HD, Full HD, 4K or 8K? Wondering what resolution to film in? Then you are exactly right here! We clarify which resolutions are available, what is currently standard and in which resolution you should film.
The resolutions: HD, Full HD, 4K, 8K…
Ultra HD is the next largest standard definition and comes with pixel dimensions of 3840 x 2160 pixels. This means that Ultra HD has twice the pixel dimensions of Full HD, which means that the resolution is four times larger. Ultra HD is often also referred to as 4K, since the term 4K usually describes resolutions of around 4000 x 2000 pixels. The “real 4K” is actually a little wider, as it has 4096 pixels instead of 3840 pixels.
So if your camera can film in 4K, you should usually use that too, as this is where you get the best quality and most details. Even if Full HD is currently still the standard in TV and Internet, 4K will slowly but surely become the standard. More and more televisions and other end devices already offer 4K screens and buyers of such devices naturally want to take full advantage of this.
The next largest resolution used by videographers is 6K and it comes with a resolution of around 6000 pixels on the long side. This is what the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K offers, for example, which can film with 6144 x 3456 pixels. Since 4K is just becoming the standard, there’s usually no need to film in 6K. However, recording in higher resolutions also offers you many advantages, which we will discuss in a moment.
Finally, the last standard resolution is 8K with 8192 x 4608 pixels. So far, you could only film these resolutions with really expensive cinema cameras, but that seems to be slowly changing. In addition, there are already 8K end devices such as televisions, but these are still quite expensive and not really widespread.
Advantages of high resolutions
Now that we’ve covered all the common resolutions, let’s look at the benefits of extra high resolutions. If you film with a higher resolution, this offers you various advantages. On the one hand, the quality of your recordings will of course improve, since the higher the resolution, the more details can be seen in the video. On the other hand, your recordings are also more future-proof because they can keep up as soon as 6K or 8K becomes the standard.
But don’t worry: you are not forced to actually film 6K with a 6K camera. You can also record your video footage in 6K and then export it in 4K. It then tends to be of slightly better quality than native 4K material. You can also digitally zoom or crop 6K footage in post-production, as long as you only export the video in 4K. This helps you, for example, if you want to stabilize shaky material in Premiere, since the picture is cropped (zoomed).
As you can see, higher resolutions offer you many advantages and more flexibility in video editing. Unfortunately, these higher resolutions also come with certain disadvantages, which usually have a direct impact on your wallet.
Disadvantages of high resolutions
For one thing, cameras that offer 6K and 8K are usually relatively expensive, although there are some exceptions such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K. In addition, logically, significantly more storage space is required here, since twice as many pixels are recorded. For example, we usually film in 4K, with each video resulting in around 80-100 GB of raw material. If you now decide for 6K or 8K, the required storage space will of course be more. If you want to store this material safely and for the long term, you have to invest a few euros in appropriate storage solutions.
In addition, you also have to buy an appropriate computer for the video editing. Most computers have trouble letting you edit 4K footage smoothly. If you want to edit material in 6K or 8K resolution instead, you either need a fairly powerful computer or you have to create proxies. In short, proxies are highly compressed placeholder files and allow you to cut smoothly. The high-resolution original material is then only used for the export. However, creating proxies costs more time and storage space for each project. If you want to avoid that and opt for the high-end PC, you will have to pay a few costs here as well.
The resolution in which you should film
If you are just starting out with filming and happen to own a camera that only records in 720 pixels, then you can definitely start learning how to film with this camera. Because even in this resolution you can deal with technical settings, image composition and storytelling. After a while, however, you will quickly notice that your recordings do not meet the current quality standard. Check for more.
So if you want to meet professional standards, you should get equipment that allows you to record and video edit in at least Full HD, i.e. 1080 pixels. So you can also start to handle professional projects for paying customers. Since videos nowadays almost always end up on YouTube, Facebook and Co., a higher resolution than Full HD is rarely required here.
However, if you are about to buy new equipment and you want to make a future-proof investment, you should opt for a 4K camera. You can find our favorites in our blog post on the perfect camera for filming. With recordings in 4K you are definitely well prepared for the next few years, but you have to make sure that you also get an appropriate computer and storage solutions in order to be able to work here without stress.
Recordings in 6K and 8K are usually not necessary and are requested by very few customers. However, if you have the budget to buy a camera, storage solution and computer for higher resolutions, then let’s go! So you benefit from the highest quality and flexibility in video editing.
Why it’s not just about the resolution
In principle, you now know everything you need to know about resolution when filming and should have a good overview. However, we would like to explain to you why it is not always just the resolution that matters. Resolution is just one of the factors affecting the quality of your image. For example, you cannot compare the 4K of a smartphone with the 4K of a Sony a7 III. The decisive factor here is the size of the sensor, which is significantly smaller on the smartphone.
As a result, the pixels, even if they are the same number, are smaller and less sensitive to light. This is then reflected in a lower image quality together with high compression. So if you’ve always wondered why the 4K of your smartphone doesn’t look like the 4K of your camera, here you have the answer! Finally, you should of course also make sure that you can record the desired resolution in the desired frame rate.
Conclusion: The perfect resolution when filming
So now you know that you should ideally record in Full HD or future-proof 4K, that lower resolutions are no longer sufficient and higher resolutions bring both advantages, such as more flexibility in post-processing, and disadvantages, such as higher production costs, which ones You should always pay special attention to budget planning. You also know that the image quality is not only dependent on the resolution, but also on other factors such as the sensor size. With this knowledge, you can now decide in which resolution you want to film.