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I guess it depends on which codec the MOV files it produces use. There are, after all, hundreds of flavors of Quicktime/MOV files!
If you're looking for a convertor -- is it necessary for your files to stay in hi-def? What is your ultimate goal for your movies? To output a BluRay? A DVD? A web video?
There are convertors out there -- many are free -- but there's no point in converting if it's going to take you further from where you want to go.
I would like the files to stay in hi def with the least loss in quality so that there is the option to burn BluRay or DVD from them. Maybe I should not have mentioned MOV files. I think AVI are the files I should be using in Premiere Elements to keep the best quality or is there another file type that keeps quality better?
If you are working in high-def, you shouldn't be using AVIs. They'll be HUGE. Besides, they aren't the standard.
The standard for HDV is the .mts file. These are 1440x1080 anamorphic pixel MPEGs, and Premiere Elements edits them natively as HDV video.
To clarify things - are you saying that I should stick with the .mts files from the camera to edit the video, and there are no other type of files they can be converted to without loss of quality and which PE8 can handle quicker to speed up my editing?
You can convert your AVCHD to HDV, which the program can edit much more efficiently, per the FAQs to the right of this forum.
Just make sure, when you start your project, you select the HDV project preset.
But that's only necessary in version 8.
In version 9, the program can edit AVCHD in its native format (which you select the appropriate AVCHD project preset), so that version handles AVCHD as efficiently as it does HDV.