Is an inexpensive boxed set of security cameras good enough?

By December 2, 2020 Basics

Our car got broken into last night so I looked at my camera footage and saw him! But when I zoomed in, all I could see was a blurry somebody wearing a hoodie…

There are lots of choices on the retail residential market for security cameras for your home, such as Ring, Nest, Lorex, etc. Most of them are going to boast nice features, night vision, HD or even 4K resolution, and things like motion recording. These systems can be decent and they have price tag low enough to make it (potentially) a good deal. One of the most important things you should consider is what your new cameras need to see, specifically distances and required detail.

Distances can be more than you think…

A typical HD (or 1080p) camera can “see” really far, but you need 80 pixels per foot (think of the width of a person’s face and putting 80 pixels across it) to absolutely identify them. You only have this level of detail at about 12-feet or less from the camera.

With the same camera, at 24 feet away you will have about 40 pixels / ft, which looks like this when you zoom in:

24-feet is really not far (and this simulated image is in bright sunlight, so nighttime can be even more grainy). You can see how the image quality gets worse really quickly.

The customer quoted at the top had their car parked on the street, about 50-feet from the front door. This is a typical distance, and here is the best image you will get out of a 1080p boxed-set camera (like what you might get from Costco or Amazon):

Remember this is best-case in bright sunlight, so when you add lighting challenges, you will likely not even get an image this good to send to the police.

The bottom line: Distance vs Detail

Retail consumer-grade camera systems on the market today can be fine, but distance is a really important factor to consider. If you really just need 12-15 feet of coverage from each camera, then you might be ok. If you need to watch (with forensic detail) something further away, you will benefit greatly from a professionally designed solution. You may pay a bit more, but you will have the right camera for your needs. And when the bad guys come through your neighborhood (and they will), you can be confident that your system will deliver when it really counts!

Call us if you need help! 913-257-3145 or leave your info below and we will get right back with you!

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