How Do You Solve the Problem of Bad Surveillance Video?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jun 30, 2009

One of the most frequent complaints by both industry outsiders and megapixel camera vendors is how bad surveillance video is. It's so bad, many would say that they would challenge the basic point of even having such cameras.

Cases demonstrating this problem come up all the time. Here's an informative one recently from a California city

It's almost impossible to make out who the criminal is in this video. To most people, this would be considered bad quality.

Is There Any Worth?

I still think there was significant value from this video for the authorities. They were able to pinpoint the exact time, the clothing of the suspect, gender and body type. All of these can be powerful tools in pursuing leads and narrowing down suspects.

What Do You Think?

What Can We Do to Improve?

First, getting good video quality in these conditions is not a simple manner of moving to megapixel. As we recently examined, the 'real' resolution of megapixel is routinely less than the pixel count stated and low light levels are problematic for megapixel.

There are some things we can do:

  • The light level is almost certainly too low. To rectify this, we will have to add lighting or infrared illuminators. The problem with this is the expense. Minimally, costs will increase by $500 USD but depending on the range of illumination and the complexity of install, it could be significantly higher.
  • The camera may need to be positioned differently to get a better view of the criminal. This is hard one to tell with the limited information I have. I suspect the camera was designed to capture vehicles coming down the alley. As such, the camera was not designed to handle this type of 'attack'. This, too, reflects a real world problem where cost constaints constrains the total number of cameras that can be deployed.
  • The camera needs greater resolution - certainly. The question, though is how much resolution and how do we achieve it. The person's face looks to be 1/25th the width of the image or less. To see any details, we would likely need 300% (or more) increase in horizontal resolution. This is likely to push the limits of resolution levels we can achieve with security cameras today. Alternatively, we could narrow the field of view but we may need to give up the view of the street which the client may not want.

What would you recommend?

Most Recent Industry Reports

Access Control Course Spring 2019 - Last Chance on Apr 19, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the Spring Access Control Course. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the...
Riser vs Plenum Cabling Explained on Apr 18, 2019
You could be spending twice as much for cable as you need. The difference between 'plenum' rated cable and 'riser' rated cable is subtle, but the...
Verint Victimized By Ransomware on Apr 18, 2019
Verint, which is best known in the physical security industry for video surveillance but has built a sizeable cybersecurity business as well, was...
Milestone Drops IFSEC on Apr 18, 2019
Milestone has dropped out of Europe's largest annual security trade show (IFSEC 2019), telling IPVM that they "have found that IFSEC in EMEA no...
The Fastest Growing Video Surveillance Sales Organization Ever - Verkada on Apr 17, 2019
Verkada has the fastest growing video surveillance sales organization ever. In less than 2 years, they already have more salespeople in the US...
Door Operators Access Control Tutorial on Apr 17, 2019
Doors equipped with door operators, specialty devices that automate opening and closing, tend to be quite complex. The mechanisms needed to...
Securadyne CEO: IPVM 'Entertaining For An Ignorant Few' on Apr 16, 2019
Securadyne's CEO Carey Boethel is unhappy with IPVM's report - Failed Integrator Rollup, Securadyne Sells to Guard Giant Allied. Indeed, he...
Dahua Repositionable IR Multi-Imager Camera Tested on Apr 16, 2019
Dahua has released their first repositionable multi-imager camera, the Multi-Flex 4x2MP, claiming integrated IR, true WDR, and flexible...
Strong ISC West 2019 For Manufacturers But Concerns For 2020 March Move on Apr 16, 2019
ISC West 2019 was strong for manufacturers, according to new IPVM survey results of 100+ manufacturers, consistent with 2018 results. However,...
Axis Supports HD Analog on Apr 15, 2019
In 2017, Axis declared 'Everything is IP': Now, in 2019, Axis has released support for HD analog, with their new encoders.  Why the change?...

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