Know Your Camera – Part 4: Frame Rate and Resolution

Frame rate and resolution are two features that affect the image quality your camera produces. Today cameras are capable of producing images in stunning HD up to a whopping 1080p in sixty frames per second. But what do these numbers all mean?

Frame Rate

  • Frame rate refers to the amount of pictures or frames in one second of video. For example 24p contains 24 separate frames in each second of video.
  • “P” stands for progressive. Years ago video was invented and in order to make it easier images were interlaced. Basically each frame was placed in a paper shredder. Every other shred was removed and replaced with shreds from the next frame.
  • Progressive is here to stay. While some cameras and camcorders still use interlacing progressive produces a better quality image and is preferred.
  • Movie standard contains 24 frames every second and each frame is progressive.
  • Higher frame rates such as 48p, 60p and even 120p can produce higher quality images and are also useful for slow motion.
  • For instance every second of a 48p video can be slowed to 24p producing two seconds of slow motion.
  • Under 24p and video begins to look like still pictures.


  • For years video was a measly 720. That means for each frame there were 720 lines of dots going horizontal.
  • This was unfortunate because film being projected had no lines and was much higher quality.
  • The HD revolution began about ten years ago.
  • Full HD has 1920 horizontal lines and 1080 vertical lines, which is equivalent to about an 6 megapixel picture.
  • 1080p means that your image has 1080 vertical lines and is not interlaced.
  • Some HD is interlaced.
  • 4K, twice the size of full HD seems to be the emerging trend, but takes more bandwidth to be broadcasted and more storage space (think long loading times for internet videos and large hard drives to store your videos).

So is there ever a time to use anything less than full HD? What about interlacing, should you always shoot progressive?

  • In general full HD is always better, but if shooting for quick uploads less can be best.
  • Most internet streams are capable of HD, but some only do partial HD (1280×720).
  • Most internet video is progressive, but shooting interlaced can save storage space.
  • DVDs are only capable of 720×480. You’ll have to upgrade to Blu-ray to take full advantage of HD.
  • 60p is great, but most internet streaming is only 24p.
  • 60p can be difficult to edit.

24p and 30p at full HD seem to be ideal. I can’t think of many reasons why not to shoot at this frame rate and resolution. Bear in mind your picture will just look better. That isn’t to say you can’t be successful shooting 720p or even lower. Even inexpensive webcams offer HD at 720p, so depending on your success you might want to consider an upgrade.

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Shirley Lewis

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"I am the Licensing Director at JewelBeat and generally love all types of music. My new found hobby is baking although I doubt it will make any entries here."