720 resolution (HD)
This is the lowest resolution to still be considered HDTV and is often called simply “HD.” Most videos are shot in at least 1080, but 720 (1280 x 720 pixels) can be an acceptable resolution for smaller web content. However, now that most computer screens are HD, best practice is to aim for a higher resolution than 720 for web use and streaming.
1080 resolution (full HD)
Often referred to as “full HD,” 1080 (1920 x 1080 pixels) has become the industry standard for a crisp HD digital video that doesn’t break your storage space. This is also a common screen resolution for smartphones.
2K resolution or QHD (quad high definition)
The next steps up are QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) or 2K resolution (2048 x 1080 pixels). These formats provide more room for image edits, larger displays and reframing without lost quality.
4K resolution (ultra HD)
Called 4K and marketed often as UHD (ultra-high-definition television), this resolution is technically 3840 x 2160 pixels. It looks quite similar to 2K to most viewers but gives filmmakers more room to zoom in and edit. “Resolutions of 2K and 4K are really for theatrical viewing or intense colouring or graphics,” explains video editor and director Margaret Kurniawan. “And there’s not enough noticeable difference between 4K and 2K, unless you wanted to cut in closer or edit colours. So it matters in post, but it doesn’t matter much when someone’s viewing it.”
Videographers rarely need to shoot in 8K (7680 x 4320 pixels), but this extremely high-res option leaves the most room for creating amazing effects or zooming into a faraway shot without pixelation. “There are two main reasons to film in 8K,” says Leonard. “One is visual effects, because it’s more pixel information for things like green screens or rotoscoping. And the other is reframing. You can reframe to a proper close-up and you won’t notice any degradation in quality.”
Try shooting in different resolutions.
With the camera function in Adobe Premiere Pro, you can try shooting in different HD resolutions for free. Toggle on Pro mode to adjust resolution and frame rate manually before shooting. If your device supports it, see if you can spot the difference between videos shot at 720, 1080 and 4K.