5 Differences Between 720p CCTV and 1080p CCTV (Simple Guide)

You have likely heard of both of the terms 720p and 1080p, but you would be in the majority if you do not know the differences between them and just assume that 1080 is 350 better than 720.

Pretty much any home or business can benefit from having a CCTV Camera as part of their security system, but a lot of people do not know how these two resolutions differ.

720p vs 1080p CCTV

In this simple guide, we are going to look at these two popular types of CCTV cameras, what they are, their pros, and the major differences between the two of them.

We’ll cover:

  • 720p CCTV Background
  • 1080p CCTV Background
  • Benefits of 720p CCTV
  • Benefits of 1080p CCTV
  • 1080p CCTV vs 720p CCTV – 5 Differences
  • Summary

What is 720p CCTV?

The term 720p is thrown around all the time, whether we are looking for a monitor, watching videos on YouTube, or shopping for a CCTV camera, but what exactly does it mean?

720p is known as High Definition or HD and is a resolution that is defined by 1280 pixels (width) by 720 pixels (height). Unsurprisingly, the more pixels a display has, the higher quality of the image is.

This new High Definition (HD) is a massive improvement on what is now referred to as Standard Definition, which is all but defunct, at a measly 640 x 480 pixels. 

This level of definition is now fairly standard practice in the CCTV industry, and you will rarely find a camera that is below 720p. In terms of monitors or gaming set-ups, people will lean to a higher resolution but for CCTV, 720p is still very reliable.

What is 1080p CCTV?

1080p is one of the most popular resolutions on the market today, but it is very commonly used in surveillance and CCTV technology. 1080p is often referred to as Full High Definition (FHD) and is considered a big step up from HD (720p).

Contrary to what most people believe, the P that follows the definition number does not stand for pixels but instead, for progressive, meaning there are literally 1080 vertical lines.

The CCTV industry is shifting much more towards 1080p and beyond, and this will soon become the industry standard. The cameras work well in any light condition and can provide a safer environment indoors or outdoors.

What Are The Pros of 720p CCTV?

Cheap – one of the best selling points of getting a 720 CCTV camera is the fact that they are very affordable and will not break the bank regardless of the size of your CCTV system. Unless you are looking at dummy cameras, you are unlikely to find any cheaper models.

Variety of Models – 720p cameras boast a wide range of styles from dome cameras to bullet cameras and everything in between. So, whether you are looking for indoor, outdoor, or long-range CCTV coverage, you should find what you want.

Easy to Find – you will not struggle to locate a 720p CCTV camera and they are widely available for reasonable prices. The other benefit of this is that you will easily find an installer who can install them for you, be sure to check up on the cost of CCTV installation before to benchmark any quote you receive.

What Are The Pros of 1080p CCTV?

High Resolution – defined as Full High Definition (FHD), 1080p CCTV cameras have been popular for a while and provide a great quality video image that will secure any size of premises. Most 1080p cameras have the ability to pick up intruders around the clock regardless of the lighting. 

Additional Features – when you are buying a higher quality CCTV camera you will get a lot more features that will help you secure your premises. From motion sensors to human tracking, to energy saving designs 1080p cameras will typically have a lot more to offer.

Long Range – when buying a 1080 CCTV camera you are likely to have a big field of view and the ability to capture images a lot further away. The major pro is that the higher quality image is much better at longer range or in darker environments. 

What Are The Main Differences Between 1080p CCTV and 720p CCTV?

Amount of Pixels 

Despite what the names imply, a 1080p camera is actually over two times higher resolution or pixels. Let us try and break this down without getting too technical…

A 1080 CCTV camera has 1920 x 1080 pixels which works out at over 2MP as opposed to a 720 CCTV camera which has 1280 x 720 pixels totalling 0.92MP. 

So if we look at the maths, a 1080 camera is worth two 720 cameras, but the actual end image quality depends on a lot of different factors. This can not be simplified like that as lighting, camera style, placement, weather, and other variables will affect the end quality.

Bandwidth Required

Needless to say, the higher quality cameras, such as a 1080p, require a higher amount of bandwidth which can be an issue if you have an older set-up or are utilising the internet to transfer the video data.

More remote areas or larger premises with more external cameras may lean to lower quality cameras or decide on different features, such as high performing low light modes.

Price Point 

One of the easiest ways to differentiate between these two types of HD CCTV cameras is the price point. Typically 1080p Full HD cameras will cost a premium as opposed to their 720p counterparts.

As we have alluded to above, the quality is over double the difference between the two types, so it is very common for the 1080p models to cost more. 

Understanding that it is not as black and white as 1080p is better and that each model has its own benefits and drawbacks depending on the style, placement, and lighting.

Despite this, the gap has closed quite significantly in recent years, so it is less about the resolution and more about the camera style or additional features.

Field of View 

As a rule of thumb, a higher quality closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera will have a wider field of view and thus be able to capture more raw video data. So yes, on the surface a 1080p CCTV camera is likely to have a greater field of view.

This is not set in stone as there are lots of CCTV camera types and styles. To put this into context, a 1080p bullet camera would have a smaller field of review (FOV) than a 720p dome camera.

Video Storage 

One of the major points of difference in the two types of CCTV resolution in question is the memory requirement of the captured video.

To give a rough idea of the differences a minute of video captured on a 1080p camera is around 5MB of memory, as opposed to one minute on a 720p camera would be nearer 12MB. 

Obviously, there are a lot of factors that affect the overall size, from the type of video recorder to the compression rate, to the style of camera. Regardless, the video footage from a 1080p camera will have more memory, although the exact amount varies.

1080p CCTV vs 720p CCTV Summary

Every company will have their own requirements when it comes to a CCTV setup. The decision may not come down to the resolution, but the budget, the features, or the fact it is wired or wireless.

When selecting a CCTV camera, you should lookout for a lot of things and not just draw the line at 1080 or bust. Knowing the kind of features you are on the market for or needing the camera for X or Y will help you narrow your search.

To summarise, having any CCTV security system is a vast improvement on not having one, and regardless of which model you pick, you will help deter and prevent crimes on your property.

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Steve White

Steve is an experienced security professional with over 20 years in security installation and consulting. He's here to help you answer your security questions.