Sony AVCHD Quality Test

Note: If you are lazy and don’t feel like reading all of this, just watch this video that basically explains what I say in the paragraphs below.

When I was searching for an HD video camera to purchase, I kept coming back to the Sony AVCHD brand.  I had good luck with using one of their still cameras before and had decided it was time for an upgrade.  I spent several months researching the different types of cameras that I could use.  The one difficulty that I had when doing this research though, was the need to know what video quality a Sony AVCHD video camera would produce.  After scouring the internet, I ended up with no videos that showed what the camera had to offer.  So I took a leap of faith and purchased the HDR-UX1 from their AVCHD lineup of cameras.  It ended up being a very solid camera.

In my desire to fix the difficulties that I faced when buying an HD video camera, I have decided to create several (18 to be precise) test videos with my new camera.  Each of these will showcase the various quality settings of the camera.

The Sony HDR-UX1 came with four quality settings:

-HDHQ+: 12 Megabits-per-second recording quality.

-HDHQ: 9 Megabits-per-second recording quality.

-HDSP: 7 Megabits-per-second recording quality.

-HDLP: 5 Megabits-per-second recording quality.

The camera records at a native 1080p 1440x1080i but with Sony Vegas, it can be re-rendered to any quality that you prefer.

I recorded 8 clips outside my house, each of varying quality from the HDHQ+ to HDLP and rendered them in both AVI and WMV for quality and size purposes.  There are also two clips that I resized to 720p and uploaded to Vimeo for HD streaming. (Link included after the break.)

Overall the shooting for the clips only took 30 minutes, but the editing itself took hours because it required constant rendering of each video.  Its finally finished though, I hope you like it!

To get more ideas of the quality of AVCHD, most of my videos on my site were filmed with the HDR-UX1, meaning all of them are a useful quality test!


Questions & Answers: Here are some of the questions that I have received about my camera and the AVCHD format:

1.  What software do you use to edit & output your avchd files?  Sony Vegas 8.0.  It works natively with the AVCHD format and it is relatively simple to understand once you begin working with it.  Just keep in mind that if you don’t have Sony Vegas it is much more difficult to edit the avchd format correctly.  There is an option in the software that comes with the camera that allows conversion from avchd to high quality mpeg2 though it requires de-interlacing.

2.  Do you burn HD content to a normal DVD instead of Blu-Ray?  The sony HD camcorder I have (HDR-UX1) records to mini-dvds and it has an option to directly output any of the videos that I create with it to a format that will work on any blu-ray player.  Sadly I don’t own one, or an HDTV for that matter, but I am content with creating high quality videos for the internet and hopefully independent films someday.  So, I have the option to burn to blu-ray, but if I do burn to a disk it is usually just a regular dvd that can play in my standard dvd player.

3.  Do you edit the avchd files natively or do you convert them to another format before editing?  I edit all of the avchd files natively and then output them in a different format such as .avi.

  1. I liked finding the raw test video on your site to see how it edits in CS4. Have you seen any other sites that have raw video at higher bit rates? I'm trying to find out if my computers are up to the task of editing high quality AVCHD and which HD camcorder to purchase. Thanks

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