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What's the Best Codec for Video Quality, Editing, Compression and Uploading

What is the best video codec for high quality, editing, compression and YouTube uploading? All the questions can be answered in the following part. Please stay on this page for a few minutes and you will get more knowledge about video format codecs beyond your imagination.

Basics of Video Codecs

A video codec is a device or software that enables to encode and decode digital video. To put it another way, the codec is capable of compressing the originally huge video file into smaller one without degrading too much quality and then decompressing it for full-quality playback. Below is the list of the best-known format codecs.

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Part 1: Roundup of Best Video Codecs and Detailed Explanation

  • MPEG (Moving Pictures Expert Group): There are 3 different types of MPEG-MPEG 1 (mpg), MPEG 2 (m2v) and MPEG 4 (mp4). MPEG is a codec as well as a container.
  • MPEG-1: Old, supported by everything (at least up to 352x240), reasonably efficient. Good format for the web.
  • MPEG-2: A version of MPEG-1, with better compression. 720x480. Used in HDTV, DVD, and SVCD.
  • MPEG-4: A family of codecs, some of which are open, others Microsoft proprietary. One of the best codec for video uploading and compression.
  • H.264: Most commonly used codecs for videos uploaded to the web. Part of the MPEG-4 codec. This is one of the best codec for video quality and editing.
  • MJPEG (Motion JPEG): A codec consisting of a stream of JPEG images. Common in video from digital cameras, and a reasonable format for editing videos, but it doesn't compress well, so it's not good for web distribution.
  • DV (Digital Video): Usually used for video grabbed via firewire off a video camera. Fixed at 720x480 @ 29.97FPS, or 720x576 @ 25 FPS. Not very highly compressed.
  • WMV (Windows Media Video): A collection of Microsoft proprietary video codecs. Since version 7, it has used a special version of MPEG4. It's an ideal codec for video YouTube uploading (file size is small enough).
  • RM (Real Media): A closed codec developed by Real Networks for streaming video and audio.
  • DivX: In early versions, essentially an ASF (incomplete early MPEG-4) codec inside an AVI container; DivX 4 and later are a more full MPEG-4 codec...no resolution limit. Hard to find mac and windows players.
  • XviD: Closely related to DivX but less widely used.
  • Quicktime 6: Apple's implementation of an MPEG4 codec. Best codec for video editing in iMovie.
  • WMV9: A proprietary, non-MPEG4 codec from Microsoft.
  • Dirac: A very new open format under development by the BBC.

Part 2: Three Principal Goals for the Best Video Codec

To be frank, knowing the common codecs is just in the infancy of manipulating video performance. For an ideal result, having a clear idea of the best video codec in mind is the kingly way.

Originally, the video codec regarded as the best usually gets a knack for producing video that closely approximates the fidelity of the original source while delivering the smallest file-size possible in the meantime. But with more and more people being big on cruising the web, speed of compression and decompression shall be also taken into consideration when ranking the best video format codec. The typical examples are shown in posting a file to YouTube and streaming a live event.

Part 3: Which is the Best Video Codecs for High Quality, iOS, Android and Web

Now that you know speed, quality of final image and size of the compressed file are the paramount importance in judging the best video compression codec, the following four parts will show you the best lossless video codecs respectively for high quality, iOS, Android and web.

best video codec
best video codec

1. Best Video Codec for High Definition

MKV: It shall be mentioned that MKV is rather a container than a codec, which is the most popular container for high definition content. It simply stores the bytes from a codec in such a way that MKV-compatible applications know where to find the video, audio and subtitle data (if present) for playback instead of encoding and decoding the video data. As a result, you have the option to take the format codec like H.264, MPEG-4 and VP3, all of which use similar technology, but the first two are far better than the third.

h.264: Generally, H.264 is recommended as the best video codec for high definition. The preference is to generate a file with size within 8-12GB region for a 2-hour HD movie. To maximize the quality, a 12GB+ file with a bitrate of 10+ Mbps is recommended.

Related Sources: MKV vs MP4, MP4 vs AVI, H264 vs MPEG-4

2. Best Codec for iOS

H.264 and MOV: Prior to the encoding job for Apple's portable device like iPhone, iPad or iPod, for instance, if you want to encode video for playing on an iPad, scaling the original video clip to 1,024*768 will make good sense as the iPad has a native resolution of 1024x768. It shall be notified that if you want to make the job of choosing a codec easier with the best video quality for your iOS device, the video files shall abide by Apple's codec discipline. For the best video codec on your Apple devices, you are recommended to choose the video format codec H.264 and MOV container. The best framerate is 29.97fps (NTSC) and you can enter as 30,000/1,001 if you're using FFMPEG. The audio should use the AAC codec with a bitrate of 160kbps.

Related Sources: iPhone best video codec

best video codec for iOS
best video codec for iOS

3. Best Video Codec for Android

H.264 or AAC-LC: The good news is that you can install VLC media player to handle many kinds of video files for playback on your Android device. Google recommends H.264 as the best codec for video with a bitrate of 500kbps and AAC-LC at 128kbps or audio. MP4, 3GP or even a raw TS can be chosen as a container, with resolution keeping abreast with the end android devices like Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, etc.

best video codec for Android
best video codec for Android

4. Best Video Codec for Video Uploading to YouTube Web

MPEG-4: There are also a lot of codecs like H.261, MPEG-4, VC H.263, H.264, Sorenson Video 3, etc specifically for the web. These web codecs are designed to reduce file size and decompress quickly, however, they take longer than real-time to compress. But when regarding to high-quality streaming across the internet, for instance, if you want to upload a video to YouTube, H.264 can be a solid choice as it provides a high quality, homogeneous and predictable video stream across a limited bandwidth. However, there is an alternative to the video codec called MPEG-4, which offers the same pedigree and is regarded as the best choice of codec for streaming under bandwidth and processor limitations. The containers for MPEG-4 codec include AVI, MOV, and the raw TS, as well as MP4 and MKV, which can be chosen based on your playback device you have with too much difficulty in encoding.

best video codec for YouTube upload
best video codec for YouTube upload
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The encoding is limited by the variable bandwidth and broadband connection. For instance, when you stream video across a wireless-N network with its specification boasting a transfer speed of 108Mbps or from your NAS, the results may be not as fast as promised or not far less than 2Mbps.

Please keep in mind that the video codec, best or not, shall matches the format of the video you are editing. And the codec shall be chosen based on your final output format or device. By the way, if you are wondering to convert the video with the codec that best supports your device, edit your footage in your iMovie, or upload your masterpiece to YouTube, but still think choosing the best video format codec is complicating, you can turn to MacX Video Converter Pro, which works as the best known video codec encoder and decoder.

Supporting 320+ video and 50+ audio codecs, it helps you do any video encoding and decoding and convert the video to your device supported codec without any additional parameter settings, so that you can enjoy your movies, recorded videos, TV shows, YouTube videos, etc on your iPhone, iPad, Android anywhere anytime.

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author- candice
Candice Liu

Candice's particularly skilled in writing and sharing video-related contents. Her guides cover from deep-seated video/audio parameters, to media entertainment on different platforms. She also enjoys shooting and processing videos by herself for a more reliable basis of informative info with her articles, which are never at the expense of eliminating an entertaining read.