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Pixels on Target: Efficient Video Surveillance

Pixels on target is a concept that can help you clarify your needs when shopping for an IP security camera. In this blog, we’re going to talk about what “pixels on target” means for you.

IP cameras come in a very wide variety of video resolutions. Cameras might be able to take up to 4k Ultra HD video at a resolution of 4096x2160 pixels or down to QVGA at 320x240 pixels. Bigger is better, right? So you should just go with the camera that with the highest resolution, right? Not so fast.

Not only are higher resolution cameras more expensive, but they also put an enormous load on your network and on storage, because the transmitted data and files are so massive. If you don’t really need that kind of detail, why spend the money?

You don’t need the camera with the best specs, but the camera that best fits your needs. The question then is: How do you determine what your needs are?

For digital video surveillance, pixels on target is one of the key features you should be paying attention to.


Pixels on Target

Pixels on target is a measurement of the resolution used in an image to display an object. If you want to be precise, pixels on target is a highly technical specification, determined by measuring the distance to an object from a camera and that object’s size, then comparing that with the camera lens’s field of view and the sensor resolution.

Don’t worry about the technical details. Just remember this:

Get a camera with sufficient resolution to identify the objects that it’s recording.

If you’re scanning a carpark to make sure all the cars are there, you don’t need as many pixels on target, just enough to know the cars are there and no one is vandalizing or stealing them. You can thus save on camera, infrastructure, bandwidth, and storage costs.

If you’re protecting a gas station and you want to capture all the details to identify potential thieves, you need a higher resolution camera focused where the thief’s face will be, and lower resolution cameras to provide evidence of their actions. You need more pixels on target on the face, fewer in general.

Gas Station

How Do I Determine My Needs?

Pixels on target is something that should come up in the planning stages.

It can save you a lot of money and improve your video security greatly if you take the time before purchasing the cameras to really work out:

  • Where can the camera(s) be located and angled?
  • How much of the scene does each camera need to cover?
  • How much detail is truly necessary?
  • Can you save on camera, infrastructure, bandwidth, or storage costs by being more efficient?

By keeping in mind the concept of pixels on target and answering these questions, you should be well on your way to adopting the most efficient IP security camera system you can.


How Much Detail Do I Need?

Your needs are unique.

Another way to think about it is this. If you have a carpark, instead of using multiple cameras to cover angles, you could use a single high-resolution camera that would give you enough pixels on target for the purpose. A single HD camera might cost more than the other cameras do individually, but it could cost less than buying multiple cameras with the higher infrastructure and maintenance costs associated with them.

Similarly, instead of spending all your money on a single, fancy camera to protect your gas station, you could go with more, low-resolution cameras focused more specifically where you know people will be. The individual cameras might not produce incredible video, but because you’ve thought ahead and placed appropriate cameras in likely locations, you’ve increased your security.

These are common sense observations, but we live in a world of marketing and advertising always telling you to go big or go home. Many businesses feel that need, that spending more and getting better specs will mean everything will be better, somehow.