What are Ultra High-Resolution Security Cameras?

How the surveillance industry created a phrase that sounds a lot like the TV industry term "Ultra High Definition," which refers to 4K (4096 x 2160) "higher than HD" TVs, to confuse you into buying IP cameras with a video quality closer to 1990's television.

What these terms mean in Television Quality

Standard Definition TV

Available at a maximum of 720TVL (with many versions from coming in 420 TVL to 720 TVL), all with 4:3 (square-ish) aspect ratios.


420 TVL is 360 x 240 pixels.

720 TVL is 976 x 582 pixels

High Definition (HD) TV

Available in 720p and 1080p Versions, both with 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratios. Most retailers don't sell a TV with a lower resolution than 1080P these days.


720p is 1280 x 720.

1080p is 1920 x 1080.

Ultra High Definition TV

Available in Ultra HD and 4k versions. 4K is what you see in the movie theater. Both have widescreen aspect ratios, but the movie theater version is a bit wider.


4K (what you see in a movie theater) is 4096 x 2160 pixels.

Ultra HD (the consumer version) is 3840 X 2160.

How unethical surveillance industry execs use the terms:

Standard definition cameras

identifying faces with 720TVL at 25ft

Just like TV, Standard Definition cameras come in 420 TVL to 700 TVL versions.

700TVL is 976 x 582 pixels

Most Big Box stores sell 420 TVL cameras.

High Definition cameras

identifying faces with 1080P at 25ft

Just like TV, surveillance cameras come in 720p and 1080p versions.

720p is 1280 x 720 pixels.

1080p is 1920 x 1080 pixels.

"Ultra-High Resolution" cameras

identifying faces with 700TVL at 25ft

Unlike TV, some surveillance camera companies use the term "Ultra High Definition" or "Ultra-High Resolution" to mean 600 TVL cameras rather than "cameras that are better than HD."

600TVL is 976 x 582 pixels

All three of these examples (example 1, example 2, example 3) are selling 600TVL cameras as "ultra-high definition" or "ultra-high resolution." 600 TVL is 728 x 492 pixels, so these examples are actually worse than your standard definition TV.

What we do differently here at SCW:

Every bit of surveillance video footage is taken with an actual security camera - not a professional video camera.

We show you what faces will look like in your surveillance video at different distances, and we won't ever mislead you by taking those photos with professional DSL cameras.

We refuse to use the phrase "Ultra-High Resolution" to describe something that is inferior to standard television. We do carry cameras with resolutions greater than 1080P.

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 700 TVL camera with a wide angle lens

Traditional Analog Cameras (including those called "Ultra-High Resolution")

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 1080P IP camera with a wide angle lens

SCW's 1080P Wide Angle Lens

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 4MP camera with a wide angle lens

SCW's 4MP (about 200% 1080P) Wide Angle Lens

Not sure what you need?

Lean on the experts

We'd be happy to work up a custom quote or take your floorplan and create a security coverage map.

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