In your decision-making process for starting a vlog, at some point, you’re going to decide what resolution you want to record in.
This may even play into which camera you decide to go with, depending on its functionality and features.
So what’s the difference between the main recording resolutions right now, and which should you go for?
The two most common formats are referred to as 1080 and 4K. These are pretty much standard across the board, and most videos you watch online are going to be in one of these two resolutions.
First, let’s talk about what the names mean. Both are referring to the size of the final image in pixels.
1080 (sometimes referred to as 1080p or 1080i) has a resolution of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels.
4K typically has a resolution of 3840 by 2160 (this is often referred to as UHD or Ultra High Definition), but can also be 4096 by 2160 (sometimes called Cinema 4K).
“…”, I hear you say.
Yeah, I know.
Here’s an image to show you the scale reference between 1080 and 4K:
As you can see, there’s a lot more information available for use in 4K than 1080. You might be capturing the same shot, but there’s much more data in the video.
Recent metrics have shown that the vast majority of content consumed online is via mobile devices. This means it’s more likely your video will be watched on a smartphone than a desktop computer.
Even though most phones have high-resolution screens, they still lack the physical size that would truly make high-resolution matter.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get good quality when recording. Large resolution images can still look better on small screens because of the information available, but again, it’s largely imperceptible to the average viewer.
Pixel density will continue to increase, larger resolution cameras will become more mainstream, and the numbers will gradually grow over time, but for the most part, a good old fashioned 1080 video is a great place to be right now.
This doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that most cameras don’t have the 4K capability yet, and the toll that it takes both on recording and editing time is significant if you don’t have a powerful enough computer to manage it.
For the average vlogger, there may be only a handful of instances where you would want a camera setup that allows you to shoot in 4K:
To be clear, a good handful of entry-level cameras are starting to have 4K capability, and while it’s not yet widespread, it’s still pretty easy to get a camera that gives you higher resolution.
Keep in mind that not only will your image be bigger, but so will the actual video file sizes. Dealing with and editing 4K footage can be fairly strenuous on your computer, so be sure that your computer can handle it before going all in on 4K.
4K will likely be the standard eventually, but until we get there, worry less about the resolution of your video and more about the kind of story and experience you are delivering to your viewers.