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The Benefits of HD-SDI Security Cameras

Ahmed Shakib - Technician - 2M CCTV

Ahmed Shakib

Ahmed Shakib - Technician – 2M CCTV


HD-SDI or High Definition Serial Digital Interface is a newer kind of video interface run by SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) and an upgrade to the current SD-SDI (Standard Definition Serial Digital Interface).  An HD-SDI camera allows you the ability to have megapixel in a standalone DVR.  HD-SDI also gives you the ability to upgrade your system without rerunning coax cables.  Compare to upgrading your system to IP cameras, which utilize more bandwidth and higher storage, HD-SDI uses 575kbyte and half the upload broadband speed.  This makes for an easy transition to higher-end megapixel systems, with half of the cost of a hybrid DVR system.


IP Cameras

IP cameras nowadays are becoming more synonymous with higher end HD or High Definition video resolutions (Further Reading:  CCTV Resolution for Analog, IP, and DVRs).  You might have heard of phrases like “megapixel” that are associated with IP cameras.  Although not all IP cameras are megapixel, the term is used accurately enough, because the video signal from the IP camera is transmitted through the network in digital form, which means the NVR (Network Video Recorder) will not need to decode the video footage back to digital.

The standard coax cable can only carry a signal with up to 270-325 megabits of data, resolution up to 480p, and it uses the old TV lines protocol to describe its resolution.  Your DVR (digital video recorder) will only provide you with standard definition video out to your monitor.  If you want to achieve higher video definition, you will need to upgrade your DVR to an NVR or Hybrid system that can handle IP cameras.  If you prefer a standalone system and a computer-based DVR is not your style, there is a fairly new technology, called “HD-SDI” that can handle higher resolution or megapixel cameras.  This device is in its infancy and uses pure digital signal to transfer the video signal to the video recorder.


HD-SDI:  Origins and Usage

Since 1990, the Motion Picture and Television industries have used high definition serial digital interface because, due to their need of recording higher resolution videos, it gave them the ability to move uncompressed and unfiltered recorded videos from their video camera to the video processor.  This video interface can transmit data up to 2.97gbit.  HD-SDI is mainly used for higher output video transitioning and can output video resolution up to 1080i.  Originally, HD-SDI had limited work scope; this meant the digital video signal could only be transmitted, in an uncompressed and unencrypted form, within the production facility.

Comparison using the Veilux VB-11IRC68L2810D-HD High Resolution Infrared Camera



HD-SDI: Requirements

HD-SDI, just like SD Serial Digital Interface, uses coax cable with impeded BNC connection with standard nominal impedance of 75 ohms.  For surveillance systems, this means you could use RG-59 or coax and a BNC connector to run your cable.  The main difference with HD-SDI vs. the standard analog is that HD-SDI cameras will have to be connected to a DVR with an HD-SDI video input.  Due to the higher video transmission, a DVR with the ability to read HD-SDI video signal will require dedicated channels that cannot be used with your average analog camera.  HD-SDI can transmit video signals of at least 100 m with RG-59 cable before requiring repeaters to boost its signal.

HD-SDI Connection

HD-SDI Connection


Improved Video Quality

HD-SDI video signal has a few advantages over IP and analog cameras.  For an analog camera, as you might have guessed, HD-SDI has improved video quality.  Normally, analog cameras transmit their video footage in an electric signal which is then decoded to digital data in the video recorder.  This essentially means that the video footage will lose some quality as it is processed and displayed on your LCD monitor.  It further loses quality as the digital video recorder compresses and saves the video as MPEG4 on your hard drive (Further Reading: Learn about MPEG4 and H.264 video compression for DVRs).



Facilitated Video Transmission

Unlike analog cameras, HD-SDI does not lose video footage quality as the electrical signal is transmitted through the BNC cable, as it uses Non-Return to Zero Inverted (or NRZI) to encode the video signal.  NRZI helps facilitate the transmission of the encoded video back to its original data form.  In a way, HD-SDI and IP cameras are both very similar in the way that they both transmit video digitally.  Unlike IP cameras however, HD-SDI has better zero recovery and lower latency when zooming in digitally, as the video is processed digitally at the DVR.

Zero Latency with Digital Zoom

Zero Latency with Digital Zoom


18 thoughts on “The Benefits of HD-SDI Security Cameras

  1. You will find plenty of coumnser Digital recording device Closed-circuit television camera systems and many of them range from same blueprints and lousy software and cheap hardware.Exactly what does ADT use once they install an alarm system with Closed-circuit television cameras?

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  3. Hi! I have an ordinary H.264 DVR.

    Can I use HD-SDi camera with this DVR? If not any suggestions how to use that kind of camera.

    Thank you,

  4. First off I would like to say superb blog!
    I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
    I’ve had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
    I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15
    minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or tips? Many thanks!

  5. I love HD-SDI, Great Picture and no latency. Best Quality is there are no issues with compliance. You can swap any camera and not worry if they are compatible, No H.264 or mpeg4. Also no confusion, many people purchase IP cameras and think they are buying Mega Pixel and get 640 x 480


  6. hd-sdi camera improved timely.all of modern demand available in provides confirm security system also.

  7. My brother recommended I would possibly like this website. He was once totally right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine just how so much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  8. There are both pros and cons to IP base camera systems. Certainly IP/Megapixel cameras offer superior image quality but available bandwidth (or the cost to increase available bandwidth) is a consideration that needs to be carefully weighed. Don’t get my wrong – I like IP cameras systems but am careful to understand the customer’s needs before recommending them.

  9. actually I’m looking forward to this as an upgrade to my current clients with analog system. IP camera can be costly, and with unstable electricity in our area, it could result in high cost maintenance.

  10. Tim –
    You are right that IP camera do not need a home run and less clutter thanks to PoE. But that advantage alone is also the downside of IP address. HD-SDI requires less upkeep than IP. it requires less bandwidth and extra HDD. In addition, all te pros you have mentioned can be achieved with half of the cost of IP.

  11. While I understand there is a market for this as it is effectively plug and play. I don’t see it really holding its own for too long.


    IP CCTV does so much more
    – unlimited cameras on one system
    – cameras do not need to be home run
    – resolutions beyond HD can be used
    – IP over coax can be used for existing systems

    Other than the ability for the traditional installer being able to use the technology, is this really a good move or are we just adding another layer of technology that is not compatible to structured cable?

    • Really unlimited cameras? Think about the CPU resources and cost running a server at home?

      Then you might change your mind to HD-SDI.

  12. Good stuff! HD-SDi is a collection of standards developed for broadcast TV studios.

    The adaptation of SMPTE 292M for surveillance is called “HDcctv.”

    For up-to-date technical information about HDcctv, see

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