If you’re new to film­mak­ing, you’re most like­ly try­ing to find your own style. Odd­ly enough, frames per sec­ond is part of your def­i­n­i­tion.

Frames per sec­ond or fps (frames per sec­ond) is the num­ber of frames your cam­era cap­tures in any giv­en sec­ond. Your device cap­tures frames and com­bines them into one whole, which the brain per­ceives as move­ment.

For most pur­pos­es, video is record­ed at two stan­dard frame rates: 24 fps and 30 fps. How­ev­er, there are many alter­na­tive fre­quen­cies in mod­ern cam­eras, such as 30, 60, 120 and 240 frames per sec­ond. We’ll break it all down below.

How Standard Frame Rate Came to Be

The min­i­mum frame rate at which the human mind per­ceives an image as motion is 16 frames per sec­ond. Var­i­ous schol­ars have debat­ed the opti­mal frame rate over the years. For exam­ple, the Amer­i­can inven­tor Thomas Edi­son rec­om­mend­ed a frame rate of 46 frames per sec­ond.

But film was too expen­sive to run at that rate, so the num­ber kept drop­ping until it final­ly reached the indus­try stan­dard of 24 fps.

24 fps

For a long time, the stan­dard frame rate was 24 frames per sec­ond, or rather, 23.98. This num­ber was cho­sen as the low­est pos­si­ble frame rate so that the move­ment of objects in the frame mim­ics “flu­id move­ment”. Such a pic­ture looks alive and mov­ing, as if every­thing is hap­pen­ing for real.

The choice of 24 frames per sec­ond was also due to the prob­lem of bud­get and tech­no­log­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions: the film com­pa­nies thus saved mon­ey on film.

The more 24fps was used in big-bud­get films, the more peo­ple began to asso­ciate that fram­er­ate with cin­e­ma, and that’s how the “cin­e­mat­ic” pic­ture was born.

It is at this frame rate that most fea­ture films are shot, as well as com­mer­cials and short films.

25 fps

Very sim­i­lar to 24 fps, how­ev­er 25 fps is the stan­dard frame rate in the Unit­ed King­dom and any coun­try that runs on 50 Hz pow­er. Using 24 or 25 frames per sec­ond will pri­mar­i­ly depend on where in the world you live.

30 fps

30 fps is six frames more than 24 fps, which means the device needs to process 25% more images in the same amount of time.

Increas­ing the frame rate results in smoother video, so this frame rate is typ­i­cal­ly used for fast-mov­ing events such as sports and con­certs, live broad­casts, and soap operas.

60 fps

Video shot at 60fps slows down to 24fps or 30fps in post-pro­cess­ing. This cre­ates the effect of smooth slow motion.

If you try to con­vert a 30 fps video to a 60 fps video and slow it down, you won’t get enough extra frames and the image will look smooth but chop­py.

Due to its flu­id­i­ty, 60 frames per sec­ond is often used in cin­e­ma to high­light dra­mat­ic moments in a film.

120 fps

Most mod­ern cam­eras today have a max­i­mum speed of 120 frames per sec­ond. This fre­quen­cy is used for slow-motion footage, includ­ing show­ing details of an object/product, high­light­ing key move­ments, and adding depth to your video.

120 frames per sec­ond gives the pic­ture even more dra­ma, so some­times this fre­quen­cy should be used in small dos­es. It can also make it dif­fi­cult to use your footage in your edit if you overuse that frame rate and shoot almost all of your con­tent at 120fps.

240 fps

240 fps is also used for slow motion.

Video shot at 240 fps is twice as slow as video at 120 fps. It fol­lows from this that such a video will look the most dra­mat­ic — so, it will help you real­ize some of your ideas.

The abil­i­ty to record slow motion video at 240 frames per sec­ond is cur­rent­ly even on a phone, for exam­ple, on an iPhone.

What frame rate to choose?

It all depends on exact­ly what you need.

Each frame rate applies to spe­cif­ic sit­u­a­tions, so first decide what and how you want to shoot. If you want some­thing live­ly and cin­e­mat­ic, then go for 24 fps.

If you want to add dra­ma and depth to your movie, record video at 60 or 120 frames per sec­ond and then play it back at 24 frames per sec­ond (2.5 or 5 times slow­er than it was filmed).

If you’re shoot­ing live and want smooth images, then 30fps is the way to go. In addi­tion, many appli­ca­tions (like Insta­gram) use 30 frames per sec­ond as the stan­dard for video record­ing.

What is the difference between frames per second and refresh rate?

The refresh rate is usu­al­ly relat­ed to the dis­play and not to the camera/video cap­ture sys­tem. It is mea­sured in hertz (Hz) and ana­lyzes how quick­ly the screen refresh­es or process­es an image, and is usu­al­ly relat­ed to the max­i­mum fre­quen­cy.

What is ALL‑I and IPB?

These set­tings con­cern data com­pres­sion. Each spe­cif­ic cam­era will affect the amount of com­pres­sion, but in short: All‑I pro­vides less com­pres­sion and pro­duces a high­er qual­i­ty image and a larg­er file size. IPB, on the oth­er hand, means more com­pres­sion, a low­er qual­i­ty image, and a small­er file size.