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Guide to Identifying or Recognizing a Face: Resolution, Focal length, and Megapixels

If you have ever said "I need to ID a face at ___ distance, what camera should I buy?" then this guide is for you.

This guide covers a person in full daylight who is looking towards the camera and is organized by resolution and lens focal length (more commonly called "zoom"). As you zoom in, your field of view narrows.

Identify vs Recognize vs. Detect

These three terms, although sounding similar, are actually different. So, let's define them before proceeding.

illustration of detection

Detection is the most simple term, and refers to being able to detect that a human face is in the picture. Industry standards state that you can tell a face is a face if it is at least 4 px in size.

In the picture to the left, you can detect that a person is in the frame, but you cannot recognize or identify who they are.

illustration of recognition

Recognizing a face refers to being able to say "I have seen that person before" - even if you don't know or can't place who it is. Industry standards state that you can recognize the face of someone you have seen if it is at least 20 px in size.

In the second picture to the left, you can recognize the person in the frame (You might say "I know I have seen him before, but I don't know where" or "That's the guy from the SCW website!"), but without having the other photos on this site as reference, you couldn't really do anything. As long as you can recognize someone in a picture or video while they are committing a crime, you can press charges, but you will need to have identified them previously.

illustration of identification

Identification is the most complicated term and refers to being able to make out identifiable marks with enough certainty to make a claim. Industry standards state that you can tell a face is a face if it is at least 40 px in favorable conditions and 80px in challenging ones (twilight, a rainy day, person not looking at the camera, etc).

In the third picture to the left, you can identify this face and a police sketch artist should be able to draw it.


A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 98 degree lens

1080P at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 2.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 75 degree lens

1080P at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 2.0 or Guardian 2.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 30 degree lens

1080P at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

3MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 3.0, Hornet 3.0, or Warden 3.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

3MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 3.0 or Guardian 3.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

3MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0, or Warden 4.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

4MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 4.0 or Guardian 4.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens
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4MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0 or Warden 4.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 4K IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4K at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 4K IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 12mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

12MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 12mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 98 degree lens

1080P at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 2.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 75 degree lens

1080P at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 2.0 or Guardian 2.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 30 degree lens

1080P at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

3MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 3.0, Hornet 3.0, or Warden 3.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

3MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 3.0 or Guardian 3.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

3MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0, or Warden 4.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

4MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 4.0 or Guardian 4.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0 or Warden 4.0

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 4K IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4K at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

12MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 98 degree lens

1080P at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 2.0

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 75 degree lens

1080P at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 2.0 or Guardian 2.0

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 30 degree lens

1080P at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

3MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 3.0, Hornet 3.0, or Warden 3.0

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

3MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 3.0 or Guardian 3.0

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

3MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0, or Warden 4.0

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

4MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 4.0 or Guardian 4.0

A face at 50 FT, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0 or Warden 4.0

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 4K IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4K at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 4k IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 12mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

12MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 10 FT, recorded with a 12mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 98 degree lens

1080P at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 2.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 75 degree lens

1080P at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 2.0 or Guardian 2.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 30 degree lens

1080P at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

3MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 3.0, Hornet 3.0, or Warden 3.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

3MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 3.0 or Guardian 3.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

3MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0, or Warden 4.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

4MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 4.0 or Guardian 4.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0 or Warden 4.0

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 4K IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4K at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

12MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 75 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 98 degree lens

1080P at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 2.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 75 degree lens

1080P at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 2.0 or Guardian 2.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a 30 degree lens

1080P at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

3MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Marshall 3.0, Hornet 3.0, or Warden 3.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

3MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 3.0 or Guardian 3.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 3mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

3MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 3.0 or Warden 3.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0, or Warden 4.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with 75 degree lens

4MP at 4mm

75 degrees view

4mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Wasp 4.0 or Guardian 4.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0 or Warden 4.0

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 4K IP camera with a 98 degree lens

4K at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 98 degree lens

12MP at 2.8mm

98 degrees view

2.8mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 100 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 125 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Hornet 4.0 or Warden 4.0

A face at 125 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 125 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 150 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 150 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 175 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 175 ft, recorded with a 4mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 200 ft, recorded with a 4k IP camera with a 30 degree lens

4K at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Thunderbolt 4K or Saber 4K

A face at 200 ft, recorded with a 12mp IP camera with a 30 degree lens

12MP at 12mm

30 degrees view

12mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Raptor 12MP or Tomcat 12MP

A face at 200 ft, recorded with a 2mp IP PTZ camera

2MP at 94mm

PTZ Control

94mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Sentinel Pro 2.0 or Sentry Pro 2.0

A face at 200 ft, recorded with a 2mp IP PTZ camera

2MP at 124mm

PTZ Control

129mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate camera: Tracker 2.0

A face at 300 ft, recorded with a 2mp IP PTZ camera

2MP at 94mm

PTZ Control

94mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Sentinel Pro 2.0 or Sentry Pro 2.0

A face at 300 ft, recorded with a 2mp IP PTZ camera

2MP at 124mm

PTZ Control

129mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate camera: Tracker 2.0

A face at 400 ft, recorded with a 2mp IP PTZ camera

2MP at 94mm

PTZ Control

94mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate cameras: Sentinel Pro 2.0 or Sentry Pro 2.0

A face at 400 ft, recorded with a 2mp IP PTZ camera

2MP at 124mm

PTZ Control

129mm lens setting

Most cost appropriate camera: Tracker 2.0


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