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AVCHD VS MP4: Pros and Cons of AVCHD over MP4 in Quality and File Size


"I recently got a new camera (Sony RX100) with the option of recording AVCHD and MP4. I'm going to use iPhoto and iMovie to handle the video. So, should I use AVCHD or MP4? Does AVCHD work with iPhoto and iMovie? How much larger are the files than MP4? How much better is the video quality?"

Shutterbugs are generally versed in recording videos, whether they are using Panasonic or Canon, but might be caught on the horns of a dilemma while choosing which video format to record in, AVCHD or MP4, two of the most popular video file formats for storing recorded videos. Accordingly, AVCHD vs MP4 becomes a hot topic among camcorder users. If you are curious about similarities and differences between AVCHD and MP4, this guide will shed some light on comparing AVCHD to MP4, with both pros and cons listed here.

Definitions of AVCHD and MP4

What is MP4: MP4, abbreviated for MPEG-4 Part 14 and occasionally known as MPEG-4 AVC, is a digital multimedia format used to store video and audio, as well as other data like subtitles and images. MP4 technology works by compressing the files, making the overall size much smaller, thus streaming over the internet is easy and videos are much more accessible and playable.

What is AVCHD: AVCHD, short for Advanced Video Coding High Definition, is developed Sony and Panasonic collectively, which is originally designed for HD camcorders use for digital recording and HD video playback. It records video at a resolution, ranging from 720p to 1080p or higher. Videos in AVCHD format can be burnt to a standard DVD disc that can be playable on an HDTV and Blu-ray Disc player.

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Comparison: Differences between AVCHD and MP4

File Extensions

Perhaps the rudimentary difference between AVCHD and MP4 files is the container format, though both recording video codec as MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. Generally, the AVCHD-formatted video uses .m2ts extension saved with the Picture Motion Browser (PMB) software, whereas MP4-formatted video uses .mp4 file extension saved with the PMB software.

Winner: Draw

Video and Audio Codecs

From a technical point of view, AVCHD differs greatly from MP4 with regard to the audio codecs that are used. The former uses MPEG-4 AVC /H.264 video codec and Dolby Digital AC-3 audio codec whereas the latter employs MPEG-4 AVC /H.264 video codec (same as AVCHD) but MPEG-4 AAC LC audio codec.

Winner: Draw


From an image quality perspective, Sony and Panasonic capture their highest resolutions in AVCHD only. JVC captures MP4 all the way up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. Yes, mp4 is usually of lesser quality. So if quality is an asset, use AVCHD since it guarantees great image quality that impresses you each time.

Winner: AVCHD

See also: MP4 vs AVI, MKV vs MP4, M4V vs MP4

File Size

As we know, AVCHD has become very popular amongst consumers because of its high quality video image. But this popular video container usually leads to an over-large file size though its video employs MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression. Nevertheless, files in MP4 format are smaller in size but high in audio and video quality. For instance, a 30min 1920*1080 AVCHD footage usually takes up 300-400 MB while the file size of a MP4 video is commonly 100MB. So if the file size is your prime concern, MP4 is undoubtedly the king in the AVCHD versus MP4 battle.

Winner: MP4


You will never ignore the compatibility factor in the AVCHD vs MP4 comparison. AVCHD file format is compatible with Blu-Ray Disc format, several recording media devices like hard disks or memory stick media, as well as xv.Color technology. MP4 files work well with Apple QuickTime format. And MP4 format is also famous for the flawless compatibility with various recording media and networks, including PlayStation Network video.

Winner: MP4


When mentioning the usage, which one is better, AVCHD or MP4? Technically speaking, AVCHD is suitable for creating AVCHD and Blu-ray Disc recordings and watching on an HDTV. Whereas, MP4 can be saved as a single movie file and is much easier to move, copy, and upload and share personal videos or songs by web or hard disks.

Winner: MP4

Note: AVCHD is a very highly compressed format, which can be generally edited only when you have a very high end PC. If not, you will require to compress and convert AVCHD to MP4 or AVI, MOV and other more compatible formats using a video converter in order to work with it.

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AVCHD VS MP4: Tasks of Each File Type

The following table mainly showcases the tasks while you compare AVCHD with MP4.




Import movie files from the camera to a computer

(Cannot be copied directly to the computer)


Create DVD/Blu-ray discs


(Cannot create DVD with supplied PMB or DVD writer, but only with the aid of a third-party movie editor)

Upload movie files to websites

(Cannot upload files to websites with PMB Portable)


Play movie files on iPhone, iPad, Android and other mobiles

(Only playable on Blu-ray Disc players, PS3 or PC with supplied software)

(Compatible with almost all media player or mobile devices, like iMovie, FCP, iPhone, iPad, Samsung, etc)

Edit media in iMovie, Final Cut Pro or other movie editing software

(AVCHD movies can be imported only after upgrading the Mac OS to version 10.6.7 or higher)


Make Incompatible AVCHD or MP4 Files Perfectly Fit for iPhone iPad Android

Both AVCHD and MP4 has pros and cons, and whether MP4 outstrips AVCHD or not in the AVCHD vs MP4 round depends on your specific needs. But what concerns most to people is whether the footages saved in the two formats can be played on the device you desire or edited and uploaded to share on YouTube or Facebook. As it is mentioned above, AVCHD seems to be harsh in terms of video compatibility. While MP4, though being friendly with many platforms, might still have a screw loose, supposing it comes with improper codec, bit rate, resolution, or so. An affirmative answer to the AVCHD and MP4 format incompatibility problems is to convert AVCHD/MP4 to a format playable on your device using a third-party video converter.

Luckily, MacX Video Converter Pro makes it happen a few clicks. Incorporated with 320+ video codecs and 50+ audio codecs, this best video converter for Mac is able to convert AVCHD to MP4 to AVI, MOV, FLV, WMV, MPEG4, H264, MKV, etc and transcode AVCHD/MP4 and other videos to 350+ latest mobiles, including iPhone 7/7 Plus/6S/6S Plus, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4, Samsung Galaxy Note 5/S6 edge+, Sony Xperia Z5, Surface Pro 4, PS4, etc with No.1 fast speed and 98% quality reserved. Therefore, you can freely import AVCHD/MP4 footages to iMovie, FCP, upload to YouTube or play it on the go.

For your preference: convert AVCHD to MP4, MTS video converter, MKV to MP4

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