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HD-CCTV School

When it come to Security Systems, there are a lot of options. When purchasing a Security System, it is important to know the differences in video quality and system performance.
There are 3 different types of technology; Analog CCTV, Megapixel IP and the newest technology, HD-SDI. All 3 systems are capable of different video qualities.
If you only read one thing here, Make sure it is this section!
You may have heard the terms D1, CIF and QCIF. They are DVR recording resolutions. They refer to the size of the image be recorded. D1 is the best quality because it offers a 704 X 480 image. CIF is about half the size of D1, and QCIF is half the size of CIF, or 4 times smaller than D1.
Analog Resolution Megapixel IP Resolution HD-SDI Resolution
D1 Resolution: 704 X 480
CIF Resolution: 360 X 240
QCIF Resolution: 120 X 76
1 Megapixel: 1280 X 1024
2 Megapixel: 1920 X 1080
5 Megapixel: 2560 X 1920
2 Megapixel: 1920 X 1080



Image Shown at D1 Image Shown at 3MP Image Shown at 2MP
Another area of concern is FRAMES PER SECOND, or FPS. FPS refers to the recoding speed. 30 FPS is what the human eye is used to seeing watching television. It is common for security video not to be 30 frames per second. A frame rate of 15 or 7.5FPS is very popular. The following video will show you the difference in FPS.

Where does Analog CCTV perform the best?
Analog CCTV is geared towards residential and small business. Analog cameras work the best protecting the immediate area without trying to see to far. At large distances Analog cameras will not hold detail. So, will Analog cameras work for you? It just depends on what you are trying to cover. If you just need to make sure what car is in the driveway, then analog cameras will be fine. But, if you need to see who is driving the car from 100+ feet away, you may want to think about digital cameras.
Where do Megapixel IP cameras perform the best?
Megapixel IP cameras are geared towards medium to large size business. While a lot of homeowners do use IP cameras, most of the time they are "overkill" in the residential setting. Megapixel IP cameras can see a lot further with good detail compared to Analog cameras. In a retail environment, IP cameras will show you very small detail. In a production facility, IP cameras will show you the smallest parts rolling off the assembly line.
Where does HD-SDI perform the best?
HD-SDI is a well rounded system and can be used just about anywhere. Because HD-SDI uses the same standard coaxial cable as Analog cameras, makes them a great way to upgrade to digital without having to run all new cables. HD-SDI cameras are all 2 Megapixel (this is where true HD starts, 1920 X 1080). Just like Megapixel IP cameras, HD-SDI cameras offer superior image quality. Because HD-SDI uses standard coaxial cable, makes them very easy to install. No need for a background in networking.




PROS: PROS: PROS: Low Cost High Definition (Megapixel) True High Definition (HDTV) Easy to Setup High Storage Capability Smooth, High Detailed Video Compact Size Upgradable and Expandable Uses Standard Pro-Grade RJ-59 Coax Mac & PC Compatible Runs on Cat 5 Ethernet Cable Mac & PC Compatible
CONS: CONS: CONS: Low Resolution Highest Cost Higher Cost Than Analog Limited Expandability PC Only Compatibility Limited Expandability
IDEAL USE: IDEAL USE: IDEAL USE: Homes & Small Business Offices Homes, Business, and Enterprise Driveways & Carports Assembly Lines & Warehouses Mission Critical Locations Entryways & Hallways Parking Lots & Other Large Areas Parking Lots & Other Large Areas
Camera resolution is different than DVR recoding resolution.
Now that you understand DVR recoding resolution, you should also understand camera resolution. If you have a DVR that is capable of producing high quality video, it would make no sense using a low resolution camera. This is what we call a resolution bottleneck. Analog camera resolution is measured in TV lines, or TVL. The highest resolution available in the analog world is 700TVL. 700TVL comes the closest to matching the D1 quality we discussed earlier (D1 = a screen size of 704 X 480). Megapixel IP cameras and HD-SDI cameras are measured in Megapixel. It is the same measurement used in digital still cameras.
How do the Cameras Connect?
Analog cameras connect using a BNC connectors and RG59 Standard Coaxial Cable
HD-SDI cameras connect using BNC connectors and RG59 PRO Coaxial Cable
Megapixel cameras connect using CAT5 network cable.
Cable Limitations
There are length limitations for cable. For cameras using RG59 Coaxial cable, it is not recommended to use cable longer than 150 feet. Megapixel cameras use CAT5 cable and can run several hundred feet without issue. If your cable run is longer than 150 feet, you can use Video Balun Adapters. These adapters allow you to use CAT5 cable on Analog cameras and allow for a much longer run with no signal loss.
BNC Connector for Analog CAT5 Connector for IP BNC Connector for HD-SDI
Camera Power Supplies
So far we have talked about DVRs and cameras. Now lets talk about camera power supplies. Like everything else, you have some options here. Analog cameras, Megapixel cameras and HD-SDI cameras all requires their own power. Most cameras require 12 volts of power. Some cameras require 24 volts of power. Most Megapixel cameras can use DC power or PoE, or Power Over Ethernet, which means the power travels down the CAT5 cable. It is very important to know what your camera requires for power. If you use the wrong power supply you will damage your camera, and this type of damage is not covered under warranty. Power supplies come in different sizes.

Single 12 volt DC / 1 Amp (Wall Wart)
4 Camera 12 volt DC / 5 Amp (Wall Wart)
8 camera 12 Volt DC / 5 Amp (Wall Wart)
9 Camera 12 Volt DC / 10 Amp (Professional Distribution Box)
18 Camera 12 Volt DC / 12.5 Amp (Professional Distribution Box)

Single PoE
4 Channel PoE
8 Channel PoE

Single Cam 4 Cam 8 Cam 9 Cam 18 Cam Single PoE

Camera Lens Information
Lens: The lens determines the field of view the camera provides. Lenses range from 2.8mm to 18mm on an average. The larger the lens size the farther it will view. The draw back to a 12mm or 18mm lens is that the horizontal view narrows to as little as 15 feet.




2.8 mm

10 feet

15 feet


30 feet

30 feet

6 mm

60 feet

20 feet

*Many of our customers require a standard fixed wide angle 3.6mm lens. They are designed to be installed in a corner, provide a 90 degree field of view, and provide effective surveillance in a 30 x 30 foot area. If you need to adjust the angle and are not sure when viewing a cash register or looking down aisles, we recommend a vari-focal lens which you can adjust manually based on the angle and distance of the camera to the subject. For example, with a cash register we recommend a 4-8mm vari-focal lens so you can manually adjust and capture the money, hands, and register close up. When in doubt, go with a vari-focal adjustable lens.

Lux and low lighting chart
Condition Illumination Details
Full Daylight
Overcast Day
Very Dark Day
Deep Twilight
Full Moon
Quarter Moon
Overcast Night
Low Light
Level Range

During the day the amount of illumination reaching a scene depends on the time of day and atmospheric conditions. Direct sunlight produces the highest-contrast scene, allowing maximum identification of objects. On a cloudy or overcast day, less light is received by the objects in the scene, resulting in less contrast. To produce an optimum camera picture under the wide variation in light level (such as occurs when the sun is obscured by clouds), an automatic-iris camera system is required. Typically, scene illumination measured in foot-candles (ftcd) can vary over a range of 10,000 to 1 (or more), which exceeds the operating range of most cameras for producing good quality video images. The chart above summarizes the light levels occurring under daylight and these low light level conditions. The equivalent metric measure of light level (lux) compared with the English (ftcd) is given.

2.5mm Lens


3.6mm Lens


4.3mm Lens


6.0mm Lens


12mm Lens


25mm Lens


Field of View (in ft.)
5 ft
10 ft
15 ft
25 ft
50 ft
100 ft
3.6 7.5 5.2 15.1 10.4 22.6 15.6 37.7 26.1 75.4 52.1 151 104
6.0 3.8 2.9 7.7 5.7 11.5 8.6 19.2 14.4 38.4 28.7 77 57
8.0 2.9 2.1 5.7 4.3 8.6 6.4 14.4 10.7 28.7 21.3 57 43
12.0 1.9 1.5 3.9 3.0 5.8 4.5 9.7 7.5 19.4 14.9 39 30