Ultra High-Definition (UHD) videos are a welcome change for most people who love spending time behind the lens. For those who aren’t too interested in the tech behind all those beautiful pics and videos, 4K stands for the 4000 horizontal pixels stretched across your computer, TV or cinema screen to give you the most realistic footage possible today. Okay, with geek speak out of the way, let’s get on with what 4K means to you, the amateur videographer/photographer.

While all those new pixels are a welcome arrival for some, 4K’s huge file sizes are making some people a little nervous about its practicality. If you had plans to learn how to edit GoPro videos before, 4K may just have deflated your gusto. Many folks tend to think that 4K will make life difficult for hobbyists who aren’t clued up on the latest technology, terminologies, and all that binary stuff.

The good news is that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, UHD makes all those professional shots more possible by allowing you to edit GoPro videos like a ninja, capture ultra vivid videos that’ll make your best mates jealous, or even turn video footage into professional looking still images.

The 4K standard makes scenic time lapse footage a breeze and also lets you capture unbelievable detail thanks to that high pixel count.

UHD goes beyond delivering clearer footage

Since Full HD (think 1080p) only provides around a quarter of the detail that UHD is capable of, it’s no wonder that smartphone and camera manufacturers are quickly adopting the standard. It’s huge pixel count gives it a level of versatility that Full HD simply doesn’t have.

For example, 4K allows you to do things like zoom into your footage many times without compromising on your video’s quality or slow it down to create really dramatic videos. Photographers can also produce beautiful still images from video footage shot in 4K, something that was impossible in the days of 1080p.

“The decision to shoot a moment in video or photo has always been difficult, but 4K videos’ ability to use any single frame as a high-res image allows photographers to now capture both without having to compromise quality.”, says SanDisk’s Brian Pidgeon. So, even if you’re just a hobbyist, 4K allows you to get both video and stills in those moments when you’re not sure which would produce the best result.

Note: To make video editing for GoPro or any device as flexible as possible, a higher frame rate is required to get the most out of your footage, so make sure to check your device’s capability in this regard.

4K file management challenges

With every new piece of technology comes to a new learning curve and 4K is no different. If you’ve decided that it’s the most awesome footage you’re after and that you’re willing to adjust a few habits then read on to learn how to get around some of the challenges involving 4K footage.

iPhone Users

If you own a 16GB or 32GB iPhone, storage can become a problem if you choose to shoot in 4K exclusively. This is because of a standard 1-minute, 4K file takes up close to 400MB of space compared to the only 130MB in Full HD format. A 16GB iPhone, for example, can commit around 2 hours of 4K footage before depleting its storage, but keep in mind that your iPhone won’t have the full 16GB available for videos.

If you own a 16GB or 32GB iPhone, storage can become a problem if you choose to shoot in 4K exclusively. This is because of a standard 1-minute, 4K file takes up close to 400MB of space compared to the only 130MB in Full HD format. A 16GB iPhone, for example, can commit around 2 hours of 4K footage before depleting its storage, but keep in mind that your iPhone won’t have the full 16GB available for videos.

Android Users

Android camera quality will largely depend on the make and model of the phone manufacturer. For leading models such as Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia range, 4K comes standard and users have more flexibility thanks to internal memory and mini SD card options that can reach capacities of up to 64GB. When combining your internal memory with a 64GB card, you can max your storage to around 100GB.

GoPro and DSLR Users

While talks of the 1TB memory card may have GoPro users drooling, 256GB is still the maximum amount of storage you can expect from your SanDisk, Lexar or other top card manufacturers. If you’re sticking to 64GB for now, you should get around 2 hours at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second and around 4 hours with Full HD at 60fps – not bad if you’re only starting out and learning how to edit GoPro videos.  

Note: Card users should always check for that their products are UHS speed capable for best performance.

Well, is 4K worth the trouble then?

With all the file management that comes with 4K, many will wonder if all those extra pixels are worth the effort. So is it? In a word, yes. If picture clarity, depth and detail are non-negotiables to you, 4K is undoubtedly the file format you should be shooting in. Okay, now that we all agree that 4K is great, how do we get around the downside, i.e. those massive file sizes?

Here are a few tips to ensure 4K’s large file sizes don’t trip you up:

  • Make sure you use the fastest speed memory cards: If you’re using a GoPro, Android or any device that accommodates alternative storage, make sure you use cards with the highest data transfer rate possible. This avoid frame loss and faster copy speeds.
  • Choose the biggest card: A fairly obvious point, but make sure you invest in the largest memory cards possible. 4K can eat into your storage real estate and make file management a hassle and you don’t want to delete great footage because you didn’t know you’d be spoiled with so many awesome locations.
  • Use proxies in Premier: If you like to dabble in Adobe Premiere, consider using proxies as a means to edit your footage. This function uses “lighter” versions of 4K files and commits final changes to the original when done. Here is a useful guide to setting up proxies.
  • Use the fastest ports and cables available for transfers: Make sure you understand the difference in speed when it comes to your laptop or desktop’s ports. Plugging your camera or smartphone cable into USB 3 or 2.0 port can be the difference between waiting for minutes or hours for large file transfers. Apple’s new Thunderbolt 3 port not only supports superfast file copies but also runs 5k video without breaking a sweat.
  • Convert your 4k footage to 1080: User-friendly apps such as Handbrake turn 4K files into lightweight 1080p versions. But the really great thing about Handbrake is that it retains much of the detail and depth of the original 4K file, so you keep the quality of your images while losing those extra MBs in file size.

It’s a 4K world and we wouldn’t have it any other way

It’s not as if we expected to reach the limits of image quality at 1080p – or did we? UHD is simply the next step in video quality and is set to dominate as the de facto standard until we move along to the next groundbreaking standard. This is pretty much the norm in how things progress in the digital age and we can say that the age of 4K has well and truly arrived.

But enjoying your UHD footage doesn’t have to mean slaving away at your computer: copying massive files to your Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas timeline, or taking a crash course in video editing for GoPro or whatever device you’re sporting. Once you’ve captured all the footage your smart device can handle, why not turn it over to the pros to turn it into something really special?

Video editing or “post” as industry insiders call it is a notoriously time-consuming, technical and detail oriented job. Whether you want to edit GoPro videos from your last snowboarding trip or produce a beautiful family reunion montage and share it with relatives, making something truly worth sharing takes a bit of know-how.

Companies like VideoDone are helping countless people turn their UHD footage into engaging, logical stories that are worth sharing with the world. Thanks to its team of editing experts, video editing for GoPro, DSLR camera or any UHD device no longer means spending hours behind your computer screen, trying to figure out complex software. Working with 4K files shouldn’t put you off from shooting in the format. Let the professionals turn your 4K footage into something truly inspiring.

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