Being Cheated on Your Resolution?

With so many standards for CCTV & cameras it comes as no surprise that manufacturers try to make things sound better than they really are. 

If you remember the days of stereos and the outrageous claims of Peak Music Power Output (PMPO) - where manufacturers could make their sound systems appear to have fantastic "numbers" - resolution has become the CCTV equivalent.

Pretty much everybody knows that a pixel is a small dot and that having so many of them across by so many up gives you a picture. If it stopped there - measuring in pixels - we would all know where we stood. But call it 1080N or 1080P and what does that mean?

From the chart below you can quickly work out if you're being diddled out of pixels. Particularly of interest are the "lite" versions of the resolution standards - where just a letter difference can mean essentially half the resolution you thought you were getting.

Take 2MP Lite. You'd think thats 2MP right? Or at least 2MP packaged up and compressed. But its not... its just over 1MP in true resolution. 

The same thing with 4MP Lite. You guessed it! In reality you only get the equivalent of a true 2MP picture. 

Resolution vs Megapixel
Known As Resolution Resolution (H) x (V) Actual Megapixel
1MP 720p (HD) 1280 x 720 0.92
1.3MP 960p (WHD) 1280 x 960 1.23
2MP Lite 1080N / 2MP-N 960 x 1080 1.03
2MP 1080p (Full HD) 1920 x 1080 2.07
4MP Lite 1440N / 4MP-N 1280 x 1440 1.84
4MP 1440P / QHD 2560 x 1440 3.68
8MP 2160P / UHD / 4K 3840 x 2160  8.29

So the trick when choosing cameras and DVR's is to ensure the recording resolution matches.

  1. Choose the true camera resolution you require
  2. Pick a DVR that supports this resolution and can record in this resolution for the number of cameras you have
  3. Check that the output resolution from the DVR will allow you to view in the resolution you need. 

This last point is quite important. You may have a DVR capable of playback in 4K but that's only if you are viewing a single camera (in full screen). If you want to play back 4 all at the same time - you will only be able to see a quarter of this resolution. So 8MP (4K) will become 2MP or Full HD. 

In reality you can simply bring up a single picture for the camera you wish to view - but if you planned on having surveillance showing 24/7 on a monitor just be aware that 2MP is all you will be able to see for each camera in a 2 x 2 multiview scenario.

So next time you see "Lite", you will know you're really looking at half that true resolution!


Figure 1


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