H.264 vs MJPEG and MOV/MP4 vs AVI and what is Advanced Systems Format?


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Nov 16, 2012
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On my search for the "best action/hat/car/body camera" I stumbled on AVI file formats and MJPEG video compression.

This resulted in having bought a few cheap cams with AVI file format that are ACTUALLY REALY HORRIBLE....

Is it coïncidental, or just due to the AVI/MJPEG system? I wonder, because many of these are the right form factor, small, and exactly what I'd like.

But.... I really need better video quality. Now, I also have the Mate808 camera which actually does a "decent" job (still worse that MOV/MP4), but all others are just horrible. All my cams that record in MP4 or MOV file format have great video quality, but all that AVI stuff is really below average at best...

Why are almost ALL AVI/MJPEG cams so freekin' cheap?

Should I skip ALL cams with AVI file format?

Are there actually cameras with AVI that have good / decent image results?

Is AVI married to MJPEG, or can it work with H.264 compression as well?

And then I found more and more cams with ASF (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Systems_Format). Can someone tell me in layemans language what that is, and why I should or should not use it?


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Jul 7, 2014
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United Kingdom
Dash Cam
Gitup F1, A129, B1W, B2W
Generally, the cheaper it is, the worse the quality!

I think it is fair to say that if the camera is decent then it will not be using AVI, and thus AVI cameras should be avoided.

ASF is probably in the same category, although you can get good results using it. Probably used to avoid license costs with H26?

Currently all decent cameras use H264 which is stored in .MP4 files, used mainly because it was the first format that provided decent compression ratios while also providing decent quality.
H265, the successor to H264, is also stored in .MP4 files, generally doesn't improve things much unless you have seriously expensive hardware.

The next generation will use AV1 (that is a 1 not an I), probably stored in .webm files, which will likely be a useful improvement on H26? and has no license so may also be used for the cheaper and not so good cameras, although it does need good hardware to do the compression so won't be very cheap.
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