Why You Should Avoid 960H Cameras

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 20, 2014

960H promises to increase analog resolution by 34%, transforming the traditional 4:3 aspect ratio image into a widescreen 'hi def' one, like this marketing image from one manufacturer:

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Comments (14)

Very good article and right on point. Seems that the images from the 960H vs D1 versions of the SAME camera are actually a little better when used on a D1 recorder and on 4:3 monitor. I've noticed better color reproduction and crisper, straighter lines. Have you guys noticed this? On 16:9 displays, I AGREE 100% with your results. Disclaimer: I work as a rep for CCTV manufacturers.

Yes, we have noticed the image quality is marginally better 4:3 when using both a 960H camera and recorder. That's what we mention at the end of the article above.

Excerpted from the Megapixel vs Analog Cameras Shootout:

960H vs. D1 Encoding

Though the increase in pixel count with 960H offers no benefit, we found a visible increase in detail when connecting the QM9702B to a 960H-rated DVR, instead of D1 DVRs/encoders. This comparison shows the same camera, the 960H QM9702B, first connected to the 960H DVR, the QC524, then the D1 QT534. Notably, lines 5/6 are legible in the 960H DVR vs. 4/5 using the D1 model.

Though the increase in pixel count with 960H offers no benefit, we found a visible increase in detail when connecting the QM9702B to a 960H-rated DVR, instead of D1 DVRs/encoders.

If the increase in detail is not due to the increase in pixel count, what is it due to?

There is one area where 960H trumps SD: manufacturer profit. We were paying $100 to $120 for high-quality analog SD cameras. Their 960H replacements are all priced at more than $230.

In my opinion, that is the primary driver for manufacturers' switch to 960H - not improved picture quality but their bottom line.

Are these sensors CCD's or CMOS?

The ones we are looking at use Sony CCD imagers.

I would have to say that if any brand is marketing 960H as a "HD" solution, then it is completely false. Also, 960H was meant to give more resolution on the horizontal part when recorded to a 960H DVR. It's not stretching D1 wider. So with this whole thing about stretching... i think the best way to test it would be to record video to a 960H DVR. Then export the video and play it back from the PC. Then you would see the resolution that it was recorded at.

It is stretching. We've tested multiple 960H cameras with multiple 960H DVRs. Others have done the same and found the exact same result. Do you have a specific 960H camera/DVR combo that you've tested which you believe does not stretch the image?

Also, 960H was meant to give more resolution on the horizontal part when recorded to a 960H DVR. It's not stretching D1 wider.

Mr. V. Damjonovski agrees:

(CCTV: From Light to Pixels)

Treating them non-square pixels as square is why they become all disproportionate. It's a deal with the devil.

The cameras are not the source of increased horizontal pixel count. The cameras simply output NTSC / PAL.

It is the recorders that are generating / creating / capturing more horizontal pixels.

Mr. Honovich, I admit I am honestly confused over what you actually believe about these 960H type technologies presently, so once and for all, kindly say which parts of this 960H explanation you do not agree with:

  1. The 960H camera sensors have more pixels horizontally (~960 vs ~704) than your standard analog camera.
  2. NTSC is capable of transmitting this extra horizontal resolution.
  3. Oversampling of the NTSC signal by the receiver can decode this extra horizontal resolution.
  4. This extra horizontal information and the standard vertical information are encoded into pixels by the DVR software.

Sir, if you agree with all of these, then why are the cameras not the original source of the increased horizontal pixel count?

But if you believe the recorders are just creating additional detail by stretching, then how do you figure for the increased detail (as you say) when using 960H cameras and 960H DVRs together?

The pixels are a product of the 960H and/or 1280H DVR.

Connect a 960H or a 1280H camera to a traditional DVR and you will get a correct aspect ratio VGA / 4CIF / 2CIF / CIF stream but never 960H or 1280H video.

I do not believe they are creating (marginally) better details by stretching. That is from a better imager (just like cameras moved from 300TVL to 400TVL to 500TVL to 600TVL, etc., etc.). However, encoding a 4:3 NTSC / PAL feed at 960 x 480 or 1280 x 480 is what is causing the distortion.

Thanks kindly for the quick response.

You say

they are creating (marginally) better details...from a better imager.

But if that was the case then we would see better details using a 960H camera and a standard DVR. But we don't. Only when used with a 960H DVR....

Connect a 960H or a 1280H camera to a traditional DVR and you will get a correct aspect ratio VGA / 4CIF / 2CIF / CIF stream but never 960H or 1280H video.

Yes sir, you are absolutely correct. I see why folk would think that if you take that camera wire from a supposedly higher res model, and plug it into any standard dvr input, and then don't see any thing but the same ol 4:3 4CIF resolution, you are gonna think "it sure ain't coming from the camera!"

But it does come from the camera, and here's why you can't tell straight off when using a normal DVR:

It's because there IS a limitation on horizontal resolution, but not one by NTSC, its because of the ITU-601 sampling rate being set at 720 pixels per scan line. So even though you got this NTSC signal modulated with a signal resolution of greater than that, that darn ITU-601 is only gonna make 720 out of it. All them standard analog DVR's use ITU-601.

And that's the bit that them 960H DVR's do their own way, they sample the NTSC at a greater rate than ITU-601 to recover that detail.

I'm not guessing a whit about this neither.

nice article as usual!

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