HD Video Explained: Why 720p is Better than 1080i

High definition video recording is a standard feature on digital cameras these days. If you’ve never really understood the terms 1080p, 1080i, and 720p, here’s a short and sweet explanation that’ll bring you up to speed. Benjamin Higginbotham of Technology Evangelist describes the differences between varieties and why you can consider 720p “better” than 1080i.

  • Calgary Photographer

    p > i. Nuff said. ;)

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    That guy’s full of crap when he said there’s nothing better than 1080p. There’s 4K video, jerk.

  • jdm8

    I understood it within the realm of HD.  I would suggest that 4k is above HD, not within the “HD spectrum” in his terms.  For your entertainment video options, there’s nothing for home use above 1080p.

  • Kelvin

    Colour balance is off. 

  • Dvdstreetdate

    Did he just say HD DVD? Lmao!

  • TopDownDriver

    I find it interesting that he really doesn’t know what he is talking about!

    1080i – writes every other line (Odd/Even) into a buffer and then shows them PROGRESSIVELY on the screen.

    1080p – writes all the lines in order (1,2,3,4) into a buffer and then shows them PROGRESSIVELY on the screen.

    The difference is in the CAPTURE.  If they are captured INTERLACED, then every other line is off-set in time by half a frame.  If they are captured PROGRESSIVELY, then each line is offset from the one before it by 1/1080th of a frame.

    This is done primarily for transimission and processing bandwidth issues and is a hold-over from the time when we actually had INTERLACED displays. (Which for the most part we do not have any longer).


    This is the type of explaination which CAUSES MISINFORMATION and problems for consumers!!!

  • Ren Bostelaar

    This guy is talking out of his butt. The basic concepts are there but that’s about it.

  • Jeff

    His information is not entirely correct regarding how interlaced video works.  Just to focus on one inaccuracy, He says that 1080i video has only 540 lines of resolution (and uses some “virtual” reference that makes no sense).  In 1080i video, there are, in fact, 1080 lines of resolution.  It takes two 540 line fields to combine into a single 1080i frame.  You never see the two fields separately.  On all modern displays, the fields are deinterlaced before they are ever shown – in other words, they are recombined before they are “drawn” on the screen together as one single 1080p image.

    Depending on the quality of the deinterlacing, you may or may not see the comb effect of the two separate fields.  Even still, this will only ever be visible by the human eye in segments of faster motion.  For normal motion (people walking, interviews, slow panning shots, etc) you will never notice, and the image you see will be of much higher resolution than a 720p image would be.

    Where 720p would excel is in fast motion like sports because of it’s higher frame rate – 60 full, progressive frames vs 60 interlaced fields (30 frames), but your resolution is still lower.

    This guy really should have learned what he was talking about before putting out a video trying to teach others about it.

  • PaulJay

    Full of shit indeed.

    Shooting interlaced is so much easier compared to progressive shooting.
    2 totally different worlds in terms of shooting.

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    See, you don’t need to actually be smart on the internet. You just need to look and sound smart.

  • Jeff

    This guy’s an idiot.  Even back in the day’s of CRT televisions, interlaced video was never displayed as half the lines on and half the lines off.  That is ridiculous.  With CRT televisions, as the electrons hit the phosphors on the screen, the phosphors illuminate.  As the electron beam is moved, the previous phosphors continue to glow.  The “fall” time was used to the advantage of broadcasting by creating interlaced video.  Interlacing was a way to send more information with less bandwidth by “painting” each line of and image in alternating, or interlaced, order. 1,3,5,7 and so on, then going back and painting 2,4,6,8 and so on while the phosphors were still glowing from the previous lines.  By the time the electron beam had completed one full interlaced frame, the phosphors illuminated at the beginning of that pass were beginning to fall below acceptable levels, so the next frame would begin.  This process happened so fast that the human eye could not detect it.
    There never has been any display technology where alternating lines are either fully on or fully off.

  • Flgraphics

    but he’s got a headset microphone guys!

  • Wesnile

    He apparently does not know how frame rate affects audio sync either. 

  • Doug

    I’m an online television editor sitting in my edit bay on the Paramount movie lot, in Hollywood, right now.

    This guy is a tool.

    Others have accurately explained his failings so I won’t bother to explain it again.

    Just don’t think you’re an expert too after watching this.

  • uberboxer

    Jeez Tam –

    Calling the guy a “jerk” is over the top.  You may not agree with him – but name calling is pretty childish.  Is everything on your blog 100% accurate on your blog….I doubt it.

  • squeeg

    “i,” 1080i, you dolt. Nobody’s comparing 720p and 1080p. That would be stupid. This is merely a dumbed-down comparison of “interlaced fields” vs. “progressive scan.” That said, 720p does have it’s advantages (i.e. pausing video, smoother pans, etc.) over 1080i.

  • ranhalt

    You’ll notice that he mentions HD-DVD. That dates this video to the HD format war. After some INTENSE googling of “technology evangelist 720 1080″… I found their website –! shocker!

    Not sure if this site moderates comments that have URLs in them, so I’ll just tell you that the original posting of this video on the creators website was 4/26/2007 – Before 4k was a standard.

    Who’s the jerk now?

  • ranhalt
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  • ranhalt


  • hoot

    I haven’t seen a 1080i camera in a long time.

  • thejoltjoker

    But 4K has been standard in cinema for quite a while… But i guess he means the consumer electronics standards.

  • Terry Wilson

    Like people have said, whether something is displayed progressive or interlaced means very little compared to whether it was recorded progressive or interlaced. It the recording process that makes the difference. Not playback.

  • ctusser

    On my 1080p display 1080i source material looks better than 720p. Probably b/c the TV does a better job of deinterlacing than filling in pixels. On my 720p display I can’t tell a difference in picture quality b/t the two formats.

  • DebBTheLioness

    trying to decide on a new cell phone. very little info on camera quality. great clarification. thanks.

  • Dan Martinez

    yep for ages. Granturismo 5 was showcased to be running 4k before the tv’s were announced.