5 Ways to Fix Bad Image Quality

Author: John Honovich, Published on Oct 06, 2013

Bad surveillance images are, unfortunately, all too common. The most common 'solution' is to increase the resolution, i.e., add more pixels (SD to HD, HD to 5MP, 5MP to...) Sometimes this works, but it always comes with an increase in cost, often indirect, as well as negative tradeoffs.

Here are 5 ways to improve quality without having to increasing resolution.

Move The Camera Down

Stop being so paranoid about cameras being vandalized. Even if its a real risk, it is better to have a camera vandalized every once in a while than ensure that the video captured will be useless when it comes to identify a subject.

Our camera height vs image quality test demonstrates this tradeoff. The image below shows a camera at the same spot, simply moved up or down. Notice how much more of the face is captured in the latter image:

Compression Problem?

Many times a camera's compression is simply set too poorly. Take a look at these two pictures:

They actually have the same resolution, one is simply set to a worse compression than the other.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Sometimes manufacturers default quality levels low or installers will turn quality lower to save on bandwidth and storage.

Cut The Field of View Down

Cutting the FoV width in half is equivalent to quadrupling the resolution for the smaller area remaining. Certainly, you give up coverage but the area remaining will capture far greater details. Often, that is all that is needed - One really good shot of a suspect going through a chokepoint (e.g., a doorway) can be better than seeing a fuzzy suspect walking across a wide area.

Dealing With Shadows and Glare

Resolution alone will only go so far in dealing with shadows and glare that are all too common in the day. Take this image for example:

Going to super high resolutions, like 5MP or 10MP, probably will not help. Indeed, it will likely make things worse compared to a real multi-exposure WDR camera, who as of 2013 are only available in 3MP imagers max.

Dealing With The Dark

Last, but certainly not least, surveillance at night is often critical. Most people are likely aware of the reputation of megapixel being worse in low light. This is not completely true anymore, as technology has improved over the last few years.

Both integrated IR and super low light megapixel cameras are now common. You are much better off switching to one of them rather than increasing resolution (and beware 5MP and up low light performance is still pretty dreadful across the board).

Comments (1): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Low Light

Sony Next Gen HD Dome Camera Tested (SNC-EM642R) on Aug 18, 2017
Sony has released their latest generation, claiming improved WDR and low light, increased IR range, and more. We tested the SNC-EM642R outdoor IR...
Axis Laser Focus PTZ Tested on Aug 14, 2017
Axis has been touting its new Q6155-E laser focus PTZ as 'always in focus' and 'always in color'. Does it really deliver? We bought and tested...
IP Camera Specification / RFP Guide 2017 on Aug 14, 2017
RFPs are hard. Do them 'right' and it takes a lot of knowledge and time. Do them 'wrong' and you can be (a) unwittingly locked into a specific...
ADI 'In The Dark' About Low Light on Aug 07, 2017
ADI's recent post on 'How To See Better In the Dark' makes basic mistakes, promoting outdated technical claims. Missing: Super Low...
Dahua 4K Turret Tested Vs Hikvision (N84BG44 ) on Aug 02, 2017
Dahua has released their latest low cost 4K model, the N84BG44, claiming Smart H.265+ and 50m IR range. We bought and tested this new model against...
Super Low Light Surveillance Guide on Aug 01, 2017
At the beginning of this decade, low light performance of megapixel cameras was generally terrible. This was the era of super slow shutter where...
IR Surveillance Guide on Jul 31, 2017
Infrared (IR) has become an increasing core component to video surveillance systems. In particular, the expansion of integrated IR cameras that...
Axis Door Station Tested (A8105-E) on Jul 19, 2017
Axis continues their push into niche markets, especially audio, with network speakers, an IP horn, and video door stations. We bought and tested...
Axis P3225 Mk II Tested Vs. Original on Jun 20, 2017
Axis has released a number of 'Mk II' versions of their cameras, which are the same fundamental camera but with specific improvements. We tested...
VMS UI - Light vs Dark Preferences on Jun 16, 2017
Several VMS manufacturers have the ability to choose a user interface with either a light or dark color theme. 150+ integrators told us which they...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon CEO Attacks Asian Companies Cyber Insecurity on Aug 18, 2017
Avigilon CEO is taking aim at their Asian competitors. And he is going directly after these company's cyber security issues. In this note, we...
Sony Next Gen HD Dome Camera Tested (SNC-EM642R) on Aug 18, 2017
Sony has released their latest generation, claiming improved WDR and low light, increased IR range, and more. We tested the SNC-EM642R outdoor IR...
IP Networking Course September 2017 on Aug 17, 2017
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Knightscope Raises $10 Million With $3,320 Average Per Investor on Aug 17, 2017
Congrats to Knightscope. And condolences to their legion of little investors. Knightscope has disclosed they have raised $10+ million from their...
Axis and Arecont Legal Conflict Over Multi-Imager Cameras on Aug 17, 2017
Arecont threatened Axis. Axis has responded by moving to invalidate an Arecont patent. It is an important contest. Multi-imagers are Arecont's...
Directory Of Consumer Security Cameras on Aug 16, 2017
The consumer camera segment continues to grow, with new startups and models from existing players released seemingly every month. In this report we...
Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 6a Network Cable Usage Statistics on Aug 16, 2017
Cat 5e? Cat 6? Cat 6a? What do integrators use in practice, today? 140+ integrators told IPVM. Here are the results: For those who want to...
Hikvision Responds To Cracked Security Codes on Aug 15, 2017
Hikvision has responded to IPVM's report on Hikvision's security code being cracked, both with a 2 page update to dealers and communication...
Stolen Video NVR / DVR Statistics on Aug 15, 2017
"But what happens if someone steals my recorder?" Anyone who has done more than a handful of jobs has probably heard this question several times....
Hikvision Europe Cutting Out Unauthorized End User Sales on Aug 15, 2017
The days of anyone buying Hikvision from anywhere off the Internet are numbered, at least in Europe, if Hikvision's plan comes to fruition. In...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact