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Debunking megapixel camera cost myths

Published on 25 October, 2012

End users should consider the cost of an
entire surveillance system rather than the
cost of a single megapixel camera
There is a misconception in the security industry that megapixel cameras are more expensive than conventional surveillance cameras. However, to understand real value, it's important to focus not on the price of a single camera but on the overall surveillance system cost. Looking at the cost holistically and contrasting it with the benefits will clearly demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and ROI of a megapixel surveillance system, states Scott Schafer, Executive Vice President of Arecont Vision.

Megapixel cameras provide superior performance and imaging capabilities versus analogue and standard definition IP cameras. Megapixel cameras are also field-proven to deliver the most cost-effective video surveillance solutions. In comparison, analogue and standard definition IP cameras may be lower priced than megapixel cameras, but these cameras are far more expensive if you evaluate costs system-wide. The truth is that analogue and standard IP cameras provide a weak value proposition and a poor return on investment (ROI).

Purchasing results, not just cameras

When end user customers buy surveillance cameras, what they are really purchasing is the ability to view video that effectively achieves the goals of the application. They need video cameras that provide facial identification, recognise license plates and capture numbers from shipping crates. End users also need video cameras that capture images of activity in retail stores, bank branches, company or government facilities or at borders, airports or ports. They are purchasing the capabilities and the functionality that the cameras can provide. When you consider the price of analogue or VGA cameras compared to their functionality, megapixel cameras provide much more value for money than lower-resolution security cameras.

Megapixel cameras provide a
stronge value proposition and
a better return on investment
compared to analogue cameras

Megapixel cameras do a better job of capturing more information than standard-resolution cameras, and that superior performance translates into ROI in a number of ways. If you consider the concept of “pixels per metre” (meaning a certain number of pixels are required to depict one meter of a scene for a specific application), it's clear that more pixels equate to being able to view larger areas. For example, where ten standard-resolution cameras might have previously been required to cover a parking lot, the same application can now be served using three or four strategically-positioned 3 megapixel surveillance cameras, or even a single megapixel panoramic camera, depending on the application requirements.

More resolution for your money

Using estimated pricing and number of pixels as a quantitative measure of resolution, it's easy to demonstrate that megapixel cameras provide more resolution for your money compared to analogue or VGA cameras. Understanding the relationship between resolution and money spent makes it simple to evaluate which number of cameras are appropriate for a given application. Based on “pixels per metre”, you know how many pixels you need to view a certain area. Comparing resolution with set up costs makes it clearer which camera (or group of cameras) can provide that needed number of pixels most cost-effectively.

Surveillance System cost vs. camera cost

cost value chart
Consider the relationship between
money and resolution when
choosing between IP and
analogue cameras

When analysing the numbers on a new surveillance system installation, it is helpful to take a broad view of overall system costs. The complete cost of the system is obviously a better measure than the price of a single component. The price of a single component is not a good reason to dismiss a new technology as too expensive without considering how the extra expense will be offset by added functionality and other system cost savings. In the case of megapixel cameras, beyond camera price, other factors include a decrease in installation costs by using fewer cameras, the elimination of mechanical pan-tilt-zoom (ptz) devices and a reduction in operations staff. Using fewer cameras to cover larger areas also translates into cost savings related to infrastructure, for example cables, mounts and housings, which makes it easy to reach an ROI.

In summary, analogue and standard definition VGA IP cameras provide the worst value and therefore are the most expensive security cameras you can buy. When considering the choice between conventional analogue and megapixel cameras, go for the best image quality and best price by choosing megapixel cameras as they deliver the best ROI.

Scott Schafer
Executive Vice President of
Arecont Vision

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7th Floor
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CA 91205
United States of America (USA)
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