Are expectations of HD CCTV too high?

The world of security is currently buzzing with talk of HD CCTV and how it will be the making of the CCTV industry over the next 10 years. A word of caution though, we must be careful that we do not repeat the mistakes that have been made with analogue CCTV over the last 20 years.


The crux of the point we are making here is that customers want to pay the least money possible for a CCTV system. As a result,  hard pressed salesmen oblige by consistently under specifying what the customer needs. Up against a host of competition it is all too easy to hope camera coverage and light levels will be enough for the price the customer wants to pay. Of course as soon as the first real incident occurs and the customer reviews their footage, desperate disappointment ensues and grainy staccato like images that are of little use to anyone are the disappointing result.


Let’s remember the company who actually specified the system correctly were dismissed from the tendering process because their price was too high , so in this whole sorry process everyone loses out.


So to my initial point regarding HD CCTV and whether our expectations are too high. Well in truth the fact is that the same rules apply. We must specify what is actually required to meet the customers’ needs and most importantly, his expectations.

Too often we see system set ups that lack the four basic requirements.

1) The correct number of  pixels per meter to ensure facial or number plate recognition at the specified distance.

2) The correct lighting level at night.

3) The correct amount of storage capacity for the required number of days.

4) The correct network architecture, bandwidth and equipment such as quality switches and cable/transmission path.

All the above must be correct or the system as a whole will fall down and the customer, full of hope, will find once more the CCTV system he has purchased has let him down.

So how can we be sure we get this right? Well firstly we must put our trust in a provider who has a proven track record. His price may not be the cheapest but this is a sure sign that he is not taking short cuts and should  be reassuring rather than an excuse to put the quote to one side. If he has paid attention, his sales pitch will  pay due attention to the 4 points above,  this should mean that he is doing his job properly. Finally don’t try to get too much out of a camera. The laws of physics will decide what can be achieved. Ultimately of course a quality brand using all the best components and installers will work out the better option but there is only so much a 5 megapixel camera can do, especially if it is deprived of light at night.


Light plays a huge part in the final image quality, don’t try to buy cheaply here either. A good quality IR illuminator makes all the difference and these are not the cheapest items to produce. However a good brand will ensure low  maintenance levels and excellent reliability as well as actually producing the light levels a megapixel camera will need to operate properly at night.

Clarius IS - 860


So are our expectations of HD CCTV too high? The simple answer is no, quite frankly it’s the best thing for security, monitoring industrial processes and keeping track of health and safety issues that we have seen for a long time, however this is only true if the job is sold correctly. Short cuts and under funding will mean we will all be cast back to the disappointments of the past.





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