Which is More Important in a Dash Cam?
4K Video Resolution or 60FPS
How can you say that your dash cam video quality is excellent? Clear and crisp image details even when zoomed in? Smooth fluid footage? Stunning colors? Well-balanced light? Sure, there can be a lot of factors, but to tell you, these are caused by various elements – particularly resolution and frame rate. Now, which of these is more important to you?
The top reason why drivers get a dash cam for their cars is to capture videos while they’re on the road, or when the car is left unattended during parking mode. If ever you get involved in vandalisms, traffic violations, and accidents, the footage will serve as concrete evidence and an eyewitness, attesting to the truth of the event. That same footage will also be the solution for you to save time, energy, and potentially, a lot of money.
So when you present evidence, you want to make sure that it’s clear, and you don’t want the authorities to think twice about what they see, right? Therefore, whether you’re using a one-channel, dual-channel, or triple-channel dash cams. the quality of their videos should never be compromised.
Talking about dash cam’s video quality, there are two major factors that need to be considered: video resolution and frame rate. In the latest dash cams we carry, the maximum capabilities for video resolution is 4K UHD, and 60 FPS for frame rate. Unfortunately at this moment in time, there’s yet to be a perfect camera that offers both, with the maximum resolution being offered for 60fps being 2K QHD. Now, which is more important between the two? Let’s find out.
What’s the difference between Resolution and Frame Rate?
Videos are made up of thousands of still images played in sequence. These are applicable in all types of videos including films, gaming, and of course, dash cam footage.
Individually, resolution refers to the amount of detail present in a single frame. It is also the equivalent to pixel count in digital imaging. The higher the resolution, the more precise the details of the visuals are.
On the other hand, frame rate refers to how quickly those visuals are cycled through, or how many stills are packed into each second. Have you ever drawn 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 smoother the graphic will be. So, when you say 30fps, that means that in one second, 30 individual images were shown, giving the appearance of movement.
Which is Better: 30fps or 60fps?
Here’s a video of a simple visual demonstration of why frame rates matter.
As you can see, a higher frame rate does not automatically imply better video quality. It makes no difference whether you have a 30fps video or a 60fps video provided the output quality is the same. When you have a higher number of frames per second, it provides you with smoother video playback.
|Field of Use
30fps is the most common frame rate used by video in news, TV and on the web. A lot of recording apps for
The 60fps provides smoother motion and is now widely used in some high-end HDTVs and especially in some
Yes, 60 FPS is definitely better than 30 FPS.
Having lower frame rates appear choppier, whereas higher frame rates appear smoother. A 60fps movie is more likely to capture twice as much underlying data as a 30fps video since it has more frames per second.
Another advantage of using a 60fps video frame rate is that you can slow down the video while maintaining a greater quality of slow motion. You could even be able to capture something too rapid for the human eye, such as racing or drifting – and this feature is what BlackVue has been sporting on their Full HD dash cams. Many times at lower framerates, if you pause the video, you might even notice some video tearing or blurring. This normally happens
Although the resolution is not as crisp as 4K dash cams, BlackVue’s full HD dash cams like the DR770X-1CH, DR770X-2CH and DR770X Box are all equipped with front cameras that capture 1080P @ 60 frames per second, providing smoother fluid videos that can capture road signs, even when the car is driving away or in motion.
Balancing Image Quality, Video Resolution, and Frame Rate
Let’s talk about the fine line between image quality, video resolution and frame rate. Did you know that while most 4K dash cams capture 4K @ 30 frames per second, there are also some models that do capture 4K – and can also capture 2K instead. And yes, we’re talking about the front camera.
Thinkware has developed its 4K dash cams with a feature that enables you to downgrade your 4K @ 30 FPS quality to 2K @ 60 FPS quality. With these, you get quality resolution and frame rate at the same time. Curious about how this works? Check out the Thinkware U1000 and the new Thinkware U3000 dash cams.
Let’s focus on 4K resolution!
Thinkware U3000 Front Camera
When capturing videos, resolution is also important. Because of the greater amount of pixels, a 4K UHD image is much crisper than a 2K QHD image. The clarity of 4K is ideal for parking mode, or when driving in dark places such as tunnels, or driving at night since the surroundings don’t generate much light. The higher the quality, the better your chances of spotting suspicious individuals or extracting finer details from the footage. In terms of quality, you will also notice a vastly improved contrast and color range.
A fantastic example would be the ability to read a license plate. When you have an accident and review the dash cam footage, you may notice that the license plate is difficult to read. It's important to note that another primary purpose of a dash cam is to prove who is at fault in an accident when you submit it to your insurance provider/law enforcement.
Many dash cam sample videos come from Europe and Asia where license plates have big bold letters and don't have a reflective white surface. In North America however, our plates often use a very thin font that is not picked up as easily by video cameras. At night, this effect is very clear when your own vehicle's headlights are reflecting off of the plates in front of you. This might not be very obvious to the naked eye but it in fact makes reading license plates very difficult for some dash cams.
Fortunately, a 4K dash cam recording gives you a much better chance of getting the car registration because you can zoom into the footage much further than a 1080p video. Numbers are clear, and you won’t have to squint and guess whether it’s a 5 or a 6.
Let’s focus on 4K resolution!
Thinkware U3000 Front Camera - Super Night Vision 4.0
There is no right or wrong selection for choosing resolution and frame rate, as long as you choose based on your needs. 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 driving on highly populated busy roads where there are lots of cars and people (which must have clear details when needed), and even in 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. For example, if you often drive on highways that lets you drive beyond 50 mph, going for a dash cam with higher frame rate is recommended.
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.
Another major consideration: Your Micro SD Cards’s Capacity
When it comes to handling increased frame rates and resolution, the speed and capacity of your SD card is also important.
SD cards are classified according to their speed, and the speed of the card impacts how quickly you can write data to your dash cam. A UHS 3 rating is appropriate for higher frame rates, although they are more expensive. You'll want to use an SD card with plenty of space, especially if you're shooting at 4K resolution or 60 frames per second. Again, the higher the resolution, the bigger the file size will be.
Among all the 4K dash cams we have, the VIOFO A139 Pro (which is also equipped with Sony STARVIS 2) has the highest storage capacity. While others on its line only have 256 GB, the A139 Pro is capable of storing up to 512 GB of data. VIOFO did come prepared with the A139 Pro, didn’t they?
Playback and Delivery of the Video
Moreover, 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.
But 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 social media like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube can already be part of our day-to-day routines. Most of these sites let you choose just about any resolution you want, but if you wish to have greater quality that your followers and subscribers will appreciate, go for 4K. It’s worth considering that often-times these sites will decrease your image quality by default, so you’ll need to opt-in to the better quality.
b) Watching the footage on your smartphone/TV/monitor
On a smartphone, it’s worth noting that if footage is streamed over wifi to your smartphone, the quality is normally redacted to allow for quicker processing. Downloading footage to your phone is recommended for optimal quality. Beyond that, many smartphones simply aren’t at a high enough resolution to properly view 4k footage or other resolutions. Normally, the quality will simply be downgraded to what the phone is capable of, but sometimes the higher quality will cause video stuttering.
For a monitor/TV, 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.
Verdict: Resolution or Frame Rate?
Both are important, but it will still depend on your needs and driving routines.
If you do a lot of night driving, or if you prioritize parking mode on broad daylight and night, or you prefer stunning visuals for your travel vlogs and social media uploads, go for a 4K dash cam like the Thinkware U3000, BlackVue DR970X or VIOFO A139 Pro.
But if you are likely to need to slow down frames without compromising the integrity, you need to look at dash cams with higher frame rates such as the BlackVue DR770X.
Whatever you choose between the two, the main objective is to capture videos for your peace of mind and security – day or night, rain or shine. While you can add CPL filters for all the cameras we mentioned above, it’s also helpful to add additional protection such as the BlackboxMyCar Aqua Shield to keep your footage – whether it’s 4K or 60 FPS – all clear and glare free.