Frame Grab from 4K Video

I have to admit I was a bit dubious when I heard about pulling still frames from 4K video. 4K video is roughly four times the resolution of Full HD. […]

Written By Rob Knight

On August 11, 2014

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4K screen grabI have to admit I was a bit dubious when I heard about pulling still frames from 4K video. 4K video is roughly four times the resolution of Full HD. Each frame is 8 megapixels! You can grab still frames from this high-res video and make surprisingly large prints.

My skepticism was mostly about shooting a moving subject. According to conventional wisdom and the “rules” of video settings you should use a shutter speed for video that is much slower than what would be necessary to freeze motion. You can use a faster shutter speed for video in order to capture better still frames, but the video will look weird… right?

Turns out… not really. I was shooting 30p 4k clips of these barn swallows on Tybee Island, GA with the idea of grabbing still frames and exploring the possibilities. I would normally set the shutter speed to 1/60sec for 30p video, but in this case I set the camera to aperture priority and let the shutter speed go as fast as it needed to. I figured the video would look pretty jerky because of the faster shutter speed, but it actually looks fine. Maybe it’s because the 4k footage gets down sampled when I’m viewing it on my monitor, but either way it looks fine.

4k screen grabThese two shots are pulled from the same 4K clip. The mother swallow delivers breakfast to the adolescent one, but I guess the little guy doesn’t like moths. I’ll spare you the next frames where he spits the bug out! I don’t think this will take the place of conventional wildlife photography in every case. When it works it could make the difference between getting the shot and missing it completely. I’ll definitely be exploring this technique more in the coming months.


  1. Olga Irizarry

    Hey! I have to admit that puling a frame from video was :{ ? . I send some of my file to a friend Phograf for a lab test, I’m waiting form the test print. from my tipy of work this will be blessing if really good.
    Please, do a youtube video about it!
    Thank! Olga

    • Rob Knight

      Thanks Olga,
      I have definitely been pleasantly surprised by the results, but it depends on the subject, lighting, etc. I am planning on a YouTube video for sure 🙂 Please let me know how your prints turn out.

  2. Laurence Robinson

    What program did you use to grab a frame from 4K video?

    • Rob Knight

      I used Lightroom 5 for these

  3. Craig Eagleson

    Rob…Is there a limit on how fast a shutter speed is usable with the 4K frame grab with the sole intent of quality stills and no regard to Video?

    • Rob Knight

      I haven’t come across any limit in practice, and there is no mention of a shutter speed limit in the manuals

  4. Bob Bowdey

    What 4k camera did you use to shoot this with?


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