What is Broadcast Quality

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    • #85306

      I see that some cameras boast they are capable of "Broadcast Quality." What exactly does that mean? is it because they record at 50MB/s or have a certain audio file type/size/speed? If I wanted to produce an ad for TV would I have to use one of these cameras?

    • #212097

      You've discovered an important point about videography gear–all this stuff is hype. Broadcast quality is whatever the broadcasting client says it is. Apple ProRes 4:2:2 is a frequent standard, but any broadcaster will have a spec sheet of their requirements. These days, when camera manufacturers hype 'broadcast quality' gear, they usually me it will record 720p or better. But some claim broadcast quality for old 480i stuff. Skip the 'broadcast quality' nonsense and go straight to the specs–what resolution will the camera record, at what bit rate?

    • #212120

      Also – broadcast quality …… when?


      The broadcasters sometimes give production companies a hard time by having very high technical standards, yet they happily broadcast programmes from the 1970s!

    • #212140

      Thanks guys for your input. The hype is really out there. I was wondering because I'd see different cameras with different specs yet they'd both claim that they were capable of broadcast quality.

    • #212163

      Hello Howard,


      I'm an amateu videographer on a shoe string budget, with an University background in Electrical Engineering, and I have learned much about the art of shooting the best looking quality footage by reading the well written articles here (and am I allowed to say in other web sites?). I have drawn heavily on my Engineering background to attempt to understand the technical side of cameras, lighting and sound equipment.


      I agree with everything mentioned by Laguna Hiker and paulears because I have had the same thoughts myself.


      The Mbps rating is not a reliable measure of broadcast quality because different camera manufacturers' research and design teams will implement the same codec, using their proprietary algorithms. Also an older camera shooting with a higher Mbps, may record the same quality footage, as a newer camera with faster video processing electronics because this may allow the software engineers to implement refinements or improvements to the codec algorithm(s), reducing the Mbps rate whist delivering a similar or better quality footage.


      Other competitors may have proprietary software technologies that may permit their codec algorithms to deliver a higher equivalent Mbps rate, using their older and slower electronics hardware.


      Reducing the Mbps rate whilst maintaining high image quality, means the end user can use comparatively lower cost media such as SDHC/XC cards. Reducing Mbps rate whilst using older and slower electronics for producing high image quality results in the best possibe battery run times, and results in the lowest possible heat dissipation reducing the necessary size of the camera enclosure; the smaller form factor of DSLRs limits the continuous video shooting time to approximately 15 minutes, less in hot weather; the camera will automatically shut down, to allow the image sensor to cool down.  For documentary film making a video camera would be a better choice, for movies or TV series shooting a DSLR would do the job; for example in the first Avengers movie, they used DSLRs to shoot some of the scenes, due to the constricted space available when they filmed from the Director's required angles.


      The best way to decide which camera best fits your needs and your budget, is to make a list of your shooting requirements, including what features the camera is required to support your shooting requirements, then create a short list of different cameras. Try to narrow the list down by considering which models best suit your shooting style, and work flow. If the list still has more than one model, go the stores, and hold each model in your hands, and check the weight, the feel and the ergonomics quality of the way the layout of the controls have been designed.

    • #212167

      If you still cannot narrow the short list to just one model, then if the budget allows, design a series of test shoots, to simulate as close as possible, every type of shooting situation you may expect to be involved in. Rent each camera in turn, taking the test shots, look at the test footage and see which looks the best straight out of the camera before doing any tweaking on post. Possibly experiment with using the same set of filters with each camera; i.e. for each camera, shoot the same scenes with and without filters, and compare the footage.


      Experimen with color grading, see which camera's footage is easiest for you to work with.


      Another aspect that can influence the look of the shots, is the size of the camera image sensor. For video cameras, Hollywood cinematographers work preferentially with Super 35mm sized image sensors using manual focus control, for creative flexibility, TV news or some documentary film makers work with smaller 1/2.3" sized sensors with lenses having an autofocus function and switchable automatic or manual focus, and the camera lenses are required to have a manual focus ring. Most 1/2.3" cameras feature auto focus and auto exposure with a fixed lens, enabling what TV broadcasters call "run and gun" functionality for news broadcasts.


      Some professional cinematographers prefer to work with 16mm sized image sensors because this gives their films a different look compared wih 35mm or Super 35mm image sensors.


      The 35mm or Super 35mm image sensor cameras, feature interchangeable lenses and with lens adapters, hundreds, may be thousands of different lenses may be used, from those used on older 35mm film photographic cameras such as Olympus or Canon, through to the Cinema quality lenses.


      The 35mm sized sensors result in a larger light gathering area, improving the dynamic range, i.e. the detail that can be seen in darker parts of a scene, or in shadows. Another feature of 35mm sized sensors is they offer narrower depth of field, compared with 16mm sized sensors, allowing the camera operator to position the camera closer to the subjects of the scene, for a good bokeh effect.

    • #212168

      With color grading, a good camera will offer the facility to record using an external recorder the RAW image. The RAW image permits the use of 10 bit or 12 bit color resolution, with a higher color space 4:4:4 or 4:2:2, compared with the 8-bit 4:2:0 parameters for cameras using a compression algorithm such as AVCHD or MP4, which limits what a DP (Director of Photography) can do during post production, to improve the quality of the look of the footage, to make it look "more Cinematographic" as most people like to call it, including me. The higher the bit resolution for the color resolution, the more flexibility is available for color grading.


      Using the proper combination of filters and lighting design, may help to get the right look of the scene and possibly require little or no post production work; although matching the look of the footage may be a challenge if using a different brand or model of secondary camera shooting from a different angle, or if using one camera for slow motion shots. Some cameras implement an algorithm to do color correction before compression, and you may read comments from end users such as: The camera's automatic color grading/correction gave such good looking footage, that I had to spend little or no time having to do color grading/correction in post.

    • #212169

      To get the best quality footage, some cameras apply a technology that's called oversampling; for each frame, they may actually take several "snap shots" in quick succession and use sophisticated signal or image processing algorithms to remove noise, or improve the quality of the different colors of the scene. Some professional cinematographers have mentioned that the Red One and other brands of digital cinematographic quality cameras, use this approach.


      For the above and previous technical reasons, it's best to try out each camera in your short list, before commiting to purchasing one. Regardless of which camera is ultimately selected, there are no substitutes for good lighting design, or optical filters' choices if working mainly with daylight.


      Another issue regarding "broadcast quality", may be which image sensor best delivers? Or doesn't that really matter if jaw dropping quality can be produced, through using a good quality camera firmware algorithm, good lighting design, the appropriate selection of optical filters, and perhaps some post production work?


      One of my friends purchased a 16mm image sensor sized prosumer grade camera, spending $4000, a year later I purchased a consumer grade camera with optical filters and a 24Mbps image recording bit rate, and a Class 10 SDHC card. When he saw the quality of the footage, shooting in the afternoons to bring out warmer colors, his jaw dropped because at first he wasn't expecting I could get good quality images, with the much smaller 1/5.8" sensor. To bring out more texture detail in scenes lit brightly with natural light, I discovered a Neutral Density 0.6 filter works very well Some high end consumer, prosumer and professional cameras have built-in Neutral Density (ND) filters.

    • #212211

      They way I understand is 50 bitrate and the camera has to handle movement and situations in a high quality image. They used to use BBCC specs but now they whole 

      area is getting gray. I have the Sony AX00 camera a prosumer of consumer camera. 

      It does 4, XAVC S and the IQ is excellent. 

    • #212649

      This is an old thread but just returning to the forum i just want to say the camera i am using at present the Panasonic FZ1000 gives better picture quality than a great deal of the material broadcast on tv on the HD channels, certainly regarding detail and sharpness,the colour is great,this camera cost £750 it is a lot less now,what is broadcast on local SD channels is terrible quality.

    • #212686

      Our local stations around here all request plain old H.264 MP4 files for broadcast. Both my Panasonic FZ1000 and my new Samsung NX1 create massive killer 4K files that would overload the TV station’s servers. I never pay attention any more to “Broadcast Quality” or “Prosumer” titles these days.

    • #212687

      What is broadcast quality ? Well, apparently the quality of America’s Funniest Home Videos is good enough to broadcast, so I guess anything goes !

    • #212695

      I’ve just been doing some broadcast stuff where some images came from an SD 3 chip camera with good lens, an iPhone in 1080, and studio stuff also in 1080, and the studio stuff was good, and the SD material better than the iPhone, so anything seems to count!

    • #212181

      Even with the older analog formats the question of "Broadcast Quality" arises, especially when people read in accurate information on Wikipedia.  And I find it funny how the Kell Factor is tossed around in determining "Broadcast Quality", when the Kell Factor is utter nonsense.  Even the original RCA engineers who came up with the Kell Factor were quoted as saying that there was no mathematical basis behind it—the Kell Factor was a best guess scenario.  (In my own research on the Kell factor I found that it was being applied to everything from video production to something dealing with expectant mothers.)  And then, especially with analog formats, try to add in the Nyquist Theorem and your getting utter nonsense, especially when trying to say that this analog format is about this in the digital realm. So I tend to look at the MHZ and KHZ of how the format stores its video. I just love how on Wikipedia people say that VHS and Betamax give you the same level of video.  I would have to disagree, as Betamax has a video quality that, even on regular BIII is better than VHS on the SP mode. Even on BII, and BI, regular Betamax is closer to 3/4 U-Matic Low Band than VHS.  If I needed something from a video and the onnly copies I was able to get were VHS and Betamax, I would use the Beta over the VHS, as it would appear to have come from at least a Broadcast-quality Standard Definition source.     

    • #212751

      You also have to remember that what comes out of the camera is always going to be better than what you see on TV at home, as by the time it gets to your home it has been compressed who knows how many times, plus broadcast TV (and even Blu-Ray and DVD) have to use the 4:2:0 color space.

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