4K (resolution)

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16:9 resolutions in comparison

4K resolution is a generic term for display devices or content having horizontal resolution on the order of 4,000 pixels.[1] Several 4K resolutions exist in the fields of digital television and digital cinematography. In the movie projection industry, Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) is the dominant 4K standard.

The television industry has adopted ultra high definition television (UHDTV) as its 4K standard. As of 2013, some UHDTV models are available to general consumers for under $1000.[2][3] However, due to lack of available content, 4K television has yet to achieve mass market appeal. Using horizontal resolution to characterize the technology marks a switch from the previous generation, high definition television, which categorized media according to vertical resolution (1080i, 720p, 480p, etc.).


The first commercially available camera for cinematographic purposes was the Dalsa Origin, released in 2003.[4]


FormatResolutionDisplay aspect ratioPixels
UHD Ultra high definition television3840 × 21601.78:1 (16:9)8,294,400
UHD Ultra wide television5120 × 21602.37:1 (21:9)11,059,200
WHXGA5120 × 32001.60:1 (16:10)16,384,000
DCI 4K (native resolution)4096 × 21601.90:1 (256:135) ~17:98,847,360
DCI 4K (CinemaScope cropped)4096 × 17162.39:17,020,544
DCI 4K (flat cropped)3996 × 21601.85:18,631,360

Ultra HD[edit]

UHD is a resolution of 3840 pixels × 2160 lines (8.3 megapixels, aspect ratio 16:9) and is one of the two resolutions of ultra high definition television targeted towards consumer television, the other being FUHD (Full Ultra HD) which is 7680 pixels × 4320 lines (33.2 megapixels). 4K UHD has twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of the 1080p HDTV format, with four times as many pixels overall.[1][5]

Digital cinema[edit]

The Digital Cinema Initiatives consortium established a standard resolution of 4096 pixels × 2160 lines (8.8 megapixels, aspect ratio ~17:9) for 4K film projection. This is the native resolution for DCI-compliant 4K digital projectors and monitors; pixels are cropped from the top or sides depending on the aspect ratio of the content being projected. The DCI 4K standard has twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of DCI 2K, with four times as many pixels overall. DCI 4K does not conform to the standard 1080p Full HD aspect ratio (16:9), so it is not a multiple of the 1080p display.

4K digital films may be produced, scanned, or stored in a number of other resolutions depending on what storage aspect ratio is used.[6][7] In the digital film production chain, a resolution of 4096x3112 is often used for acquiring "open gate" or anamorphic input material, a resolution based on the historical resolution of scanned super 35mm film.[8]

Streaming video[edit]

YouTube and Vimeo allow a maximum upload resolution of 4096 × 3072 pixels (12.6 megapixels, aspect ratio 4:3).[9][10][11]


Sony Handycam FDR-AX1

The main advantage of recording video at the 4K standard is that fine detail is resolved well.[12] This contrasts with 2K resolutions in which fine detail in hair is displayed poorly. If the final video quality is reduced to 2K from a 4K recording more detail is apparent than would have been achieved from a 2K recording.[12] Increased fineness and contrast is then possible with output to DVD and Blu-ray.[13] Some cinematographers choose to record at 4K when using the Super 35 film format to offset any resolution loss which may occur during video processing.[14]


The transmission of 4K or ultra high definition video by broadband requires a next-generation network.[15]

List of 4K monitors, TVs and projectors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Ultimate Guide to 4K Ultra HD. Ultra HDTV Magazine. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  2. ^ Joe Cox (27 June 2013). "Seiki launches 39in 4K TV for $699". What Hi-Fi (Haymarket Publishing). Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Will Greenwald (28 June 2013). "Seiki SE39UY04". PC Mag (Ziff Davis, LLC). Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Frost, Jacqueline B (2009). Cinematography for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration. Michael Wiese Productions. p. 199. ISBN 1615930191. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Ultra High Definition Television: Threshold of a new age". ITU. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  6. ^ "Resolution Table". Resolution Table. Pixar. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "4K resolution Definition from PC Magazine Encyclopedia". PC Magazine. 1994-12-01. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  8. ^ James, Jack (2006). Digital Intermediates for Film and Video. Taylor & Francis. p. 125. ISBN 0240807022. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Ramesh Sarukkai (2010-07-09). "What's bigger than 1080p? 4K video comes to YouTube". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  10. ^ "Advanced encoding settings". Google. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Videos tagged "4k"". Vimeo, LLC. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Wootton, Cliff (2005). A Practical Guide to Video and Audio Compression: From Sprockets and Rasters to Macroblocks. Taylor & Francis. p. 47. ISBN 0240806301. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Braverman, Barry (2013). Video Shooter: Storytelling with HD Cameras. CRC Press. pp. 4–18. ISBN 1136058850. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  14. ^ Sawicki, Mark (2007). Filming the Fantastic: A Guide to Visual Effects Cinematography. CRC Press. p. 114. ISBN 1136066624. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Mrak, Marta; Mislav Grgic; Murat Kunt (2010). High-Quality Visual Experience: Creation, Processing and Interactivity of High-Resolution and High-Dimensional Video Signals. Springer. p. 124. ISBN 3642128025. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Official sites of NHK