What is 4K TV and 4K resolution
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What is 4K TV?
What’s the deal with 4K?
Read on to find out.
What does 4K mean?
A 4K TV is a TV set with 4K resolution. That means the TV has 3,840 horizontal pixels and 2,160 vertical pixels, for a total of about 8.3 million pixels. On TV product specifications, resolutions are usually shown as “3840 x 2160” for 4K TVs.
Resolution is a term that tells you just how densely these tiny dots, the pixels, are put together on the display. Individual pixels collect together to make up the image you see on the screen, so the higher the pixel count the higher the resolution. The “K” in 4K stands for Kilo (1000), meaning a TV that has achieved a horizonal resolution of about 4,000 pixels.
How good is the quality?
4K TVs have four times more pixels than traditional Full HD (1920 x 1080) TVs. Even on TV screens of the same size, the 4K TV picture quality ends up being more vivid and detailed thanks to the greater pixel density. This difference is especially obvious in big screen TVs. For example, if you compare the quality of a traditional 65″ Full HD TV to a 65″ 4K UHD TV, you’ll notice a difference in the pixels that make up the screen. For high-resolution TVs, the pixels are smaller than in a lower-resolution TV of the same size, so you can enjoy a more immersive experience without restrictions on viewing distance and watch from up close without noticing the individual pixels.
What 4K content is available?
When 4K TVs were first introduced, there was not much 4K content to watch. This caused some consumers to hesitate purchasing the TVs. Now there’s so much 4K content available that it’s no longer an issue.
Currently, there are various forms of 4K content from 4K broadcasting, 4K streaming services, 4K Blu-ray players & discs to even UGC videos filmed with 4K cameras or 4K smart phones. There are approximately 80 channels worldwide that broadcast in 4K (according to Wikipedia), and VoD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu and Rakuten also offer a wide range of contents such as 4K movies and TV series. Plus, if you have a 4K Blu-ray player you can easily purchase and enjoy 4K videos from places like Amazon.com.
Recently, a lot of people enjoy filming videos using 4K cameras or smartphones with 4K cameras built in and share that content with other users through video sharing platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. So, feel free to explore whatever catches your interest.
Enjoy all your content in
It would be great if all recorded content were filmed in 4K, but there’s still a lot of lower resolution content out there in comparison to 4K content. However, thankfully this is not a concern because of upscaling.
So what is 4K upscaling and what can it do for you?
When you watch lower-quality FHD content on a 4K TV, upscaling is the technology that increases its resolution, converts, and optimizes it to fit the display panel of a 4K TV. In other words, it doesn’t just stretch the image — it upgrades it for the 4K display. Upscaling automatically analyzes resolution to reduce noise, improve details and provide optimum contrast and color so that you can view this content in 4K-like quality. And since every brand does upscaling differently, be sure to choose the one that does it the best.
What is 4K? What is UHD?
To put it simply, UHD stands for Ultra High Definition and 4K Resolution is a type of UHD resolution.
Different brands use various expressions to say the same thing, such as Ultra HD, 4K TV, Ultra High Definition TV and 4K UHD TV. As time passed, the TV industry found the phrase “4K” easier and more intuitive for consumers and began to use it more and more. Today most manufacturers and distributors now use the term 4K TV or 4K UHD TV. Recently, another type of UHD TV has begun to show up on the market: the 8K TV.
Get on board
High resolution TVs are something to consider when purchasing long replacement products like TVs. If you’re going to buy a new TV, then do yourself a favor and choose a 4K TV.
See all Samsung 4K TVs
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4k vs 1080p and Upscaling: What’s the Difference?
What Do 4k and 1080p Mean?
4k and 1080p refer to the resolution of the display. A 1080p TV has 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels, while a 4k TV has 3840 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical. It can get confusing because 1080p refers to the number of vertical pixels (1080), but 4k refers to the number of horizontal pixels (3840). So while the name makes it sound like a 4k display has four times the amount of vertical pixels, in actuality, the amount of vertical and horizontal pixels on a 4k display are each double that of a 1080p display. However, this means that overall, a 4k TV also has four times the total amount of pixels as a 1080p TV, which you can see in the table below.
There are different marketing names for each, but having a 4k TV doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than a 1080p; there are many different factors that affect the picture quality. A higher resolution simply means it supports more content and delivers crispier images. You can see some of the differences between 4k and 1080p below. You can also read about resolution here.
|Full HD, FHD
|2160p, Ultra HD, UHD
Availability and content
As 4k TVs are the norm, native 4k content is also easy to find on most streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. Physical video sources, like Blu-ray players and gaming consoles, are starting to support a 4k resolution as well, but they were limited to 1080p for a long time. Regular Blu-ray discs are 1080p, and there are now 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray discs as well, but it’s an entirely new format and requires you to upgrade your Blu-ray player and purchase new 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. The original Xbox One and PS4 were limited to 1080p, and then the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X/S, followed by the PS5 and Xbox Series X, were each released with 4k support.
It’s becoming harder to find 1080p TVs in the 2020s, and they’re usually limited to small, entry-level models. If you have limited space and need a small TV, you’ll likely need to get a 1080p model, since 4k TVs are usually available in larger sizes.
4k TV – Hisense H9G
1080p TV – TCL 3 Series 2019
Native 4k vs Native 1080p
4k resolution on a native 4k TV
1080p resolution on a native 1080p TV
The two photos above illustrate an identical image at different native resolutions, which means the image’s resolution and the TV’s resolution are exactly the same. The first photo is a 4k image displayed on the Hisense H9G, and the second is a 1080p image displayed on the TCL 3 Series 2019.
The 4k image is smoother and has more detail than the 1080p image. Look closely and you’ll see that the edges around objects in the 1080p picture are a bit more blurry, and text looks clearer on the 4k TV. The difference is that the higher pixel count of a 4k screen allows for a more natural representation of the picture, with added detail in the image. However, it can be very hard to tell the difference when viewing at a distance, and the jump in quality isn’t as noticeable from regular HD, which is 720p, to 4k.
1080p Upscaled to 4k vs Native 1080p
Upscaled 1080p on a native 4k TV
1080p resolution on a native 1080p TV
Native 4k content is very popular, especially on streaming apps, but some of what you watch may still be lower-resolution content upscaled to UHD, which will look different from native 4k. To present lower-resolution material on a 4k TV, the TV has to perform a process called upscaling. This process increases the pixel count of a lower-resolution image, allowing a picture meant for a screen with fewer pixels to fit a screen with many more. However, it doesn’t increase the detail of the image since the signal has the same amount of information. Above you can see the difference between a 1080p resolution on the 4k Hisense and on the 1080p TCL.
Overall, the two images look very similar. There isn’t any more detail in the upscaled picture than you can see in the native 1080p picture, so whether or not it looks better is entirely subjective. There are some 4k TVs that have trouble upscaling 1080p, but it’s rare. This doesn’t mean that 4k is inherently worse for watching 1080p content since most TVs don’t have this problem, but it’s important to make sure the model you’re buying doesn’t have any issue with this before going through with the purchase.
HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range, started to become more popular around the same time as 4k TVs. While it’s often marketed together, it has nothing to do with the resolution and actually refers to the colors and luminance. It allows content creators to use a wider range of colors and luminance levels. It helps improve the picture quality and produces richer, more vibrant colors. There are different HDR formats, and you may see some companies advertise 4k HDR, but just because a TV supports it doesn’t mean that HDR looks good. However, the large majority of 1080p TVs don’t even support HDR, so if you want to watch your favorite HDR content, go for a 4k TV. You can learn more about HDR here.
There are limits to what the eye can perceive, so if you sit too far from your TV, you won’t be able to see all the detail in the image. That means that if you sit too far away from a 4k TV, the picture may look like what you’d get on a TV with a lower-resolution screen.
This chart illustrates the dividing line for normal 20/20 vision. To use the chart, check your viewing distance on the vertical axis and the size of the TV on the horizontal one. If the resulting position is above the line, you probably won’t see a major difference between a 1080p and a 4k TV. Essentially, there’s only a noticeable difference if you sit close to a large screen TV.
That doesn’t mean you won’t see any difference at all if you sit further away – it just means it won’t be significant. You can learn more about TV size and viewing distance here.
Winner: 4k. While 4k won’t give you much of a benefit after a certain distance, it’s always better from up close.
720p vs 1080i Broadcast Signal: What Is the Difference?
In the United States, there are two standard resolutions for cable TV broadcasts: 720p and 1080i. Much like 1080p, the number refers to the vertical resolution of the screen, 720 and 1080 pixels. The letter refers to either progressive scan or interlaced scan. Every TV sold today uses progressive scan, but they’re also compatible with a 1080i signal.
In an interlaced video signal, the image is separated into even and odd horizontal lines. Alternating frames display even and odd lines, meaning that each individual frame of the signal is only half of the image, and the rest of the image is displayed in the next frame. Progressive scan, on the other hand, displays the entirety of the image on every frame, so it’s a bit more costly to distribute.
In the end, 1080i and 720p end up using about the same amount of bandwidth, even if 1080i covers over twice as many pixels. This means that still images look sharper on 1080i, but it isn’t perfect. As you can see in the pictures above with the Samsung Q9F, 720p looks much clearer with motion. This is why sports channels use 720p since fast-moving content may not look smooth with 1080i signals.
A frequently updated list of HD US channels with their respective resolution can be found here.
Winner: 720p for sports, 1080i for still images.
4k vs 8k
8k TVs are starting to hit the market with a few models, like the Samsung Q900TS 8k QLED. An 8k resolution has 7680 horizontal pixels and 4320 vertical pixels for a total of over 33 million pixels, which is four times more than 4k. This allows for an incredible amount of detail, but it may only be noticeable if you sit really close to the screen. There’s also a limited amount of 8k content available, and it requires a large amount of bandwidth. Even the new HDMI 2.1 standard can only support uncompressed 8k content up to 30fps with chroma 4:4:4.
With the extremely high cost of 8k TVs in 2021 and the limited amount of content, it’s worth getting a 4k TV. However, technology evolves quickly and we may see a rise in 8k TVs in the coming years. After all, it was once a crazy thought that 4k content would become as accessible as it is now.
Winner: 4k. While 8k is technically superior, the difference with 4k is minor for a TV.
When you’re shopping for a TV, it’s likely you’re going to get a 4k model. A TV’s resolution can be its main selling point, as it’s easy to throw the 4k label on any TV, but the resolution is only one small factor in the total picture quality. While 4k is an upgrade from 1080p, it may be hard to notice the difference in resolution if you sit far from the TV, or if you just watch 1080p content. Since most TVs now are 4k and it’s hard to find 1080p models, you won’t really have to choose between 4k and 1080p anyway.
What is 4K resolution? Overview and perspectives Ultra HD
What is it and how does it affect image quality
4K refers to one of two high definition resolutions: 3840×2160 pixels or 4096×2160 pixels. 4K resolution is four times the resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) and twice the linear resolution (2160p).
Other high definition resolutions in use today are 720p and 1080i. These resolutions are most commonly used on large screen TVs to create images with better detail.
4K resolution is used in commercial digital cinemas at 4096×2160, because many movies are shot or processed in 4K by upscaling from 2K (1998×1080 at 1.85:1 aspect ratio or 2048×858 at 2.35:1 aspect ratio).
4K is well established in the consumer and home theater market under two official consumer labels – Ultra HD and UHD – using a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels (technically 3.8K, but “4K” is easier to pronounce).
In addition to Ultra HD or UHD, professional settings also refer to 4K as 4Kx2K, Ultra High Definition, 4K Ultra High Definition, Quad High Definition, Quad Resolution, Quad Full High Definition, QFHD, UD, or 2160p.
Note: This information applies to televisions from various manufacturers, including but not limited to LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony and Vizio.
What makes 4K resolution remarkable is that, when used with ever larger TV screens and video projectors, it delivers much more detailed images with fewer visible pixels than 1080p. 1080p looks great on a screen around 65 inches and can look good on larger screens, but as screen sizes get larger, 4K delivers better images.
Note: The resolution remains constant regardless of the screen size. However, as the screen gets larger, only the number of pixels per inch changes. This means that to keep the same number of pixels on the screen, the pixels need to be increased in size and/or spaced further apart.
How 4K is implemented
There are many 4K Ultra HD TVs and a growing number of 4K and 4K Enhancement video projectors.
For added support in home theater setups, most AV receivers have 4K bandwidth and/or 4K video upscaling.
4K content is available on multiple streaming sources such as Netflix, Vudu and Amazon, as well as Ultra HD Blu-ray format and players.
Note: While there are many Blu-ray players that upscale a standard 1080p Blu-ray disc to 4K, only the Ultra HD Blu-ray player can play true 4K resolution discs.
On the satellite side, DirecTV and Dish may provide their subscribers with a limited selection of pre-recorded and online 4K content via satellite (provided they have a compatible satellite set-top box, compatible TV and subscription to an appropriate data plan).
For those who prefer to access content via cable, the choice is definitely limited. Comcast currently provides limited 4K online and on-demand programming and access to 4K Netflix. If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV, check with your local cable provider to see if they offer any compatible 4K services.
When it comes to wireless TV broadcasting, 4K adoption is lagging behind. While South Korea and Japan have taken the lead in regular 4K broadcasts, work is being completed in the US to address issues such as compatibility with the current broadcast system and additional infrastructure costs that stations will incur. The American 4K television broadcast system is called ATSC 3. 0 (NextGen). Some stations in the top 40 US television markets are expected to begin regular broadcasts by the end of 2020.
What 4K really means to consumers
4K allows for a much improved video experience on larger screen devices and can significantly reduce the visibility of pixels on the screen unless you are very close. 4K gives you smoother images and more depth. Combined with a higher screen refresh rate, 4K can potentially provide almost the same depth as 3D without the need for glasses.
The introduction of Ultra HD doesn’t make 720p or 1080p TVs obsolete, though as 4K Ultra HD TVs grow in sales and prices drop, 720p and 1080p TVs are becoming less and less popular. In addition, the existing HDTV broadcasting infrastructure will not be canceled anytime soon, even when ATSC 3.0 is used to deliver content.
Of course, as with the move to DTV in 2009, the day may come when 4K becomes the default TV broadcast standard, but then there will be a huge infrastructure to build.
More than 4K and Ultra HD
Is there anything more than 4K? How about 8K? 8K resolution is 16 times the resolution of 1080p. A limited number of 8K TVs are available to consumers in the US, with Samsung leading the way. However, there is no actual 8K content available for viewing in the US. This means that for some time viewers will be viewing images on 8K TVs upscaled from 4K, 1080p, 720p and lower resolutions. However, Japan has already started broadcasting one channel with 8K content.
Video resolution compared to megapixels
- Comparison of 1080p, 4K and 8K resolution with pixel resolution in inexpensive digital cameras:
- 1080p resolution (1920×1080) is 2.1 megapixels.
- 4K resolution (3840×2160 or 4096×2160) is about 8.5 megapixels.
- Only with 8K resolution (7680×4320 pixels – 4320p) you are in the 33.2 megapixel resolution range of the best professional digital cameras. The photographs are much higher resolution than what can be seen on a TV screen.
Color, contrast and other parameters
Of course, given all of the above, it’s up to you to decide what you want to see on your TV screen; increased resolution is just one of the parameters, but other parameters such as video processing, upscaling, color saturation, response time, contrast, screen size and how the TV will look in your room must also be taken into account.
What does 4K mean? Technically, 4K refers to a horizontal screen resolution of approximately 4000 pixels. The letter “K” means “kilo-“, which means “thousand”. The two high definition resolutions are 3840×2160 pixels and 4096×2160 pixels.
How to clean a 4K TV screen? The cleaning instructions for flat screen TVs are the same regardless of resolution: turn off the TV and gently wipe it with a dry, soft cloth. For stubborn stains, use a cloth dampened with a 1:1 solution of distilled water and white vinegar or a special screen cleaner.
What is 4K upscaling? 4K upscaling, or video upscaling, is the process of matching the pixel count of an incoming video signal with the TV’s pixel count. The processor analyzes the video resolution and creates additional pixels corresponding to the number of pixels on the 4K TV screen.
What you need to know about 4K
What is 4K?
If you’ve recently bought any household appliances, you’ve probably seen salesrooms pasted over with posters that say “4K video”. The same thing flaunts on TVs and, of course, cameras and smartphones. 4K is a video specification that literally means “4000”. This means that the image is approximately 4000 pixels across the width of the video footage.
This is much more detailed content than you’ve probably seen before. You’ve probably already noticed the leap from “standard definition” digital television to “HD” and “Full HD” which are now available on select providers, on the internet and on Blu-ray discs. Compared to earlier standards, HD video looked very crisp when viewed on a large TV. But even the best Full HD quality is only 1920 pixels. 4K is significantly more detailed, as it has twice as many pixels horizontally, and four times as many pixels in total.
The name 4K is used to describe slightly different, though very similar, standards. Often you can see the inscription Ultra High Definition or UHD. This is the new standard for 4K TV. 4K video is becoming the new benchmark for video recording and viewing devices, and this brings a number of benefits.
Get more clarity in your video
The images below show the difference in detail between different video resolutions. Video filmed with Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX100.
Standard definition (480p)
Digital cameras of the 2000s and TVs in the late 90s/early 2000s could work at this resolution.
High Definition/HD/High Definition (720p)
Some modern digital cameras can shoot at this resolution at very high frame rates.
Full HD (1080p)
Most modern digital cameras can operate at this resolution.
Few cameras offer 4K video recording, but those that can do so produce very high definition video compared to 1080p.
What does this mean for videographers?
Consumers may not need 4K content today, but it will become relevant at some point, probably in the near future. Just imagine if you kept shooting in low definition and everyone was already buying HD TVs. Who would like to watch your video in low resolution. As a content creator, you must always stay one step ahead of demand. However, even if you don’t need 4K resolution to view content with such clarity, there are a number of other benefits to working in 4K.
Better Full HD
Shooting in 4K will make your HD video better. Most HD cameras today can shoot excellent 1080p video quality, but when you start working with 4K source material, you can get more detailed and sharper images by lowering the resolution. This is due to the algorithms for resampling each pixel. In addition to sharper, clearer images, color is also improved and artifacts such as moire are reduced.
Crop, zoom, pan
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX100
4K shooting also allows you to take advantage of editing methods that would be impossible—or at least not as easy with video in HD resolution. Need to crop a frame? No problem, you can crop up to four times without quality loss and get Full HD. Plus, all those extra pixels allow you to zoom in or pan while downscaling the output to Full HD.
Have you ever shot a video for a client who then came back and said they needed more photos for an ad or marketing campaign? 4K comes to the rescue. While you can only get 2MP images from Full HD video, 4K offers snapshot extraction at 8MP resolution. This is enough for printing posters, booklets and pictures in magazines.
All of these additional pixels can also be useful for stabilizing video footage. Most non-linear editors such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro X include image stabilization algorithms that do a surprisingly good job of making the picture look as smooth as if you were shooting with a steadicam. Unfortunately, this process reduces the resolution of the video footage due to image rotation and shearing. In this way, camera shake is compensated. If your source is shot in Full HD, then the output image will be even smaller or quality will be lost. But with 4K there is a lot of room for cropping, as discussed above.
Chroma key shooting is a common video editing technique. The green screen makes it easy to change the background while leaving the foreground. The process of separating the foreground from the green background becomes clearer and more accurate at high image resolution.
4K video for photographers
How can video mode be useful for photos? Imagine taking photos at 24, 25, or 30 frames per second. This will help capture the best moments, such as scoring a goal or blowing out the candles. The best shot can be selected from a series that captures every moment.
The 4K Photo mode on Panasonic cameras allows you to choose the best shot. Additional modes even allow you to change the focus point.
Many modern cameras allow you to extract frames from video in playback mode, and some allow you to press the shutter button during recording to highlight which frames you want to keep.
Some Panasonic cameras allow you to shoot in 4K Photo mode in traditional aspect ratios, rather than in widescreen mode, which is most often shot in video. Some cameras also include smart features to help you capture the best moment, such as a pre-recording mode that continuously records video and then saves 30 frames before and after you press the shutter button.
It’s not always possible to extract good shots from a video, but if you intend to extract a photo from a video, then manual aperture and shutter speed settings will be available to you, which will allow you to control the result.
Burst modes on most cameras have a speed of 5-8 frames per second.
This is much slower than 4K. Just as 4K increased the number of pixels by 4 times, the load on all equipment that works with data, namely memory cards, hard drives for storing information, and a computer processor for processing material, has increased.
Which memory cards to use?
4K video takes up much more space than Full HD, up to four times as much, in fact. One minute of video on some semi-professional 4K camcorders can weigh more than one gigabyte.
To keep up with all this data, you need fast memory cards capable of writing at least 30MB per second (which is equivalent to a U3 rating on SD cards). This should allow recording video at up to 200Mbps bitrate.
Memory cards are not as expensive as they once were, but high-speed cards still require a significant investment.
Storage of 1 hour of video on different cameras
To store all the data for editing, a large hard disk space is needed. In addition, energy-saving drives with a low speed will not be very convenient to use due to slower data writing and reading speeds. If you are using external HDDs, please use devices with USB 3.0 data interface or faster connection. Solid state drives (SSDs) are significantly faster than hard drives, but they are much more expensive.
Do I need a new computer?
Just like 4K video requires a lot more storage space, it also requires a lot more processing power to handle the load when it comes to editing footage.
As always, when looking at computer performance, you need to pay attention to the speed of the processor, the number of cores, the performance of the video card, how much RAM is installed, as well as the type and capacity of the hard drive.
Minimum PC requirement
|16GB or more
|NVIDIA 600-series or higher, or AMD R5-series or higher
|1 TB or more
|256GB or more
Which monitor do you need?
You can shoot, edit and share videos in 4K resolution, but how do you do it if your monitor is not capable of displaying this resolution.
If you’re looking for a 4K monitor, be prepared to spend a lot of money and look for the “IPS” designation. IPS panels win when it comes to color accuracy at various viewing angles. If you already have a color-accurate monitor, you can buy an inexpensive 4K monitor to work with cropping and detailing, and color correct on your old monitor.
One of the options for working with video is editing in low resolution and then exporting to 4K
How to edit?
Adobe Premiere Pro CC by Adobe. Available on both Windows and OS X
Editing 4K footage not only requires a powerful computer, you also need specialized software.
There are many video editing programs out there, and as 4K becomes more common, support for this resolution is expanding even in inexpensive programs like Apple’s iMOVIE. But for best results, it is recommended to use more advanced programs like Adobe, Premiere Pro, or Apple Final Cut Pro X.
Final Cut Pro X by Apple. Only available on OS X
Just be aware that different cameras shoot video differently and different video editing software interacts with these file formats differently, so you have to do some research to find which software provides the best productivity and convenience with your material.
How to share?
Let’s say you created your work in 4K resolution and are ready to share it with the world. But before doing that, here are some things to think about.
If you want to share your work in full 4K resolution, you can easily share files directly using online cloud storage services, but depending on the internet connection speed, uploading and downloading will take a long time. 4K video is still not well supported by sites, but Vimeo allows you to upload 4K. YouTube also offers 4K but heavily compresses.
Finally, consider how you can shoot in 4K and take full advantage of pan, zoom, and oversampling to improve the quality of your output.