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

Last Chance February 2018 Camera Course on Feb 15, 2018
This is the last chance to get into the Winter camera course, starts next Tuesday. Register now. IPVM provides the best education, live online...
Hanwha Wisenet X 5MP Camera Tested (XNV-8080R) on Feb 13, 2018
Wisenet X is Hanwha's high-end camera line. We tested their Wisenet X 1080p camera last year. Now Hanwha is offering 5MP cameras listing super low...
Axis 'Best' Q3517-LVE 5MP Camera Tested on Feb 05, 2018
Axis boasts of its Q3517-LVE: Simply put, AXIS Q3517-LVE delivers the best video quality possible. But is it really the 'best'? We bought...
Dahua 5MP Starlight Camera Tested (N52BM3Z) on Jan 30, 2018
Is 5MP the new 1080p? According to our recent statistics, average resolution continues to trend upwards. And now, manufacturers releasing new...
Resolution Usage Statistics 2018 - Moving Up From 1080p on Jan 22, 2018
In 2016, IPVM statistics showed the most common camera resolution used was 1080p, rising from 2014's 720p. Now, new IPVM statistics of 200+...
Hanwha ExtraLux Camera Tested on Jan 11, 2018
Hanwha has released the latest in their Wisenet X line, the "extraLUX" series, claiming to "capture crystal clear, true-color images in low-light...
Canon Launches World's Most Expensive IP Camera (ME20F-SHN) on Jan 09, 2018
Canon has launched the ME20F-SHN , likely the world's most expensive single imager, non-thermal, IP camera at ~$20,000. And Canon subsidiary...
Hikvision IR Bullet Camera Shootout on Jan 08, 2018
Hikvision's widely used Value Plus line claims 30m/~98' IR illumination range, on multiple lens options ranging from wide angle (100°+) to...
Resolution Tutorial on Dec 28, 2017
Understanding video surveillance resolution can be surprisingly difficult and complex. While the word 'resolution' seems self-explanatory, its use...
Repositionable Multi-Imager Camera Guide on Dec 22, 2017
Multi-imager usage has been growing strongly over the past few years. Now, a new segment of multi-imagers has taken off, with many manufacturers...

Most Recent Industry Reports

False Advertising: Hikvision USA Deep Learning on Feb 23, 2018
Hikvision USA is conducting a false advertising marketing campaign for their deep learning system. Hikvision USA's claim violates US FTC Truth In...
Favorite Integrator Sales Quote Software (Statistics) on Feb 23, 2018
What application do integrators use the most to issue sales quotes? Nothing? Spreadsheet? MS Project? Online software? Of the many offerings out...
Aruba Networks Profile on Feb 22, 2018
Aruba Networks' presence in the video surveillance market has historically been limited. With a company focus on Wi-Fi first and switching...
US Army Base Specifies 70+ Outdated Hikvision Cameras on Feb 22, 2018
A US Army base has specified 70+ Hikvision IP cameras, a month after the WSJ reported a different Army base removed Hikvision IP cameras. While...
Directory of 30+ LPR / ANPR Providers on Feb 21, 2018
License Plate Recognition / Automatic Number Plate Recognition are a type of video analytics software that can identify and match license / number...
New Whole Foods Installs Hackable Access Control on Feb 21, 2018
Whole Foods has built a reputation for high quality. And their 2017 Amazon acquisition has increased that, plus added deep pockets for buying...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Feb 21, 2018
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2018, with more and more users relying on mobile apps as their main way of operating the system....
Visio For Video Surveillance Design on Feb 20, 2018
Many integrators have standardized on AutoCAD for camera layouts but new users may be overwhelmed by its learning curve. Microsoft's Visio...
Health Care Insurance Integrator Benefits Statistics on Feb 20, 2018
How common and how much healthcare coverage is typically provided by security companies? 150+ integrators explained how their companies provide the...
Hikvision Deletes Genetec Support on Feb 20, 2018
There will be no peace between Hikvision and Genetec. A year after Genetec expelled Hikvision (and Huawei, citing Chinese government control...

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