10MP vs 5MP vs HD Shootout

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Nov 20, 2013

HD cameras are commonplace. Everyone offers 1080p. The big question now is how much better is 5MP or 10MP? Is a 10MP camera 5 times better than 1080p as pixel count proponents claim?

In this report, we share test results of a head to head shootout between 1080p, 5MP and 10MP cameras. For this test, we bought 3 compact box cameras from Arecont (3MP AV3116, 5MP AV5115, and 10MP AV10115), known for both their unrealistic claims and high resolution offerings. This allowed us to eliminate any variances across manufacturers and focus simply on the advantages and disadvantages of varying resolution

Key Questions Answered

Our tests answered the following key questions:

  • How much more details did the higher resolution cameras deliver at 20', 50', 100' wide FoVs?
  • Which camera was the best in low light and by how much?
  • Which camera was the best in strong backlight scenes - the WDR HD camera or the higher resolution 5MP or 10MP ones?
  • Here are our key findings from this test:

    For Full Light

    • In full light with relatively small fields of view (~20' and under), 5 and 10 MP cameras delivered no practical gain in details of our test chart and subject compared to the 1080p..
    • Increasing horizontal FOV to ~50', the 1080p camera loses many details of both subject and chart while the 5 and 10 MP cameras provide recognizable subject details and chart legibility.
    • Widening the FOV to ~100', both the 5 and 10 MP cameras provide similar details of the subject, while he was essentially a blur in the 1080p image. Only 10MP provides any legibility of the test chart, down to line 2.

    For Lower Light / Parking Lot (3-8lx)

    • In lower light, varying between 3-8 lux, at a 20' HFOV the 5MP camera provided the best tradeoff between low light performance and resolution, delivering more and clearer details than both the 1080p and 10MP models.
    • At 50' horizontal FOV in lower light, neither 5 or 10 MP cameras produced any images of our test subject, but the more reflective chart was still visible (though only the first line) in the 5MP camera. The 1080p camera provided basic details of the subject, but the chart was barely legible.
    • In lower light at ~100' FOV, the 1080p camera was able to provide detection of our subject, but not details. Neither the 5 nor 10 MP cameras produced any usable video at this range.
    • By contrast, a third party 'super low' light 720p camera, delivered far brighter images across all test spots as well as detail in the narrow FoV.

    For Low Light (1lx and below)

    • In truly dark scenes, the 1080p, 5MP, and 10MP cameras did not provide usable details of subject or chart at any range. The 1080p camera was able to minimally detect the chart, but not the subject.
    • The third party super low light 720p camera at this range delivered brighter images, though without identifying details due to extremely low light levels.

    WDR

    Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
    Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

    • The 1080p true WDR camera handled WDR scenes best in both light and dark areas. The only exception was the 10MP's ability to read lower lines in the test chart but only the light area.
    • The 10MP camera handled the brightly backlit area of our WDR scene well, far better than its 5MP counterpart. However, in the dark area next to the overhead door, neither camera provided details of the subject.

    Recommendations

    In most cases, especially where low light or WDR performance are a concern, 1080p is still a better choice than higher resolutions. 5 and 10 MP cameras, while delivering higher pixels per foot, suffer from poorer performance in these scenes.

    In evenly lit scenes, such as well lit interior areas or lit parking lots, 5 and 10 MP resolution offers advantages across wide fields of view (20'+). At these ranges, 1080p is much less likely to deliver necessary details.

    In WDR scenes, true WDR cameras should be used. While the 10MP model in this test performed better than its 5MP counterpart, both were outperformed by the true multi-exposure 1080p model. However, since true WDR is generally not available in cameras above 3MP, in large areas such as multi-door loading docks, 10MP may be beneficial due to its better WDR performance. 

    FOV Comparisons

    We made the following comparisons outdoors on an overcast day, at three light levels. Users can download a 13MB zip file of these scenes. 

    Full Light, ~380-500 lux

    At a horizontal field of view of ~20', the 5 and 10 MP cameras do not deliver more practical details than the 1080p camera. Our subject is recognizable in all three, with the chart legible to line 5/6 in even the 1080p camera.

    At a 50' HVOF, however, differences become apparent. The 5 and 10 MP cameras provide much more detailed of our subject, with the chart remaining legible than using 1080p.

    Finally, widening the field of view to 100', 10MP offers the best performance, with better details of our subject, and the first and second lines of the chart discernable.

    Lower Light

    In this scene, outdoor lighting produced between 3-8 lux, depending on distance. At a 20' horizontal FOV, the 5MP edges out the 1080p camera in details of the subject and chart. The WDR 1080p camera produced some noise and artifacting at this light level, obscuring some details. The 10MP model clearly shows the test chart, but no details of the subject. All are outperformed by a 720p low light optimized camera, shown for reference.

    At a 50' HFOV, the 5MP camera still shows more detail of the test chart, but our subject is nearly impossible to see. The 1080p camera shows both subject and chart, though without any details, while the 10MP model is barely able to see the test chart.

     

    Finally, at our widest FOV, 100', the 1080p model and 720p low light camera still provide detection of our subject and chart. The 5MP model minimally shows images of the test chart, while the 10MP camera is nearly black, with high levels of noise.

    Dark, <1 lux

    Finally, in a truly dark scene, the 1080p camera is able to detect our test chart, but provides no details. Both 5 and 10MP cameras were essentially black, with no usable image.

    At a 50' HFOV, the 1080p camera barely sees the chart at all.

    And finally, using a 100' HFOV, none of the cameras are able to produce usable video, with even the 720p low light camera only minimally detecting the chart.

    WDR Comparisons

    To test WDR performance, we set up our cameras in a warehouse with a wide open overhead door, creating a 20x variance in lux levels, seen in this image:

    The 1080p true WDR camera was the clear best performer in this scene. However, the 10MP model, due to its higher resolution, performed well in the strong backlighting of the overhead door, as well. Neither 5 nor 10MP models provided details in the dark 60lx area next to the door.

    Interior Hallway Comparison

    Interior performance of 5 and 10 MP resolution can be seen in this hallway shot from our Camera Selection Guide. In this case, 5MP outperformed both 1080p and 10MP, being the best balance between resolution and light handling in this scene, about 45 lux on target.

    Test Parameters

    All cameras were left at default settings for this test, with the exception of exposure, which was normalized at 33ms, and binning, which was turned off.

    The following firmware versions were used:

    • Arecont 3MP AV3116 - 65221
    • Arecont 5MP AV5115 - 65221
    • Arecont 10MP AV10115 - 65221
    • Bosch NBN-733V - 16500585

2 reports cite this report:

Axis 4K Tested (P1428E) on Oct 29, 2014
[UPDATE August 2015: We recently updated firmware on this camera for an...
5MP Super Low Light Tested (Bosch) on May 27, 2014
Low light performance remains the biggest showstopper for multi-megapixel...
Comments (34) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Taiwan Lilin NDAA Compliant Cameras Tested on Aug 13, 2020
Taiwan-based manufacturer Lilin is taking direct aim at Dahua and Hikvision...
New Axis M30 Cameras Tested on Mar 26, 2020
Axis has released a new generation of, for them, relatively low cost M30...
Dahua, Hikvision, ZKTeco Face Mask Detection Shootout on Jun 19, 2020
Temperature tablets with face mask detection are one of the hottest trends in...
Tiandy Super Starlight Cameras Tested on Apr 30, 2020
Tiandy is taking aim at China competitors Dahua and Hikvision, with a new...
K3 Wall Mounted IR Temperature Gun Tested on Jun 12, 2020
Is this the solution to not spending thousands of dollars on fever...
Hanwha AI Analytics Camera Tested on Aug 11, 2020
Hanwha has released their Wisenet P AI camera, adding person and vehicle...
Sunell Panda Cam Body Temperature Measurement Camera Tested on May 14, 2020
Sunell is far less well known than its gargantuan domestic competitors Dahua...
Vivotek LPR Camera Tested on Apr 15, 2020
Vivotek has historically sold license plate capture cameras but not LPR. Now,...
K3 Pro Wall Mounted IR Gun Tested on Aug 28, 2020
The original K3 model was lacking in features that the K7 model had and was...
Costar Technologies / Arecont H1 2020 Financials Examined on Sep 16, 2020
Costar's financial results have been hit by the coronavirus with the company...
Uniview Deep Learning Camera Tested on Jul 14, 2020
Uniview's intrusion analytics have performed poorly in our shootouts. Now,...
Sunell "Panda Cam" Thermal Body Temperature System Examined on Apr 09, 2020
Sunell's Panda Cam is the most visually recognizable coronavirus camera, sold...
Quantum Dots Potential for Surveillance Cameras Explained on Sep 08, 2020
Quantum dots are starting to be used in TVs for better images, but how will...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Aug 13, 2020
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video...
YOLOv5 Released Amidst Controversy on Jul 27, 2020
YOLO has gained significant attention within video surveillance for its...

Recent Reports

Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11 on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has...
Avigilon Elevated Temperature Detection Camera Tested on Sep 17, 2020
Avigilon has entered the temperature screening market with the release of...
Chilean Official Investigated for Motorola And Hikvision Contracts on Sep 17, 2020
A corruption investigation is underway in Chile after a crime prevention...
Huawei HiSilicon Production Shut Down on Sep 17, 2020
Huawei HiSilicon chips are no longer being manufactured or supplied to...
Virtual ISC West and GSX+ Exhibiting Contrasted on Sep 17, 2020
Both ISC West and ASIS GSX are going virtual this year, just weeks apart, but...
X.Labs Sues FLIR on Sep 16, 2020
X.Labs, the maker of Feevr, has sued FLIR, the publicly traded thermal...
Video Surveillance 101 September Course - Last Chance on Sep 16, 2020
Today is the last chance to sign up for the Fall Video Surveillance 101...
No Blackbody Mistake, Half Million Dollar, Hikvision Fever Camera System in Georgia on Sep 16, 2020
A Georgia school district touted buying Hikvision fever screening "about...
Costar Technologies / Arecont H1 2020 Financials Examined on Sep 16, 2020
Costar's financial results have been hit by the coronavirus with the company...
Startup Cawamo Presents Live Alerts With Edge AI and Cloud VMS on Sep 15, 2020
Cawamo, an Israeli edge-to-cloud analytics and VMS startup, presented its...
Favorite Access Control Credentials 2020 on Sep 15, 2020
Credential choice is more debated than ever, with hacking risk for 125kHz and...
Dangerous Hikvision Fever Screening Marketing In Africa on Sep 15, 2020
A multi-national African Hikvision distributor is marketing dangerously...
New Products Show Fall 2020 Announced - Register Now on Sep 14, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show will feature New Products from over 25...
Hanwha 8K / 33MP Camera Tested on Sep 14, 2020
Hanwha Techwin has released an 8K / 33MP resolution camera, the TNB-9000 with...
Gait Recognition Examined on Sep 14, 2020
Facial recognition faces increasing ethical and political criticisms while...