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The Misunderstood World of CCTV Camera Resolution "My Camera's Look Bad"

Updated: May 21

In today's technology-driven age, surveillance is more advanced than ever before. The introduction and widespread adoption of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) systems have enhanced security for both businesses and homeowners. One of the touted features of modern CCTV cameras is their resolution. However, while the numbers can sound impressive, the reality of how resolution functions and is affected by various factors is often misunderstood.

Resolution: Beyond the Numbers

When shopping for a CCTV camera, many consumers are immediately drawn to cameras that boast high resolution. 4K, 1080p, 720p—these numbers are proudly displayed on product boxes and in marketing materials. But what do these numbers actually mean?

Simply put, the resolution refers to the total number of pixels that a camera's sensor can capture. The higher the number, the more detailed the resulting image should be. For instance, a 4K camera can, in ideal circumstances, provide an image that is discernibly clearer and more detailed than a 720p camera.

The Compression Culprit

However, an often-overlooked aspect that can compromise the quality of CCTV footage is compression. Whenever you stream the footage, be it on a computer, a mobile device, or over the internet, the data is typically compressed. Compression reduces the file size to make streaming faster and more efficient. But in doing so, some of the image quality is lost. Even the most high-end, high-resolution camera can produce mediocre footage if the video undergoes heavy compression.

The Monitor Mismatch

Another factor that can affect perceived resolution is the monitor on which the footage is viewed. Consider this: if you have a 4K resolution camera but are viewing the footage on a monitor that supports only up to 1080p resolution, you're not actually seeing the full detail that the camera captured.

Worse yet, viewing high-resolution footage on a monitor that doesn't support that resolution can make the footage appear worse than it truly is. The mismatch between the camera's resolution and the monitor's capabilities can result in a display that looks pixelated, blurry, or both.

Optimal Viewing: Matching Camera and Monitor Resolution

To get the most out of your CCTV camera's resolution, it's essential to use a monitor that matches the camera's resolution. For instance, 4K footage should ideally be viewed on a 4K monitor. This ensures that you're seeing every pixel of detail that the camera captured, with no downscaling or loss of clarity.


In the world of CCTV surveillance, understanding resolution is critical. While high-resolution cameras can capture impressively detailed footage, factors like compression and monitor capabilities can compromise the quality of what you actually see. By ensuring that video compression is kept to a minimum and that the viewing monitor matches the camera's resolution, users can enjoy clear, detailed surveillance footage that lives up to their camera's potential.


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