As if things weren't confusing enough in the video recording world, the AVCHD video codec used by hard drive recording high definition cameras got a little more confusing with the AVCHD Lite "standard" added to the mix by Panasonic. What are the advantages of AVCHD and AVCHD Lite and what is the difference?

AVCHD = Advanced Video Codec for High Definition.

AVCHD Lite = This is a exactly the same format as above but the lite is used to indicate 720p HD content.

Panasonic has chosen to use the AVCHD format in 3 new Lumix cameras the GH1, FT1 and TZ7, resulting in:

  • Double the recording time of standard HD video recording. This means that you can record about 10 minutes of footage per 1GB. Therefore if you have a 4GB card you could record 40 minutes of video footage in AVCHD and only 20 minutes in conventional motion jpeg format.
  • Easier to edit. Basic editing software is provided with the camera but as AVCHD has become the standard for HD Camcorders, it means consumers have more access to more advanced editing software.
  • Easy Playback – All new range VIERA TVs can read AVCHD footage via their SD card slot. Therefore playback of HD content is as easy as inserting the SD card in your VIERA TV.

Generally speaking, AVCHD Lite is a subset of AVCHD. This is going to mean any camera that uses AVCHD and records 1280x720 video will be referred to as an AVCHD Lite camera because it's unlikely that cameras will record AVCHD video at lower resolutions.

I refer to AVCHD Lite as a standard in quotation marks because AVCHD has clearly defined bitrates, resolutions and parameters that qualify as being AVCHD, while AVCHD Lite appears to be a marketing effort on the part of Panasonic to differentiate its digital cameras from the competition. What you really need to know is that any video editing application with support for AVCHD should also support AVCHD Lite without your needing to do anything differently.