Can the Human Eye See in 8K?

Can the Human Eye See in 8K?

Technology seems to accelerate at an alarming rate these days, and that’s certainly true when it comes to consumer electronics. When it was announced that this year’s Big Game would be broadcast in 8K, we started to wonder: can our eyes even see in 8K?

So here’s the low-down on what 8K really means and whether or not it’s time for you to invest in a new TV.

The difference between pixels and resolution

It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between pixels and resolution. When looking at HD, 4K, and now 8K TVs, the higher you go, the higher the resolution, or total number of pixels. Pixels are the individual points of light that make up a digital picture. For example, an 8K TV has 33, 177, 600 pixels. To note, the term 8K refers to the number of pixels (about 8000) displayed horizontally per line.

However, in human vision, eyes do not contain pixels. The closest comparison would be the rods and cones in your eyes that help you see. What’s more, what you resolve is the picture you are able to put together with your eyes and brain, not what necessarily exists in reality.

What is the resolution of the human eye?

Since the human eye doesn’t see in pixels at all, it’s pretty hard to compare them to a digital display.

But curious minds want to know, if you could compare the two, how many pixels would the human eye likely have? It turns out, someone smart used some pretty complex math and (assuming 20/20 vision) got to 576 megapixels. 576 megapixels is roughly 576,000,000 individual pixels, so at first glance, it would seem that we could see way more than an 8K TV has to offer. But it’s not that simple. For instance, we see in 576 megapixel definition when our eyes are moving, but a single glance would only be about 5-15 megapixels.

What’s more, your eyes naturally have a lot of flaws that a camera or digital screen don’t. For example, you have a built-in blind spot where your optic nerve meets up with your retina. You might also have a refractive error like nearsightedness or farsightedness. You might have also been born with (seemingly) super-powered eyes, like tetrachromats: people with four cone cells in their eyes instead of three. This means they can see many more colour varieties and therefore, when looking at a TV, could potentially distinguish much more than the average person.

Should you buy a new 8K TV or wait?

Perhaps the first question we should have asked is: is there anything to watch in 8K? The answer is not much. Hollywood directors have used 8K cameras and there have even been some 8K movies released and viewable in cinemas, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. In Japan, the NHK TV network occasionally broadcasts in 8K, but they can only be seen in some theatres around the country.

At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), brands with 8K TVs had to display static images or very short looping videos to show the full effect of 8K since there wasn’t much ready-made content to show.

Can we see past 8K?

So if you’re wondering if your potentially extreme high-definition 576 megapixel eyes can see more than an 8K TV has to offer, consider this experiment: think of when you are at the beach. If you look down at the sand closest to you, you can easily count the individual grains, right? But the farther you look, the more difficult or impossible it becomes. That’s because distance plays a huge role in our resolution.

Since there are so many variables that come into play, there is no clear yes or no answer to “can we see in 8K?” In theory, at some distance, it is possible, yes. If you want to get a broad idea of what that distance might be, you can plug your TV’s screen size into Carlton Bale’s home theater calculator. For example, for a 50-inch 8K TV, you would need to sit two feet or less away from it in order to appreciate its full impact.

While it’s impressive that technology continues to improve, there are a lot of things to consider before splurging on that new TV, the hefty price tag (over $15,000!), perhaps being one of them!

If you currently wear glasses or contacts, you might be able to get built-in HD clarity, and for as little as $490 per eye. Find out by booking your free, no-obligation consultation with us.