Free open source HandBrake offers users a lot of controls and tools to transcode video, one of which is quality setting. There're two options available under Quality, constant quality and average bitrate respectively. Before we show you the best constant quality settings for HD/4K video, DVD, and Blu-ray, it is necessary to help you figure out the difference between constant quality and average bitrate.
Choosing constant quality means that you're telling HandBrake what quality level you want throughout your video. So, HandBrake will use different bitrate for different part of the video to achieve the given quality. That is to say, under constant quality based encoding mode you can control the output quality but can't control the file size, because the bitrate is variable.
Choosing average bitrate means that you're telling HandBrake what bitrate you want. When you use average bitrate, you can estimate the file size via a calculator but lose control over the quality. This encoding mode is generally not recommended unless you aim for a specific file size.
Another advantage of constant quality is that the encoding will be faster, because it encodes the file in one pass but produces the same quality as a 2-pass encoding.
Constant quality RF value ranges from 51 to 0. The lower the RF value, the higher the quality. RF 51 means fast encoding while extremely low quality. RF 0 means badly slow encoding while lossless compression. So should we set RF to 0 to get the highest quality? No. This is because you'll end up with a video that is larger than the source file but doesn't look any improvement in quality. Let data do the work. We once encoded a 43m8s episode with RF 0 and RF 20, and ended up with files in 6.1GB and 254.6MB respectively. And we can't see any difference in quality between them.
Recommended constant quality settings (RF values) for H.264 (x264) and H.265 (x265) encoders:
• 480p/576p Standard Definition video: RF 18 - 22 is a suggested range.
• 720p High Definition video: RF 19 - 23 is a suggested range.
• 1080p Full High Definition video: RF 20- 24 is a suggested range.
• 2.7k/4k Ultra High Definition video: RF 22 - 28 is a suggested range.
Generally speaking, RF 20 is adequate for DVD and RF 22 is a good place to start when processing HD Blu-ray quality video.
HandBrake is really an amazing program with so many features, but it also gives us various kinds of errors and problems from time to time.
Example 1: After clicking Start Encode, I see encoding for about 1 second and then Handbrake says Queue Finished with 1 errors or cancellations detected.
Example 2: I used Handbrake, h265, very slow, 27 quality. Downside is that it takes about 30 minutes per minute of footage to encode...
Example 3: I am trying to make copies of some of my DVDs for use when I'm travelling and most of the DVDs that I'm trying to rip using Handbrake are not scanning some of the titles on the disc.
If you can't fix the errors that HandBrake prompts, you might as well download the best HandBrake alternative - VideoProc to have a try.
VideoProc is a multifunctional program integrated with video conversion, video editing, audio conversion, DVD conversion, video audio download, and video recording. It supports Intel QSV, AMD, NVIDIA CUDA/NVENC hardware acceleration, Hyper-threading, and AMD 3DNow! technologies, making it achieving over 47x real-time fast speed. It works much faster than HandBrake.
Additionally, this fast video transcoder comes with High Quality Engine to help deliver the highest possible quality. Advanced users can also adjust quality to their desired level and set bit rate and other parameters based on their own needs.
Unlike HandBrake which can handle unencrypted discs only, VideoProc is available to convert both home-made and commercial copy-protected DVDs (VideoProc currently doesn't support Blu-rays). The outputs cover almost all your needs, including MP4, MKV, MPEG4, H.264, H.265, MOV, FLV, WebM, AVI, WMV, 3GP, MP3, AAC, M4A and a whole lot more.
Free download VideoProc to have a try and you'll find many wonderful features and functionalities.
Donna Peng has been working as a copywriter in Digiarty Software for many years. She has written loads of articles to help people handle their DVDs, videos and other stuff.