The resolution wars are still going strong and now we are seeing affordable cameras that are pushing well above 4K for their top-end recording specs.
Still, at the end of the day does the raw resolution really matter? Plenty of content is still delivered in Full HD and even more is viewed on screens that are far from true 4K. It is highly unlikely that your average viewer could even tell the difference or even cares all that much.
How about more seasoned video shooters and editors like yourself? Filmmaker Chris Hau created a test involving 6K and Full HD footage shown on an iPhone, laptop, monitor, and TV to see if people could guess which is which.
Both the 1080p and 4K clips were shot with a Panasonic S5 attached to an Atomos Ninja V. Same settings in every other way. As for the contestants, he has Jesse Driftwood and Lizzie Peirce, both of whom are YouTubers and content creators. Basically they are both people who work with video all the time.
Round 1 is just watching the footage on an iPhone. It’s a short clip and with a small screen that isn’t even 4K resolution is making this incredibly difficult.
The two had no idea after watching them. Lizzie didn’t even want to guess because she couldn’t tell at all. At the end it was just guessing and Jesse got it wrong.
Moving up to a 14” MacBook Pro you have more real estate and a higher resolution. This is also a device that a lot of people would edit videos on. Watching the footage closely they both identified which clip was which accurately and without hesitation.
Side note here is that even though you can tell on a computer, about 80% of this type of video content is viewed on a phone. Workflow might also impact how you work since the file sizes are dramatically bigger.
The next real round is the 5K Studio Display. Bigger and more pixels. Obviously after the successes with the MacBook they nailed this one as well. Admittedly, they say the 1080p looks great. The giveaway is in the sharpness and detail. 6K shows more detail and sharpness. In reality without the comparison it would be difficult to tell in a fully edited project.
A bonus round is showing off the footage on a consumer-grade 4K TV at a normal viewing distance. They were still able to tell but it was more difficult.
At the end of the day the final resolution of your project probably doesn’t matter all that much. If you finish all your videos in 1080p for YouTube that’s fine. Now, if you plan on doing some punch ins or plan to show this off in a more serious environment that extra detail might make a difference.
What do you think about this test? Are you going to give up shooting in 4K now?
[source: Chris Hau]
Panasonic Lumix S5 Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
Atomos Ninja V 5” Monitor/Recorder (B&H, Amazon)
Apple Studio Display (B&H)
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