4K – What is It Good For? Is 4k video worth the extra time, expense, hassle?

by Hugh Brownstone11 Comments

In this installment in our just-dreamed-up series entitled “Wait a Minute, Let’s Think About This,” the guys at LinusTechTips go deep to discover that shooting and rendering in 4K and distributing on the web – at least on YouTube – is probably not as smart as shooting 1080P and up-rezzing to 4K in order to trick YouTube into using a higher bit-rate on playback.

We asked recently if 4K even mattered in a world rapidly switching to mobile viewing. Our basic rationale was this: if you’re looking at content on a smartphone or tablet, will you even be able to see the difference?

The guys at LinusTechTips have gone much deeper, shooting a number of scenarios on a Panasonic GH4 [B&H | Amazon] and Sony FS700 [B&H | Amazon] (with the attendant headaches of all that data) to bring us a novel conclusion: you’re probably better off shooting in 1080P and then up-rezzing to 4K when you render out because of the way YouTube allocates bandwidth to 4K video.

This is a major mindf*ck – but especially when combined with our more basic question above, it has an unassailable logic and appeal to it.

Watch the vid and then the “response” which has some great feedback and clarity, then tell us what you think. [bctt tweet=”Better to up-rezz 1080p to 4K for YouTube than to shoot 4k in the first place?”]

4K Video – is it worth it?

Via PetaPixel:

Professional videographer and director Stronz Vanderploeg has uploaded a video response to Linus’ video. He discusses how YouTube handles various bitrates and what workflow may work as a better option for you:

4K Video – Is it worth it? [RESPONSE]

Read full article at PetaPixel “Is Shooting 4K Resolution Worth It for Web Video?”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from PetaPixel)


  1. Thanks for these great videos.  You have verified things that I sort of concluded by reading many, many articles over the past several months.  I have held off buying 4K cameras because the technology and price points are changing really quickly. We have been shooting in 2K with good cameras and lens, but recording externally to Atomos/Pro Res, and it is working well.   I think for me, right now, 4K would really help with framing for 2K purposes.  It would give us greater options in post production.  A lot of our work is out in the field and there are no ‘do-overs,’ so shooting in 4K would mean better final product.    
    Again, thanks for the videos.  Excellent work.

  2. I’ve recently been accused of having a “dogmatic intolerance” to this very subject.  I choose to stick with my 1080p camera gear because I’m unwilling to shell out more money for a whole new workflow just when I seem to be up and running smoothly with my current one.  It feels like a trend issue to me–“I should do it because everyone else is.”  These wonderful videos reveal what I’ve already known–that most people use 4K to make better 1080. It makes sense.  It makes perfect sense.  But it’s also like saying we should have been shooting 1080 all those years ago in order to make better SD… (and yes I know 1080 for the most part didn’t exist back then but allow me my absurd comparison…) 
    I haven’t been running my own business for over 15 years by not knowing what I’m doing.  My stance is that 1080 makes great 1080, too!  At this time if I were to get into 4K then the 8K bandwagon would be right around the corner and everyone would be saying you should really be shooting and uprezzing to 8K in order to make better 4K.  I don’t have the time or money to deal with that kind of lunacy.  This is a TREND that has been started by television manufacturers and camera companies.  I am perfectly comfortable leaving 4K to others and being “left behind” for awhile.  I don’t see acquiring and producing in 1080 as a detriment.  There…I’ve said it. 
    The person who accused me of being dogmatically intolerant also said I should be embarrassed by my stance.  I’m not.  I’m guilty as charged!  If you want to do 4K then more power to you, but it would look any better on a cell phone or an iPad than what I’m doing.
    John Brune

  3. John Brune Thanks for your thoughts John! I won’t be shooting 4k any time soon. I realize it is the CONTENT that people care about. Sure if you’re doing beautiful nature shots for selling a 4k TV to some drone who thinks they have to have one because the TV mfgs need to sell you something new, then great for those shooting that stuff. I’m making content for people consuming on the internet via youtube and they don’t give a rat’s ass about 4k.

  4. planetMitch John Brune
    Mitch it pleases me that someone agrees with me.  More than you know.  Most of the time I feel like Kevin McCarthy (or Donald Sutherland) in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and I’m the only one who has refused to go to sleep so that I can be assimilated into the fold of 4K.  To be clear I have nothing against 4K as a technology or what it offers.  I only have a problem with those that insist I should be using it because it’s the latest and greatest.  The article and the videos presented above are outstanding and LONG overdue.

  5. I have a 5k imac and prefer watching 4k content over 1080p when on youtube. There is a difference. Just sayin’

  6. TristanChaika no doubt! I have the same iMac (i stole yours LOL)… and I usually watch 4k if available. But let’s also realize that most people – 95+% don’t have a 4k capable monitor (ok, I confess I made that number up, but I suspect it is pretty damn high!) so the majority of people still watch 1080 or less

  7. planetMitch TristanChaika And I would go so far to say that most people don’t even know what 4K is.  Then there is the bandwidth requirements issue too.  Yes, 4K will be pervasive someday, but we are nowhere near that.

  8. John Brune We reach an age — some of us sooner, others later (count me among later) — when we realize we truly do not care what other people think. There are times when 4K makes sense; more times when it does not (for now). If you need it, I’m sure you’ll use it; and if not, all good. At the moment, I cannot find a valid business case for shooting with more than my Sony a6000!

  9. I think there is definitely more advantages to shooting 4k than not. When it comes to 4K it’s a resolution animal, plain and simple. I would think anyone trying to edit 4K natively is asking for problems, especially if you’re editing multiple steams of it. Transcoding to ProRes is a must in most cases. My thought is, it really doesn’t matter what you think about 4k, it’s here to stay, and it’s the future whether you’re ready for it or not.

  10. I currently shoot a lot in UHD, labeled as the other 4K, because it looks great and still is a great file size. It looks fantastic on Youtube, and Vimeo. Also when I render out a 1080p version it still looks great. Just bought another UHD/4K tv for presentation use, and there was a line of people buying the UHD/4K tv’s on Labor day sale. As a favor I shot a 100 year old’s Grandmother’s birthday party in UHD/4k, not because anyone was going to watch it in that resolution today, but for tommarrow. In the future someone will want to see it in the best resoultion I have. Of course we may have 8k or 16k by then. The point is that I can work in UHD and full 4K now, my computers handle it fine.

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