Testing The Resolution of the Human EyeAuthor: Ethan Ace, Published on Dec 04, 2013
All sorts of wild guesses and theoretical calculations exist about what the resolution of the human eye is, with 576MP a common claim.
No one we can find has ever actually tested it . . . until now.
In this report, we share our findings of testing various resolution IP cameras against the human eye.
Here's a summary of the full test results, explained inside the report below.
We used the Snellen Eye chart as a baseline. A human is considered to have 20/20 vision if they can read line 8 on the chart from 20 feet away.
The goal then is to find what camera, with what resolution, could 'read' / 'see' the same line, same distance on that same chart to see if it could be as good as the human eye.
We took a series of IP cameras (720p, 1080p, 5MP, and 10MP) and set them to a 60° angle of view. While humans have wider peripheral vision, in our testing this 60° range represented the area of main vision.
Just like a human, we placed the cameras 20 feet away from the Snellen eye chart (pictured below) to see what the camera's "eyesight" would be and whether any cameras could match or beat the human eye.
We began with the four cameras in well lit room, about 160 lux. The image below shows the full field of view in this scene.
First, the 720p camera was only able to resolve about line 4 on the Snellen chart, equal to about 20/50 vision.
1080p resolution was able to read only one line further, to line 5, 20/40 vision.
And moving to 5MP, one line is clearly gained, 20/30 though one may contend that the next line 20/25 is also readable.
Finally, 10MP provides a further jump in resolving power, able to read line 8, equal to 20/20 vision in humans.
So that's it. In ideal even bright lighting, a 10MP can match (or maybe even slightly beat) a human eye.
Dimming the lights in the room to approximately 3 lux, we tested again. At this light level, multiple human test subjects with 20/20 vision were able to make out line 6, 20/30 (EDFCZP), a two line reduction in ability from the brightly lit room.
720p resolution was only able to view down to line 3 (20/70) in this case, due to increased noise and a dimmer image.
The 1080p camera did not fare any better, with even more increased noise and artifacting obscuring lines below 3, actually making letters slightly less legible than in 720p.
At 5MP resolution, line 4 (20/50) was legible. Note that some letters of line 5 are clear, but noise and artifacts do not allow the full line to be easily read.
Finally, the 10MP camera was able to read down to line 5, 20/40. Again, some letters on line 6 are easily legible, but we cannot conclusively claim all of them are clear.
For our final test, we lowered the lights to approximately 1 lux, a very dark room. At this light level, only the 720p and 1080p cameras produced usable images of the chart. Human subjects were able to make out line 5 on the chart, equal to 20/40 vision (PECFD).
The 720p camera was able to resolve line 2, equal to 20/100 vision, with others below becoming unclear.
And moving up to 1080p resolution, line 3, 20/70, can be read.
The 5 and 10 megapixel cameras produced only a nearly black image and noise. So let's call them 'blind' in low light.
More Test Reports
If you liked this, IPVM has over 200 other similar test reports, including favorites like:
Other Reports on IP Cameras
Network Ports for IP Video Surveillance Tutorial on Jan 20, 2016
Network ports are critical for remote video viewing and recording and without proper configuratio...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial on Jan 19, 2016
H.265 / HEVC has been promised for many years as the next big CODEC and the successor to H.264. N...
Camera Course Winter 2016 (Closed) on Jan 13, 2016
Here is what is new for the 2016 course: HD analog: Expanded coverage on non-IP HD offerings...
IP Camera Pricing and Markups Statistics 2015 on Dec 11, 2015
100+ integrators told IPVM their average IP camera pricing and markups. In this note, we share s...
Camera AoV / Focal Length Comparison on Nov 24, 2015
Use the IPVM Camera Calculator to better understand the tradeoffs between different Angle of View...
How a Security Camera is Made on Nov 18, 2015
While in China, we toured factories, seeing how cameras were made. In the 15 minute video inside...
IP Camera Trolling - Cybersecurity Showcase on Nov 09, 2015
If you want to convince your customers about the importance of cybersecurity and the risk of bein...
Network Connectors for IP Cameras Guide on Nov 05, 2015
Fewer installation tasks are as nuanced as terminating cables and attaching connectors. Fortunate...
IP Camera Bootup Shootout 2015 on Nov 04, 2015
IP cameras, like PCs, take some time to boot up. And just like PCs, the amount of time can vary g...
Network Cabling for Video Surveillance Guide on Oct 30, 2015
In this 14 page guide, we teach the fundamentals of network cabling for video surveillance networ...
Most Recent Industry Reports
Hikvision H.264+ Tested on Feb 10, 2016
Is 'regular' H.264 soon to be a thing of the past? Last year, Axis started the 'smart' H.264 tre...
Camera Coverage Areas on Feb 10, 2016
How wide and far on an area can a camera cover? A fundamental metric in analyzing this is pixel...
US Capital Paying for Homes and Business to Get Security Cameras on Feb 09, 2016
Since 9/11, US cities have spent hundreds of millions collectively on city-wide video surveillanc...
Brivo Access Control Company Profile on Feb 09, 2016
This is our 9th in a series of access control company profiles. In this entry, we cover Brivo. P...
Surveillance Commissioning / Install Checklist on Feb 08, 2016
This 60+ point checklist helps end users, integrators and consultants verify that installation is...
Favorite Camera Manufacturers 2016 on Feb 08, 2016
The market has changed significantly since 2014, where our previous Favorite Camera Manufacturer ...
Mega Chinese Electronics Manufactuer Xiaomi Yi Camera Tested on Feb 05, 2016
Xiaomi's revenue is 4 to 5 times larger than Hikvision's. Only in business for 5 years, Xiaomi ha...
Trade Mag Admits 84% Prefer Online Over Print on Feb 05, 2016
Some say the industry is so old and conservative that print is still important. Well, even a pri...
Hikvision Video Analytics Tested on Feb 04, 2016
We tested Hikvision's video analytics on six Hikvision models, ranging from entry level to high e...