NTSC delivers a frame rate of 30 fps at an aspect ratio of 720x480, and is used in North America, Japan and South Korea. PAL is a different video standard that is incompatible with NTSC; it uses a fame rate of 25 fps and 720x576 aspect ratio, and is used in most of Europe, Australia and large parts of Africa and Asia. The differences between NTSC and PAL are the reason why some DVDs or VHS tapes from Europe may not play in the United States and vice versa. Most European DVD players can read NTSC and most PAL TVs can display NTSC video. But NTSC DVD players usually cannot read PAL.

There is a third standard, called SECAM (Sequential Couleur Avec Memoire or Sequential Color with Memory), that is used in Eastern Europe and France.

Comparison chart

Edit this comparison chart


User Rating (336):


User Rating (422):
Abbreviation National Television System Committee Phase Alternation by Line
Video Bandwidth 4.2 MHz 5.0 MHz
Sound Carrier 4.5 MHz 5.5 MHz
Bandwidth 6 MHz 7 to 8 MHz
Vertical Frequency 60 Hz 50 Hz
Horizontal Frequency 15.734 kHz 15.625 kHz
Color Subcarrier Frequency 3.579545 MHz 4.433618 MHz
Lines/Field 525/60 625/50

Contents: NTSC vs PAL

edit Countries that use NTSC vs. PAL

TV encoding systems by country.
TV encoding systems by country.

NTSC (National Television System Committee) is used in Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Taiwan and U.S.A. PAL (Phase Alternating Line) is used in Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, New Guinea, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, South W. Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

edit Differences in Color encoding in PAL and NTSC

NTSC receivers have a tint control to perform color correction manually. If this is not adjusted correctly, the colors may be faulty. The PAL standard automatically removes hue errors by utilizing phase alternation of the color signal (see technical details), so a tint control is unnecessary. Chrominance phase errors in the PAL system are canceled out using a 1H delay line resulting in lower saturation, which is much less noticeable to the eye than NTSC hue errors.

However, the alternation of color information — Hanover bars — can lead to picture grain on pictures with extreme phase errors even in PAL systems, if decoder circuits are misaligned or use the simplified decoders of early designs (to overcome royalty restrictions). Usually such extreme phase shifts do not occur; this effect will usually be observed when the transmission path is poor, typically in built up areas or where the terrain is unfavorable. The effect is more noticeable on UHF signals than VHF as VHF signals tend to be more robust.

A PAL decoder can be seen as a pair of NTSC decoders:

edit Picture quality in NTSC vs. PAL

PAL lines go out at 50 fields per second (since Europe uses a 50 hertz power supply) i.e. 25 alternating lines. PAL televisions produce 25 frames per second, that causes motion to be displayed faster. PAL may have fewer frames per second, but it also has more lines than NTSC. PAL television broadcasts have 625 lines of resolution, compared to NTSC's 525. More lines means more visual information, which equals better picture quality and resolution.

edit Conversion from NTSC to PAL and vice versa

If a PAL movie is converted to an NTSC tape, 5 extra frames must be added per second or the action might seem jerky. The opposite is true for an NTSC movie converted to PAL. Five frames must be removed per second or the action may seem unnaturally slow.

edit Video explaining the differences

In this short clip from the iMovie HD Troubleshooting Guide, the differences between the PAL and NTSC video formats are clearly explained.

edit References

Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us:

"NTSC vs PAL." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 19 Dec 2014. < >

Related Comparisons Follow Diffen
Make Diffen Smarter.

Log in to edit comparisons or create new comparisons in your area of expertise!

Sign up »
Top 5 Comparisons

Comments: NTSC vs PAL

Comments via Facebook

Anonymous comments (2)

November 9, 2012, 8:19pm

Thanks! Was a really nice article.

— 117.✗.✗.52

January 30, 2012, 2:16am

nice article.

— 196.✗.✗.106


Up next