Which File Format should I save as?

Which file format to save depends on a number of factors. This article is mainly aimed at those carrying out industrial tests in a lab or field environment, where users are saving images for internal and external use. File formats for broadcast users will be very different.

High speed cameras typically produce Gigabytes of information per test, and the efficient managing of that data is paramount, especially when there are quntities of cameras involved. The factors that need to be considered include:

  • Quality
  • Download speed
  • File size
  • Compatibility to play in common players
  • Compatibility to open in specialist softwares

Let’s consider three main requirements

  1. The main record/ back up of the test.
    The main consideration here is maximising the qwuality of the file, so a format that maintains all the captured information is required. Compatibility is less of an issue here, as this is the master file that is used to create copies which are then used for other purposes. The recommended file format here is *.RAW. It is the the fastest format to download, and is the highest quality, with no loss of data.
  2. Test movies for internal use
    With the movies just being for internal use, consideration should be given to the purpose of the movie. Seperate image files, such as *.TIFF might be required by specialist softwares, or *.MPEG files may be required for smoother playback, expecially when embedded in Powerpoint presentations etc.
    NOTE – MPEG files, due to the way they are created, with intermittant reference frames, rather than complete frames, may not be suitable for some analysis softwares)
  3. Movies for giving to customers as a record
    Size is far more important here, as the movie may need to be copied to a limited size memory stick, or perhaps emailed. Compatibility with common players, like Windows Media Player is also paramount.

So, what formats are good ones to adopt for these uses?

Of, course, it’s up to you at the end of the day, but our suggestion is to start with these:

  • RAW for archiving
  • RAW, for image analysis (as long as the software accepts it (TrackImage does)
  • TIFF, for image analysis (other formats are accepted, but tiffs are probably the most universal)
  • MP4, or AVI with x264 compression codec, for giving to customers. They are very universal to replay, high quality and compact in size
    NOTE – to create movies with x264 compression codec, the codec may need to be downloaded and installed – please contact us for details on codecs and their use.

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