Training: Megapixel / HD Basics

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 17, 2010

This report provides a 95 minute video series that teaches the fundamentals of using, selecting and applying megapixel video surveillance in real world deployments. We cover 9 fundamental aspects:

  1. Megapixel terminology for the absolute beginner
  2. Demonstrating benefits of megapixel cameras for different applications
  3. Demonstrating video quality limitations of megapixel cameras
  4. Examining types of products currently available
  5. Explaining storage needs for various megapixel options
  6. Explaining bandwidth and network impacts
  7. Estimating cost increases for megapixel vs SD video
  8. Detailing 4 methods of justifying megapixel selection
  9. Examining the future of megapixel cameras

Megapixel simultaneously suffers from over-hype (replacing dozens of cameras) and fear mongering (breaking networks and storage costs). Our training report aims to provide an in-depth, balanced view of the key considerations behind using, selecting and applying megapixel.

This training provides an introduction to help our members better appreciate our advanced megapixel coverage including:

Pre-requisites for this training are:

Advanced readers should skip to sections 5-8 on storage, networks, cost and selection justification. All others may review in chronological order.

1. Megapixel Terminology

[Note: This intro section is recommended only for those with no megapixel camera experience.]

In this video, we explain basic megapixel camera terms such as: SD, HD, 720p, 1080p, 1.3MP, 2MP, 3MP and 5MP. HD is a standard that provides megapixel resolutions including 720p and 1080p at a 16:9 aspect ratio. Surveillance MP cameras don't adhere to this standard and offers even higher megapixel densities at various aspect ratios, such as , 4:3 and 16:9.

2. Benefits of Megapixel Cameras

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In this video, we examine the key visual/resolution benefits that megapixel cameras provide. We start by examining megapixel camera's horizontal and vertical resolution increases. We then examine and demonstrate the most common benefits for two common applications - a straight ahead camera shot and a downtilt/'birds eye view'. For background to this video, review our Resolution Fundamentals video. For more in-depth coverage on benefits, review our Megapixel Quality analysis.

3. Limits / Problems of Megapixel

In this video, we examine limitations in megapixel camera video quality. For other limitations or concerns, review sections 5 and 6 below on storage and networks.

The key limitations we examine are (1) shadow/glare and (2) low light conditions. We demontrate both issues so viewers can understand better potential quality degradations.

4. Types of Megapixel Products Available

In this video, we review common criteria classifying megapixel cameras: codec, resolution, form-factor and frame-rate. We examine the migration from MJPEG megapixel cameras towards H.264.  Also, we provide a visual highlight of the various form factors of the most widely available megapixel camera types, such as the box, bullet, dome, and panoramic/fish-eye form factors.  For more advanced information on codecs, review our H.264 vs. MJPEG report.

5. Storage for Megapixel

In this video, we compare SD and MP storage requirements.  Using an on-line storage calculator, we estimate a 16 camera continous recording scenario at SD, HD and higher MP resolutions.  We then use these results to determine real world cost implications.

6. Bandwidth / Networks for Megapixel

In this video, we explain bandwidth utilization of HD/MP cameras at a variety of settings.  We discuss design options to minimize impact on networks.  For background, view our bandwidth training report.

7. Costs for Megapixel

In this video, we compare the cost of SD versus MP cameras. We examine differentials for product pricing, storage and network costs, VMS licensing and installation. For the cameras themeselves, we examine the incremental price difference between standard, HD, 3MP and 5MP cameras. We show that upgraing from an SD IP camera to an HD megapixel camera generally costs about $100 more. Upgrading from SD to 3MP or 5MP can cost $300 - $500 more. We then estimate storage cost increases based on a variety of common use cases.

The longest video of the series, we highly recommend viewing to understand the business drivers behind selecting megapixel cameras.

8. Justifying the Use of Megapixel

In this video, we examine 4 fundamental justifications for migrating to megapixel cameras. We examine the incremental cost of using megapixel and evaluate the applications and rationale possible for justifying the investment into megapixel. The 4 justifications we examine include: (1) eliminating coverage dead spots, (2) increasing details in current FoV, (3) eliminating PTZs and (4) eliminating multiple fixed cameras.

9. Future of Megapixel

In this video, we explore 3 future aspects of megapixel camera technology: (1) resolution increases, (2) CODEC changes and (3) HDcctv.

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