Drone Video Resolution Comparison

We have put together a video to compare drone video resolutions in UHD and FHD using a Phantom 4 and Phantom 3 Advanced.

This video represents how most people will be sharing videos using a service like YouTube and it is an FHD or 1080 video. Make sure you are watching this video with your YouTube quality setting set at the highest and if possible in 1080 HD full-screen mode or pop it out in a new browser window.

We did minimal post processing on the videos and only tried to colour balance the different videos. Try not to compare colour differences. Colour is not a function of the resolution. Look for clarity, contrast and image definition.

 

Does UHD/4K make a difference?

People often ask:

I took this amazing footage in 4K, but when I view it at home, it looks great but I don’t see a difference, at least not a $400 difference!

My camera supports UHD or 4K, why will I need to shoot video in FHD?

My budget simply don’t allow me to buy a Phantom 4, with the latest UHD 4K camera, is it really a big deal?

Display Device Capabilities

If you are a hobby pilot, like me, you will most probably have a laptop, PC and TV with the latest de facto resolution standard, which is Full HD (FHD). If it is an FHD TV, its maximum resolution is 1920 x 1080. That means your viewing device can’t output more pixels than it has. If you play an Ultra HD  (UHD) 4K video that has 3840 x 2160 pixels, the TV will reduce or scale down the video to fit your maximum resolution. That is when some information is lost and it looks like an FHD video.

The original video still contains a lot more detail than the equivalent FHD video, but it simply can’t be seen.

Popular Video Resolutions

The following is a list of popular video resolutions found on typical drone and consumer video cameras

post-resolutions

Standard Resolution Aspect Ratio Pixels
UHD 4K DCI 4096 x 2160 1.9:1 or 256:135 8.8 megapixels
UHD 4K 3840 x 2160 1.78:1 or 16:9 8.2 megapixels
UHD 2.7K 2704 x 1520 1.78:1 or 16:9 4.1 megapixels
FHD 1080 1920 x 1080 1.78:1 or 16:9 2 megapixels
HD 720 1280 x 720 1.78:1 or 16:9 0.92 megapixels

Sharing Your Videos

Video Sharing YotubeThe next issue to consider is how you will share and view your videos? Like most people, you probably will show off your creations using internet services like YouTube. Well, it will probably come as no surprise, but these services process your high bit rate/high resolution uploaded video and recode it to make it work over the internet, on a small screen mobile device up to a UDH/4K TV with internet services.

When you watch a YouTube video on your laptop, do you always switch to fullscreen mode? Most probably not, you are viewing it in your browser with only a small portion of screen real estate allocated to the video itself. Your high-resolution video is scaled down to fit that window.

While we are on the internet services, let’s talk about internet bandwidth or speed. We all have been frustrated with the little spinning/buffering wheel while watching YouTube? By default, YouTube will monitor your internet speed and response and adjust your playback quality accordingly, up or down. You need a good stable connection to manage HD or 720p mode.

4K Video and Post ProductionNot only does a 4K YouTube video eats away at your data cap, but you will get the occasional buffering wheel. At a fraction of the cost and frustration you can watch the same video with no visible difference in quality, in HD or 720 mode!

If you are more serious about your video footage and have the technical capabilities, software and hardware for post processing, UHD video is today second to none. Doing post processing on UHD video requires serious PC hardware with lots of processing power, a GPU, fast disk I/O and a high-resolution display. But the results are awesome and most rewarding. Even on non-4K displays and smaller devices, the videos look crisp and vibrant.

Drone Video Resolution Comparison

We have put together a video to compare video footage in UHD and FHD. This video represents how most people will be sharing videos using a service like YouTube and it is an FHD or 1080 video. You can be the judge. Make sure you are watching this video with your YouTube quality setting set at the highest and if possible in 1080 HD full-screen mode.

The first comparisons are flights with the same Phantom 4 in UHD, UHD 2.7K and FHD mode. The last 2 comparisons are between a Phantom 3 Advanced and a Phantom 4 in matching resolutions on the same flight path.

We did minimal post processing on the videos and only tried to colour balance the different videos. Try not to compare colour differences. Colour is not a function of the resolution. Look for clarity, contrast and image definition.

 

So what do you buy?

Did you see any difference? If not, it is most probably because of the display device you watched the video on. There is nothing wrong with the recordings or the way we edited and post process the videos. In the end, it comes down to money.

 

DJI Phantom 4 front view
If you can afford it, without a doubt, buy the Phantom 4. If gives you all the video options on an excellent quadcopter platform with no comparison when it comes to stability, control and safety. As an example, rewind back to the Phantom 3 and 4 comparisons, right at the end as the house moves from left to right out of view, there is a slight jerk on the Phantom 3 video in the 1080 and 2.7K versions. In the flight plan, the aircraft turns sharp to the left and it yaws to the right to keep the house in the frame. The Phantom 4’s enhanced flight and stability control, is smooth and seamless during the transition.

DJI Phanton 3 Pro
If budget is an issue, then the Phantom 3 range still gives you great value for money with many of the technology bits and pieces that the Phantom 4 offers. The Phantom 3 Professional also gives you UHD in 4K resolution. But if you still need to feed the family with your day job and just want to have fun, the Phantom 3 Advanced is still a brilliant drone.

Links

For more information and detailed product information check our shop and product descriptions:

DJI Phantom 4 Series

DJI Phantom 3 Series

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