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5MP vs 8MP Security Cameras: Everything You Need to Know

When you start shopping for security cameras, all of the different options can be really overwhelming. On top of choosing wired vs. wireless, another hard call to make is what resolution you need. Security cameras come in various shapes and sizes and can even be hooked up to NVR systems which we’ve talked about before, but 5MP and 8MP are the most popular resolution choices.

While 1080p and 4MP are cheaper, 5MP and 8MP options are more popular cameras because the higher resolution allows you more options, including zooming in and identifying details like faces and license plates.

There are a number of reasons why 5MP or 8MP are the preferred security camera resolutions. On top of the extra resolution, it’s easier to monitor large spaces with these higher sensitivity cameras too. Let’s take a look at some of the details you should understand before choosing which one is right for you.

What Do Higher Megapixel Values Mean for Cameras?

Diagram of Megapixels and Resolutions - Smaller

MP is an acronym for megapixels. It defines the resolution or size of an image that a camera captures can display on a screen. The same term defines the image in a drive or transmitted through a wire. However, the pixel count of each camera differs as some MP cameras count the total number of pixels a sensor captures while others only describe the “effective pixel” size of the image. 

One of the most frequent questions when it comes to choosing a camera is ‘what resolution do I buy?’ Typically, it depends on your usage and applications. For instance, how detailed you want the image to be, what areas you’ll be using the camera in, and your budget. 

Put simply, you need high-resolution CCTV cameras for security as you need to monitor all kinds of activities, you might want to be able to make out faces, and you may even want to be able to identify license plate numbers of cars, some of these features are why security cameras are great as baby monitors as well which you’d know if you’ve read our guide. You need a high-resolution camera to do these things, and they are pretty affordable when compared to lower resolution options. You’re getting a lot more quality for only a minor cost increase.

Understanding “MP” and “Resolution” Terminology In General

Understanding the resolution of your CCTV cameras makes it easier for you to understand which one works best for you. While the resolution of your camera is the total number of pixels, the aspect ratio of your camera defines the ratio of the height of your picture to its width. This refers to the x and y resolution of your camera.

  1. X resolution means the horizontal measurement expressed in pixels
  2. Y resolution means the vertical measurement expressed, typically, in megapixels

But these aren’t the only resolutions you need to look into. There’s actually a third one as well. Z resolution is usually used in 3d cameras to display pictures clearer. It can get confusing because, in the industry, people use shorthand resolution descriptors.

So, a 4k resolution, which is the same as saying a 9MP image, both of those terms really bean an image that has 3840 pixels horizontally and 2160 pixels vertically. 4k is basically a slang term, meaning “close to four thousand pixels horizontally.”

What about Megapixels? If you multiply that pixel count out, 3840 x 2160, you end up with ~8.2 million pixels total. In the metric number system, “Mega” is the prefix used for 1 million of something, so now we have everything we need to understand why a 4k resolution is also 9MP–9 mega pixels.

This also makes it clear why things can be a little confusing–none of these numbers are really exact in the end. We refer to 4k as 9MP not because it’s exactly 9 million megapixels, but because it’s close enough. Now that you know the different types of resolution and what these terms mean, let’s discuss 5MP and 8MP security cameras.

What’s the Resolution of 5MP Security Cameras?

Smaller Security Camera - Smaller

Before you decide whether you want to get a 5MP security camera or an 8MP one, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. In short, 5MP security cameras are high-definition cameras that record 5-megapixel images alongside enhanced camera sensors. Depending on which brand and type of camera you choose, you would get a high resolution of either 3072 x 1728 or 2560 x 1920.

The reason that those two resolution sizes can both describe a 5MP camera is because of that term “megapixel”. If you whip out your calculator and actually multiply those pixel counts out, you’ll see that both of those options have 5.3 million and 4.9 million pixels total, respectively. So, there is some wiggle room in the numbers, but they’re both about 5 million pixels–5 MegaPixels.

Furthermore, this increased megapixel improves the clarity of your images and makes them the ideal cameras for using outside or in parking lots, etc. One could easily get clear recognition of human faces, number plates, or pick up on any other details and subtleties that are important to catch for surveillance purposes.

What’s the Resolution of 8MP Security Cameras?

Smaller Security Camera 2 - Smaller

Often called 4k cameras which we’ve explained before, 8MP security cameras are known to provide the highest resolution. These security cameras use futuristic image sensors that allow the camera to create an image four times the size of a standard 1080 security camera would be able to.  Moreover, they capture the light perfectly and have better high-pixel density.

These cameras allow you to protect your house, office, and any other place with their high pixels and clarity, and are especially good for late are like parking lots, large yards, or fields. A typical pixel count might be 3840 x 2160.

What Are the Similarities Between 5MP and 8MP Security Cameras

5MP and 8MP security cameras are equally fantastic; both offer greater resolution as compared to other inexpensive options. As a matter of fact, these security cameras are a great bargain, coming in at reasonably low prices (on Amazon) including this 5MP Armcrest option, all the while boasting amazing qualities that make them a fantastic option for surveillance and home security.

Regarding the price, if one were to compare 5MP and 8MP security cameras with each other, it’s not uncommon for there to be a small, but noticeable, difference between them, for example, the 8MP Armcrest (on Amazon) is more expensive than the 5MP option, but not by a lot. Some of their features and components are similar as well, so it’s not surprising that the price isn’t tremendously different.

5MP and 8MP cameras will both come with high-quality infrared LEDs that allow them to capture a larger area, all the while improving color, contrast, and low-light performance. In addition to this, both security camera types come with motion sensors. Furthermore, these cameras are all made out of high-grade material and made to last in the toughest weather. 

The resolution of your storage device is important as you may need to playback a video or zoom in a specific video clip. It should also have enough hard drive space to store images for a reasonable time period, especially when they’re being used for a surveillance system because you may need to check the footage the following day.

Why Should You Choose an 8MP over a 5MP Camera?

The higher the megapixel, the greater the number of details you’ll be able to see in a picture. A camera with 8 megapixels will roughly offer 50% more details in an image than a 5MP camera. In addition, when a high MP image is zoomed in on an HD screen, it will neither deteriorate nor will it blur the finer details of the image. 

Also, a high-resolution camera will give a wider view, and thus will require fewer cameras to monitor an area. There are a few benefits to this, including expanding on what’s possible for the camera to monitor while also empowering camera operators to zoom in images for a much wider field of view.

Buying Tips for Security Cameras

High-Resolution Security Cameras Cost Roughly the Same

Top security camera brands offer reasonable prices for surveillance cameras and it’s even possible to use a Roku to monitor the footage as we’ve explained previously. This means you won’t spend an arm or a leg when it comes to buying a high-resolution security camera for your home or office. In most cases, you can even find worthwhile deals offering you HD surveillance cameras in the sub-100 range, in fact, we have a guide where there are a few cameras like this mentioned . Moreover, they also offer numerous features like clear night images, motion detection, and integrated systems. 

You Can Use Multiple High-Resolution Cameras For a Wider Coverage

In order to understand the resolution you need, you need to first consider the area you need to cover. While it’s true that a high definition security camera captures images with greater details, it might not be able to cover the whole area due to its limited view. No matter where you plan to install your camera, be it inside your office or outside your house, it is best to install high-resolution security systems.  

You Require Stable Network to Operate High-Resolution Cameras

Another major thing to look into when choosing the right cameras is the network status. On the one hand, high-resolution IP cameras require a significant amount of bandwidth when transmitting images and videos. On the other hand, if your network is slow and unstable, your CCTV camera might show low-resolution pictures. Before you buy a high-resolution camera, make sure you have a functioning and stable network.

You Should Opt for Greater Storage Space When Using High-Resolution Cameras

Like we talked about in our guide all about this, your high-quality security camera will provide you with better quality images, however, there is a downside, which is that you’ll need more storage capacity. We recommend you get multiple storage options to run your high-resolution CCTV cameras, that way your cameras will save video footage and back them up simultaneously.