General Question

flutherother's avatar

Why are security camera videos such poor quality?

Asked by flutherother (28814points) November 14th, 2017

The footage they capture is usually grainy and often black and white. Why don’t they take full colour HD pictures that would be much more useful?

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11 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Limited storage space.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Lousy lenses. No auto-focus

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

High quality video files take a lot of space. Given the fact that security cameras are always shooting pretty much 24/7, you’d run out of space fairly quickly.

SergeantQueen's avatar

Also, those types of camera’s can get pretty expensive.

flutherother's avatar

You can buy 3TB of storage for about £60 ($80). That isn’t expensive and could store about two weeks of constant HD recording. Cameras are also not very expensive and are a one off purchase. I’m sure a relatively cheap upgrade could make security systems much more efficient at deterring or catching criminals.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The other reason for poor video quality is lighting. Outdoor security cams have to deal with sunlight and then with some artificial light at night from lamps. My guess is that the mass produced image processors in the security cams re calibrated for one light condition or the other, but not both.

@flutherother – a single camera may not be too expensive, but if you multiply that by the number of cams you need for an office building or a factory, you get into real money. Even for a private home – to do a good job, I would need 5–6 cameras at my place. Not cheap.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Cost is a big part of it.
Some security video is very good, but most places the owner goes with the least expensive setup they can get.
I have seen footage run on the news sometimes though which is color, and good clarity.

ScottyMcGeester's avatar


I think there’s a bigger question then of “How long do they keep the recordings”? Which I have no idea. I would assume a place keeps footage on a monthly basis, then maybe archives them to another computer or drive? Two weeks is a slim time frame in the grand scheme of things. Security camera footage is always valuable in criminal investigations. The longer you can hold onto recordings before space becomes an issue, the better.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

New security cameras have the ability to stream in 4k. You won’t really see that because not only do they have storage limitations they’ll eat up a sizable portion of bandwidth as well.

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