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4K or 60FPS: Which is More Important?

4K or 60FPS: Which is More Important?

What are the key things you should look for when you want to buy a dash cam? For most, the cam you choose is based on your personal needs. Depending on the direction you want to record, determine whether you invest in a one-, two-, IR, or three-channel device. When looking at all the different brands and cameras, you have a few more options to consider before you make your final decision.

Some of the main characteristics that people look for include loop recording, GPS capabilities, impact detection, event tagging, and more. One important feature that doesn’t seem to get as much explanation is resolution and frame rate. 

Resolution and frame rate? You probably saw both of these listed on a dash cam box but didn’t know what the numbers meant. Most dash cams come in 4K@30fps and 2K@60fps – but what do these mean?

Understanding Resolution and Frame Rate

When you are trying to understand picture quality, resolution and frame rate are two terms that will come up quite often. Resolution is the equivalent to pixel count in digital imaging. For example, most of us hear 4K when it comes to televisions, but do you know what that really means? 4K refers to the number of pixels along the horizontal display (4,000). 

Frame rate, on the other hand, is the number of images shown per second and is denoted as fps (frames per second). Did you ever draw the pictures on the bottom corner of your notebook and flip through them to animate them? That is how frame rate works. The more frames per second, the better the graphic will be. So, when you see 30fps, that means that in one second, 30 individual frame images were captured. 

Which is Better: 30fps or 60fps?

Here’s a video of a simple visual demonstration of why frame rates matter.

A higher frame rate doesn’t always promise a higher quality video. It doesn’t matter if you have a 30fps video or a 60fps if you have the same output quality. When you have a higher number of frames per second, it provides you with smoother video playback. 

Frame Rate

Field of Use

30FPS

30fps is the most common frame rate used by video in news, TV and on the web. A lot of recording apps for smartphones, like Instagram, uses 30fps.

60FPS

The 60fps provides smoother motion and is now widely used in some high-end HDTVs and especially in some games. Typically, a video recorded in 60fps is slowed down to 24fps or 30fps in post-production to create that smooth slow-motion effect.

In general, lower frame rates look choppier and higher frame rates look smoother. Because there are more frames per second, a 60fps video is more likely to capture twice as much underlying data as the 30fps. The other benefit of choosing a 60fps video speed is that you can slow down the video while keeping a higher quality of slow motion. You might even be able to capture something like racing or drifting that occurs too fast for the naked eye.

Does Resolution Matter with Dash Cam Recordings?

The resolution still matters when you are collecting dash cam recordings. A 4K image is much clearer than a 2K image because of the number of pixels. The clarity of 4K is perfect for parking mode, especially if there are lower lighting conditions. The better the resolution, the higher the chance of identifying suspicious persons or getting finer details from your video.

What to Consider When Choosing Resolution and Frame Rate

There is no right or wrong selection for choosing resolution and frame rate, as long as you choose based on your needs. Like we already said, the most common combinations you will find with dash cams are 4K@30fps and 2K@60fps, but something to keep in mind:

  • The higher the resolution, the more the pixels, the better the quality, BUT the larger the video file size
  • The higher the frame rate, the crisper the video, BUT the larger the file size

The real question becomes, for the file size, do you want more pixels or a crisper image? There are specific details you need to ask yourself before you jump in and choose your recording quality.

1. What Do You Plan on Capturing?

Do you already have a purpose for your dash cam? Unfortunately, many people wait to buy a dash cam until they are given a reason to have one – vandalism, car accidents, etc. Then it becomes a decision of the reason and which one, 4K@30fps or 2K@60fps, provides the right coverage. 4K resolution offers better contrast and color range, making it great for parking mode. You can zoom in without losing resolution, and it works better under lower-quality lighting.

2.How Much Motion Will There Be?

If there will be a lot of motion in your video, you might benefit from choosing a higher frame rate over resolution. The reason for this, if you need to slow down the video to show the point of impact or fine detail that the naked eye can’t see at full speed, the higher frame rate allows you to slow down your video without compromising the crispness. One caveat to this is low-light situations. High frame rates do not provide any better quality in these conditions.

3. Playback and Delivery of the Video

The playback and delivery of your dash cam footage are also dependent upon the resolution and frame rate. The playback quality of the video will also be determined by the device playing it back. Not all devices and displays are capable of playing higher resolutions or frame rates. These are then converted down to a smaller size for the device or display to manage. With video conversions, there is always the potential to lose quality, but you won’t notice in many circumstances.

a) Sharing/streaming footage on the Internet

You know that uploading videos on the internet (like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram) is extremely popular. Most of these internet uploading sites let you choose just about any resolution you want. Still, many don’t support extremely high frame rates – for example, YouTube has a maximum allowance of 60fps. You can still upload your video, but the site will compress it down to the maximum fps allowed.

b) Watching the footage on your smartphone/TV/monitor

Not only do higher frames require you to have higher memory, but it also requires a higher quality graphics card and processing speed. For a better viewing experience, you want your screen to offer a high refresh rate. If a screen is 60Hz, that means that it refreshes its image 60 times per second. The higher your frames per second, the higher the refresh rate needed for your screen to enjoy the video.

Post-Production

4K @30FPS

2K @60FPS

Benefits

The ability to zoom in without losing resolution

The ability to slow-down without losing resolution

Challenges

File editing is not an easy task as you have a much bigger image to tackle

File editing can get tricky as some video editors are not compatible with high frame rate videos

And don’t forget the speed and capacity of SD card

The speed and capacity of your SD card matter when it comes to handling higher frame rates and resolution. There are different speed classes for SD cards, and the speed of the card determines how fast you can write data to your dash cam. For higher frame rates, a UHS 3 rating is ideal, but they are more expensive. You will need to make sure that you use an SD card that offers a maximum amount of space, especially if you choose to use 4K resolution or 60fps.

Bottom Line on Resolution and Frame Rate

When choosing your dash cam and the video quality, you have to decide what you need before purchasing. Doing a lot of night driving? Or perhaps planning on using your dash cam in parking mode most of the time? 4K is a better option. If you are likely to need to slow down frames without compromising the integrity, you need to look at the higher frame rates.

Luckily, here are some dash cams that gives you the freedom to switch between 30fps and 60fps.

Thinkware U1000

4K @30fps | 2K @60fps

BlackVue DR900X

4K @30fps | Full HD @60fps

BlackVue DR750X Plus

Full HD @60fps | Full HD @30fps

VIOFO A139 3-CH

2K @30fps | 2K @60fps

VIOFO A129 Pro

4K @30fps | 2K @60fps

VIOFO A129 Plus

2K @60fps

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