mp4 vs avchd

Sportsphysio

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 4, 2014
8
0
I just received my new camcorder, a Canon Vixia HF R400, and need some guidance on which format to use.

This camera can shoot in either MP4 or AVCHD.

I currently have iMovie '09 on my computer; in order to upgrade to iMovie '11 I would have to upgrade my OS from Lion to Maverick (which would lead to a whole other set of questions!).

I have 2 primary uses for the camera:

1. Record my son's sporting events. I would then edit the videos into highlight clips, and would like to be able to burn them to CD's, and more importantly, post them to websites such as YouTube.

2. Create short video clips to either post on YouTube or on my personal website.

My questions:
1. What format would you recommend I record in, which would allow me to accomplish the above?

2. In a previous thread I started, the general consensus was to upgrade to iMovie '11; would it be worth it to upgrade my OS primarily for this purpose?

If the general process of video editing from an image quality perspective, compatibility standpoint, ease of use, and being able to use the better format (m4 vs AVCHD) indicates that FCP is the better option, I have no objections to purchasing it. The only other issue is the amount of memory available on my mid-2007 iMac (if either format or "software" uses less "space").

Any and all advice/guidance would be greatly appreciated!!!
 

Unami

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2010
704
362
Austria
for the latest version of fcpx you also need mavericks. you don't need to convert (most) .mp4 & avchd to pro res before importing into fcpx - it does that by itself when you select "create high quality media" (or something like that).

as .mp4 is only a container (containing h.264 most of the times) and avchd is also h.264 it's mostly the same thing with different names. in this case, it probably depends on the bitrates - whatever got the higher bitrate will have the better quality (but avchd at 24 or 28 mbit/s is usually good enough)
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,601
384
Redondo Beach, California
The avchd format tops out at 24 or 28 mbit/sec but mp4 can go higher. If it does use that if you can stand the file sizes.

As other have said the latest FCPX can directly read AVCHD. You can convert or not to prores and even start editing as the files are being converted if you have a fast Mac..
 

mtngoatjoe

macrumors regular
Jun 10, 2008
233
33
Is there a resolution difference between AVCHD and MP4? My camera records AVCHD at 1920x1080, but MP4 isn't as high (can't remember the exact dimensions off the top of my head). However, recording in MP4 has been easier to deal with because I had the option of editing on my iPad.

So, my point is this... check the recording resolutions on the camera to see if there is a difference. Then decide if upgrading your OS is needed or beneficial.

For me, I'm going to start recording more events in AVCHD because with Mavericks and the latest iMovie, AVCHD is much easier to deal with (especially with the new iMac I bought last year), which makes the higher resolution of AVCHD worth the effort.
 

Sportsphysio

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 4, 2014
8
0
Is there a resolution difference between AVCHD and MP4? My camera records AVCHD at 1920x1080, but MP4 isn't as high (can't remember the exact dimensions off the top of my head). However, recording in MP4 has been easier to deal with because I had the option of editing on my iPad.

So, my point is this... check the recording resolutions on the camera to see if there is a difference. Then decide if upgrading your OS is needed or beneficial.

For me, I'm going to start recording more events in AVCHD because with Mavericks and the latest iMovie, AVCHD is much easier to deal with (especially with the new iMac I bought last year), which makes the higher resolution of AVCHD worth the effort.
I had read somewhere that recording in mp4 was better for uploading to websites; is that true? Or is the difference negligible?
 

Unami

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2010
704
362
Austria
i just looked up your camera... it's a bit tricky - it records avchd in h.264 at 28 mbps and .mp4 files in mpeg-4 at 35 mps. h.264 is usually the better codec, so it might have equal or even better quality than the mpeg-4 despite it's lower bitrate.

the .mp4s are less compressed (thus the higher bitrate to compensate for that) - so your computer might be faster editing those. but they also produce slightly larger files ( 25 per cent larger ).

if you edit the files/import them in imovie, or upload them to a video sharing site, there should not be any difference, because the files are converted before final output anyways. if you just embed the native video from the camera in your website, .mp4 will definitely work for a lot more people.

but as your computer is pretty old, you might have to transcode the files for editing anyway. i'd recommend fcpx over iMovie for this, and using proxy-files for editing (select: "create proxy media", while importing - and select "use proxy" under "playback" in the preferences. your computer will now copy the files to your harddrive and create copies in an easier-to-handle format for editing - when you've finished editing, it will use the original media for output - you can delete the proxy files after that to save space)

some software media players have problems playing back .mts (avchd) files without the necessary codecs, and some hardware players will also refuse them - avchd is more of an acquiring format - e.g. coming from the camera - mpeg4 is the more compatible delivery format - e.g. going to the customer.

place the camera on a tripod and do a testshot under the same conditions, using both formats (maybe including some "different" material, like fine patterns and dark shadows) - if the .mp4 looks good for you (i'd guess, you'd be hard pressed to see a difference), i'd go for that.

make sure to use the highest available bitrate (ntsc: 60p mode for avchd or 35mbit for .mp4)
 
Last edited:

clintage3

macrumors newbie
Mar 4, 2014
7
2
Richmond, VA
I've been using the same camera at work for a few things. I strictly used MP4 because a previous experience with recording AVCHD required me to import the clips into a editing software in order to be able to view them. That's not a huge issue as most would be importing into iMovie or FCPX. But for a Christmas event I recorded, I wanted to quickly preview the clips in Finder but was unable to because it wouldn't read it without being imported. As for quality, I haven't done a side-by-side comparison, but I know you have different quality recording settings for the mp4 setting.

As for upgrading the OS and iMovie, I would highly recommend. The way the new iMovie handles the clips by using Libraries is great. Some may disagree, but I like it. For organizational purposes, it makes total sense. Especially for me - I create a new library for each year (or special project) and a new folder for each month of the year to organize all our family video. Works great.
 

pwhitehead

macrumors 6502
Jul 19, 2011
337
98
new jersey
If you want my opinion.. I would shoot acvhd. WHY? Well think of a DSLR.. You can either shoot camera raw or jpeg and you can do so much more with camera raw then you can with jpeg because jpeg is a last file type.

You always wana deal with raw files and not encoded files like mpegs. This is just me..
 

LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
9,366
119
Los Angeles
If you want my opinion.. I would shoot acvhd. WHY? Well think of a DSLR.. You can either shoot camera raw or jpeg and you can do so much more with camera raw then you can with jpeg because jpeg is a last file type.

You always wana deal with raw files and not encoded files like mpegs. This is just me..
Neither AVCHD nor MP4 files are similar to recording raw. It's more like choosing between two variants of JPEG.
 

mtngoatjoe

macrumors regular
Jun 10, 2008
233
33
If you want my opinion.. I would shoot acvhd. WHY? Well think of a DSLR.. You can either shoot camera raw or jpeg and you can do so much more with camera raw then you can with jpeg because jpeg is a last file type.

You always wana deal with raw files and not encoded files like mpegs. This is just me..
What advice would you give me?
Yeah, I'm confused by this also. For most cameras, there's no RAW option for video. It's either AVCHD or MP4. As someone else mention, do some tests and see which you prefer.