4K VS 1080P: Why 4K is Better than 1080P

Wondershare Editor By Apr 13,2017 11:14 am

4K television technology is here, and is only going to get bigger and more widely available as time goes on. But do you really know what 4K is all about?

Read on to find out just what 4K is, how it differs from 1080P high definition, and most importantly - why 4K UHD is so much better than 1080P HD.


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What Is the Difference Between 4K And 1080P Video?

Most people are by now very familiar with 1080P high definition video quality. It is admired for its clarity and as a result, became the standard high definition format in use around the world. Even consumer DSLR cameras priced at well under $1000 have full 1080P video recording capability nowadays. This has put high definition technology into the hands of even the most budget conscious amateur videographer.

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But 4K is the technology that's gaining attention now, and with good reason. It is, however, easy to feel confused between 1080P and 4K. What exactly are the differences between them? Why is one better than the other? Can you really tell the difference? These are all questions that need to be answered if one is to have a good, solid knowledge about the future of ultra high definition video in the form 4K.

4k

Let's look at the most important difference between 4K and 1080p. This is, of course, the issue of resolution.

4K is known as Ultra High Definition (UHD), whilst 1080P is simply labelled High Definition. As their names imply, 4K UHD has a considerably higher resolution than 1080P HD video. 4K resolution is exactly 3840 x 2160 pixels, whilst 1080P consists of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

The 4K designation refers to the close to 4000 horizontal pixels. Traditionally, resolution had been labelled according to vertical pixels and in the case of 1080P, 1080 vertical lines make up that high definition resolution. By comparison, 4K features 2160 pixels vertically; a considerable increase.

At an aspect ratio of 16:9, 4K contains almost four times the number of pixels on a screen compared with 1080P technology - more than eight million pixels for 4K and just two million pixels for 1080P. This massive difference brings about some important advantages for 4K when one compares it to the quality of a 1080P video.

Why is 4K Video Better than 1080P?

There are a number of reasons why 4K has pulled clearly ahead of 1080P in terms of picture quality. These reasons focus mainly on factors surrounding the way it is able to resolve extra fine detail, being able to see this detail when seated closer than ever to the screen, and from a production point of view, the ability to scale down the recording to regular HD and other formats while retaining the high contrast, highly detailed quality of the original (particularly when viewed up close).

The top three reasons that 4K video trumps 1080P are:

1. Resolving Detail

Ultra High Definition televisions using 4K technology are able to reproduce the most intricate of details in a noticeably higher contrast fashion, thanks to the existence of quadruple the number of pixels in comparison to 1080P. This is considered the greatest advantage of the 4K video standard.

Examples of where this is noticeable is in the rendering of hair or feathers, as well as other images that contain very fine detail which may have resulted in issues such as moire or slight blurring in formats besides ultra high definition. Certainly when viewed up close, these difficult to resolve patterns appear less than stellar on anything besides a 4K screen.

2. Closer Viewing

Thanks to the large increase in resolution that 4K has compared with 1080P, it allows the viewer to be positioned much closer to a large screen while enjoying a clearer picture. In fact, the optimal recommended viewing distance for a 4K television can be twice as close as a regular TV. This is because 4K is experienced at its best when sitting closer; sitting further back means you often won't experience its maximum benefits (although still undoubtedly able to enjoy its supreme clarity, regardless of the distance).

In short, you can sit twice as close to a 4K screen compared with a standard high definition screen without being able to see the pixelation that occurs with the lower definition variety.

3. Scaling Down

Often times, a recording will need to be scaled down to a lower resolution. In the case of 4K, one may wish to downscale to a 2K high definition output. Tests have shown that when comparing the final video quality of a 4K video which has been downscaled to 2K, the picture is noticeably more detailed than could have resulted from originally creating the recording in 2K.

For people who want and expect the absolute highest possible quality motion picture experience, 4K is ticking all the boxes. From both a production point of view, and a viewing point of view, this ultra high definition technology is going to change the way we watch videos.

Television brands such as Sony are now selling 4K televisions at prices that the enthusiast can afford, and more and more video content is bring produced in 4K. Additionally, it's only a matter of time before DSLR consumer cameras are equipped with 4K video abilities; and the Canon 1DC DSLR hybrid has already reached that milestone.

All of this adds up to 4K becoming a technology that is no longer only in the hands of big production companies, but can be in the hands of the everyday video shooter and those who simply love to view their motion pictures in the most highly detailed format possible.

Once you understand exactly what 4K is, you can start to appreciate its true capabilities and its obvious benefits over 1080p. As the video technology of the future, 4K is gaining in popularity more and more by the day, and those who are the most savvy and aware of its potential will be at the forefront of this exciting new era in digital video.

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