Best Video Resolution: What To Use When Shooting and Exporting Online Videos

720p, 1080p, 2k, 4k… there are a LOT of options for resolution when shooting your videos. In this quick video we cover the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as the resolution I typically shoot at and why, so you can make the right call next time you’re shooting!


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Best Video Resolution: Shooting and Exporting Online Videos

It almost goes without saying… These days EVERYONE, should be creating their videos in High Definition. That means NO LESS than 720p; ideally at least 1080p.

If you don’t have a camera that can support 1080p, then go as close as you can. Of course, there ARE some cases where it may make more sense to go 720p, like often when shooting on a smartphone. Why? Well, front-facing lenses on a lot of phones right now only support upto 720p. Sure, rear-facing cameras are generally 1080p+ BUT in most circumstances the benefits of being able to see the screen while filming and actively frame your shot outweigh the downside of losing the extra resolution. So, in cases like this 720p is a perfectly reasonable choice.

What if your camera supports 2k or 4k? Should you go that high? Or if it doesn’t, do you need an upgrade? Well, there’s a few factors to consider first, and most of them relate to editing…

First – The higher the resolution, the bigger the file size. 2k is bigger than 1080p, and 4k is much bigger again. If you don’t have the storage space to handle all the 2k or 4k footage, then stick with 1080p.

Second, the higher the resolution the more intensive editing is for your computer and the more processing power you’ll need. You WILL notice pretty significant performance decreases editing 4k footage vs. 1080p if you don’t have a high-powered computer.

There is ONE exception here: Final Cut Pro on Mac. It’s absolutely awesome at chewing through 4k footage. It runs so efficiently, people have run tests editing 4k footage on the new 12″ macbook which is very low powered… Pretty awesome. But if you’re using Premiere or something else on a low-powered machine, forget it.

So let’s assume you have the storage space AND enough power to edit… Should you use 2k or 4k? And what are the advantages?

Well, the immediate benefit of 4k is that it is higher quality. More pixels on-screen, and a crisper image… IF the person viewing the video has a 4k display to make full use of it. There’s a growing number of these displays and TV’s out there for sure, but I wouldn’t say they’ve become the standard just yet.

One of the biggest advantages of shooting in 4k is that you can completely reframe your shot in editing, and still output a final full 1080p result. This means you can zoom in on your footage to create jump cuts, or reframe your shot in editing WITHOUT losing any quality. If that’s important to you, then the higher the resolution the better: i.e. 4k provides more flexibility than 2k. The higher resolution means more flexibility in editing if your output is at a lower resolution than your footage.

So, you should be aiming for a minimum of 1080p where possible. If you’re looking for more flexibility in your editing, then try 2k or 4k and output in 1080p. If you want the MAXIMUM quality possible, then of course – go for the highest resolution you can, but for most everyday content videos 1080p or even 720p are enough.

As always – if you found this helpful, we’d really appreciate a share and a comment, and don’t forget to subscribe to receive all our weekly updates, and I’ll see you next time.

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