Aventura Technologies Blog Why Are Security Cameras so Low Quality?

Why Are Security Cameras so Low Quality?

You install a security camera (CCTV) system for peace of mind. You assume that you will get a clear image in case an emergency happens. But, as it turns out, many CCTV cameras have low-quality video. Thus, you can barely discern what is happening out there. And when it comes to seeing the details, that’s where the biggest disappointment occurs. But there is a good reason for the low resolution in these devices. In this article, I will explain why poor video quality is considered a norm among CCTV cameras.

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What are security cameras used for?

what are security cameras used for?

You probably compare the videos from your smartphone and the security camera and come to the conclusion that CCTVs are not quite as good as you assumed them to be. But that’s a totally wrong approach. These cameras are meant to serve different purposes. Hence, it’s natural that their capabilities vary.

Using a phone or photo camera, you aim to capture the moment or object. Here, the quality matters. You want to keep the memories, market the goods you take pictures of, or just produce high-resolution content to entertain the audience. In these cases, you want to keep the image as sharp and detailed as possible and maintain the aesthetic feel.

Security cameras serve a completely different function. They are supposed to monitor the space and record everything. As these are highly specialized cameras, they also work in areas with low lighting. Thus, they are equipped with heat-sensitive or infrared lenses to improve visibility at night. In these regards, not a single smartphone will do the job as well as a CCTV will.

Peculiar features of security cameras that cut the footage quality

peculiar features of security cameras that cut the footage quality

Video compression

Why is surveillance video still so bad? We live in the era of the technological revolution. Isn’t it supposed to give you as many details as possible? Yes and no.

Security cameras do not only record everything within their scope. They also have to store those videos somewhere. Whether it’s a local computer or an SD memory card, they may not have enough space for long-term storage, especially if there are several cameras and surveillance regulations that require video footage to be stored for a month or more.

To minimize the space used, surveillance cameras compress files. But with file size reduction also comes a decrease in the video quality.


When it comes to pricing, you can encounter devices within the $50 to $600 and higher price range. So here is where a rule of thumb is applied – you get what you pay for.

Low-cost cameras keep the price at an optimal rate by cutting the component quality. However, these units are very unlikely to have a lens capable of reproducing high-resolution footage.

High-end cameras have a higher recording capacity and range of sight. But will you want to invest thousands of dollars into the video surveillance system that captures videos in 4K resolution? And again, have you considered the storage options for hefty 4K files? That’s the point!


Many surveillance cameras are not placed in the most favorable conditions. As you install them outdoors, you expose them to rain, snow, fog, etc. Birds and insects may show interest in them, too. In addition, the cameras may be placed in poorly-lit areas indoors, which also reduces the video quality.

So, are the security camera videos really that bad?

Compared to what we used to see on our personal devices like iPhones or photo cameras, CCTV images do not look sharp enough. That’s why you may think that security cameras have low resolution. But as you now know, that’s for good reasons. Given the circumstances security cameras are used, their video quality is pretty good.

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About Peter Thierry
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