Camera settings can be quite intimidating for video production newbies. While a little easier to understand than things like ISO and Aperture, picking the right FPS can be a little confusing. Today we’re going to be comparing 24FPS vs 30FPS.
We’re going to discuss the merits of each, what technical implications they have, and when you should be using each!
24FPS vs 30FPS – Which Should You Use?
Before we dive deep into the differences, let’s start this off with a quick answer so you can get back to your camera and start shooting.
The general consensus is that 24fps is more “cinematic” or “film-like” while 30fps reminds people of video, or broadcast television. If you’re trying to tell a cinematic story, 24FPS is your best bet. For content set in reality, like most vlogs, 30fps is the better choice.
In either case, on YouTube, a lot of people won’t be able to tell the difference, especially if there’s not a lot of movement in your footage – so don’t worry about it too much.
Before we talk about exactly when each frame rate is best used, you should understand the technical differences that occur when choosing one framerate over another.
24FPS vs 30FPS – Technical Considerations
- The higher the frame rate, the less time each frame will be exposed. This means if you want the same amount of fidelity with higher frame rates, you’re going to need more light.
- Higher frame rate footage is smoother. If you are watching a ball fall to the ground at 24 frames per second and 30 frames per second, the ball will move less frame-by-frame in the 30fps clip. This might sound obvious, but is a large contributing factor to the aesthetic of your clip.
- Shooting at a higher frame rate means more images, and more storage space. This is especially true when shooting at higher resolutions like 4k where the file size is already massive enough as it is.
- One benefit of having more frames captured is motion tracking. If you’re planning on tracking objects in a program like Adobe After Effects, a higher frame rate will give your software more information to accurately track movement.
A Brief History Of 24FPS vs 30FPS
So where did these seemingly arbitrary frame rates come from and why have they stuck with us for so long?
In the early, days of filmmaking, 12-16 frames per second were used, mostly because that was the minimum required to convey motion with the technical limitations of the time. Thomas Edison believed that ideally the most lifelike frame rate would be 46 frames per second, the price of film made this an unrealistic standard.
During the silent era, most films were actually filmed at around 16 frames per second, and then projected at 20-24. This means that the footage was played back much faster, which gave it the classic aesthetic of the time, but is a cardinal sin in filmmaking today.
It was much easier to accept at the time because, well, the films were silent, and played over music. This meant that audiences wouldn’t need to be annoyed by Charlie Chaplin sounding like Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Here’s an example of what this sped-up footage looked like.
As cameras developed and sound was introduced it became necessary for all films to be standardized, and 24 frames per second became the standard, still upheld to this date. A few films have since tried to break this mold by releasing in 30, 48, or 60 frames per second, but have been widely criticized.
30 Frames per second gained popularity in the early days of video cameras. While film cameras were shooting at 24 frames per second, video cameras were much more affordable, and became essential tools for lower budget productions like news broadcasts and soap operas.
Unlike the long production schedules of big movies, these new television shows required quick turnarounds that weren’t available with film cameras at the time. While these limitations are no longer the case, the aesthetic has become a tradition of sorts, and 30 frames per second remains standard for many forms of media.
When Should 30FPS Be Used?
As mentioned before 30FPS is used in news / live broadcasts, soap operas, sports, and many of the videos you see on the internet. At this point, the aesthetic of 30fps and the increased smoothness is associated with reality-based content, and seeing a movie shot at 30 frames per second may take some out of the experience.
This clip is an example from Pieces Of April (2003), a film shot in 30fps. It is clearly not as “cinematic”, and feels a bit more like real life.
In addition to this, many smartphones and cheap camcorders don’t even give you the option to shoot at 24 frames per second. This, compounded with the fact that many YouTubers don’t even bother to check what framerate they’re shooting at (or assume more is better), has led to the majority of internet video content to be 30 frames per second.
So basically, you should choose 30 frames per second in two cases:
- You don’t care. – If you’re making vlogs, reviews, or simply don’t care too much about the visual “look” of your videos, 30 frames per second is the better choice. Having more frames to work with is arguably objectively better, and most audience members won’t notice anyways.
- The aesthetic of 30FPS matches the content you are producing. If you’re covering the news, doing vlogs, or doing just about anything that is supposed to have a “real” look to it, 30 fps is the right choice.
When Should 24FPS Be Used?
99% of films and high-quality TV shows are shot at 24 (or 23.97), frames per second. It’s the standard, and when it’s not followed, it can look pretty weird. If you’re doing skits, short films, or even cinematic vlogs, 24FPS will be your go-to.
Some say 24FPS introduces a dream-like quality to your footage, while others may argue that the lower frame rate works to hide imperfections we’re used to seeing in the real world. In either case, it’s clear that if you’re trying to suck people into another world, 24 frames per second is the way to go.
Of course, there are plenty of situations where you shouldn’t shoot in 24FPS. The following video from Aputure details 8 different cases in which you wouldn’t want to shoot at 24 frames per second.
Hopefully all of this has helped make your 30fps vs 24fps decision easier. If we left out anything you think is important, please leave a comment down below, we read them all and are happy to make adjustments!