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How to select HD network camera?

HD security camera - 1MP 1.3MP 2MP 3MP 5MP 4K UHD resolution

James plans to install a high definition video surveillance system for his grocery shop. Although he knows this system must include several megapixel cameras and one NVR, he can't decide whether choose 1.3 megapixel or 2 megapixel security cameras. Peter is a sales representative in security company, the company offers a wide range of megapixel security cameras that have different resolutions, typically he recommends a high definition network video surveillance system to his clients, simply because he knows higher resolution system better. You may also have similar questions about the selection of HD security camera. In this article, we intend to provide you some information regarding to the selection of HD security camera.

1# What's high definition security camera?

All the image resolution formats reach up to 1280x720, they are high definition (HD). In today's video surveillance industry, we have analog high definition and digital high definition, respectively analog HD camera and network/IP HD camera. Therefore, 960H (NTSC: 960x480) resolution is not belong to HD category. Current HD resolution formats include 1.0 megapixel (720p), 1.3 megapixel (960p), 2 megapixel (1080p), 3 megapixel, 5 megapixel, 8 megapixel (4K UHD), 12 megapixel, 33 megapixel (8K UHD).

Typically, network HD camera can provide better image quality than analog HD camera when they have same HD resolution format (i.e. 720p). Just several days ago, one of our client reported to us that he was unsatisfied with his recent installed 720p (manufacturer claimed 1000TVL) AHD cameras. The image quality of these 720p AHD camera is even poorer than old 960H cameras.

HD Network Cameras

2# Benefits of high definition

First, compared with standard definition, high definition increased the size of image, additionally improved the image quality through many different image enhance technologies such as progressive scanning, 2D/3D dynamic noise reduction, WDR, etc. In a nutshell, high definition offers superior image quality. A conventional 960H analog camera providing 960H/WD1 resolution offers a resolution of 960x480 pixels (NTSC) or 960x576 pixels (PAL) after the signal has been digitized in a DVR or a video server, which corresponds to a maximum of 552,960 pixels.

A high definition camera can monitor a much wider area than conventional security camera. For example, a 12 megapixel panoramic camera comes with a fisheye lens to provide 360 degree panoramic view angle video monitoring. Through integrated with 12 megapixel image sensor and ePTZ (virtual pan/tilt/zoom), as well as split views, it can replace several conventional security cameras, greatly reduce the installation cost and maintenance fee.

Great compatibility is another benefit of high definition. No matter you shopping online or go to local electronics stores, you will realize that all TVs, Camcorders, Digital Cameras only support 1080p HD format. That means if you want to put these equipment to work with your video surveillance system, you ought to select system supported with 1080p resolution. As we realize that 4K is the current trend, we expect that 4K UHD video surveillance system will become popular in the future.

Resolution Comparison
Resolution Comparison

3# Different HD resolution formats

High definition IP cameras have an important role to play in video surveillance applications. They can provide video that is more useful, with more image detail and with wider coverage than standard resolution cameras. Depending on your specific requirement, you can choose different HD formats network cameras. For face recognition and vehicle plate license number recognition etc applications, you may select megapixel network cameras that support up to 1080p+ resolution. To know the size of different HD formats, you can check the following table.

Format Resolution (pixels) Aspect ratio Image scanning
1MP/720P 1280x720 16:9 Progressive
SXGA/960P 1280x960 4:3 Progressive
1.3MP 1280x1024 5:4 Progressive
2MP/1080P 1920x1080 16:9 Progressive
2.3MP 1920x1200 16:10 Progressive
3MP 2048x1536 4:3 Progressive
4MP 2592x1520 16:9 Progressive
5MP 2560x1960 4:3 Progressive
6MP 3072x2048 3:2 Progressive
4K Ultra HD 3840x2160 16:9 Progressive
8K Ultra HD 7680x4320 16:9 Progressive

4# How to select HD security cameras?

Except the image resolution, what else should we consider when select HD network cameras? Herein we share some information on how to select right HD cameras from the security installer's perspective.

a# Heat dissipation

When security camera is working, it will generate heat, especially when infrared illuminators turn on at night. This phenomenon exists for any security camera. Excessive heat increase the possibility of camera damage. When select megapixel cameras, you may:

  1. Check camera's power consumption, the lower, the better. Low power consumption means the camera consume less power, generate few heat.
  2. Consider using security camera with good low light performance. Without Infrared illumination (or other artificial lighting), a low light security camera can capture images even under dark condition (>0.009 - 0.001 Lux).
  3. Select the camera has good heat dissipation design. In order to provide reliable performance, Hikvision latest network camera (DS-2CD4026FWD/D) adopts Fin heat sink design on its housing to maximize thermal dissipation, which greatly help camera provide reliable performance.

b# Video latency time

All network security cameras have some delay versus real time, and the cost or quality of the camera doesn't determine the severity of the lag. In same 720p resolution image, the video latency time is 0.1s for some cameras, while some other network cameras have 0.4s, 0.7s even longer lag time. Why the video delay time is different? Different from analog camera, network camera will compress video (this process is called encoding), then deliver and decode video to display on user devices, this process will cause video latency. Basically, the shorter of video lag time, the better of image processing capability, this means user should choose network camera has short video latency time.

d# Low light performance

As we know, video surveillance camera works different from consumer electronics, the security cameras can't use flash lights to capture images/video. If the security camera doesn't have good low light performance, its applications will be constrained. When work in dim light environment, such kind of security camera become a "blind", although its resolution is very high.

e# Price consideration

"High price equals high quality" - I personally think this is true. From consumer research reports, the consumer often assumes that a higher product price indicates a higher level of quality. But price is not the only indicate of good quality, especially when we want to buy Made-in-China products. I am in security industry for almost five years, I can conclude that end-users/integrators/installers can get high quality security products with very competitive price from Chinese suppliers/manufacturers. A high quality cameras may have unique aesthetic housing design, offers some functions that other products can't, security cameras come with clear warranty terms.

f# Technical support

To end on a good note, network cameras should have acceptable or good technical support. Despite the reality that network cameras become more and more easier to setup and operate, end-users may encounter technical problems which require assistance from suppliers. When you face a problem, you can receive technical support within 1 - 2 days, that's a quite acceptable. I personally will avoid to buy security cameras from Aliexpress, because less likely you will receive technical support from personal online shop owners in the long run.

4MP 2592x1954 Resolution Sample Video

3MP 2048x1520 Resolution Sample Video

2MP 1920x1080 Resolution Sample Video

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