When filming video content, the choice between 30fps vs. 60fps can have a significant impact on the visual quality of your work and the overall viewing experience of your audience.
Frames per second (FPS) is a familiar term to many, often mentioned during discussions about videos, films, and gaming.
Even so, only a few know the difference between the two, making it tough to choose the best frame rate for your videos.
Technological advantages led many of us to believe that higher is always better, but is it really the case with FPS?
In this article, I’ll shed light on the creative choices these frame rates offer to content creators, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
30fps vs. 60fps: what’s better? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
What Is Frames Per Second (FPS)? A Quick Refresher
In cinematography and videography, frames per second (FPS) measures the number of image frames displayed in one second.
This means that if a video is captured and played back at 30fps, each second of the video shows 30 distinct still images. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video quality.
In the early days of cinema, silent films played at a frame rate of between 16 to 24fps.
Back then, film projectors were hand-cranked. The projectionist would turn a handle to advance the film through the projector, determining the playback speed.
Old filmmakers used this control to synchronize the on-screen action with live musical accompaniment, speed up the frame rate during comedic scenes, and slow down the frame rate to make a scene appear more dramatic or dreamy.
FPS affects the overall visual quality of your content, which is why understanding the differences between varying frame rates is so crucial.
For example, lower frame rates, such as 24fps or 30fps, add a cinematic and artistic quality to a video.
On the other hand, higher frame rates, such as 60fps or 120fps, are ideal for fast-paced action scenes, sports, and busy scenes with lots of motion.
Increased frame density allows for a finer display of motion, making it suitable for scenarios with rapid subject movement.
Is Hz the Same as FPS?
Hz (Hertz) and FPS are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct aspects of the viewing experience.
FPS refers to the number of frames captured in one second of video, while Hz indicates the number of times the screen refreshes per second of new content. A display or monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate, for example, redraws the image on the screen 60 times per second.
In most aspects, FPS and Hz go hand in hand. If the screen’s refresh rate is lower than the frame rate, it can result in screen tearing or multiple frames appearing all at once.
A higher Hz on a display, such as 120Hz or 240Hz, can provide smoother motion in fast-paced content, reducing motion blur and enhancing the overall viewing experience.
30fps vs. 60fps: What’s the Difference?
Apart from the obvious—the number of frames per second—here’s what differentiates 30fps from 60fps and vice versa:
30fps is often used in live broadcasts, TV, and soap operas, whereas 60fps is used in applications where motion smoothness, realism, and capturing fine details are essential.
60fps is particularly well-suited for fast-paced action scenes, sports broadcasts, and scenarios where high-definition imagery is a priority.
Nature documentaries often use 60fps because it allows editors to add slow-motion post-production without compromising the quality of the video.
If you’re filming a scene with a lot of movement, capturing at a higher frame rate is the best approach.
When you capture a scene at 60fps, you minimize the potential for motion blur and create a more realistic portrayal of fast-paced action.
The shutter speed of 60fps is 1/120th of a second—double that of 30fps at 1/60th of a second.
30fps produces a mild motion blur between the frames, which can detract from the clarity and sharpness of the footage.
Videos captured in 60fps are of higher quality than those captured in 30fps, but this comes at a price: higher storage requirements.
60fps consumes twice the storage space of 30fps for the same duration of footage, which can add up when filming lengthy videos.
Capturing and playing back video at 60fps demands a high degree of processing power and battery life.
When editing a 60fps video, you need a computer with a powerful CPU and sufficient RAM. You also need editing software that can support the frame rate for smooth editing and post-production work.
On the other hand, videos captured at 30fps don’t require intensive hardware. You can edit 30fps videos on a modestly-powered computer and standard editing software.
Which Is Better, 30fps or 60fps?
Now, let’s answer the question that’s probably on your mind throughout this article: in general, which is better for videos: 30fps or 60fps?
I’d hate to disappoint, but there’s no one-word answer to this question. The choice between 30fps and 60fps depends on the style and content you’re creating.
Hollywood doesn’t shy away from using a lower frame rate in certain situations, especially when it aligns with the artistic vision. This proves that higher FPS isn’t always better because if it is, wouldn’t Hollywood exclusively adopt high frame rates across all its productions?
Remember: filmmaking isn’t only about technical superiority but about the art of storytelling.
If you want your videos to appear realistic, 30fps is the way to go because that’s what most people are used to seeing. But if you want to go for a jittery or chaotic vibe, you can intentionally use lower frame rates to introduce a sense of unease and disorientation to a scene.
In terms of video quality and clarity, the obvious winner is 60fps.
Videos filmed at 60fps are smoother and more detailed, with a noticeable reduction in motion blur.
High-action sequences like high-speed chases, sports, and video games benefit from this because it ensures every nuance of the movement is captured.
Ultimately, 30fps shines in cinematic storytelling, while 60fps excels in scenarios where the focus is on visual clarity, realism, and capturing intricate details.
As a filmmaker, you should consider the atmosphere, mood, and visual quality you want to convey and select the frame rate that closely matches your artistic vision.
Pros and Cons of Using 30fps vs. 60fps
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using 30fps as opposed to 60fps:
- Playback and editing don’t require a lot of processing power
- Produces smaller file sizes compared to 60fps, making it more storage-efficient
- Generates less heat when filming for multiple hours
- Aligns with what most viewers are accustomed to, providing a comfortable and familiar viewing experience
- Displays a cinematic, timeless look, making it ideal for storytelling and dramatic narratives
- Some cameras limit the functionality of 30fps, such as the 4K crop on some Sony models
- Not as cinematic as 24fps, which is considered the “standard” fps in Hollywood movies
- Introduces motion blur in fast-paced action scenes, impacting the clarity of the video
- Slow motion at 30fps often appears choppy
Conversely, here are the pros and cons of using 60fps:
- Little to no motion blur, adding a sense of dynamism to a video
- Captures fine details, making it well-suited for scenarios where high-definition imagery is a priority (i.e., nature documentaries)
- Slow motion at 60fps is smooth and cinematic
- Takes up more space and requires higher computing power to edit
- Cameras that support 4K60 can be expensive, with models costing $2,000 on average. Cameras that support 4K30 often cost half that price
- Demands higher data bandwidth for streaming and distribution
- Heightened realism might be undesirable for content with a specific artistic intent
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between 30fps and 60fps
When choosing between 30fps and 60fps consider the following factors:
Type of Content You’re Shooting
One of the biggest misconceptions of videography is that a higher frame rate equals better quality.
The quality of the video is determined by various factors, including bit rate, lighting, resolution, color accuracy, and more. If one of these aspects is neglected, a high frame rate wouldn’t save the video quality.
Your choice of frame rate should align with your creative intent and artistic goals.
Traditional storytelling is best shown in 30fps as it evokes a classic and timeless quality. A higher frame rate might not necessarily suit the mood and atmosphere.
60fps is best used for busy scenes with a lot of motion, like athletics and action sequences. It isn’t as versatile as 30fps, which is why it isn’t used as much outside these settings. Unless you’re shooting such scenes, it’s almost always better to use 30fps.
It’s almost always better to shoot at 30fps under low light conditions because it allows the camera to absorb more light, making the scene appear brighter and more detailed.
Higher frame rates, with their faster shutter speeds, can result in less light reaching the sensor. This often leads to underexposure and loss of detail in low-light settings.
30fps doesn’t fare well in scenes where there’s plenty of movement.
Videos recorded with 30fps have a slight motion blur between frames. This motion blur can result in a loss of detail and clarity, making it less effective in capturing the fine nuances of rapid action.
60fps doesn’t have this issue. With twice as many frames per second, it captures motion with greater precision and detail.
24fps is the universal standard of digital cinemas.
This information matters because if you’re shooting a film with a theatrical release, you’re better off filming your movie with 24fps from the get-go.
If not, you’ll be forced to convert the file from 30 or 60fps to 24fps before submitting it for theatrical release.
Converting 30fps to 24fps is easier and cleaner than converting 60fps to 24fps.
When you convert 30fps to 24fps, you’re dropping one frame for every five frames. This minimizes the need for complex frame blending or interpolation.
Meanwhile, converting 60fps to 24fps eliminates 2.5 times as many frames. Most of the time, the end result leads to choppier video due to the large number of files that need to be eliminated to adjust the frame rate.
That said, the narrative takes a different turn when shooting slow-motion video at 60fps and then converting it to 24fps.
With 60fps, the large number of files is actually an advantage because it captures more detail and allows for smoother and more captivating slow-motion sequences.
Falling water droplets, insects mid-flight, and athletes’ body movements and expressions can be captured in exquisite detail.
The increased frame density also means you have more options to pick and choose the perfect moments to slow down and highlight.
What Frame Rate Should I Use for Streaming?
It depends on the content you’re streaming.
For general streaming content, such as interviews, podcasts, vlogs, and live shows, 30fps is the ideal choice.
It provides a smooth and natural look and is well-supported by most streaming platforms.
But for streams that involve high-motion activities like video pages and sports events, streaming at 60fps is a better choice.
Just make sure your camera and encoding software—as well as the platform you’re streaming on—supports 60fps. You should also make sure that your internet upload speed can handle streaming on a high frame rate.
What Frame Rate Should I Use for YouTube Videos?
When uploading videos to YouTube, there’s rarely a need to shoot at more than 30fps—unless you produce sports or gaming content.
Moreover, some laptops and computers cannot handle 60fps videos due to insufficient processing power.
You wouldn’t want to ostracize a portion of your viewers by uploading content that their devices can’t smoothly play.
Another good reason to use 30fps instead of 60fps for YouTube videos is that it’s not only easier to edit but also quicker to upload.
Videos recorded at 30fps result in smaller file sizes compared to the same content shot at 60fps.