Our customers often ask us about CCTV resolution (the recording quality from CCTV cameras). Naturally a customer wants to know how clear the video resolution will be from a system before making a purchase decision.
CCTV resolution is measured in vertical and horizontal pixel dimensions and typically limited by the capabilities of both the camera and the recorder that you are using for your CCTV surveillance installation. CCTV systems use an analog video signal. For television specifications (which CCTV uses) the higest resolution that can be captured and stored is 704 x 480 (NTSC for the United States) and 720 x 576 (PAL for Europe). This resolution is knows as D1 resolution. A high end CCTV recorder is capable of recording at up to D1 resolution. Again, this is the highest resolution available to record on CCTV systems. If someone is telling you something different, they are mistaken. Many stand alone recorders are advertised that they can support real time recording which is 30 frames per second, but if you read the specification of the DVR, they are recording at CIF resolution which is 352 x 240.
The below images show you the size of the most commonly used CCTV resolutions, starting with the highest which is D1 resolution. The below images were captured using a outdoor IR CCTV Camera and a CCTV DVR capable of recording at D1 resolution . The test was performed at night with the cameras IR turned on. This is why the images where captured in black and white.
D1 CCTV resolution is 704 x 480 pixels and is the highest resolution the CCTV system can record at. High end digital video recorders offer this resolution and only the highest end recorders can offer D1 resolution at 30 frames per second recording. CCTV Cameras Pros offers PC based and stand alone DVR systems that can record at D1 resolution. Our iDVR-RT16 is capable of recording a full 30 frames per second (real time video) at D1 resolution.
CIF CCTV resolution is 352 x 240 pixels in size and is one quarter the resolution of D1. This resolution is typically used by mid level stand alone DVR recorders when recording real time video. It is also typically used by higher end systems for remote Internet viewing (as streaming D1 video for multiple cameras uses a lot of bandwidth).
QCIF CCTV resolution is 176 x 120 pixels in size and is one quarter the size of CIF resolution. This resolution is typically used for remote viewing from a mobile device (cell phone).
HD CCTV Resolution
Since this time that this article was originally written, HD CCTV has been introduced into the market which is capable of recording at full 1080p high definition resolution (the same as HDTV). Please take a look at this article which compares traditional CCTV to HD CCTV.
Watch the below video to see a comparison of HD-SDI security camera video resolution versus traditional CCTV camera resolution.
Important Note: it is recommended that you watch this video at full 1080p resolution by clicking on the settings button in the YouTube player (the one that looks like a gear) and selecting 1080p HD. Then click on the full screen button to watch in full screen mode.
We hope that you have found this resource page to be helpful. If you have any questions about this page or anything related to CCTV or surveillance systems, please contact us at 1-561-433-8488.
Author and Publisher
This article was written by Mike Haldas, co-founder and managing partner of CCTV Camera Pros. Questions about this article can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.