Why are Security Cameras Pixelated?

We’ve written recently about whether or how cameras can see license plates. While we’re on the subject, you may have wondered why so many security cameras are pixelated.

Security cameras are pixelated for a variety of reasons. The usual reasons being that they are designed for more low light or high contrast scenarios or people choose to go with a lower cost camera and recording device.

For example. If you’re like me, you may have seen footage on the news of someone breaking into a store or a car and their face looks like a nintendo game or the scrambled naughty channels from when I was in middle school. The answer is simple, yet complex.

Smart Phone Cameras Vs. Security Cameras

Smart phone cameras have gotten incredibly sharp and versatile of the last few years, with telephoto options, vivid colors and wide angle options. They incorporate multiple lenses now and are generally impressive for the small package they come in. The goals and build of security cameras however are surprisingly different. CCTV cameras aren’t trying to be small usually and they aim at something different. Versatility and low light conditions though IR technology. If someone walks up day or night, they are designed to get the best pic they can, no matter if there is a light shining into the censor or if someone is in all black. They are made to seek out detail even if the scene is high contrast or a subject is wearing all black at night, often using infrared technology.

There is often a wide angle shot to cover lots of area and then at a later date the file has to be zoomed in upon to find a face. This creates a digital zoom situation instead of an optical zoom. A smart phone can be pointed right at someone or something. Video security cameras often don’t have that luxury.

You Never Know You Need High Quality Until You Need It

In a lot of scenarios, it is more affordable to go with a lower quality camera as well, and people opt for the lower cost option. This can help deter criminals and hopefully not, but even identify if an employee or someone you know may be stealing from you. However, often times, when the footage is needed the owner is regretting the decision to cut costs on the camera quality.

Getting the Most Out of Your Cameras

The thing you can do to get the best quality is to have someone who knows what they are doing to help you establish a game plan. You may need a lower cost camera in a certain room or area and then a high quality camera in a different spot. You may have a camera that is used to deter crime just by it’s looks more than anything. Then another camera placed perfectly to get people’s faces as they come into your business. In some cases you can increase camera count to make up for the camera quality.

Possible Reasons Security Footage is Bad

The easiest thing to check is possibly the easiest answer. You may look to see if your lens is damaged or dirty. You can possibly get it repaired or replaced. Or if it is dirty, you can just clean it with a designated lens cleaner for glasses or a camera lens. The camera be over worked for the scene you have it in. The cable going to the camera may be too long. If you’re going wireless you may need to ensure you are not out of distance from the receiver or router. Last, you might check and see if your vari-focal lens is just out of focus. You can try zooming in or out or manually adjusting the focus yourself at the camera.

Security Camera Placement

A camera placed too far away is a common problem. Blind spots or cameras placed with intrusive objects in the way is common as well. Poor installation, execution or poor maintenance can also be deciding factors when it matters. If you have a lower quality camera and/or a bad lighting situation, and you want facial detail, you may want to get the camera closer to eye level. You may want to make sure it is in direct proximity to where someone would be standing or looking and make sure the camera is designed for all your lighting conditions.

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