted 2,073,600 pixels. Amazing to think it is four times what we thought was the best only a few years ago.

8K still a way off

Some manufacturers are starting to produce 8K TVs, however it will be a while till they are mainstream as most production shows are still being filmed with new 4K cameras. If you are looking at the large 100” screens for a home theatre, then consider it for future proofing but 8K material is and will be very scarce.

Zooming, cropping and general editing.

Aside from a crisper picture there is a very tangible asset to filming in 4K and that is in the final screen shot or editing.

Only 4K can be cropped, zoomed in up to around 300% or panned without losing any of the image quality that 1080p would suffer from. Pan and zoom allows you to zoom in on the image area you want and make that the full image on the screen without suffering loss in quality 4K. The loss you would receive in a 1080p edit really depends on the amount you are zooming however there would still be clarity loss.

So, what does all this mean?

There are many things to consider when choosing between the 1080p K3 or 4K K5 camera kits however if this 1080p vs 4K story has taught you one thing, it is that you need to consider what you want out of the filming and how you are going to use it.

If you are just general commuting on your bike through the city at normal highway speeds every day and require the camera for safety, then a 1080p set up would be fine as a filming and playback device. However, if you are vlogging, racing or recording that once in a lifetime trip then consider the 4K set-up. The image quality, zoom capability and playback on today’s modern screens in this writers’ opinion is well worth it.