4K versus 5MP IP Cameras: Is the Upgrade Worth It?

Ashesh Jain
Feb 25, 2024
Physical Security Industry
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Comparing 4k vs 5MP IP camera

This blog post compares the capabilities and advantages of 4K fixed lens cameras to 5MP fixed lens cameras, aiming to determine when investing in a 4K camera is worthwhile.

Cost

When comparing the cost of 4K and 5MP bullet cameras, it's clear that 4K security cameras are more expensive. A 4K bullet camera can cost anywhere from 30% to 50% more than a 5MP IP camera. For example, an NDAA-compliant 5MP bullet camera might cost between $200 and $300, whereas a 4K camera can range from $400 to $500 per unit.

Factors such as brand, features, and availability can influence pricing. Cameras not compliant with the NDAA may be slightly less expensive but come with potential risks and limitations.

Comparing Camera Resolution and Quality

The resolution of a camera, measured in megapixels (MP), refers to the number of pixels in an image. A higher-resolution camera produces images with more detail and clarity. For instance, a 5MP camera has a resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels, while a 4K camera boasts 3840 x 2160 pixels.

The difference in resolution between a 5MP and a 4K camera is significant. At a distance of 40 feet, a 4K camera can capture 32 pixels per foot (PPF), while a 5MP camera can capture only 21 PPF. This means that a 4K camera will produce images with greater detail and clarity, especially when zoomed in.

However, the resolution is just one factor to consider when choosing a security camera. Other factors include sensor size, lens quality, and low-light performance. By considering all these factors, you can select the right camera for your needs.

table comparing specs of 5mp vs 4k ip camera

**For the same sensor size and focal length, the 5MP camera outperforms the 4K camera in low-light conditions because it has a larger pixel size, allowing it to capture more light per pixel.

Use Cases

4K and 5MP cameras have their own strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for different video surveillance applications.

For large area coverage, a 4K camera may be preferred as it can provide the same pixel density at a longer distance than a 5MP camera. For example, a 4K camera can offer a 60-foot view with the same pixel density as a 5MP camera at 40 feet.

However, the right camera choice involves considering factors beyond pixel count. 4K cameras require more data bandwidth, demand more storage (resulting in fewer days of retention for the same storage capacity), and have weaker low-light performance compared to 5MP cameras.

Bandwidth Requirement and Storage Capacity

When selecting between a 4K and a 5MP camera, consider the following:

  • Storage: A 4K camera requires a higher bitrate for video compression to maintain image clarity. While a bitrate of 2048 kbps may suffice for a 5MP camera, a 4K camera will necessitate at least 3072 kbps. Consequently, a 4K camera will demand approximately 50% more storage space for video storage.
  • Internet Bandwidth: Streaming a 4K camera's video feed will require about 50% more uplink internet bandwidth compared to a 5MP camera due to the higher bitrate required for 4K video transmission.

Coram AI offers both 5MP and 4K IP cameras. If you are interested, talk to one of our experts.

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