H264 vs MPEG-2 Quality

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By | 2017-02-23T00:58:44+00:00 May 26th, 2011|Articles|Comments Off on H264 vs MPEG-2 Quality

I recently produced a webinar for Broadcast Engineering Magazine where I compared the quality of the same test footage encoded using the H.264 and MPEG-2 codecs. Since most production encoding in the broadcast space is live, I used encoding using constant bit rate encoding and limited both codecs to the Main profile, since not all playback devices support the high profile. I encoded all test files using Sorenson Squeeze 7.

Here are the frames that I showed in the presentation. Click each figure to view the full resolution frame.

MPEG-2 at 10 Mbps, H.264 @ 5 Mbps

Low motion – very little difference in quality.

5-10 david cbr_.jpg

High motion – MPEG-2 gets very blocky, even at twice the data rate of H.264.


MPEG-2 at 10 Mbps, H.264 @ 4 Mbps

MPEG-2 has better detail retention (see the man’s face), but is much blockier. Most viewers would still likely prefer H.264 though. Don’t mind the captions, these files were encoded using the main profile and CBR also.


MPEG-2 at 10 Mbps, H.264 @ 2 Mbps

At 20% the bitrate of MPEG-2, we’ve probably crossed the Rubicon, and MPEG-2 is superior. Don’t mind the captions, these files were encoded using the main profile and CBR also.



#1arshad pirzadaSaid this on 04/29/2013 At 02:45 pm

Pictures shown with MPEG-2 10 Mbps and h 264 5Mbps are almost similar. Does this mean that in TV broadcasting one can almost accomodate twice the audio/video programs with h 264 compression.

#2CraigSaid this on 08/14/2013 At 10:09 am

What resolution and codec was the original footage?

#3janSaid this on 08/18/2013 At 08:14 amIn reply to #2It was delivered to me as 1080p ProRes in a QuickTime wrapper.#4HoosenSaid this on 10/25/2013 At 05:20 am

Is it possible to unwrap a .mov file fron final cut into pinnacle studio 16?

#5pauloSaid this on 03/20/2014 At 02:28 pm

very good info


#6David HorneSaid this on 09/26/2014 At 09:27 pm

Thank you ! You answered quite a few questions I had.

#7janSaid this on 09/28/2014 At 11:53 amIn reply to #6


Glad you found it useful. 


#8HarutSaid this on 01/07/2015 At 10:09 am


i have in blackmagic design -> pal -> 10 bit YUV -> 4x3 setting sequence. my  video files is FUll HD. When i  export my  videos to h.264 like this parameters http://postimg.org/image/gvf2c0g8b/

after exporting my  video became a blured. maybe i  choose wrong setting?

thanks in advance.