2MP vs. 4MP Security Camera: What’s the Difference?

2MP vs 4MP Security Camera

If you feel like your security camera technique is speaking French, Spanish, or Japanese when they beginning outlining the details of your cam’s image and display resolution, you’ve come across the right article. We will tell you the difference between a 2mp vs 4mp security camera. MP in this context refers to megapixels, which is a term introduced to most consumers back during the heyday of the still digicam in the early 2000s. The MP of a camera is separate from 4K cameras and HD cameras, although they’re somewhat related.

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Unraveling the Mysteries of 2MP and 4MP Cameras

Let’s unravel the mysteries of resolution and what’s entailed when you get a 2MP camera or a 4MP camera. So how do the different camera resolutions of HD cameras, 4K cameras, and 4MP/2MP cameras compare to each other?

  • 2MP, 4MP, HD, and 4K: Long story short, a 4MP camera contains 4 million pixels while a 2MP camera contains 2 million pixels to capture more detail per image captured compared to the pixilated and artifact-ridden pictures of the past. HD cameras are synonymous with 1080p cameras, which in turn are roughly about 2MP camera level. 4K is closer to 4MP (actually 3840 x 2160 or 4096 x 2160 pixels) that fill up to about a total of 4 million pixels across the board.
  • How 4MP IP Cameras Came About: Once analog HD cameras like SID, TVI, CVI, and AHD were able to deliver Full HD 1080p resolution video, the shine and appeal of 720 and 1080p Full HD IP cameras have become somewhat tarnished. There was a need to be better than analog, so 1080p or 2MP IP security cameras had to raise the bar in quality and resolution so that they could capture more at longer distances without doing a lens zoom. This way, even when you do digital zooms, the resulting image would be high quality enough to see important details.
  • What is the 4-Megapixel Resolution? A 4MP or 4-megapixel resolution means there are about 4 million pixels on the image being shot, which results in more detailed pictures since it’s working with a bigger “canvas”. The quality is ensured with the number of pixels and technology like a high dynamic range for HD-quality pictures. It resolution terms, a 4MP security camera can shoot video that’s 2688 x 1520 (width x height) pixels. These cameras also make use of features like OmniVision’s ⅓-inch 4MP CMOS image sensors that capture that 4MP video at a maximum frame rate of 90 FPS.
  • Comparing 2MP or 1080p Security Cameras with 4MP: 4MP has twice more detail and pixels compared to a Full HD 1080p video. 2MP is high-quality enough for its time. It’s certainly higher resolution than VHS-era tapes that shot at around 480i or 576i resolution. However, technology marches on, and 4MP to 8MP security cams now exist. Like 2MP and its 1080p video, the HD video of a 4MP resolution camera has a 16:9 aspect ratio (rectangular widescreen) that’s perfect for HDTVs versus the 4:3 aspect ratio of old-timey VHS tape cameras (more square-shaped to fit into CRT TVs).
  • Depth of Detail Captured: What’s the main difference between a 2mp vs 4mp security camera? It’s all about the resolution, silly. At around 17-20 meters away, you can’t see details on letters from a 2MP security camera but with 4MP it’s perfectly clear. At 5 meters away, you can make out facial details from nearby people with the 4MP camera but the picture is pixilated when you zoom in with a 2MP camera. The difference is clear and simple. If you want to see more from captured video without zooming in with your camera lens you simply need more megapixels.
  • The Gaps Between 2MP and 4MP Feature 3MP and 5MP: Naturally, the higher megapixel cameras from 5MP and above are able to cover longer distances with clearer detail. The level of detail you enjoy from 20 meters away will naturally be clearer and more detailed once more pixels are used and HDR is pushed to its limits. However, curiously, 3MP, and 5MP maintain a 4:3 aspect ratio for old-timey TVs while 4MP and 8MP are more HDTV-ready. With 3MP it makes sense since it’s in between the resolutions of 2MP and 4MP. However, what’s 5MP’s excuse? There should be HDTV and Ultra HDTV 16:9 versions of 5MP available.
  • The 1440p Option on YouTube: Curiously, when uploading videos recorded from your 3MP and 4MP IP security camera, YouTube will give you the 1440p option in its play resolution list. This is as opposed to the 1080p and 720p options available for standard Full HD resolution of a 2MP IP security camera. 1440p covers the 2560 x 1440 resolution, also known as 2K. 2K isn’t as popular as its Ultra HD counterpart, 4K. 1440p offers 4 times the resolution of 720p, thus making it Quad HD as opposed to 1080p Full HD and 4K Ultra HD.
  • 4MP vs. 1080p or 1440p vs. 2MP: A 4MP video has a 4-megapixel resolution that has twice the possible detail compared to a 1080p image, which allows you to have clearer text and images from far away even without getting the camera to zoom in. This makes it easier to read license plates of illegally parked cars or recognize faces of suspicious individuals of interest when presenting your footage to the authorities. You should however be aware that the bigger the image resolution of your camera, the more bandwidth your camera or cloud storage will need.

Further reading: Arlo Home Security Cameras Review: Protect What You Love Most

The Verdict

HDTV displays typically use the 1080p, 1440p (3K), and 4K resolution standards. 4MP gives you twice (of 1080p) and four times (of 720p) the detail of standard 2MP videos. That’s their appeal and also the appeal of 5MP, 8MP, and so forth IP security cams. 

2MP IP security cameras that are 1080p have lost their shine or appeal with the development of analog HD. In this arms race for better technology, the only way for digital to outdo analog is to take full advantage of its higher ceiling of potential. 4-megapixel IP security cameras came into the market in order to outdo their analog counterparts and serve as the stepping stone to higher quality cameras later on, such as the 5MP and 8MP cameras. They’re an important piece of history as far as the video surveillance trend is concerned, with its aim to replace 1080p coming along quite smoothly in 2020. 

References:

  1. Uniforce Security, “4MP IP Cameras vs. 2MP IP Cameras“, Uniforce.net, March 24, 2016
  2. Sutton Security & Electrics, “CCTV Quality Comparison 2MP v 4MP Comparison | Sunbury CCTV | Melton CCTV“, YouTube, June 28, 2017
  3. Is 4MP the Same as 4K?“, Camera Security Now Blog, January 8, 2019
James Core
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right home security products.

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