Megapixel Technology in Video Surveillance Systems

24/09/2015 0 Comment(s)

Advances in megapixel technology has resulted to greatly improved quality of images produced by video surveillance systems. Every year, newer models of video surveillance cameras boast of higher megapixels in combination with HD technology. This gives end users of security systems plenty to think of in terms of the quality of images that their security cameras transmit, which leads to the question of whether a newer system that provide higher resolution is called for.

While technology advances are always welcome in terms of efficiency and work improvement, there are some instances where the latest advances may not really have that much impact in the delivery of services. In video surveillance systems, higher resolutions brought by megapixel technology have their use in certain situations, but may not be necessary in the majority of surveillance activities.


What are Megapixels?

The term pixel in digital photography was coined from the words “picture element”, which is a unit of information for digital images. To put it simply, the higher number of pixels, or more accurately, the number of pixels per inch (PPI), the higher the resolution of the images that the digital camera captures, so you get sharper and clearer details. Other factors affect image quality but to simplify, cameras with higher pixels can capture details that may not be apparent when you use less powerful cameras.

Megapixel refers to one million pixels, and is a significant specification when you purchase a digital security camera. By using megapixel instead of pixel, camera manufacturers can do away with long numbers that are very cumbersome to use when describing a new camera model. You can arrive at the megapixel count of your digital camera by multiplying the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical pixels that is captured by the camera sensor.

Digital cameras with higher megapixel specifications come closer to film cameras in terms of image quality. Of course, you also have to consider other factors like shutter speed, flash quality, color accuracy, shooting modes, and a myriad of other details that make a difference in the quality of the performance of the camera. An image coming from a megapixel camera can turn out poor in quality if it is blurred and the colors indistinct.

In security systems, the advent of megapixel video cameras has a high impact on security solutions that deal with the identification of minute details that help in crime prevention and resolution. IP security cameras with more megapixels allow you to crop images or zoom in on details without losing clarity, which analog CCTV cameras fail to deliver.  


What makes a video surveillance system efficient?

Video surveillance systems rely on the quality of the images transmitted by video cameras and in general, the clearer and more distinct images facilitate identification work. For example, a CCTV located in a busy train platform transmits thousands of images in a day and spotting something unusual or out of the ordinary is easier if the clarity of the details in the video footages is excellent.

Megapixel video surveillance cameras provide higher quality images than CCTV cameras that still rely on the analog imaging systems. These are ideal in locations where there you expect plenty of activity, like train platforms and busy road intersections where the need to decipher individual shot details can arise. The positioning of each camera in these locations is very important for accurate viewing, since these do not have the flexibility of PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras that allow remote positioning. Thus, when you want certain high traffic areas to be fully covered by a megapixel camera, you should consider its angle of view in relation with other security cameras that are positioned in the same general location. 


In locations where the surveillance goal is to obtain a general image and high-resolution megapixel images are not necessary, lower megapixel security cameras are sufficient. For example, a conventional CCTV camera that provides 4CIF resolution offers a resolution that is equivalent to 0.4 megapixel (400,000 pixels).

Some security experts have come up with baseline calculations for determining the number of pixels required for efficient security monitoring, and consider 20 to 30 pixels per foot of a scene as sufficient for obtaining an overview image, while for detailed or face identification, 75 to 150 pixels per foot is quite sufficient. By doing calculations based on these baseline pixel counts and the area you want to monitor, you can come up with the appropriate digital video camera to install in your security system.

Thus, there are areas where the megapixel solution is required, while other areas will require less. The challenge in the selection of the video surveillance cameras for your security system is to come up with a cost effective solution where the video footages that you get provide you with sufficient information to achieve your security goals. Megapixel IP cameras and the higher resolution these provide are quite welcome in the ever-growing needs of the security business, but their use in normal security monitoring may not be necessary.

In special security cases, there are video surveillance experts who provide customized megapixel video surveillance solutions for home and business. Tapping their services is one way of ensuring that the use of megapixel cameras is optimized, meaning these are deployed in areas where high resolution is necessary. The safety of your home and business depend on the efficiency of your security system, but investing in a system that does not suit your needs is a wasteful use of resources.



Efficient security systems provide key information in home and business security. People invest a lot of money in security cameras and other surveillance equipment but if it is not properly configured according to you needs, your security goals will not be met. In many situations, mixing megapixel cameras with lower resolution cameras are more cost effective. Megapixel video surveillance systems are necessary in specific locations, but may not be necessary in most security areas where high-resolution images are not quite necessary.

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