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CCTV Resolution 101 – Analog vs. IP

Christopher Mozingo - Sales Manager - 2M CCTV

Chris Mozingo

Christopher Mozingo - Sales – 2M CCTV

877-926-2288 x 6021

Customers often ask what kind of resolution is best for their particular CCTV system. Picking the right resolution for your surveillance camera can make or break your system.

Understanding the differences between Analog and IP can go a long way in determining which equipment to purchase.

CCTV Resolution for Analog Cameras

For standard analog cameras, resolution is measured by TV Lines.  For most new analog cameras the TVL range is 420 to 700.  Although 420 TVL is considered the lowest, I’ve seen camera systems where the user was only covering a short distance and the video quality was actually pretty good.  Don’t automatically assume a low res cam is garbage.  For short distances, the low resolution camera could save you some money and put a good image up.  Now, the 600 TVL and above have excellent images.  The pictures are sharper and the contrast is great.

If you want great clarity the 600+ range of resolution is the way to go.  There are other factors for a good clear picture like lenses, lux, wide dynamic range, etc.  Make sure you speak to a pro about your needs – 877-926-2288 ext.6021

CCTV Resolution for DVRS (recording resolution)

Once the camera captures the images that you want, it will send them through coax cable (or Cat 5 with Baluns) to the DVR.  At the DVR, the images are converted from an analog signal into a digital format to be stored on a hard drive.  This is the most important part of the chain.  The greatest most powerful camera will not be effective if the image is compressed down to nothing by the DVR.  The two most popular DVR resolution types are CIF and D1.  CIF is defined as 320×240 pixels and D1 is 720×480.  As you can tell, D1 is 4 times larger than CIF.  That means that the raw analog signal of the camera will be compressed less, giving you better detail.

When looking for a DVR keep recording resolution in mind.  Most DVRs have both options but will usually lower the frame rate to allow for higher resolution.

CCTV Resolution for IP Cameras

Next, we’ll cover CCTV resolution for IP cameras.  IP cameras (megapixel specifically) are able to deliver a much higher resolution.  Firstly, a MP camera is already digital so there is neither conversion nor compression.  Secondly, MP cameras run their signal through Cat 5 or 6 which allows for a much higher transfer of data.

1.3M is generally the smallest resolution of IP megapixel camera, but is still quite a bit larger resolution than any analog cam.  Even though this is a huge jump from analog, if this is not enough you can jump to 3.0 megapixel and get a 2048×1536 resolution.  Still want bigger?  Go with the 5 megapixel for a 2592×1944 for a HUGH image.

If analog resolutions are not cutting it for you, IP surveillance cameras can definitely accommodate any large resolutions.

CCTV Resolution

CCTV Camera Resolution Chart

Summary

With a DVR and analog cameras you are limited to CIF, 2CIF, 4CIF, and D1 resolution.  This may or may not fit your specific needs for your CCTV setup.  If you need higher resolution you should consider IP megapixel cameras and a network video recorder.

22 thoughts on “CCTV Resolution 101 – Analog vs. IP

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  9. I enjoy both technologies However, from an installer and user standpoint network ip although easier to physically install can be confusing with all the different protocols of cameras. The plug and play scenario does not fit since you have to commission each camera. The HD-SDI is a more plug and play system. Once again its difficult to hide the wiring. Both have there positives and negatives. I find myself doing more of the SDI systems mainly due to cost.

  10. the dvr best resolution is 720×480.ao if we place v v high resolution camera then is useless. because the dvr resolution is low.prob is that what is benifite of high resolution camera. that’s make me confuse

  11. What do you think about the system Costco is selling? Q-See 16 Channel 960H Security System with 2TB HDD and 16 900TVL Cameras 960 x 480. $800.00
    Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

    • HD-SDI is still run over coax cables and the max resolution is 2M, you also need to run a separate power cable to the camera. With IP you can get 3M or higher resolutions and using PoE, a single cat5 cable is all you need. Cat 6 is unnecessary for cameras that pumps out way less than 100mbps. Also because it’s networked, you have a lot more flexibility in how to run the cables and basically extend the length indefinitely.

  12. dear Christopher Mozingo,

    I want to ask you if I want to convert the solution from analog to IP , how can I convert from TVL resolution to MPx resolution ??

  13. I am exploring the CCTV business and enjoy reading your articles. It gives me a perspective of the business from a person actually running it.
    Questions: How is the margin like for CCTV, 4CH with DVR? Yr respond is greatly appreciated.

  14. This is a great article and definitely helped me on camera selection based on the required resolution.

    But I have a concern, once the video is recorded on a DVR, is it possible for me to zoom the image in order to search for small details. Based on your information, the answer shoule be “yes” depending on the equipment I use. But I want to see your answer.

    Thank you in advance for your clarifications!

    • That is a great question. After video is recorded it can be zoomed but only digitally. That means the individual pixels that create the picture with be made bigger. Because of that there will be no real advantage for detail.

      -Travis

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