What's the difference between 4K and 1080p?

Read the guide below to find out!

Edited by Pat Bitton

January 15, 2020

Comparing the Differences in 4K vs. 1080p

If you've been in the market for a new TV, worked with video editing or recording, or researched monitors for a computer, the odds are high that you've heard the terms 4K and 1080p thrown around quite a bit. If that's the case, you've probably also wondered what the difference between the two is, or which one is better for your specific situation. Is one better than the other? Does that make it more expensive? Overall, is it worth the extra price?

Let's take a look at the answers to some of those questions, and find out exactly what the difference is in 4K vs. 1080p.

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Important Terms in Understanding 1080p vs. 4K

Before diving into the difference between 4K and 1080p, it's important to clear up a few terms that lend themselves to better explaining the two.

Pixel

Pixel is a term that's short for "picture element" and refers to the small little dots that make up the images on a computer monitor or TV. The more pixels in an image, the more clearly it can be defined. Thus, these pixels make up the image's "resolution".

Resolution

Image resolution refers to the number of pixels in a single image. This resolution size is sometimes identified by both the width and height of the image as well as the total number of pixels within it. For instance, a 720p television has 1,280 columns and 720 rows of pixels, giving it the denomination of 720p.

The Difference in 1080p vs. 4K

Now that we understand what makes the definitions of 1080p and 4K, we can take a look at some of the differences between the two.

Resolution

Over the past few years, the most popular televisions have been 720p, 1080p, and 4K. If we look at the terms we're using to describe them, it's clear to see that a video created in 720p has 1,280 columns and 720 rows of pixels, giving it 921,600 pixels of resolution and clarity. For a long time, that was the industry standard and was completely acceptable for people purchasing TVs or recording videos with the highest possible clarity.

1080p, again using the terms discussed, consists of 1,920 columns and 1,080 rows of pixels for a total of 2,073,600 pixels, over double that of a 720p video. This really upgraded what was possible in video recording and viewing, and created a new standard for what people were looking for in their monitors and video.

Then we have 4K. Because the most common way of describing 4K differs from the 720p and 1080p format, it becomes a little more confusing about what 4K actually entails. In reality, 4K could also be described as 2160p, because it contains 3,840 columns and 2,160 rows of pixels. With that in mind, we can tell that 4K is clearly the highest level of resolution, made up of 8,294,400 pixels, four times as many pixels as 1080p. In addition to 4K or 2160p, you may see this resolution also referred to as Ultra HD or UHD.

Though 4K was once so costly that normal consumers weren't able to purchase it, the price has come down to a more reasonable standard and video shot in 4K can now be readily viewed by more people.

Price

When it comes to TVs and monitors used to display 1080p or 4K video, the size only makes a large difference when the monitor is of a certain size. For instance, if you're looking to purchase a 24 inch TV or monitor to edit videos, you're not going to see much of a difference between 720p and 1080p resolutions. With that in mind, you'll see a similar lack of difference between 1080p and 4K with monitors smaller than 32 inches.

The main instance you're going to see a large difference in quality from 4K or 1080p is when considering dimensions for a monitor that's larger than 40 inches. So, when it comes to editing videos and choosing which resolution to shoot in, keep in mind how it's going to be viewed. Though you may be editing your video on a smaller computer monitor, if you're going to be displaying your finished video on a larger TV, it may be worth the extra expense to shoot in 4K.

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Resolutions for Shooting and Editing Video

Though the main reason you may research a comparison of 4K vs. 1080p is when purchasing a new monitor or TV, you may also want to know about which resolution is best to shoot and edit video in. If that's the case, keep in mind that it all comes down to how you want it to be viewed. Cameras that shoot in a higher resolution tend to cost more, so a large factor of which type of camera you should buy comes down to budget.

Shooting in 1080p vs. 4K may also change the software you'll need to use in order to edit the videos you've captured. Luckily, Movavi Video Editor Plus is capable of handling video editing in either resolution. For those who are experts in videography and only shoot in 4K or those who are more recreational video shooters and capture their video in 1080p, Movavi Video Editor Plus is the perfect resolution.

What to Keep in Mind

If you're asking yourself the question "is 4K better than 1080p?", there are a couple of factors to keep in mind. Though the ultimate answer is "yes, 4K is better than 1080p", it may not make that much of a difference to you as a video editor or viewer. The reason for this is because certain resolutions can only be seen on specific displays that are large enough to make a difference. If your monitor isn't big enough to show a difference between the two, paying the extra cost may not be worth the benefits.

For that reason, the second piece to keep in mind is your budget. Whether you're purchasing a TV, monitor, video camera, or video editing software, the capabilities of 4K vs. 1080p all come at an extra cost. Depending on how serious your video is (whether it's for your professional videography company or a recreational shoot), you may not need the higher definition and price of 4K. Keep your budget in mind when deciding how you want to shoot, edit, and view your videos.

Lastly, keep in mind the video-editing software you utilize to make your videos into masterpieces. Movavi Video Editor Plus is one of the best video-editing programs out there and comes at a price that won't break the bank. Click here to find out more about Movavi Video Editor Plus, and download the free or paid version for video beginners or those who are more advanced users. Find out what makes Movavi one of the best video-editing apps on the market!

 

Movavi Video Editor Plus

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* The free version of Movavi Video Editor Plus has the following restrictions: 7-day trial period, watermark on the output videos, and, if you’re saving a project as an audio file, an ability to save only half the audio length. Learn more