CCTV Video Resolutions Explained


CIF, QCIF, 2CIF, 4CIF. Sounds like a bad nursery rhyme, right? If your eyes glaze over when you hear terms like these you are not alone. In this article, we will attempt to demystify the terminology and put it into a framework that’s easy to understand and use.

The table below lists some of the more commonly used resolution terms in CCTV applications. Any resolution over 1 million pixels is considered ‘megapixel’. In the case of megapixel cameras, the labels are approximate. For example, a 2 megapixel camera actually captures 1,920,000 pixels per frame. A 3 megapixel camera captures 3,145,728 pixels per frame.

Table 1. CCTV Resolution Standards (from low to high resolution)


These terms may be used to describe the size of the image captured at the camera, transmitted over a wire, displayed on the screen, or recorded on the hard drive.

When comparing megapixel camera specifications you may notice pixel counts slightly different from the above. This is because some cameras will specify the total number of pixels captured by the sensor, and others will specify the ‘effective’ pixels. Some of the total pixels are used to contain technical housekeeping type of data, and are not contributing towards the ‘effective’ details of the image.

Got any questions about CCTV camera resolution? Share your experiences with CCTVs in the comments section below! And don’t forget to check out for more tech-related news!


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