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Old Feb 19, 2005, 11:31 PM   #1
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I am considering buying a digital camera with video capability. I am wanting to buy a camera withthe best quality video facility but I am a little confused however with the different formats that cameras are using - MPEG4 / avi / etc. Which gives the best quality final product? Any advice?
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Old Feb 20, 2005, 11:22 AM   #2
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MPEG4 is compressed video. Cameras with MPEG4 will take up less space for a given amount of video than those without. If I understand it correctly, MPEG4 is lossy compression so you will lose some details. Some people don't notice the quality difference; some supposedly do.

I personally would go for a camera with MPEG4 because it significantly cuts down the movie size. I don't know the exact numbers but MPEG4 640x480@30fps video of 1 megabyte is probably equivalent to 3 to 10 megabytes of "normal" video. I have a Canon S1 IS (which has no MPEG4 compression) and 1 GB (gigabyte) of memory card is only enough for 9 minutes of video. With MPEG4, I can probably record 15 to 30 minutes with 1 GB (I need to check these numbers; I'm not sure exactly how much it saves but you get the point).


As far as video file formats like MOV/AVI/etc are concerned, well, they are just different formats. Here is a subjective overview of the formats...


What you may want to do (if you have high speed internet connection) is to download some sample videos from digicams. Steve usually has a video at the end of his reviews (where he has the pictures). So go and download some and check out the different formats/quality/etc... you can also check out the video from dcresource.com (the video is usually near the end of the review--1/3 from the bottom)...

Hope that helps...:|
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Old Feb 21, 2005, 12:11 AM   #3
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Many thanks for the very helpful info and advice.
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Old Feb 22, 2005, 12:24 AM   #4
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Sivaram gives very good information. I just want to add more datapoints.

My Sanyo C4 MPEG4 camera can record about 40 minutes of video onto 1 GB card at the highest setting. The manual indicates the setting produces a bitstream at 3 Megabit per second. It is difficult to fill a whole card with clips. Only when I have the video running non-stop can I hit that limit.

Both MPEG and MJPEG are lossy compression formats. The lossiness of the compression is introduced during the JPEG compression (DCT quantizing) process common to both. The difference is MJPEG stores frames as individual JPEG images, whereas MPEG stores only the differences from one frame to the next to achieve the additional space saving.

I would not put too much stock in that subjective "file format" analysis. The analysis' fallacy is the author makes no differentiation between the file container and streams, and tries to judge file container as the compression.

The current industry standard AVI, MOV and MP4 formats are containers. Containers tell the playback program like Windows Media Player which codec to use to playback the streams within. For example, my Olympus C-3000 records 320x240 movies into a MJPEG MOV file, whereas a Pentax Optio MX4 records 640x480 movies into a MPEG4 MOV file. Both are Quicktime MOV files but the content and quality are very different.
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