With the fast growth of 8K and UHD 4K DSLRs, drones, action cameras, and smartphones, it is not rocket science for average people to capture high-quality videos. But we all know it is at the cost of sacrificing much storage space. A 10-min 4K @60FPS video shot by iPhone 11 takes up 3.9GB. So when we want to release the storage or share a video via Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, we have to compress it into a smaller size.
But here comes another headache - How to compress video files without losing quality? Actually, compression is a process to reduce data stored in the file, thus, unavoidably, causes quality loss. What we can do is to minimize the quality loss while decreasing the file size.
In the first place, to get a better understanding of how to reduce file size without losing quality, we should figure out what factors are affectting the size and quality of a video.
Factors That Determine Video File Size and Quality
Video file size = Time (sec) x Frames per Second (fps) x Pixels per Frame (resolution) x Bit Depth
We can tell from the formula that, for a raw video of a certain length, its size was determined by the frame rate, the resolution, and the bit depth. Most videos we use are compressed in some way to shrink redundant info. And the process of video playback or sharing involves encoding and decoding. Now let me explain these factors one by one.
Resolution: The number of horizontal and vertical pixels in one frame. For instance, 4096×2160 (4K) and 1920×1080 (1080P). The higher resolution, the more pixels with color and luminance info (bit depth), thus better video quality, of course, larger size.
Frame rate: It means how many frames are delivered in one second in a video. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video and the larger file size.
Bitrate: It shows how many bits of data are output from the video per second. Efficient encoders can save more average bitrate, thus make video size smaller.
Coding scheme: The way of how a video is compressed. And the video encoding tech is still in progress. At present, the most efficient video codec is H.266/VVC, but it hasn't been adopted into practice. So today, we are focusing on a universal one, H.265/HEVC. It is capable of reducing video files by 50% while keeping the same quality, compared with its predecessor H.264/AVC.
Simply put, compressing video files without losing quality is actually a tradeoff between the file size and the image quality.
The rule of thumb is to use the most effective way to re-encoding the video file and keep the resolution, bitrate, and frame rate to a reasonable range. Keep this in mind, and we can start the tutorial on how to make a video into a smaller size with minimal quality loss.
Method 1. Compress Video without Losing Quality with VideoProc
VideoProc is an all-in-one video processing program compacted with a quick video editor, a robust video converter, as well as other useful downloading and screen recording utilities.
Because it is armed with the advanced high-entropy coding method of HEVC shortly after x265 was open sourced, it jumps to the top list of best video compressors with a higher compression ratio and empowers you to get a smaller high-quality video after the compression.
Furthermore, its capabilities have been doubled with its GPU acceleration tech and wide support for video formats and codecs. So feel free to compress video files in MP4, MOV, AVI, MKV, and 470+ formats, regardless of your computer configuration.
VideoProc - Best Video Compressor without Quality Loss
- No visible quality loss after compressing UHD 4K and HD 1080P videos.
- Reduce file size up to 90% smaller than original at 47x real-time faster speed.
- Versatile solutions to enhance video quality – upscale, fine-tune bitrate, stabilize, denoise, etc.
- Change between different codecs to optimize video size, e.g. H.264, H.265, VP8, AV1, and H.266 in the future.
- Beginner-friendly presets and professional controls over video codec options.
- Lower CPU usage to 40% and run smoothly on all recent computers.
Step 1. Import a video to VideoProc.
Double click on the icon of VideoProc on your desktop. Choose "Video" > "+Video" to select a large video file from your computer.
In this tutorial, I added an MP4 H.264 video (3840×2160, 30FPS, 16Mbps) to VideoProc. The original file size of the 1-minute video is 115MB. If you have a bunch of videos to process, you can load all of them to this program at one time.
Step 2. Compress the video to a smaller size without losing quality in VideoProc.
The most recommended way is to compress the video size by re-encoding it with H.265/HEVC. Open "Target Format" > "General Profiles" > "HEVC Video" > "Done".
The HEVC preset downgrades the video resolution to 1920x1080 and auto-calculates the best bitrate for the 1080P video. In this way, the compression ratio is improved by over 50% while retaining the best video quality.
Tips: If your video is too long or has redundant footages, you can go to its editing toolbar to cut, trim, or split it.
Option: Compress the video size by tweaking video codec options.
If your video has already been encoded effectively, click the gear icon of "Codec Option", and you can continue decreasing the file size by manually:
- Lowering the frame rate to 29.97fps or 24fps.
- Downgrading the video resolution to 1080P or 720P.
- Changing the target bitrate to a smaller value, at least lower than 3600 kbps.
- Increasing the value of GOP to improve the compression efficiency.
- Moving the quality slider to the right side a little bit to prevent largely quality degrading.
Note: The optional method might cause slight visible quality loss. But it is workable if you play the video on iPhone and other devices with small screens. Because they cannot display too much color and luminance changes.
Step 3. Export the video from VideoProc.
Browse to choose a folder to save the compressed video. And tick the box before "Nvidia/Intel/AMD" to activate hardware acceleration. Then hit the "RUN" button, and your large high-res video will be compressed and exported in seconds.
The output folder will pop up automatically when the compression is over. Now you can check the video file size and image quality. The video in our tutorial has been compressed by 64% without any visible quality loss after being re-encoded by H.265/HEVC.
Method 2. Compress Video without Losing Quality with HandBrake
HandBrake is a free and open source program for video conversion. Also, it can function as a free video compressor on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Based on FFmpeg video decoding and encoding libraries, it can compress large videos with common encoders, like H.264 (x264), H.265 (x265), MPEG-4, and MPEG-2.
HandBrake provides mainly two modes of video encoding: the Avg Bitrate option for more control over the output file size while sacrificing the video quality, while the Constant Quality does the opposite.
Since the video quality is emphasized in this post, we'll take full advantage of its Constant Quality option and other parameter settings to keep the original video quality as much as possible instead of relying on its beginner-friendly presets. Here's how.
Step 1. Download HandBrake and launch it on your computer. Click "Open Source" on the upper sidebar to load the source video to it. It supports compressing MP4, MOV, AVI, and MKV videos to smaller sizes.
Step 2. Select MP4 as the output format container, and then click "Video" to set the video codec to "H.265". In order to get a reasonable output video quality, keep the frame rate higher than 24FPS and set the Constant Quality RF (Rate Factor) value to 20.
For a further file size reduction, you can remove the audio track under the "Audio" tab.
Step 3. Go to the bottom bar to choose an output folder. Then hit "Start Encode" to compress the video file.
HandBrake or VideoProc
HandBrake and VideoProc both provide feasible solutions to convert video to smaller size without losing quality. To give you more hints about which one to use, our team has made a well-rounded test.
And the data below shows that VideoProc compresse MP4 videos in the same quality while shrinking them into much smaller sizes and taking up less CPU usage.
Method 3. Compress Video Files without Losing Quality Online
Most online video compressors tend to simplify video compression as much as possible. This method is suitable for beginners and users in a rush. Without downloading and installing any tool on your computer, the whole process can be completed over the Internet.
However, web-based free video compressors have strict file size limits (generally up to 500MB). Only the minority, like Freecovnert, support video files up to 1GB. So the following guide on how to reduce file size without quality loss is demonstrated with FreeConvert.
Step 1. Go to the official website of FreeCovert video compressor. Import a video to it. You are allowed to upload a video from your computer, Dropbox, Google Drive, and URL.
Step 2. Choose an output format. It supports MP4, FLV, MKV, AVI, MOV, 3GP. And among them, MP4 and MOV are the best video formats compatible with effective codec H.265/HEVC. So you can choose either of them.
Step 3. Click the gear icon beside the output format to open its advanced settings. Choose "H265" in the codec option. Then set the compression method to "Target a video quality" which promises the least video quality loss in the compression. And keep other settings as default.
Step 4. Click "Apply Setting" > "Compress Now". When it finishes the compression, click "Download" to save it to your computer.
Method 4. Compress Video Files without Losing Quality in Mobile
When you put video quality at the top of your list, the best way to decrease video file is, undoubtedly, to use professional programs like VideoProc, and then transfer the video to your mobile. But for people who stick to mobile methods of converting video to a smaller size with the least quality loss, we still have made tutorials workable for Android and iPhone individually.
#1. How to Compress Video Files without Losing Quality in Android
Step 1. Download a video compressor from GooglePlay, e.g. Video Compressor Panda. It has been rated 4.5 out of 5 in the app store.
Step 2. When the installation is done, launch this video compressor on your Android phone. Choose yes when it asks for your permission to access the local multimedia library. Next, find and tick the video you want to compress.
Step 3. Choose to compress it into a "Small File", "Medium File", or "Large File". We'd recommend the last one because it keeps the original video quality and produces the best result. But it'll shrink the video slowly at a lower compression ratio. The bonus feature is "Fit to Email" which empowers you to compress videos for email in one single tap.
Step 4. Wait for it to squeeze your file. Finally, you have multiple choices to save, share, or replace the video.
#2. How to Compress Video Files without Losing Quality in iPhone
Step 1. Open APP Store and download Video & Photo Compressor Pro. After installing it on your iPhone, allow it to access the Photos app.
Step 2. Choose "Compress Video" on its main UI. Add a video to this compressor app from your iPhone. Tap "advanced Mode" > "Superior quality" > "Try". This is going to utilize its advanced algorithms to decrease the video file size with minimal quality loss. This is a paid feature. If you want a free service, choose "Normal Mode", and ads will pop up in the following steps.
Step 3. Then it'll start to compress the video. Wait and do not quite the app. When it finishes the compression, it provides a preview and a comparison of these two files in terms of the resolution, bitrate, and file size. Finally, you can save it to the photo album or share it via SNS.
Open the Settings app on your iPhone, and find Camera > Record Video. Changing UHD 4K @ 60fps to 4K @24fps or 1080P HD @ 60 fps. Then video you shoot in the future will get smaller while keeping smooth.
Apart from the video file per se and hardware configuration, the compression ratio and the video quality also depend on the video compessor software you are using. VideoProc excels most peers in both fileds with its timely support for the latest HEVC codec and advanced GPU acceleration tech. Now download and keep VideoProc at hand to compress long videos or large 8K/4K/1080P videos without quality loss in a few clicks.