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CIF vs D1 vs 960H vs HD


There are six main resolution options in video surveillance recording


Standard Definition Cameras and DVRs: CIF, D1, and 960H

CIF DVRs: 360 x 240.

D1 DVRs: 720 x 480.

960H DVRs: 960 x 480.

HD-SDI or IP cameras: 720p, 1080p, and 3MP

720p is 1280 x 720.

1080p is 1920x1080.

3MP is 2048 x 1536.


Resolution is the most important decision you are going to make about your surveillance system.

Most people choose between CIF, D1/960H and 1080p, so let's focus on those.


Resolution is the difference between a conviction and a blurry image.


CIF About the Quality of a 1990's Flip-Phone

We don't carry any devices that record in CIF. This is what "Big Box Stores" sell.

The section below on facial identification will help to explain why CIF doesn't meet our minimum quality standards.


D1 / 960H Standard-Definition TV Quality

D1 is square and sized like (non-widescreen) Standard Definition TV. It is sometimes also called 4CIF since it has 4 times that resolution.

960H recording has the same height as D1 DVRs but are wider. They are properly formatted for wide-screen TVs and monitors

This video is 960H. D1 will be the same resolution, but will be shaped more like a square and you will lose the video on the sides.


View D1/960H systems »


1080P Beautiful HD Video Footage

Just like television has seen a major update in resolution over the last few years, so have surveillance systems.

There are two different HD technologies that we provide: HD-SDI and IP.


View HD systems »




Understanding Resolution: Identifying Faces at 25FT with a Wide Angle Lens

This next example shows you faces with a fixed lens with a wide angle (3.6 mm - about 72 degrees). Zooming in more will help you identify faces. Most properly set up surveillance systems will use either HD cameras or a combination of wide-angle and zoomed in lenses to help identify faces.


identifying faces with CIF at 25ft

Analog: CIF

We don't carry CIF systems because you can hardly tell that this is even a person, let alone who it is.

CIF is absolutely the least expensive quality, and that's really the only upside to this outdated, cheaply made, very poor quality junk. This is what you get in a big box store. We choose not to sell any CIF surveillance systems, because the quality of video is so poor that you aren't actually going to ever be able to identify anyone who does a crime. CIF only gives you the illusion of security.

If cost is your main concern - even if means losing security and peace of mind, Sam's club or Costco usually has the best price, but there are a ton of installers and security camera company websites that still offer these outdated systems.

Get a Sam's Club Membership »

identifying faces with D1/960H at 25ft

Standard Definition: D1 and 960H

These are our budget systems. D1 and 960H have nearly the same quality of recording, but 960H will allow you to record a wide angle view without lowering your resolution.

960H records in what is about widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) TV quality. They use all the same power, cable, and connectors as CIF systems, and you can even use your old cameras as you upgrade (but those cameras will still record in CIF).

View D1 and 960H DVRs »

identifying faces with 1080P at 25ft

Digital: 1080P

We have two different technologies that shoot in beautiful 1080P video.

HD-SDI is digital but uses all the same power, cable, and connectors as Standard Definition systems (but it cannot use their cameras). HD-SDI is usually only used when someone has already run Standard Definition cables and wants to upgrade to HD without rewiring.

IP camera systems use Cat5 (computer networking cable) and can communicate with other digital devices. IP cameras are used in most HD surveillance system installs.

View our NVRs: HD recorders »


View our HD-SDI DVRs: HD recorders »



Improving Facial Recognition with Analog CIF and Standard Definition D1/960H by Zooming

Despite delivering a clearer picture of the area you are zooming into, zooming will limit your viewing angle.


identifying faces with CIF at 25ft
CIF 3.6mm full shot

Click to for actual size.

CIF resolution, 3.6mm Lens. A Wide Angle Shot

This is CIF resolution. Notice how the lack of resolution makes everything grayer. This is because more details are being pushed into each pixel and then those colors are averaged. A higher resolution will produce more crisp lines because it will allow for more detail.

Q: Why didn't we included a zoomed in shot for CIF?

A: We don't know of any pre-made CIF level systems that have adjustable lenses.


D1 / 960H resolution, 3.6mm Lens. A Wide Angle Shot

Notice that in this shot, you can see both windows, the entrance path from the porch, the entrance path the street, and both sides of the car.

identifying faces with D1 or 960H at 25ft
D1 or 960H 3.6mm full shot

Click to for actual size.


identifying faces with D1 or 960H at 25ft with a zoom lens
D1 or 960H 6mm zoomed shot

Click to for actual size.

D1 / 960H resolution, 6mm Focal Length. A Moderately Zoomed Shot

You can see in this shot that the man's face is much clearer, but you've lost the ability to see both windows. Also, someone could mess with the side of the car and not be caught on video.


1080P resolution, 4mm Focal Length. A Wide Angle Shot

As you can see, 1080P give you the best of both worlds. A wide angle shot and the detail for facial recognition.

Q: Why didn't we included a zoomed in shot for 1080P?

A: HD cameras that have the ability to zoom in are often used for extremely large distances and thus do not fall into the needs of a majority of home users. Also, although fixed lens HD cameras are about the same price as Standard Definition cameras that have adjustable focal lengths, HD cameras with adjustable focal lengths are still expensive and are usually out of the price range of home users. They are used extensively by large industrial, commercial, and government security clients.

identifying faces with 1080P at 25ft 1080P 4mm full shot

Click to for actual size.


Why CIF and D1 aren't the only things that matter

A framerate below 30 will make your video seem to jump or strobe like this
Framerate

It is important to record at 30 FPS per camera

Video Quality is dependent upon two things: image resolution and frames per second. Resolution improves image quality (which is why the videos above show a color swatch that doesn't move) while frame-rate improves video quality by preventing motion blur and "jerkiness."

When purchasing a DVR it is always very important to also check the frame rate. Make sure it can record at 30 Frames Per Second (which is known as "realtime recording.")


Part of our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is that All of our DVRs record at 30 FPS.



Both a Low Frame Rate (which causes motion blur) and the Low Resolution Make This Suspect Unidentifiable

Buyer Beware: Some companies sell inferior "D1 DVRs"

Each DVR has a recording resolution and a live video resolution. Many standalone DVRs are not able to record in D1 in realtime, which is 30 frames per second (FPS per camera). Because significant processing power is needed to record these high resolution images and it that much power wasn't available or economical then, D1 originally was not able to offer the same number of frames per second as CIF.


Nowadays with computing power being what it is, D1 DVRs can record at full 30 fps frame rates. However, some competitors obscure their frame rate by saying things like "FPS is 60" which makes their frame rate sound higher, however they often mean by that is "The Total FPS of all the cameras combined is 60." For example, if Total FPS is 60 than the frame rate is 15 per camera if there are 4 channels, or 7.5 FPS if there are 8 cameras.

Most people are unable to tell the difference between 30 FPS and above, so you don't have to go too much higher than 30 FPS, however, below 30 FPS can cause the video to be so "jerky" as to be unwatchable.





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  1. Econ D1 Series - 8 Channel Security Camera System with Fixed Lens Dome or Bullet Cameras



    Econ D1 Series - 8 Channel Security Camera System with Fixed Lens Dome or Bullet Cameras

    MSRP: $1,768.36

    Our Price: $1,342.00

    Our 8 Channel Econ D1 Series System comes with 8 of either the Falcon bullet cameras or the Tiny Turret dome cameras, one Standard Series 8 Channel D1 DVR with a 1TB HDD, and can be viewed over the internet with your computer or smartphone. Both the Falcon and the Tiny Turret are fixed lens cameras (you won't be able to adjust your viewing angle) and have Plastic camera cases.

    Resolution FPS Camera Type Connects Via
    Full D1
    720 x 480

    TV Quality
    Realtime
    30 Frames Per Second Per Camera

    Total FPS: 60
    Basic
    Weatherproof
    Fixed Lens (which mean you can't adjust your viewing angle)
    Plastic Camera Cases
    RG59 Simese
    BNC cable


  2. Professional Series - 8 Channel Security Camera System with Adjustable Lens, Vandal Proof Dome or Bullet Cameras



    Our 8 Channel Professional Series System comes with 8 of either the Titan indoor/outdoor Bullet Cameras or the Ranger Dome Cameras, one "Standard Pro" Series 8 Channel DVR with a 1TB HDD, and can be viewed over the internet with your computer or smartphone. Both the Titan and the Ranger are vari-focal lens cameras (you can adjust the viewing angle for wide angle or narrow field of views) and have Vandal Resistant camera cases and Sony Effio-E DSPs.

    Resolution FPS Camera Type Connects Via
    WD1
    960H


    960 x 480

    widescreen
    Widescreen TV Quality
    Realtime
    30 Frames Per Second Per Camera

    Total FPS: 240
    Weatherproof
    Adjustable Lens (which mean you can adjust your viewing angle)
    Metal, Vandal Proof Camera Cases


    Ultra High Resolution (700)

    WDR

    Low Lux Lens

    Sony Effio-E DSP
    RG59 Simese
    BNC cable


  3. The Networker Series - 8 Channel 1080p HD Customizable Security System



    The Networker Series - 8 Channel 1080p HD Customizable Security System

    MSRP: $7,199.00

    Our Price: $4,499.00

    Resolution FPS Camera Type Connects Via
    3.0 MP
    Beyond 1080p
    (2048 x 1536)

    beyond HD
    30FPS @ 1080p
    or
    15FPS @ 3.0MP
    Weatherproof
    Fixed Lens (which mean you can not adjust your viewing angle)
    HD IP Cameras
    RJ45 Ethernet
    cable


  4. The HD-SDI Series Plus - 8 Channel 1080p Security Camera System with Vari-Focal Lens Dome or Bullet Cameras



    Our 8 Channel HD-SDI Series System comes with 8 of either the Cyclops HD bullet cameras or the Ranger HD dome cameras, one HD-SDI Series 8 Channel 1080p DVR with a 2TB HDD, and can be viewed over the internet with your computer or smartphone. Both the Cyclops HD and the Ranger HD are vari-focal lens cameras (you will be able to adjust your viewing angle) and have metal camera cases.

    Resolution FPS Camera Type Connects Via
    Full HD
    1080p

    1080p
    2.0 megapixel
    (1920x1080)
    Realtime
    30 Frames Per Second Per Camera

    Total FPS: 120
    Weatherproof
    Adjustable Lens (which mean you can adjust your viewing angle)
    Metal Camera Cases
    RG59 Simese
    BNC cable

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