Tech Snippet #13: What Exactly is Resolution?

Published on December 18, 2020
Image Credit: [ShoeMedia]

Everyone always hears the numbers and marketing terms. 1080P, 4K, 1280×720, 4 Megapixel. All those numbers sound nice, but what do they really mean and how do they relate to each other?

Resolution Can be Confusing if You Aren’t Familiar With Technology

Telling someone that a screen is 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels of resolution is not very helpful if they are not familiar with several concepts.

So Then What Does 1080P Mean?

Resolution is the most fundamental property of an image. Resolution is the number of individual pixels an image is made up of. It is expressed as two numbers, reflecting the number of pixels in both the X and Y axis of a 2D image.

So, to give the average person a good indicator of resolution, only the number of horizontal lines was given. If you have an image that is made up of 1280 by 720 pixels, and it’s a progressively scanned image, then you would call it ‘720P’.

So, is 4K Really Just 4000P?

No. Back when 1080P and 720P were state-of-the-art resolutions, the number mentioned when referring to a resolution was the shortest axis. For example, if a display is ‘1080P,’ then you know the width of the display in pixels is 1920 if a 16:9 aspect ratio is to be maintained.

So in the case of a 4K resolution, you are given the long side and need to compute the short side. Starting with an actual horizontal resolution of 3840 pixels, a 4K display’s horizontal resolution has to be 2160 in order to maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Related Post: Adobe Attempts to Use Machine Learning to Fix Blurry Videos

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