Resolution Usage Statistics 2018 - Moving Up From 1080p

By IPVM Team, Published 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+ integrators shows the most common resolution moving up beyond even full HD.

Resolution Statistics

Based on our 2018 stats, 1080p is by far the most common resolution used in surveillance, followed by 3-5MP, with 720p and resolutions higher than 5MP both representing ~1%.

The average resolution used, though, is now closer to 3MP after factoring in the third of integrators who most commonly use 3MP or higher.

Visible Trends

Comparing 2014 and 2016 responses to today, trends are easily visible, as SD disappears and 720p drops to near zero while 3-5MP usage grows significantly in the graphic below:

Technology Impact

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In addition to responses discussed below, manufacturer and component availability have impacted this shift in resolution:

  • Manufacturer releases of 720/1MP cameras have slowed in favor of new 1080p versions, with some new generations starting at a minimum of 1080p.
  • Features such as super low light and improved true WDR are now commonly available in 1080p and even some 3-5MP cameras, where they were previously limited to 720p cameras.
  • Finally, the widespread use of smart codecs has made 1080p possible at bitrates comparable to or lower than 720p, a trend which was in its early stages in 2016 and was not even available in 2014.

1080p Continues To Dominate

Integrators most often said they used 1080p simply due to its price to performance ratio.

  • "2MP - it is a good price and don't get a lot of benefit to 3 or 4MP. As price comes down, will move to up to it."
  • "Within the past year, 1080P was the preferred resolution of the cameras deployed. The price point between a 720P and a 1080P camera was not much different. Customers have stated that the higher MP cameras are great but seem to be very happy with the 1080P resolution and price."
  • "Full HD. Optimal price / quality ratio."
  • "1080p. This resolution has good price/performance and when connecting to a VMS it's OK in bandwidth and storage consumption."
  • "2MP Cameras. Price vs Quality vs Application This resolution range continue to be profitable, and does not disappoint on visuals. Clients are happy, and therefore, so are we."
  • "1080P We feel it is the best balance of resolution/image quality(WDR)/and price. The 4K models that have been released are getting close but the higher price on them is usually not justified."
  • "2MP, Most camera manufacturers we use have released quality 2MP resolution cameras at competitive price points."
  • "2MP, good price point and quality is acceptable. Generally don't need more than that outside of special circumstances."
  • "2 MP, because it's economic price & this resolution are quite good."
  • "2MP was still the most common for performance vs price, but we have seen a trend to higher resolutions becoming desired."

While several mentioned better low light and WDR capabilities of 1080p compared to higher resolutions:

  • "1080p. Reluctant to use higher resolution cameras due to poor performance in low light."
  • "2mpxl - best low light capabilities and resolution mix....and it's really all our clients need."
  • "We deployed 1080p cameras more than any other resolution by far. Multi-megapixel and 4k resolution cameras have come down in price, but the impact to storage and network throughput haven't quite offset the additional resolution. Also, the light sensitivity on the higher resolution cameras is typically much worse than even the midrange 1080p cameras we sell. All the additional resolution is worthless if the image is too dark or noisy in low light."
  • "2MP - Offers good resolution without forsaking low light level and WDR"

3MP-5MP Growth

Among resolutions above 1080p, 4MP was most common, with 3MP second. 5MP and 4K both received far fewer mentions.

In 3-5MP, respondents mentioned these higher resolutions offering additional resolution at prices not much higher than 1080p.

  • "4MP is slightly better than 1080P for general use. For example, we found that a 2MP 3.6MM Hikvision was essentially the same resolution as a 4MP 2.8MM. So you get a little bit better resolution for about the same price."
  • "4MP. Rapidly closing price gap between 1080p and 4MP cameras and continuous drops in storage pricing."
  • "4MP - good pricing and good picture quality."
  • "4MP due to best value and true WDR"
  • "3MP. I found the 3MP resolution produced a good quality image and had a good price point across several manufacturers."
  • "3MP best value for the money."
  • "We use cameras of many different resolutions, but I would say our most common resolution to use is 3MP. The picture quality is excellent for the price"
  • "3MP. Cost has come down so can provide greater resolution without having to increase price"
  • "5MP because it offered the best price/picture quality of the product line we use in Hikvision."
  • "5MP Exterior - cheaper than 4k"

However, those mentioning 4K focused more on increasing PPF/quality:

  • "Outdoors we are watching large parking lots or loading docks and with 4K we can get more PPF with fewer cameras and effectively reduce system cost."
  • "4K. End users are very excited by the results they can achieve moving from 720p and 1080p to 4K."

2020 Outlook - 1080p Declines, 4MP - 6MP Grows Notably

Given these 6 year trends and significant releases of 4MP, 5MP, and 6MP recent cameras, we expect 1080p usage to decline notably in the next 2 years. While 1080p is still likely to be widely used (estimated 30 to 50% of integrators still using 1080p most commonly in 2020), 4MP - 6MP camera usage will surge as lower cost and image quality enhancements drive adoption. We forecast that 4K camera usage will too grow notably from today's very niche position but will remain far less commonly used than their 6MP and under counterparts in 2020.

Finally, looking forward to 2020, one interesting dynamic to track is how much more resolution for indoor cameras increases (or not). While going from VGA to 1080p made dramatic differences in details captured for most indoor scenes, given the general smaller areas covered indoor by each camera, it is less clear the benefits of higher resolution / pixel density going up from 1080p to 4MP to 4K, etc.

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