If you’re familiar with cameras, you know there are endless options when looking for a surveillance camera. Each one has different resolutions, fields of view, and installation methods.
An average person will find it difficult to understand many terms associated with these devices.
With the rise in criminal activity and the need for hard facts, residential and commercial establishments are keeping track of everything by upgrading their security. And you’ll find many of them investing in 4K security cameras nowadays.
To understand if these devices are worth your money, you must be familiar with their features and drawbacks. So, let’s review 4K cameras and find out if they’re good enough to boost your security system.
What Are 4K Security Cameras And How Do They Work?
4K security cameras are cameras with a horizontal pixel count of around 4,000. They capture video footage in the resolution 3840 x 2160 and have 8,294,400 total pixels. They are equipped with 8 megapixels (MP) and have an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Because these cameras have a large number of total pixels, images have minimal chance of getting pixelated even when you zoom in. These cameras also have advanced sensors with low-light sensitivity.
The resolution of 4K cameras is 4 times better than HD 1080p cameras. They are also called UHD (Ultra High Definition). By comparison, 1080p cameras have a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The cameras capture light in their field of view and store it as data in your desired storage option, be it local or in the cloud.
Types Of 4K Security Cameras
Like many others, 4K security cameras are available in many variants. Knowing how each type functions will help you decide which one will fit your security requirements best.
- Bullet Camera: These 4K cameras are cylindrical and shaped like bullets. They are primarily used for capturing high-resolution footage of a particular outdoor area. But they are also well-suited for long-distance surveillance and can work well when placed in high-traffic areas. They typically have a longer and wider range compared to dome or turret cameras. They are easy to reposition if needed but are not discreet. One of the big downsides of this security camera is that it is pretty easy to be vandalized or manually adjusted by criminals. Expert vandals can easily direct the camera in a different direction.
- Dome Camera: As it’s name suggests, 4K dome cameras have a dome-like circular structure. They are typically used indoors and can come in vandal-proof or resistant housings. Its field of vision is larger when compared to the bullet camera, but the quality isn’t any less. Dome cameras are also typically more discreet compared to bullet, turret, or PTZ cameras. Cons of dome cameras include repositioning them. Once installed, they don’t have the flexibility of a bullet or PTZ. The domes can also get dirty blocking the view and require cleaning. They are also prone to IR bounce where the illuminator causes the light to bounce back off the dome and into the lens, distorting the view.
- Turret Camera: 4K dome cameras are typically used indoors. They are smaller and more discreet than a bullet or PTZ, but not as much as a dome. An advantage over domes include their built-in IR. Because there is no dome, you don’t have to worry about IR bounce. They are also easy to mount.The big downside to the turret camera is they can be damaged more easily than a dome since they have no housing to protect to the lens.
- PTZ Camera: 4K pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras are versatile, and you can control them via remote. You can use them to cover an extensive area, zoom in on a particular target, or have it automatically patrol a given area looking for motion. All these processes are achieved without losing image quality. The major downside to these cameras is the high price. They typically start out at two to three times the cost of a dome, turret, or bullet camera. These cameras are also prone to malfunction as they have many moving parts.
Best Applications For 4K Security Cameras
4K security cameras provide a new and better solution to documenting videos that HD cameras fail to provide. They serve as a good source of evidence whenever needed.
Because they are detail-oriented, these camera systems are a convenient investment for those needing to cover large areas with minimal installation.
For instance, store owners of small and medium business can have a couple of 4K cameras on prominent corners and easily acquire a broad view.
Identifying facial features and details of vehicles is much easier with a 4K camera. So, places that require excellent security systems, such as large businesses and organizations, will find 4K security cameras well suited to their needs.
But an HD camera system will suffice if you only need something for your porch or yard.
Specifications Of 4K Security Cameras
4K security cameras can be versatile and convenient for any purpose. Features that make them exceptional include:
Nights are an active time for lawbreakers, so strong night vision becomes an essential feature. Fortunately, 4K cameras have it sorted out for you.
Most of these cameras are equipped with 3D Dynamic Noise Reduction (DNR), which significantly reduces infrared-caused noise and static. You are guaranteed crisp and clear video footage no matter the time of day.
In addition, most 4K security cameras come with larger image sensors. Regular cameras need a good light source to produce a quality image, but 4K cameras can work well in low light. Just make sure the sensor is large enough as the higher the resolution camera, the larger the sensor size is needed for acceptable night vision. Something like a 1/1.8″ or 1/1.2” would work great.
If your security system needs more activity during the nighttime, cameras with 3D DNR will help as well.
A 4K security camera can have one or both digital and optical zoom. These add more functionality to the security system.
Digital zoom: You can use digital zoom with recorded videos or snapshots. It magnifies parts of a photo/video, reducing the overall resolution in the process.
The process is like cropping an image; the more you zoom, the more pixelated the image gets. But when working with a 4K camera, you don’t have to worry as much about having reduced quality, as it has more pixels to zoom in without losing essential details compared to a lower resolution camera.
Optical zoom: An optical zoom alters the focal length of your camera to a selected portion of the video without minimizing the overall quality.
It works by shifting the full resolution of the camera sensor into a particular area of the video, giving a detailed image. For instance, when using an optical zoom on a selected portion of the footage, the area you zoom in on will have 3840 x 2160 total pixels.
The downside is that optical zoom only works in real-time, so you cannot use it for recorded videos.
Field Of View (FOV)
One significant feature that 4K security cameras have is the area of coverage it provides. A camera’s FOV can determine how many cameras you need to set up in a particular location or where to install the next camera.
4K security cameras are excellent at providing a large angle/field of view, unlike older versions. Since they cover a large area, the footage contains more information. You’ll also need fewer cameras than would otherwise be used with a lower-resolution device.
Most 4K cameras cover an angle of 100° – 180° horizontally. So, they make good options for residential and commercial uses where covering large yards or open spaces becomes necessary.
You can easily cover large parking lots or driveways with a single camera, provided the sensor and magnification are first-rate.
How Well Do 4K Security Cameras Work With Motion?
4K cameras provide highly detailed and crisp images of objects. When capturing moving objects, like a moving car or a person running, they will do great as long as you are capturing at 15+ frames per second. You can reduce the FPS to save on storage, but if capturing smooth video is important to you, at least 15fps is recommended.
Pros And Cons Of 4K Security Cameras
If you’re in a hurry to get the best security camera, this checklist of pros and cons will help you determine if you should get 4K cameras or a different one.
- Excellent resolution with sharper images: 4K cameras capture better quality footage, and facial recognition becomes easy.
- Low light features: The sensors in 4K cameras are not excessively dependent on light to produce good-quality images. So they work well during nighttime.
- Wider field of view: 4K cameras have larger image sensors, giving a wider field of view and eliminating blind spots. And when placed in the right place, it will provide coverage for large areas and minimize your need to install multiple cameras.
- Enhanced zoom options: With a 4K camera, you can have more options for identifying components in your videos. The images are more compact and retain quality when you zoom in.
- Flexible connectivity: 4K security cameras can function with or without an Internet connection. You can receive alerts and mobile streaming if the system runs on an Internet connection.
- Custom recording modes: 4K security cameras may take up much space if left to run continually. So you can opt for a scheduled recording or motion recording.
- Clearer detail recognition: Details like prints on clothing, letters, and numbers on license plates become indispensable when criminal activity comes to pass. And with a 4K security camera, you will have no trouble identifying wrongdoers.
- High cost: It goes without saying that the better a product gets, the more it will cost. Sometimes you will find 4K cameras sold at a low price, and if you find one, you should check the specifications. Many companies sell tacky cameras by branding them as 4K on the surface.
- Requires more disk space for storage: A 4K camera captures high-resolution video, meaning more pixels. You will need more disk space to store all the data, driving up the overall cost of the security system.
- Requires more bandwidth: Your streaming and recording requirements are so much larger compared to 4MP and smaller cameras, so you need to be aware this increase in bandwidth may have on your network.
- Fewer FPS (frames per second): Many 4K security cameras output an average of 20fps. While 30fps 4K security cameras are available, they are rare and pricey. Conversely, a higher fps camera will drastically increase the file size of each footage.
- Compatibility and additional equipment: 4K security cameras can be used with any monitor, but a 4K monitor works best if you wish to utilize all its features.
- Image stabilization: Some 4K cameras fail at providing still images when in motion. This can prove challenging as criminals most often move quickly, and if the camera doesn’t succeed in providing stable frames, it is not worth the money.
What To Consider When Buying 4K Security Cameras?
If you find that a 4K security camera is ideal for your needs, consider these specifications before purchasing one.
- Camera Lens: The type of lens your 4K camera has will affect the way your videos turn out. Focal length is one element you need to look out for; it determines the field of view that your camera will offer. A camera with a high focal length can focus farther, while one with a lesser focal length focuses on the width.
- Consider a video compressor: You can save loads of disk space by using a High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) or H.265 compression when working with 4K camera systems. It records videos at the same quality but takes up less disk space. Most modern cameras come with this compression standard, but you must make sure to enable it in the camera settings.
- Infrared (IR) Filters: Cameras with IR filters block excessive light that can hinder the quality of the image produced. As such, you will receive quality images as seen by the human eye.
- Ingress Protection (IP) Rating: IP rating is a 2-digit code that identifies how resistant the cameras are to different states of matter. The first digit represents its resistance against solid objects, while the second digit represents resistance to fluids (waterproof). The greater the value, the better your product will withstand foreign matter.
- Impact Protection (IK rating): You can measure the degree to which your security cameras can resist external force by checking their IK rating. The value can range from 00 to 10; the higher the number, the better its protection against vandalism.
- Recording Fluency: The FPS value of a camera affects the smoothness of videos. A 4K camera will perform its best when it has a high FPS value. Low fps cameras will make your videos appear choppy. Anything from 15fps to 30fps will give a great recording fluency, while as low as 10fps can be acceptable.
- Technical Requirements: To improve the performance of your surveillance cameras, you need to upgrade or invest in all technical equipment associated with them. Local network and LAN cabling or structured wiring are some common areas to consider.
- Motion Detection: Since 4K cameras utilize a lot of data and bandwidth, some cameras are equipped with motion detection. This feature enables the cameras to only start recording when they detect motion. But this feature can result in a heavier price tag. NVR or other software can alternatively be used for the motion detection.
- Wired Or Wireless: Wireless security systems can experience unstable connections if there is any signal interference. However, they may be preferred if you’re living in a temporary accommodation. Wired connections are best suited for permanent establishments and require less maintenance overall. Additional battery backup systems are recommended in areas with frequent power outages.
- Warranty: A 4K security camera with a longer warranty is guaranteed to have better performance than a camera without one. It also protects your devices from accidental damage or loss. A good quality 4K surveillance camera will most likely offer a 2-year or longer warranty which can be able to be extended further. Make sure to ask your surveillance camera installer.
- Total Cost: When purchasing a new security system for your home or business, it is essential that you calculate the total cost of buying the product for the installation. That way, you’ll have better control of your finances. Some factors that go into this are number of cameras, type of cameras, megapixels of the cameras, storage needs for recordings, and structured cabling that needs to be ran.
How To Use 4K Security Cameras Efficiently?
So, you’ve finally bought the necessary equipment for a 4K security system. What’s next? Here’s how you can enhance its functionality so you don’t experience the cons you’ve read earlier.
- Camera placement: As mentioned earlier, 4K security cameras can come in various types, and installing them in the right places can maximize their potential. Bullet cameras work well in exteriors or when needing a larger field of view; domes and turrets are great for halls and indoor spaces, while PTZ cameras can work well in any environment.
- Choose a recording system: Network Video Recorders (NVR) are the best option for Internet Protocol (IP) 4K security cameras. You can connect them to an NVR system to enhance their storage options. They offer high-quality video storage and some can replicate your recordings to the cloud for in case of hardware failure. You can use it with a wired or wireless system; if wired, you will require Ethernet cabling. Before investing in an NVR system, it is best to check the compatibility of your cameras, as they are not suitable/compatible with all IP cameras.
- Find the optimal frame rate: A high FPS can occupy higher disk space, limiting the amount of data you can store. By choosing a lower frame rate, your surveillance footage will occupy lesser space while giving decent video quality.
- Hybrid Cloud storage: You can significantly reduce the stress on data and bandwidth by using hybrid cloud storage. It combines local and off-site storage options, and you can access the data from anywhere. Businesses with a distributed workforce will find this storage option beneficial.
4K Versus 1080p Security Cameras
HD 1080p security cameras are an ideal choice in the security market, and most people like to compare their effectiveness against the trending 4K cameras. To understand the difference between 4K and 1080p security cameras, let’s compare them based on seven benchmarks.
- Price: A 4K security camera has more features and built-in technology than a 1080p, so it undoubtedly costs more. And if you buy a model that is new on the market, you will have to pay much more. Depending on the model you buy, you might even get a few 1080p security cameras for the price of one 4K.
- Video Resolution: A 1080p camera has a total of 2,073,600 pixels, while a 4K camera has 8,294,400 pixels. The image resolution of 4K security cameras is about four times better than a 1080p camera. You will find that the images don’t distort as much when you zoom in on minute details.
- Field of View: The FOV of cameras depends on the focal length. Because a 4K security camera has more pixels, it has the potential to have a wide view without tampering with the image quality. A single 4K camera covers a large area in its frame, so you may need fewer cameras to cover the same area.
- Frame Rate: You might have seen instances where motion in CCTV footage seems distorted; these result from low FPS. Both 1080p and 4K security cameras come in varying FPS. However, 1080p cameras are better as most of them support 30fps. 4K cameras are generally available with a 20fps frame rate. The higher the FPS, the more details your video will contain and the smoother the motion will appear. Look for something around 15 to 30fps while purchasing a security camera to never miss important details.
- Night/Low-light Vision: You’ll most often be troubled with light balance and noise when recording videos in low light, and this is particularly true for HD cameras and lower. Most 4K cameras have a Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) feature that minimizes noise and provides a clearer image. Apart from this, they also come with the option to switch to a black-and-white mode for better visibility during the nighttime.
- Storage: Since 1080p security cameras have fewer pixels, they don’t need as much storage space as 4K. 4K cameras capture images that have four times more pixels than a 1080p camera, so you will need to expand your storage options accordingly. You can choose to upgrade your local disk space or consider opting for cloud storage.
- Equipment: 1080p videos are playable on almost any device, but you’ll miss out on a lot of details when you view 4K videos on a monitor without 4K compatibility. For this reason, you might need to invest in more equipment in order to make the most of the 4K camera. Additionally, a better Internet connection may also become essential to improving bandwidth.
A good security camera proves useful when considering the number of troublemakers that plague the world today. As such, 4K cameras contribute to providing better evidence when the need arises.
Despite being highly favored in the security market, 4K cameras can be quite expensive. So, if they seem inaccessible or beyond budget, a 1080p camera is still a good alternative to enhance security, prevent crimes, and identify culprits.
Are 4K cameras worth your money? Yes, they are worth the money if you’re in need of a top-notch security system and money isn’t an issue. Ready to purchase new security cameras for your business? Contact Pennyrile Technologies today for a free estimate!