The word 'resolution' should be banned in surveillance. What all IP manufacturers mean when they say 'resolution' is 'pixel count.' We should be clear and precise, calling it what is - pixel count - to avoid confusion and making important mistakes.
Traditionally, resolution meant the ability to resolve, or see, details. This focused on the user and the ability of the device to deliver meaningful visible benefits.
Now, resolution means the number of physical pixels that a sensor has - 1 million pixels 'resolution', 3 million pixels 'resolution', 10 million pixels 'resolution'.
Pixel count is only one element in a camera's capability to deliver visible details. Other critical ones include lenses, compression, frame rate, low light and WDR performance - some of which actually can be worse with more pixels. As such, resolution as 'pixel count' ignores critical elements in delivering real 'resolution'.
Height in Basketball
Pixels are like height in basketball. If you are too short or have too few pixels, you can never be the best at either. But being the tallest or having the most pixels does not ensure success. In basketball, a very tall person might lack coordination, athleticism, drive, intelligence, etc. just like a super high pixel count camera might be terrible in many other ways. More pixels can be useful but, just like height in basketball, smart 'scouts' should consider the whole package.
Call it Pixel Count
A simple solution would help a lot. Stop using 'resolution' and start saying 'pixel count'. Then users and specifiers can think more clearly what more pixels actually delivers.
For more on image quality, see our tutorials on resolution, PPF, WDR, lenses and compression.
'Real' Resolution Tested