What Is Frame Rate?

Find out more about frame rates and the essentials for picking the best frame rate for your shot.

February 15, 2019

Topic tags

Trevor Holmes

Creative

What is frame rate?

Frame rate is the amount of individual video frames that your camera captures, per second. Frame rate comes in a few different standards (expressed as frames per second or fps): 24fps, 25fps, 30fps, 60fps, and 120fps. Frame rate stems from film and the very first silent films. Film would be on a reel and then cranked by hand by a camera operator, and then the projectionist would playback the film at the same frame rate that it was recorded at. You can think of frame rate like a flip book: each new drawing on a piece of paper is a frame. When you flip through, you see all the frames blended together as one continuous moving image. That in mind, if you have a frame rate of 24fps, that means in one second, the camera is capturing 24 individual frames, and when played back, it displays as one continuous video.

Which frame rate is best for video?

The best frame rate for video is … well, all of them! That’s because each frame rate has a specific use case. For video on the web, most TV, and film, 24fps is the standard. That’s because this frame rate is the most cinematic, and looks the most natural to the human eye. For live TV, sports, or soap operas, 30fps is common. 30fps has six more frames per second than 24fps, giving it a smoother feel that works well for live TV, but it is less cinematic. 60fps, 120fps, and higher frame rates are used for recording video to be played back in slow motion. When choosing your frame rate, you’ll want to keep in mind that the higher the frame rate, the slower the slow motion will be. For example, videos recorded in 60fps or 120fps will then be slowed down to a 24ps frame rate, which creates that smooth slow motion effect. If you ever play back a 60fps or 120fps how it is recorded, then you’ll definitely notice a strange-looking effect.

What does “fps” stand for?

It’s pretty simple! “Fps” stands for “frames per second.”

What’s the difference between 24fps, 30fps and 60fps?

The difference between different frame rates has to do with how the image looks. 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps all have different looks, with the main difference between each being the number of frames captured per second. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common frame rates:

24fps is what you might see most for video recorded for the web. That’s because:

  • It’s the standard for any feature film.
  • It’s the standard for most TV.
  • It’s the most cinematic frame rate out of all.

30fps is a close-second standard for video around the web.

  • It’s the standard for Live TV and sports.
  • It’s the standard for soap operas, and
  • A lot of video recording apps for smart phones, like Instagram, use 30fps.

60fps is used to record video that will be edited in slow motion.

  • 60fps, 120fps, and 240fps are all high frame rates used for slo-mo.
  • Typically, video is recorded in 60fps and then slowed down to 24fps or 30fps in post production to create that smooth slow motion effect.
  • If you tried to do the same thing with a video shot in 24fps, it would look like choppy slow motion because there aren’t any extra frames like there are in a frame rate like 60fps.

What’s the difference between frame rate and shutter speed?

In video, frame rate is a recording format and accounts for the number of individual video frames your camera captures. The shutter speed affects how quickly your shutter opens and closes, affecting the exposure on your shot; you can use shutter speed to brighten or darken your image.

Which Frame rates are considered high speed?

Any frame rate at 60fps or above is considered a high speed frame rate. For example, 60fps, 120fps, and 240fps would all be considered high speed and are typically used for slow motion video. Some cameras can even go as fast as 1,000 frames per second. You’ve probably seen some examples of this frame rate in videos of a bullet in slo-mo, or a balloon popping.

Can the eye see more than 60fps?

Yes! The human eye can react to visual signals in less than one millisecond, or translate that to a frame rate of 1,000 fps. But, when it comes to the screens that we use to view video, most LCD screens only have a refresh rate of 60 hertz (hz). This means, even if we were viewing something at 1,000fps, it would essentially only deliver 60fps to our eyes.

How do you adjust frame rates on a DSLR?

Frame rate is usually a setting that has to be adjusted in the main menu of your camera. It’s not found on a jog-wheel — like aperture or shutter speed. On most cameras, frame rate can be found in one of the first couple menu pages. Once you locate the menu page, you’ll see two options for each frame rate, IPB, and ALL-I. IPB means more compression and a smaller overall file size, and ALL-I means less compression and a higher file size.

Does higher fps mean higher quality?

A higher fps does not mean a higher quality video. When you change your frame rate, you’re not changing the file output size (e.g., 1080p / 4k). Whether you shoot 24fps or 120fps, you can have the same 1080p HD quality output. But, something to consider is that a higher frame rate can help you achieve a smoother shot if you’re shooting handheld. Because everything is slowed down, all of the camera shakes will be less noticeable.

There you have it: frame rates explained.

Have more questions? Leave ’em in the comments section below!

February 15, 2019

Topic tags

Trevor Holmes

Creative

Mailing list sign-up form

Sign up to get Wistia’s best
and freshest content.

More of a social being? We’re also on Instagram and Twitter.