4K vs 5MP vs 1080p vs 720p Security Cameras.
Security Guide

4K vs 5MP vs 1080p vs 720p Security Cameras

4K Video Surveillance Cameras. Are They Right For Me?

4K surveillance is the latest offering in the world of HD video surveillance cameras. The 4K label on a camera means that the device will record images at a level of about 12 megapixels or video at double the resolution of a standard HD TV (1920 x 1080).

So, have you ever thought about buying a 4K security camera? Or should you continue to use 5MP/1080p/720p security cameras? That’s exactly what I’m going to show you in this article — 4K vs. 5MP vs. 1080p (2MP) vs. 720p security cameras.

Below is a complete comparison between 4K security cameras, 5MP security cameras, 1080p security cameras, and 720p security cameras, as well as insights into what might happen in the future.

4K vs 5MP vs 1080p vs 720p Security Cameras: Resolution Differences

Before we go any further, what’s the resolution of 4K security cameras, 5MP security cameras, 1080p security cameras and 720p security cameras?

Let’s dive in:

  • 4K Ultra HD security cameras possess a high resolution of 3840*2160 with over 8 million pixels. And they are also called 8MP/2160p security cameras. Though 4K IP cameras are not budget-accessible and prevailing now, they can greatly enhance your video streaming experience with no doubt.
  • 5MP Super HD security cameras, also known as 5MP security cameras, gain a resolution of 2560*1920. They are currently the mainstream in the security camera filed and deliver much clearer images than 1080p and 720p IP cameras.
  • 1080p Full HD security cameras produce images with the resolution of 1920*1080. They are suitable for the general-purpose video surveillance but sometimes may fail to figure out small details from a distance.
  • 720p HD security cameras shoot images with 128*720 pixels per unit. Due to the growing demand for higher quality images and videos, 720p security IP cameras are now gradually losing their grip in the market.
Resolution Image size in pixels Pixles per image Aspect Ratio Scanning type
4K 3,840×2,160 8,294,400 16:9 Progressive
5MP 2,560×1,920 4,915,200 4:3 Progressive
1080p 1,920×1,080 2,073,600 16:9 Progressive
720p 1,280×720 921,600 16:9 Progressive

Note: On top of the listed above, you may also find other security cameras in various resolutions for sale, like the 5MP security cameras, which edge out 4MP security cameras in terms of the image quality.

4K vs 5MP vs 1080p vs 720p Security Cameras: Full Comparison List

Now, let’s drill down deeper to check out the differences among 4K security cameras, 5MP security cameras, 1080p security cameras and 720p security cameras, from the following aspects:

1. Image Quality

The higher the security camera resolution, the better image quality and more vivid details you will obtain.

So it’s easy to conclude that 4K IP security cameras deliver sharper and clearer images than 5MP IP security cameras, 1080p IP security cameras and 720p IP security cameras.

Let’s say you intend to capture the license plate numbers, both 4K security cameras and 5MP IP cameras will have a good shot for you to recognize the numbers from a distance.

But for 1080p CCTV security cameras, it is uncertain depending on the camera quality and distance. While the chances are slim for 720p video surveillance cameras to shoot the plate numbers.

2. Field of View

Broadly speaking, megapixel security cameras are often packed with wide-angle lenses.

And that’s why the 4K megapixel security cameras generally have a wider field of view than the 5MP surveillance cameras, 1080p surveillance cameras and 720p surveillance cameras.

What does this exactly mean for you?

It means that if you need to monitor a large area with four 720p HD security cameras, only ONE single 4K CCTV security camera will get the job done, leaving no blind spots and no opportunity for potential thieves.

3. Bandwidth & Storage Consumption

In the same H.264 video standard, there is no doubt that 4K ultra HD security cameras would require more bandwidth usage and storage consumption, compared with 5MP IP cameras, 1080p IP cameras and 720p IP cameras.

But thanks to H.265 high-efficiency coding adopted by 4K IP security cameras, the bandwidth utilization and storage consumption can be reduced by about 50% without sacrificing the image quality.

So don’t fall into this common myth again, that 4K surveillance cameras eat up more bandwidth and take up more storage space than 5MP, 1080p or 720p CCTV security cameras.

4. Compatibility

If you already have a 4MP monitor or TV, the 5MP IP security cameras, 1080p IP security cameras and 720p IP security cameras should have no problem displaying images on it.

But with a 4K security IP camera, you may either choose to buy a 4K monitor/TV (depending on your budget) or lower the image resolution (would defeat your original purpose to buy 4K security systems).

Having that said, as the 4K technology has already stepped into the monitor and TV market, how long do you think you have to wait before you replace your existing monitor or TV with the 4K resolution?

The truth is, most proactive consumers would rather spend a few extra hundred dollars for a 4K monitor that has more recent technology and avoid having to upgrade again in a few years.

So it eventually comes down to striking a balance between your budget and your future needs.

5. Cost

Up until now, the 4K CCTV security cameras are relatively more expensive than 5MP, 1080p and 720p CCTV security cameras.

And the available options are also few.

Now most security camera sellers opt for providing 5MP or 6MP security cameras first before releasing their 4K products out of the limitation of demanding technology or the cost.

Yet, as the 4K technology advances, it would be simply a matter of time for the 4K IP cameras to become budget-friendly.

Also, don’t forget that ONE single 4K security camera is enough to cover large areas, thus reducing your cost to add more surveillance cameras.

4K vs 5MP vs 1080P vs 720p Security Cameras: Which One Should You Choose

I now would like to upgrade and therefore was wondering whether it is worth getting a 4K camera or get something cheaper with 1920/1080p resolution?

You must have also been bothered by this question, right?

Do remember that you don’t necessarily have to go all the way up to 4K or 8MP security cameras.

Those IP cameras with resolutions in between, like the 4MP and 5MP security cameras, can also present high quality images and meet your surveillance needs.

So look through the usages of 4K security cameras, 5MP security cameras, 1080p security cameras and 720p security cameras below to decide which your best bet is.

When to Choose 4K Surveillance Cameras:

  • You have a significant budget.
  • You require the highest resolution video surveillance and the cost will be justified by your usage.
  • You need to monitor large areas with one single security camera.
  • You have recently upgraded or plan to upgrade your monitor/TV or 4K resolution.
  • You need a future-proofing video surveillance camera.

Typical Scenarios:

  • Your small businesses, like shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, etc.
  • Warehouses
  • Parking lots
  • Driveways
  • Multi-tenant buildings and more

Watch the high-resolution video of a horrible rollover accident captured by the 4K security camera system ZOSI 8TN-261W4.

When to Choose 5MP Security Cameras:

  • You want to gain high quality images with vivid details from a distance (such as for plate recognition).
  • 5MP resolution is enough for your applications.
  • You have an enough budget.

Typical Scenarios:

  • Entrances to your home, like front doors, back doors, etc.
  • Garage
  • Driveways
  • Small businesses

Check out the high quality video shared by a user of ZOSI 5MP security camera.

When to Choose 1080p Security Cameras:

  • You are on a tight budget.
  • You simply want general-purpose surveillance.
  • You need a battery powered security camera (1080p is currently the highest standard among battery cameras).

Typical Scenarios:

  • Barn & farms
  • Vacation homes
  • Construction sites
  • RVs
  • Boats & marina

Important Note: Actually, some high quality 1080p Full HD security cameras might also offer you clear images with vivid details, just like the ZOSI C306 1080p rechargeable battery security camera (shown as below).

C306 Wire Free Rechargeable Battery Powered Camera

  • 100% Wire-Free
  • Reliable Battery Performance
  • 1080P HD
  • 80ft Infrared Night Vision
  • PIR & motion detection
  • 2 Way Audio
  • Weatherproof IP66

When to Choose 720p Security Cameras:

The simple answer is: NEVER.

Why not?

Not only because the 720 HD security cameras deliver blurry and low-quality images, they also no long hold advantages in price over 1080p or 5MP security cameras.

If you are on a tight budget, you can even buy the best and cheap 1080p or 5MP security cameras below $100.

So there’s simply no good reason to invest your hard-earned money in these low-resolution 720p CCTV security cameras.

Now that you have learned the differences among 4K security cameras, 5MP security cameras, 1080p security cameras and 720p security cameras, you can be off to choose the one that best meets your security needs and budget.

Let me know what your option is in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!