High Definition CCTV Different Types Explained

High Definition CCTV is now the system of choice along with TVs and all sorts of other electronics going down the High Definition (HD) route.

Like TVs there can be various degrees of High Definition. An HD TV has 1280 pixels across X 720 pixels down. Multiply these figures together and you get nearly 1 million pixels. A Full HD TV has 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels, a little over 2 million pixels.

The best NON HD security camera we have has 976 X 582 or a bit over half a million pixels. A D1 DVR can record 720 X 576 pixels or 414,720 pixels per camera.

Now let's look at Higher Definition security camera figures.

  • 1.0 Megapixel = 1280 x 720 = 921,600 pixels (HD SDI standard)
  • 2.1 Megapixel = 1920 x1080 = 2.073600 pixels (HD SDI standard)
  • 1.3 Megapixel =1280 x 1024 = 1,310,720 pixels
  • 2.0 Megapixel = 1920 x 1080 = 2,073600 pixels
  • 3.0 Megapixel = 2048 X 1536 = 3,145,728 pixels

HD SDI Security Cameras

There are three types of High Definition CCTV. The first is a High Definition SDI camera. There are two standards of these High Definition security cameras, 720 and 1080. You can see them in the list above. They use the 16:9 aspect ratio normally associated with TVs and wide screen monitors.

IP Network Megapixel Security Cameras

Then there are IP Network Megapixel cameras. These are by definition security cameras with 1 million pixel sensors or more, so they tend to be 1.3M or higher. Because of their flexibility and features these tended to be the way to go if you wanted high definition CCTV.

As you can see the best analogue DVRs finish well below where the IP Megapixel security cameras start. The lowest resolution IP megapixel Camera is roughly 3 times better than the best resolution a D1 DVR, can record at, with 3 times the pixels and therefore detail.

Compare D1 to High Definition CCTV

Analogue Versus IP Megapixel security camera

IP megapixel cameras cover a wider field of view than a standard camera so in most cases fewer cameras are needed to cover the same area. This makes replaying footage of an incident much simpler than having to follow the event on several cameras. It also brings the cost of installation down.

Zooming in and blowing up Megapixel snaps works much better because there is so much more data to work with.

Generally speaking if you wanted the best picture available with the clearest detail the IP Megapixel camera won hands down. These were going to be the future of High Definition CCTV systems.

There is still a place for analogue cameras for a variety of reasons:

  • A lower resolution picture may be sufficient
  • Cheapness
  • Reliability
  • Interchangeability between brands
  • Longer cable runs (distance between camera and DVR) possible.
  • Specialized security cameras, e.g. face recognition can do a very good job.
  • Require a lot less data storage in the DVR.

Shown below are snaps taken from a D1 DVR and a 2m IP camera. The D1 picture has been reduced in size by 50%, and the 2 meg picture by 33%, otherwise the IP camera snap would not have fitted on the page!

D1 picture reduced in size by 50%

700TVL 704X 576 pixel camera

1600X1200 2 meg picture
2 Megapixel 1600X1200 IP camera.

And Now Analogue High Definition CCTV

This is the third and newest type of High Definition CCTV systems to be developed.

January 2014 saw the dawning of a new era in CCTV or surveillance cameras. A new format, HD-CVI (High Definition Composite Video Interface) for cheaper High Definition had been developed. You could now get High Definition for the same price as a good Standard definition (SD) system. Best of all, existing camera cables (RG59) could be used.

Over the course of the year several more formats were developed, HD-TVI (High Definition Transport Video Interface) and HD-AHD (Analogue High Definition)

We were getting into the Blu Ray v HD-DVD, VHS v Beta situation all over again. Which format to support? They all had benefits of HD and using existing RG59 cable and being able to transmit over 500 meters. They were all developed as a solution to the more expensive IP (internet protocol) network high definition cameras requiring re-cabling with network cable (the Cat5E usually blue stuff).

Towards the end of the year one format HD-AHD stood out. Apart from the benefits mentioned above you could also mix and match your older but maybe quite good SD cameras with the AHD cameras. This meant say you had a 16 camera system you could keep 8 of your existing cameras over less important areas and get 8 AHD cameras to cover your more important areas. The AHD Digital Video Recorder (DVR) could also accept IP network cameras as well. So you can have SD cameras, HD-AHD cameras and IP network cameras all on the one DVR!

From the start all three formats had both 1 (720p) and 2 (1080p) Megapixel specifications. However, for most of 2014 only the 1 megapixel (720p) were being marketed. Towards the end of 2014 the two earlier formats started to be offered in 2 megapixel (1080p).

In January 2015 we are finally getting offered the 2 megapixel (1080p) HD-AHD format in both the cameras and DVRS. This is what we have been waiting for. While a 1 megapixel (1 million pixel) system is good, being twice as good as a good SD system of 1/2 a million pixels, 2 megapixel (2 million pixels) is 4 times as good for not a lot more.

These HD-AHD also have the usual ability to be accessed remotely through the Internet or smartphone. You can even play back history on your smartphone so you can see what happened yesterday or a week ago. Once set up you actually don't have to go near the recorder again. Everything can be remotely controlled.

A bonus is the software of our models has been around for at least 5 years. New features have been added over the years but the good basic feature filled software has remained the same. Therefore we know it backwards and we know it is very stable.

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