Gadget Throw-Down: 1080p VS 4k Action Cameras


1080p action cameras have been around for some time now, but the emergence of 4k action cameras adds something new to the mix. The question, however, is which wearable camera works best for you – the tried-and-true full HD (FHD) action camera shooting video at a 1080p resolution, or the new ultra HD (UHD) action camera capable of capturing 4k resolution footage?

Spending Less VS Spending More

Everything else considered equal, 4k action cams cost around 10 to 15 percent more than their 1080p counterparts – but that’s not taking other factors like storage into consideration.

You could get an FHD camera for less than 60 bucks and an equivalent UHD camera for less than 70 bucks. The difference might not look like much at first glance, but it’s the storage devices where costs will start to come up.You’ll need to spend a lot more on high-capacity SD cards to be able to record longer videos using your UHD action camera recording at 4k – unless you’re willing to record shorter videos at a time.

Continuous Footage VS Burst Footage

Speaking of video length, current video compression technology means that you’ll need to watch your disk space when recording at FHD and UHD resolutions.

Capturing 1080p h.264 footage at 30 frames a second in h.264 would eat up about 500 megabytes per minute. That means a 32 gigabyte card would be able to hold around 64 minutes or just one hour.On the other hand, a single minute of 4k footage at 30 frames per second will need around 2 gigabytes per minute. That same 32 gigabyte card would be filled up in just undersixteenminutes. Post-processing will result in smaller file sizes, andyou can always tone down the resolution when needed, but 4k action cameras are more suitable for shorter videos of extremely high quality while 1080p cameras are better for recording longervideos without losing too much quality in the process.


Long Distance VS Short Distance Shots

If distant objects are important to the video you want to capture, then 4k cameras are suggested. If backgrounds and objects are not that far off, then a 1080p camera is the more practical choice.

Both 1080p and 4k sports cameras are capable of capturing fine details at a distance of up to50 feet. Anything beyond 50 feet though, and the difference starts to become more pronounced the further away the objects are. Details become more visible, colors become more distinct and shadows become a lot sharper when using 4k action cameras. The details of wide angle footage (130 to 170 degrees or more) will also become sharper and clearer when using 4k sports cams. This is usually a good thing, but not when the sharpness of background details distract the viewer from the on-screen activities that really matter. 1080p cameras thus work better in cases where the background will not contribute much to the end footage and will simply be glossed over – such as when you take your waterproof camera into murky waters or through foggy mountains.

Wide Screen And Cinematic Viewing 

Last but not the least, you’ll definitely want to pick 4k action cameras when the final footage will be displayed on larger media platforms.

This works exceptionally well when paired with projectors, movie screens or huge 4k television sets larger than 50 inches. Pixilation will be kept to a minimum even over these huge viewing platforms, and is where the extreme sharpness of 4k action cameras will truly come in handy. However, those details will be lost in smaller viewing platforms like smartphones, tablets and TVs smaller than 50 inches. If you expect your videos to be viewed through these platforms, then there’ll be no discernible difference between the footage recorded using 1080p and 4k action cameras.

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