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Q: What is a 1000 TV Line Camera?

A: 1000 TVL sounds like "better than 720 TVL," but it will produce the exact same recording.

TVL or television lines is usually a term reserved for an analog camera's resolution. The problem with 1000 TVL is that both the DVR and the cable that carries an analog camera's are maxed out at 720TVL. Cameras being advertised as “1000TVL” have started popping up and seem to have two most common definitions.

1. First and more commonly, it can be a marketing term for an analog 720TVL camera (why this isn't illegal, we don't know). These 1000TVL cameras may even have higher resolution sensors, but it doesn't matter since the max that both analog cable and DVRs can accept is 720TVL. Even if you have 1000 TVL image sensor in the camera, you can't cram more than 720 TV Lines into your analog DVR.

A DVR that records at D1 (which is 720 x 480 pixels ) is best paired with a 600 TVL camera (which captures at 768 x 494); even though it can't fully take advantage of its resolution, it is the closest fit.

A 960H DVR, which records at 960 x 480, is best paired with a 700 TVL camera (976 x 582 resolution).

A CIF DVR (the most common DVR sold in stores) records at 360 x 240 resolution. Even a 480 TVL camera (510 x 492) is overkill with a CIF DVR.

Paying for a higher resolution lens than your DVR is really just a waste. Don’t be fooled by “1000TVL” analog cameras, they often are just mislabeled 720 TVL cameras and even if they have image sensors that can record 1000 TV Lines, they won’t look any better than any other 700 TVL camera once the video has been recorded.

2. Another potential definition for 1000TVL is an actual 1080p camera. Sometimes Chinese companies make really bad translations of their product documentation; we've seen cameras (on eBay especially) advertised as "1000 TVL" that are actually HD IP cameras or one of the three new HD-over-Coax technologies. Calling 1080P cameras 1000TVL is very confusing: 1080P is a digital measurement while 1000TVL is an analog measurement. This is a bad term because it implies 1080P HD cameras are only about a 30% higher resolution than 700TVL analog cameras. In reality, 1080p (1920x1080) is about 400% higher resolution than an analog 700TVL camera. Buyers should also beware that we’ve seen “1000TVL” cameras that claimed to be 1080p multiple times, but were only 720TVL cameras (again, mostly on eBay). Be on alert for the actual resolution of the camera in the specs. If it’s not an IP or HD-SDI, CVI, TVI camera, it’s not 1080p.

In short, 1000TVL cameras are misleading or mislabeled products.

Related content:

What are TV-Lines? and how can I avoid being ripped off by misleading promises about resolution?

What are my recording resolution options: Video Footage at CIF and D1/960H and 1080P

Thinking about Upgrading to HD? Learn about your options

Here are the two cameras that shoot in 720 TVL and 1080P - the resolutions most commonly labeled as "1000 TVL"

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  1. The Guardian Pro 4.0 41240 - 4MP (2x1080P) 3 Axis Fixed Lens Dome Camera

    The Guardian Pro 4.0 41240 - 4MP (2x1080P) 3 Axis Fixed Lens Dome Camera

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