Security Camera Resolution: What You Need to Know

A woman looking at CCTV footage on her tablet.

Security cameras have become an important part of any security system for homeowners and business owners alike. Not only can they help collect crucial evidence in the event of a crime, but prominently placed cameras can act as a strong deterrent for would-be thieves.

The resolution of your security camera directly affects its image quality, so it’s important to consider when looking for the best cameras for your needs. If you’re not sure what to look for, especially when it comes to resolution, this article will provide you with all the information that you need to make an informed decision.

Why is the resolution of security cameras so important?

Resolution (the number of pixels in a digital image) is the amount of detail captured by a camera. If you have high resolution security cameras, it’s easier to identify faces, license plates, and other important details that are far away from the camera. This can make identification easier for law enforcement after an incident has occurred.

Higher-definition technology is also useful if someone tries to deny their presence during an incident, such as vandalism or stolen property. An increased resolution level means that there is less chance that someone could argue about what actually happened when the evidence is clearly recorded.

A low-resolution image has less detail, which makes it harder to identify people or objects and even determine if there’s something happening on the video feed at all. For example, when someone views a low-resolution video of an event that took place in the dark they may not be able to tell what’s occurring. This could waste important time and make bringing the perpetrators to justice more difficult, if not impossible.

How much resolution do I need in my surveillance cameras?

When it comes to using footage for identification, higher resolution is better. If you are only interested in detecting motion or monitoring general activity, then lower resolution may be sufficient. Although megapixel ratings of cameras and CCTV recorders may seem similar, this does not mean that all products with high numbers have good image quality. Many factors affect image quality including optics and digital signal processing.

If you’re on a tight budget, many manufacturers offer options for less expensive cameras with lower resolutions by using fewer pixels across the sensor or by interpolating from adjacent pixels. Both approaches reduce image quality because they capture less data, but may be sufficient for your needs.

What are the most common resolutions for security cameras?

The most common resolutions for security cameras are:

720p: (1MP) – A resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels with 921,600 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

1080p: (2MP) – A resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with 2,073,600 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

1440p: (4MP) – A resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels with 3,686,400 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

4K: (8MP) – A resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels with 5,184,000 pixels per image and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The definition of the resolution is determined by how many pixels are captured & displayed. The more pixels that can be displayed on a screen, the higher the resolution will be. There are two types of resolutions: horizontal or vertical pixel count. These numbers represent how many pixels exist in either direction from left to right (horizontal) or top to bottom (vertical). For example, a camera with a resolution of 1280 x 1024 has a horizontal pixel count of 1280 and a vertical pixel count of 1024. Both these numbers put together equal 1,310,720 which is referred to as “1 megapixel” or an MP.

How to choose the right resolution for your security cameras?

There are many things to consider when choosing the right resolution for your security camera system. The first thing is to determine what you need, such as day or night use, license plate recognition needs (and at what distance), how far away from a monitor and your monitor quality you’ll be viewing with, etc.

Other Considerations


Recording sound may be useful depending on your security goals. If you’re looking to reliably capture audio, it’s important to know how far away you can stand while still being heard clearly by your security cameras. If you find that the cameras you integrate with your security system don’t adequately pick up important sounds, you may want to consider installing some microphones in strategic areas throughout your property.


Cameras without sufficient light intensity will appear grainy in low-light situations, which may make it difficult to identify people or other details on a frame-by-frame basis. Ensure your cameras are adequate for recording with the lighting around your property, and consider adding additional lighting as needed for better recordings.

The resolution of a security camera is one of the most important features to consider when choosing the right CCTV cameras for your home or business security system. There are several different types of cameras in a variety of resolutions, so it can be tricky to decide which options are best for your needs. If you would like more information about security cameras, help with choosing the right ones for your needs, or help with proper installation and configuration, contact us today