NTSC vs PAL v SECAM

*** see http://www.high-techproductions.com for very detailed explanations

There are two formats for DVD's - they are either NTSC or PAL.  

 Home DVD Players:
     PAL DVD Players can play both PAL and NTSC Discs
     ***  most NTSC DVD players can ONLY play NTSC - for home DVD players that
            play "everything", goto http://www.codefreedvd.com/

  Computer DVD Drives:
     PAL drives can play both PAL and NTSC
     Most NTSC players can play both NTSC and PAL

There is no such thing as a SECAM DVD disc and there never will be.  SECAM countries use DVD players that can read both PAL and NTSC.

These are very broad standards that include not only DVD formats, but also television systems and tapes (VHS, Betacam, DV, Hi-8, etc).  In the U.S all DVD's are NTSC (National Television System Committee).  

PAL DVD discs are playable in all PAL, PAL-N, PAL-M and SECAM countries. 

Television Standards

 

N T S C
N
ational Television System Committee

Lines/Field 525/60
Horizontal Frequency 15.734 kHz
Vertical Frequency 60 Hz (60 fields/sec but it is interlaced, so that is 30 frames per sec)
Color Subcarrier Frequency 3.579545 MHz
Video Bandwidth 4.2 MHz
Sound Carrier 4.5 MHz

 

P A L
P
hase Alternating Line

SYSTEM

PAL

PAL N

PAL M

Line/Field 625/50 625/50 525/60
Horizontal Freq. 15.625 kHz 15.625 kHz 15.750 kHz
Vertical Freq. 50 Hz (50 fields/sec but it is interlaced, so that is 25 frames per sec) 50 Hz 60 Hz
Color Sub Carrier 4.433618 MHz 3.582056 MHz 3.575611 MHz
Video Bandwidth 5.0 MHz 4.2 MHz 4.2 MHz
Sound Carrier 5.5 MHz 4.5 MHz 4.5 MHz

 

SECAM
S
equential Couleur Avec Memoire
or Sequential Color with Memory

SYSTEM

SECAM B,G,H

SECAM D,K,K1,L

Line/Field 625/50 625/50
Horizontal Frequency 15.625 kHz 15.625 kHz
Vertical Frequency 50 Hz 50 Hz
Video Bandwidth 5.0 MHz 6.0 MHz
Sound Carrier 5.5 MHz 6.5 MHz

 

Most of the world television formats are based on three main television standards. These are known as NTSC, PAL and SECAM (Systeme Electronique Couleur Avec Memoire). The USA standard is NTSC and all television broadcasts (except for HDTV) meet this standard. In the UK, PAL is the dominant format. SECAM is used in France and Russia, some Eastern European, and some African countries.

Make sure that your equipment works together. A device designed only for NTSC will likely not work with a PAL signal and vice versa. But since NTSC and PAL are similar in operation, most companies offer equipment (especially in Europe) that support both standards. SECAM is very different and therefore is not as common in multi standard equipment. But equipment sold in SECAM countries, notably France, can handle PAL since French TV watchers can pick up a lot of PAL signals.

VHS Standards

For video it is pretty straight-forward...make sure that you have multi-scan equipment if you want to play NTSC and do not live in the United States or Japan. For Americans-Decks that read PAL in the USA are NOT STANDARD and you need to buy a special multi-scan VCR.

DVD Standards

The ful DVD standards are so complex, that you could study them your entire life and still not fully comprehend them.  But for us average people, here are the basics . . .

The encoded video (MPEG2) on a DVD is stored in digital format, but it's formatted for one of two mutually incompatible television systems: 525/60 (NTSC) or 625/50 (PAL/SECAM). Therefore, there are two kinds of DVD's: NTSC DVD's and PAL DVD's. Some players play only NTSC discs, others play PAL and NTSC discs. Discs are also coded for different regions of the world but that's a different issue and shouldn't be confused with this particular discussion. See below.

All DVD players sold in PAL countries play both kinds of discs. These multi-standard players partially convert NTSC to a 60-Hz PAL (4.43 NTSC) signal. The player uses the PAL 4.43-MHz color subcarrier encoding format but keeps the 525/60 NTSC scanning rate. Most modern PAL TV's can handle this "Pseudo-PAL" signal. A few multi-standard PAL players output true 3.58 NTSC from NTSC discs, which requires an NTSC TV or a multi-standard TV. Some players have a switch to choose 60-Hz PAL or true NTSC output when playing NTSC discs.

There are a few standards-converting PAL players that convert from NTSC disc to standard PAL output. Proper standards conversion requires expensive hardware to handle scaling, temporal conversion, and object motion analysis and this equipment costs big $$$. Because the quality of conversion in DVD players is poor, using 60-Hz PAL output with a compatible TV provides a better picture. (Sound is not affected by video conversion.)

Americans - Most NTSC players can't play PAL discs. A small number of NTSC players can convert PAL to NTSC - although we have seen this number start to grow.

The three differences between NTSC discs and PAL discs are:

  1. Picture size and pixel aspect ratio (720x480 vs 720x576)
  2. Display frame rate (29.97 vs 25)
  3. surround audio options (Dolby Digital vs MPEG audio)

Video from film is usually encoded at 24 frames/sec. but is preformatted for one of the two display rates. Movies formatted for PAL display are usually sped up by 4% at playback, so the audio must be adjusted accordingly before being encoded. All PAL DVD players can play Dolby Digital audio but not all NTSC players can play MPEG audio. PAL and SECAM share the same scanning format, so discs are the same for both systems. The only difference is that SECAM players output the color signal in the format required by SECAM TV's. Note that modern TV's in most SECAM countries can also read PAL signals, so you can use a player that only has a PAL output.

 

A List of Countries and their Systems

COUNTRY

VHF

UHF DVD REGIONS

AFGHANISTAN

PAL/SECAM B

   5

ALBANIA

PAL B

PAL G  2

ALGERIA

PAL B

PAL G  5

ANGOLA

PAL I

   5

ARGENTINA

PAL N

PAL N  4

AUSTRALIA

PAL B

PAL G  4

AUSTRIA

PAL B

PAL G  2

AZORES

PAL B

   

BAHAMAS

NTSC M

   4

BAHRAIN

PAL B

PAL G  2

BANGLADESH

PAL B

   5

BARBADOS

NTSC M

   4

BELGIUM

PAL B

PAL H  2

BERMUDA

NTSC M

   

BOLIVIA

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

BOTSWANA

PAL I

   5

BRAZIL

PAL M

PAL M  4

BRUNEI

PAL B

PAL B  

BULGARIA

SECAM D

SECAM K  2

BURKINA FASO

SECAM K1

   5

BURMA

NTSC M

   

BURUNDI

SECAM K1

   5

CAMBODIA

NTSC M

   3

CAMEROON

PAL B

PAL G  5

CANADA

NTSC M

NTSC M  1

CANARY ISLANDS

PAL B

   2

CHAD

SECAM K1

   5

CHILE

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

CHINA

PAL D

   6

COLOMBIA

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

COSTA RICA

NTSC M

NTSC M  4
CROATIA PAL B PAL G  2

CUBA

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

CYPRUS

PAL B

PAL G  

CZECH REPUBLIC

PAL D

PAL K  2

DAHOMEY

SECAM K1

   

DENMARK

PAL B

PAL G  2

DJIBOUTI

SECAM B

SECAM G  5

DOMINICAN REP

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

ECUADOR

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

EGYPT

SECAM B/PAL B

SECAM G/PAL G  2

EL SALVADOR

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

EQUAT. GUINEA

PAL B

   5

ESTONIA

PAL B (was SECAM)

PAL D  5

ETHIOPIA

PAL B

PAL G  5

FIJI

PAL B

   

FINLAND

PAL B

PAL G  2

FRANCE

SECAM L

SECAM L  2

FRENCH POLYNESIA

SECAM K1

   

GABON

SECAM K1

   5 

GAMBIA

PAL I

   5

GERMANY

PAL B

PAL G  2

GHANA

PAL B

PAL G  5

GIBRALTAR

PAL B

PAL H  2

GREECE

PAL B (was SECAM)

PAL G  2

GREENLAND

NTSC/PAL B

   2

GUADELOUPE

SECAM K1

   

GUAM

NTSC M

   1

GUATEMALA

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

GUINEA

PAL K

   5

GUYANA (FRENCH)

SECAM K1

   4

HONDURAS

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

HONG KONG

--

PAL I  3

HUNGARY

SECAM D/PAL

SECAM K/PAL  2

ICELAND

PAL B

PAL G  2

INDIA

PAL B

   5

INDONESIA

PAL B

PAL G  3

IRAN

SECAM B

SECAM G  2

IRAQ

SECAM B

   2

IRELAND

PAL I

PAL I  2

ISRAEL

PAL B

PAL G  2

ITALY

PAL B

PAL G  2

IVORY COAST

SECAM K1

   5

JAMAICA

NTSC M

   4

JAPAN

NTSC M

NTSC M  2

JORDAN

PAL B

PAL G  2

KENYA

PAL B

PAL G  5

KOREA NORTH

PAL

   5

KOREA SOUTH

NTSC M

NTSC M  3

KUWAIT

PAL B

   2

LATVIA

PAL D (was SECAM)

PAL K  5

LEBANON

SECAM B

SECAM G  2

LIBERIA

PAL B

PAL H  5

LIBYA

SECAM B

SECAM G  5

LITHUANIA

PAL D (was SECAM)

PAL K  5

LUXEMBOURG

PAL B/SECAM L

PAL G/SEC L  2

MADAGASCAR

SECAM K1

   5

MADEIRA

PAL B

   

MALAGASY

SECAM K1

   

MALAWI

PAL B

PAL G  5

MALAYSIA

PAL B

   3

MALI

SECAM K1

   5

MALTA

PAL B

PAL H  2

MARTINIQUE

SECAM K1

   

MAURITANIA

SECAM B

   5

MAURITIUS

SECAM B

   5

MEXICO

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

MONACO

SECAM L

   2

MONGOLIA

SECAM D

   5

MOROCCO

SECAM B

   5

MOZAMBIQUE

PAL B

   5

NAMIBIA

PAL I

   5

NEPAL

PAL B

   

NETHERLANDS

PAL B

PAL G  2

NETH. ANTILLES

NTSC M

NTSC M  

NEW CALEDONIA

SECAM K1

   

NEW GUINEA

PAL B

PAL G  4

NEW ZEALAND

PAL B

PAL G  4

NICARAGUA

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

NIGER

SECAM K1

   5

NIGERIA

PAL B

PAL G  5

NORWAY

PAL B

PAL G  2

OMAN

PAL B

PAL G  2

PAKISTAN

PAL B

   5

PANAMA

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

PARAGUAY

PAL N

PAL N  4

PERU

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

PHILIPPINES

NTSC M

NTSC M  3

POLAND

PAL D

PAL K  2

PORTUGAL

PAL B

PAL G( was SECAM D )  2

PUERTO RICO

NTSC M

NTSC M  1

QATAR

PAL B

   2

REUNION

SECAM K1

   

RUMANIA

PAL D

PAL K  2

RUSSIA

SECAM D

SECAM K  5

RWANDA

SECAM K1

   5

SABAH/SAWARA

PAL B

   

ST. KITTS

NTSC M

NTSC M  

SAMOA (US)

NTSC M

   1

SAUDI ARABIA

SECAM-B/PAL-B

SECAM G  2

SENEGAL

PAL

   5

SEYCHELLES

PAL B

PAL G  5

SIERRA LEONE

PAL B

PAL G  5

SINGAPORE

PAL B

PAL G  

SLOVAK REPUBLIC

PAL

PAL  2

SOMALIA

PAL B

PAL G  5

SOUTH AFRICA

PAL I

PAL I  2

SPAIN

PAL B

PAL G  2

SRI LANKA

PAL B

   5

SUDAN

PAL B

PAL G  5

SURINAM

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

SWAZILAND

PAL B

PAL G  

SWEDEN

PAL B

PAL G  2

SWITZERLAND

PAL B

PAL G  2

SYRIA

SECAM B

   2

TAHITI

SECAM K1

   

TAIWAN

NTSC M

NTSC M  3

TANZANIA

PAL B

PAL B  5

THAILAND

PAL B

   3

TOGO

SECAM K

   5

TRINIDAD TOBAGO

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

TUNISIA

SECAM B

   5

TURKEY

PAL B

PAL G  

UGANDA

PAL B

PAL G  5
UKRAINE PAL / SECAM D-K    5

UNITED ARAB EMIR.

PAL B

PAL G  2
UNITED KINGDOM   PAL I  2

UPPER VOLTA

SECAM K1

   

URUGUAY

PAL N

PAL N  4

USA

NTSC M

NTSC M  1

VENEZUELA

NTSC M

NTSC M  4

VIETNAM

PAL B

PAL G  3

YEMEN

PAL B

   2

YUGOSLAVIA

PAL B

PAL G  2

ZAIRE

SECAM K1

   

ZAMBIA

PAL B

PAL G  5

ZIMBABWE

PAL B

PAL G  5