2016 Aug.     Digital Cameras   Miscellaneous Articles


Update 2019:  I added a section about the audio format.  As with most of these articles, technology has moved on... but has it moved on that much?  Many or most of the cameras I've reviewed on here are still viable choices today.  (Even more so with any DSLR-type camera made after about 2012.) 

Now, on to the article...

The new Canon EOS Rebel T6S (review here) has lower bit rate than the T5i.  In fact, the T6s has lower bit rate than the low-end Rebel T3.  Is this significant?  Has Canon decided to thumb its nose at amateur videographers?

Let's see.

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In This Article:

Some Video Specs

Video Bit Rate

Bit Rate Comparison

1080p vs. 4K video

Audio Compression


Some Video-Related Specs

Autofocus Points:  19 all-cross type
Batteries:  single Li-ion rechargeable pack (Canon LP-E17)
Battery Grip Available?  Yes  (Canon BG-E18)
Connectors:  A/V OUT (Digital);   HDMI Mini OUT;   1/8" Mic IN;   N3-type Remote Control
Exposure Compensation:  +/- 5 EV in 1/2 or 1/3 stop increments
Exposure Control:   Auto, Programmed Auto (P), Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv), Manual (M)
Image Processor:  DIGIC 6
ISO settings:  ISO 100 through 12800, with Auto ISO and Extended settings available
Lens Mount:  Canon EF-S
Microphone Input:  Stereo
Optical Low-Pass Filter (OLPF):  Yes
Resolution:  24 megapixels
Sensor:  APS-C Touchscreen:  Yes
Video:  1080px HD (PAL & NTSC) @ about 30 fps;  720 px @ about 60 fps.
Video Bit Rate @ 30 fps Full HD:  216 MB/min
Video Compression / Codec:  MPEG-4 AVC / H.264
Video File Format:  MP4
Video Snapshot:  Yes

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Video Bit Rate

Usually this number is given in megabits per minute (Mb/min) or megabytes per minute (MB/min). 

This is kind of ambiguous;  megabits should probably be written as Mbit, not Mb. 

The T6s has a video bit rate of 216 MB/min when shooting 1080 video @ 30p.   That translates to a bitrate of 28.8 Mbit/sec.

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Bit Rate Comparison

Is it true that the Canon T6S has a lower video bitrate than the Canon T5i or the Canon 70D ?

Yes.  The question is, does this really matter? 

The answer is probably "No". 

It would be easy to spend a whole page talking about video compression, but let's keep it brief:  when you see two different bit rates from two different cameras, it doesn't necessarily mean much.  One of them could be using more efficient compression.  That means it doesn't require as many bits per second. 

If I had to guess, Canon's engineers are not going to design something that's going to make Canon's popularity slide.  Canon is very conservative;  when they do something, it's usually for a reason.

That said, let's compare some codecs and bitrates.   You will note that all these cameras use the same compression format and codec.  So, when someone says the T6S uses a different codec, I don't think that's true.  It's the same codec, just a different file container and a different bit rate. 

Keep in mind what I said about better compression being OK with a lower bit rate.    That's why it's kind of pointless to compare a bunch of different cameras made at different times, and often with different processors and firmware.

Want some specs anyway?  Here ya go:

File Container
Compression / Codec
Bit Rate (MB/min)
Canon 5D Mark III
MOV only
MPEG-4 AVC / H.264
685 or 235 MB/min @ 1080p
Canon 6D
MOV only
MPEG-4 AVC / H.264
685 or 235 MB/min @ 1080p
Canon T3
MOV only
MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 222 MB/min @ 720p
Canon T5i
MOV only
MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 330 MB/min @ 1080p
Canon T6s
MP4 only
MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 216 MB/min @ 1080p
Canon 7D Mark II
MOV or MP4
MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 up to 654 MB/min @ 1080p

Don't worry, Canon is not just going to up and change their video codec for no reason.  The file container is more trivial to change.  MP4 is actually a sensible choice;  it's more of a universal standard. 

Note that the 7D Mark II has the option to use MP4 files, while previous Canon DSLR's didn't.   Even the original 7D was MOV only.  The addition of MP4 says "upgrade", not "downgrade". 

Click here to go back to the main T6S review.

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1080p vs 4K

Many camera buyers are starting to look for 4K video, and unfortunately Canon doesn't offer it in most of their DSLR's.  Neither does Nikon.  That doesn't bother me as much as it might bother some others;  but they'll already be looking at a Panasonic anyway.  (Maybe a Panasonic GH4.)  

I've watched a number of video resolution comparisons, from 720p all the way up through 4k.  I couldn't see any difference on my computer.  That's because I'm watching video at 320p, which is the default YouTube resolution.  Bandwidth and processing power haven't caught up yet.   Yes, processing power.  Go ahead and try to watch 720p video on a computer where you've got 30 browser tabs and 20 programs open at once.  That's typical of how most people use a computer.  If your computer can handle that OK, then you're ahead of the curve.

If you do watch videos at 720p, you will just begin to see a slight difference between 1080p and 4K recordings.  Thing is, a lot of 1080p video has been recorded with kit lenses.  These are usually a bit soft.   The people who are seeking out 4K video are likely to be ones who also use sharper lenses. 

Record your 1080p video with a good lens.  Even a cheap prime is a lot sharper than a kit lens.  Pair the EF 40mm with the T6S and you'll have a nice, lightweight video machine that yields sharp images and nice bokeh.  Get yourself also the EF-S 24mm for wider-angle situations.   There is no need to nitpick about specs forever, when you could just be having fun with the camera right now.

With video re-formatted to low resolution, you will notice zero difference between HD and 4K video.  And because there's not enough bandwidth for everyone to be watching 4K video yet, most people are watching at low resolution.   Even 1080p is largely going to waste on YouTube;  720 would actually be plenty.  

The T6S can do 1080p, though, so it's Full HD.

Click here to go back to the main T6S review.

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Audio Compression & Bitrate

As long as the audio doesn't garble or have noticeable compression artifacts, most of us wouldn't know one format from another.

If you're recording a concert, though, audio quality is probably more important than the video. 

Canon DSLR's that use MOV seem to utilize PCM audio.  Actually this can depend on whether you choose "ALL-I" or "IPB" video.  IPB often uses the AAC format.

The Canon T6S, which has MP4 video format, uses AAC for the audio.  From everything I could find about it, the audio has variable bit rate.  When there's no sound, as when nobody's talking, it's at a lower audio bitrate to conserve space  So, a smaller file size doesn't necessarily mean it's got worse audio quality.

That said, uncompressed PCM audio is probably going to give better audio quality than AAC.  So, I can see that reader's point about wanting to use MOV for recording concerts.

Outside of that, I would say that mic placement, wind management, and other factors are going to be a lot more noticeable than the file type or even the bit rate.  If you're recording for YouTube or something like that, the video and audio are being compressed more than they were on the original camera file.  But then, if you're ripping high-bitrate MP3's or FLAC files or something, you'd want to start out with a higher-quality file from the start. 

To this day, the Canon 70D is still a great choice, and I'm sure a lot of pros are still using them.  The 70D has dual-pixel video AF, while the T6S does not.

So, by all means... if video is your primary use for the camera, then the 70D is still a great choice (even in 2019).  Get yourself one here.  With the rising popularity of mirrorless "DSLR-like" cameras, there are a lot of good used DSLR's on the market.

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Don't worry that the T6S has lower bitrate than the 7D Mark II, the T5i, or whatever.  The audio is probably good enough, too, unless you're a concert videographer or something.

Newer hardware and firmware probably allow for more efficient compression.   Even if not, it's unlikely that you'll see much difference. 

The T6S is a great little camera.  Check out the full review here, or use this link to purchase yours.  Support by readers like you is the only way I can keep this site going.

As always, thanks for visiting my website. 


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