Better Quality: 4k Downsampled to 1080p or High Bitrate 1080p?

I (finally) want to get into video and have been evaluating some of my options, I like the GH4 for the 4k, but I also like the EM-5 II for the IBIS. And lately, I’ve even been evaluating the GH2 and GH3 because of the high bitrate 1080p… and plus they’re extremely cheap.

With hacked firmwares, the GH2 can output 1080p with 100-200MB/s depending on which firmware you decide on. And it has the oversized sensor for video with a 1.86x crop factor. One thing I did not like about the GH4 is the 2.3x crop factor for 4k, which pushes a lot of wide angle lenses to normal ranges. Plus you can get the GH2 on eBay for about $300 used! And if it’s good enough to produce a film and win an award at Sundance, it should be good enough for someone just learning video. If you haven’t seen it, checkout the trailer for Upstream Color, a film shot entirely with the GH2.

I’ve seen a lot of samples with hacked vs unhacked GH2’s, and more often than not, you really have to pixel peep to see a difference. Granted, I viewed a lot of these tests on YouTube/Vimeo where you lose a lot due to compression.

In the following video, the GH4 is used to compare 4k downscaled to 1080p vs 1080p at 200MB/s, and to me the difference is substantial, and you don’t even need to pixel peep. And this is with the latest sensor from Panasonic.

I post this because more often than not, I’d likely be downscaling from 4k to 1080p, and my general curiosity of how high bitrate 1080p compares to the GH4’s 4k at 100MB/s downscaled.

Overall, still deciding. I want 4k, but I really love the IBIS on Olympus. Perhaps we’ll see something that combines the best of both worlds with the next EM1 II or GX8 or GH5.

What do you guys think? Which one looked better, 4k downscaled or high bitrate 1080? Let me know in the comments below!   

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  • Castane Arias

    I feel the same exact way. I am interested in video but I love the IBIS and size of the Olympus EM 5 ii. I am considering just getting the Olympus and a dedicated video camera for when it comes to recording video.

    • Jay Soriano

      The new G7 looks really nice, I’m really hoping the GX8 has IBIS with 4k and hopefully an audio jack.

  • Castane Arias

    I once saw a tutorial that stated one of the benefits to shooting in 4k is whenever you need to crop or need extra zoom on a shot. when you scale in a 4k video it keeps its resolution better than a 1080 video.

    • Jay Soriano

      That’s one of the huge benefits for 4k, since people most downscale to 1080 it allows to crop, zoom, etc.