Output Quality FAQ

The purple Kapwing Kat logo over a purple background

Vibrant, crisp and beautiful videos are the gold standard online. At Kapwing, we aim to make video creation not just easy, but also high quality. Here are some technical tips and commonly asked questions around output quality to improve your creations.

Can I publish high quality videos?

Yes - Kapwing offers standard for Free users (720p SD) and high definition publishing for Pro users (1080p HD). While editing your project, click anywhere outside of the Canvas to view the Canvas settings on the right-hand side of the editor. Here you will be able to view and select the export quality for your project.

Keep in mind that processing times may double for High quality, so if you're short on time or need a small final file size, we recommend Standard.

Kapwing editor with green box around Export Quality settings.

What is the difference between Standard and High quality on Kapwing?

High quality will publish in 1080p while Standard quality publishes in 720p. These refer to display resolution.

720p is SD or "HD Ready" resolution and has the dimensions 1280 x 720.

1080p is HD or "Full HD" resolution and has the dimensions 1920 x 1080.

While 720p was considered HD in the past, with resolution improving online, many platforms now consider 1080p to be the threshold for HD streaming. This means that if you want your video to have an HD setting on platforms like YouTube, you'll need to upgrade to Pro and publish in 1080p.

Two screenshots, side by side, showing a comparison of what 720p resolution looks like on the left and 1080p resolution looks like on the right. The images are mostly the same with some greater color vibrancy and crisp detailing on the right image.
720p versus 1080p comparison

Does Kapwing support 4K videos?

No. While you can upload 4K videos into Kapwing, your footage will be downsampled to 1080p. For faster uploads, we recommend pre-converting your footage to 1080p with Quicktime or another video software.

4K videos have four times as many pixels as 1080p, so keep in mind that there may be some quality lost in this process.

My uploaded video is HD - why is the published quality worse?

Are you a Pro user? If not, your video was likely exported in SD quality, because HD export is a Pro feature on Kapwing

In most cases, when publishing in HD, there should be nearly no noticeable difference in quality – but depending on how you're editing, some changes can impact the published product.

First, check that your project was created with Studio and its settings are set to High Quality, not Standard.

Next, check your output size. Are you selecting a standard output size or inputting a custom one? If your output size is less than 1080p, Kapwing has to downsample your video to meet your custom dimensions.

For example, a custom video set to 500 x 500 pixels is much smaller than 1920 x 1080 pixels. In order to match those custom dimensions, the resolution will decrease.

A screenshot of the Custom Output Size modal. Users can manually type in their desired width and height in the input boxes, then click "Done" to save it. There are also preset buttons at the bottom with the most popular export sizes for Instagram and Facebook.
Custom Output Size Settings

Did you resize or crop your video? If the output aspect ratio of your video changes, it could affect the output quality of your project.

Finally, check to see if your video is filling the entirety of your canvas. If your HD video is not the full size of your canvas, it might experience some quality loss - due to shrinking the video or adjusting the aspect ratio.

How does resizing my video affect the publish quality?

To understand how resizing your video may affect the output quality of your project, let's first review aspect ratio.

Aspect ratio is the proportional difference between width and height. The most common ratio is 16:9 for videos - like a widescreen TV. Instagram popularized the 1:1 ratio with square images. Now, 9:16 is popular due to vertical videos on phones and apps like TikTok.

A graphic that shows an example of the four primary aspect ratios, overlaid onto a phone screen, so users can see what they look like. The 9:16 ratio takes up the full vertical phone screen, while the 16:9 is a widescreen ratio that is centered on the phone screen but leaves a large white gap at the top and bottom.
Common aspect ratios compared

Depending on where you plan to show your published project, you may choose a different output aspect ratio. In Kapwing you can easily customize the output size of your entire project:

A screenshot point users to where in the Kapwing Studio they can select their chosen Output Size for their project. The buttons show common aspect ratios like 1:1, 9:16, 16:9, 4:5 and 5:4. There is also a Custom Size button.
Choosing an output aspect ratio

You can also crop any uploaded video using standard aspect ratios as well, with our Crop tool:

A screenshot of the Crop tool view that shows users playback controls to play and pause a video. The user can select different crops, such as Unconstrained which lets them freeform crop. The others are common presets like 1:1 for Instagram or 9:16 for Reels and TikTok. When done, the user can click the red "Done Cropping" button to save the changes.
Cropping a video with common aspect ratios

It's important to keep in mind that changing the final size of your video can affect the quality of your video. For example, if you upload a 1080p video and publish it as a High Quality 9:16 video, Kapwing has to stretch the dimensions of your original video to publish at that aspect ratio.

This is because your 1080p video is 1920px wide and 1080px high - a 16:9 aspect ratio. In order to change this into 9:16, Kapwing has to grab a vertical rectangle portion of your original video. Because your original video is only 1080 pixels high, to maintain a 9:16 ratio, the width will be 607.5 pixels.

A graphic to demonstrate what resizing and cropping looks like. On the left, a widescreen image of a puppy is shown, with the dimensions 1080 pixels high and 1920 pixels wide. A vertical red rectangle is overlaid to show how the user might crop part of the photo out. On the right side, a vertical image of the puppy is shown, in a 9:16 crop of the original left image, with the dimensions 607.5 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high.
How aspect ratio changes affect resolution

However, if you choose to publish in High quality, Kapwing has to "stretch" your original footage to publish in 1080p - increasing it by 178%. In the process of stretching your video to fit a High Quality output, the resolution (or perceived quality) will be reduced.

Think about a balloon. A deflated balloon is often a vibrant, strong color - but as you inflate it and the material stretches out, the balloon becomes more transparent and less vibrant.

On the left side, an image of six deflated balloons in the colors of a rainbow, from red on the left to indigo on the right. The right side image shows an arch of rainbow balloons blown up. They are less vibrant than the deflated balloons.
The visual quality of balloons can decrease as they stretch

Even if you start with a 1080p HD quality video and publish in 1080p HD quality, due to aspect ratio changes, the quality can decrease.

We recommend filming your HD footage in the aspect ratio that you plan to publish to avoid any quality loss. Learn more about resolution in this article.

My file size is too large. How can I reduce it while still maintaining quality?

Whether you're hitting the file size limits on Kapwing or want to speed up the uploading process, there are ways to reduce file size without losing quality.

This article outlines tools that can help like Quicktime, VLC, and Shotcut.

My file size is smaller after Kapwing published it. Does this mean it’s reduced quality?

No - Kapwing does not reduce the quality of your files. File size and resolution can correspond, but not always. It's important to note that file size depends on codec, format, size and bit rate – and not all of these are related to quality.

Kapwing converts and compresses your video files to maintain a smaller file size, while still protecting your file's quality.

Why does Kapwing convert my video? Is that affecting quality?

No - this only helps speed up your projects. Kapwing converts all videos into MP4 format so that the file size is smaller while the resolution is maintained, to keep your processing times to a minimum.

For example, an uncompressed 1080p file that is 355MB can reduce to just 6.6MB, depending on the compression. By compressing the file size, your project files can be sent to our servers more quickly yet still process with the same quality.

You may also notice that Kapwing converts videos on upload. This allows you to use a variety of file formats (like avi, mov, flv) in one project, even if they're typically incompatible with your browser.

I'm still experiencing quality loss - can you help?

If none of the above tips have resolved the issue, you can contact us or submit a feedback form.

Looking for more help?

Check our Release Notes for tutorials on how to use the latest Kapwing features!