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Downloading Quality 4k Videos

This weekend I was playing around with 4K videos and Apple Photos. I was testing various methods of getting videos onto my desktop without using Apple Photos to download videos from my iPhone XS Max.

AirDrop Test

When I AirDrop videos from my iPhone to my iMac, there was a bit of extra compression that happened.

The 4k video now uses the HD Color profile, when I download it from Photos it's using P3 D65 (12-1-1) - which is the same compression being used in Compressor 4.4.

I don't see any real difference of loss in video or audio quality with the new compression, I am sure it's done to save space.

It didn't save much space as the original size was 165.5 and the AirDrop version was 186.2.

Drag to Dashboard Test

My next test was to see what would happen if I took the download video from Photos to the Dashboard.

Turns out that the color profile also gets altered to use the HD (1-1-1) Color Profile.


4k Photo Info

Technical details on the differences of the types in my testing.

What I Learned Today

So here's what I Learned.

To get the absolute best quality video, your best to download it using the Photos App. Then to put it on the desktop - to get use in Final Cut Pro or any other application - select the video, Select Export then the "Export Unmodified Original." This will keep the video in the original format, which might be easier to work with.



AlexUnfortunately I’m afraid the information that you’ve provided here is incorrect. You’re original file is the one that you currently have labeled as being from AirDrop. There are two dead giveaways that indicate this, if you know what to look for. The first is the GPS metadata in the file from AirDrop; AirDrop doesn’t add this itself, and if no other files have it despite coming from the same source, that’s a good sign that you’re looking at the original file unless you manually added the GPS data later. The second and more obvious giveaway though is the use of the HEVC video codec. Your iPhone’s camera will automatically record in HEVC on all modern iOS devices unless you tell it not too. (Go to your Settings app and scroll down to the camera app settings near the bottom and tap it. Look for something that says “Formats” and tap that. You should see “High Efficiency” checked off, with “Most Compatible” as your other option. As long as “High Efficiency” is checked, you are shooting in HEVC.) The file that you have marked as “original” has actually been modified by your Mac’s Photos app during the download process. This is either due to settings on your iPhone, settings on your Mac, or both. In the “Settings” app on your iPhone, right above the section marked “Camera” that I mentioned above, you should see a section marked “Photos.” Go ahead and tap that, and then scroll down until you see “Transfer to Mac or PC,” and make sure that “Keep Originals” is checked off. By default, Apple uses “Automatic” instead, which re-encodes the file when you transfer it to a computer via the Photos app. After adjusting these settings as I’ve described, you should be downloading a HEVC file into your Photos app. If you’re still getting h.264 files after doing this, you need to alter a setting in the Photos app on your Mac to prevent it from re-encoding the files during the download process. (I can’t remember the exact location of this setting right now, and I’m not near my Mac to check on it, but poke around if you have to and make sure this isn’t also re-encoding your files.) Also, I’m assuming that by “Dashboard drag and drop” you mean dragging the file to the Desktop from Photos. As you’ve correctly pointed out that will yield the current version of a file, not the unmodified original. Finally, one last caveat: Even if you set everything as I’ve suggested, editing a video in the Photos app on your phone will yield a modified h.264 file, and not your original HEVC file. (Files that you didn’t shoot yourself, such as ones from friends and family may also be h.264 as well.) This means ANY edit, even something as simple as rotating or cropping a video. If you really want to make quick edits on your phone I highly recommend duplicating the file in the Photos app, not touching the original, and modifying the duplicate instead. Then, when asked if you want to save your changes as a new file, do so and then delete the duplicate of the original file. This leaves you with your edit and your original file in the Photos app and makes it so you can’t accidentally undo your changes, while also ensuring that you don’t accidentally alter your original file. I hope that this information is useful to you and your readers.

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The iPhone XS Max is the most powerful iPhone Apple has ever made. I wanted to learn how to take the most advantage of the capabilities of the device and see how it so much better than my old iPhone 6s Plus.


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