Understanding Video Recording Formats on Canon and Nikon DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras

Video recording on Canon and Nikon DSLR and mirrorless cameras involves various formats, each with its strengths and applications. This article will provide an overview of the common formats: Motion JPEG, MPEG4, H.264, H.265, and XF-AVC, and discuss their respective qualities, compression levels, commonality, and influence on the final file format.

Motion JPEG

Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) is a video compression format in which each video frame is separately compressed as a JPEG image. The quality is generally good, but this format tends to produce larger file sizes due to less efficient compression. M-JPEG is typically used in scenarios where frame-by-frame editing is necessary.


MPEG4, or MP4, is a highly versatile format used for both streaming and recording video. It provides a good balance between file size and quality. MP4 is widely used and is supported by most devices and video editing software, making it a commonly chosen format.


H.264, also known as Advanced Video Coding (AVC), is a popular format for recording high-definition video. It provides high-quality video at lower bit rates, making it more efficient in terms of storage space than many other formats. H.264 is widely used in everything from mobile video to high-definition broadcasts.


H.265, or High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), is the successor to H.264. It provides significantly better data compression while maintaining a similar level of video quality. It requires more processing power to encode and decode, but the payoff is smaller file sizes, making it ideal for 4K and 8K video.


XF-AVC is a proprietary video format from Canon. It is an advanced level of video compression that maintains a high image quality while also keeping file sizes manageable. XF-AVC is typically used in professional video and broadcast scenarios.

Choosing the Best Format

The 'best' format depends largely on your specific needs. If you want to save storage space and can handle more intensive file processing, H.265 would be a great choice. For compatibility and balance between quality and file size, H.264 or MPEG4 may be the best options. For individual frame editing, Motion JPEG could be ideal. For professional use, XF-AVC could be preferable.

Remember, the video format you choose will affect your video's final quality, file size, and compatibility with video players and editing software. So, choose wisely based on your project's needs.