4K vs 5MP vs 1080p vs 720p Security Cameras

4K Video Surveillance Cameras. Are They Right For Me?

4K surveillance is the latest offering in the world of HD video surveillance cameras. The 4K label on a camera means that the device will record images at a level of about 12 megapixels or video at double the resolution of a standard HD TV (1920 x 1080).

So, have you ever thought about buying a 4K security camera? Or should you continue to use 5MP/1080p/720p security cameras? That’s exactly what I’m going to show you in this article — 4K vs. 5MP vs. 1080p (2MP) vs. 720p security cameras.

Below is a complete comparison between 4K security cameras, 5MP security cameras, 1080p security cameras, and 720p security cameras, as well as insights into what might happen in the future.

4K vs 5MP vs 1080p vs 720p Security Cameras: Resolution Differences

All four cameras are used in video surveillance, yet they don’t provide the same resolution and image quality. A 720p camera has the smallest resolution (1280×720) which means it captures the smallest area. This makes it an acceptable option for small shops and tiny offices, but a bad choice for warehouses and other large areas.

A 1080p camera provides a resolution roughly 2 times higher (1920×1080) than its 720p counterpart. It means it captures double the size a 720p camera does, which makes 1080p a great tool for surveilling medium-size areas like offices, shops, backyards, medium-size warehouses. You may need more cameras of this type if you want to get a large warehouse covered by your video surveillance system.

One more thing to know about 1080p cameras is that they provide a lower image quality when zoomed compared to 5MP (2592×1944) and 4K (3840×2160) cameras. The zoomed image of 5MP and 4K is clear and detailed, yet the 4k allows to see even more details given its deeper zoom. When it comes to resolution, 4K camera covers a 1.5 larger area than the 5MP one.

Let’s dive in:

  • 4K Ultra HD security cameras possess a high resolution of 3840*2160 with over 8 million pixels. And they are also called 8MP/2160p security cameras. Though 4K IP cameras are not budget-accessible and prevailing now, they can greatly enhance your video streaming experience with no doubt.
  • 5MP Super HD security cameras, also known as 5MP security cameras, gain a resolution of 2560*1920. They are currently the mainstream in the security camera filed and deliver much clearer images than 1080p and 720p IP cameras.
  • 1080p Full HD security cameras produce images with the resolution of 1920*1080. They are suitable for the general-purpose video surveillance but sometimes may fail to figure out small details from a distance.
  • 720p HD security cameras shoot images with 128*720 pixels per unit. Due to the growing demand for higher quality images and videos, 720p security IP cameras are now gradually losing their grip in the market.
Resolution Image size in pixels Pixles per image Aspect Ratio Scanning type
4K 3,840×2,160 8,294,400 16:9 Progressive
5MP 2,560×1,920 4,915,200 16:9 Progressive
1080p 1,920×1,080 2,073,600 16:9 Progressive
720p 1,280×720 921,600 16:9 Progressive

4K vs 5MP vs 1080p vs 720p Security Cameras: Full Comparison List

Now, let’s drill down deeper to check out the differences among 4K security cameras, 5MP security cameras, 1080p security cameras and 720p security cameras, from the following aspects:

1. Image Quality

The 720p camera obviously has the lowest image quality that goes along with low resolution, poor color fidelity, and weak zoom. Before you install such a camera, you should understand that you won’t have the chance to analyze the recorded object in detail. A 1080p camera comes with a more user-friendly zoom (yet not the best one) and a better color spectrum. The non-zoomed image is good-quality and allows you to recognize a person by their major traits.

Nonetheless, 1080p (2MP) device loses to 5MP camera whose image is pretty clear even after a 3x zoom. Nothing compares, though, to ZOSI 4K ultra HD security system. It boasts an outstanding image quality supporting a mind-blowing 5x zoom that’s highly detail-friendly and allows you to capture everything that moves in the recorded area. The night vision is also remarkable.

2. Field of View

When it comes to the field of view, you might expect the 4K camera to reign supreme. You would be absolutely right. Given millions of pixels packed in one image and built-in wide-angle lenses (Megapixel security cameras are often packed with wide-angle lenses), 4K cameras provide a wider field of view. And while it is possible to reconfigure 5MP and 1080p cameras so that they cover wide areas, there is no point in it. The edges of the image will be obscure and you will fail to recognize any physical traits of people, number plates, and other small details.

3. Bandwidth & Storage Consumption

The ultra HD 4K camera requires 4-5 times more bandwidth than HD camera (1080p). Sometimes, it takes 25 Mbps for 4K camera to function at full capacity.

But thanks to H.265 high-efficiency coding adopted by 4K IP security cameras, the bandwidth utilization and storage consumption can be reduced by about 50% without sacrificing the image quality.

So don’t fall into this common myth again, that 4K surveillance cameras eat up more bandwidth and take up more storage space than 5MP, 1080p or 720p CCTV security cameras.

4. Compatibility

Good news for those who have a 5MP monitor or TV set. Such monitor is compatible with 1080p, 5MP and 720p cameras. So if you buy one of these cameras, there is no need to buy a new monitor. Things get complicated with 4K IP security cameras because they don’t support the 4MP monitor. You will have to buy a 4K monitor.

5. Cost

The cheapest camera of all four is the 720p one, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best investment for all scenarios. For example, a 720p camera may do a part of the trick when installed on entrance doors, yet the image will not be very clear. It’s also a wrong choice for a large warehouse because you will have to install multiple 720p cameras to capture the whole area which will have you spend a lot of money.

ZOSI 1080p camera with better image quality and better resolution, and the price is equivalent to a 720P camera. Again, it becomes a good investment when aimed at surveilling a space that is compatible with its resolution. 4K Camera is the most expensive video surveillance option. However, it captures a large area which allows you to buy only a few cameras to record the whole parking lot, warehouse or supermarket.

4K vs 5MP vs 1080P vs 720p Security Cameras: Which One Should You Choose

Look through the usages of 4K security cameras, 5MP security cameras, 1080p security cameras, and 720p security cameras below to decide which your best bet is.

1. When to Choose 4K Surveillance Cameras:

Go for a 4K camera when you have a considerable budget and look for a large area surveillance solution. If you need to analyze the recorded objects to the finest detail, you also have to choose a 4K camera. Areas that are best monitored with a 4K camera include big warehouses, hypermarkets, construction sites, backyards, wide and long hallways, and other large facilities.

Check out ZOSI C182 high-definition camera with night vision, 4K resolution, and wide-angle lenses to catch every little detail in your recordings.

C182 - 4K POE Surveillance Cameras Security Monitor Systems

  • 4K Ultra HD
  • Smart Person/Vehicle Detection
  • Customize Detection Zone
  • Starlight Night Vision
  • 24/7 Video & Audio Recording
  • Access Remotely & Flexibly
  • Two Way Audio

2. When to Choose 5MP Security Cameras:

Security cameras with 5MP resolution are the best choice if you want to record small objects from a distance in high definition. You have a consistent budget and you have a medium-size commercial or residential area to be recorded. Places perfectly compatible with 5MP cameras include small and medium-sized businesses, parking lots, driveways, home entrances.

Install ZOSI C296 5MP to stay up to date with everything that happens around your house and commercial property.

Smart 3MP Super HD WiFi Security Camera - C190

  • 2.4/5 GHz WiFi
  • Light & Siren Alarm
  • Color Night Vision
  • AI Human Detection
  • 2-Way Audio

3. When to Choose 1080p Security Cameras:

Security camera with 1080p resolution is your go-to option if you have a limited budget and need small areas surveilled, such as driveways, front doors, farms, small shops, garages, boats, and motor homes.

Get the best balance of price and image quality with ZOSI C1 with Rechargeable Battery.

C296 - Pan Tilt IP Security Cameras

  • 4K Ultra HD/5MP Super HD
  • Starlight Color Night Vision
  • Pan & Tilt
  • PoE/WiFi Connection
  • Light & Siren Alarm
  • Upgraded AI-Powered Detection
  • 2-Way Audio

4. When to Choose 720p Security Cameras:

Given their low resolution and blurred image, 720p cameras are not a recommended choice if you look for a reliable surveillance solution. You can buy instead of the best and cheap 1080p or 5MP security cameras for below $100 which is close on the price spectrum but provides a much better image quality.


On the whole, all four cameras differ in many ways. While the 720p camera comes at a lower price, it is a weak player in the video surveillance field. You are much better off choosing one of the remaining cameras. 5MP and 1080p cameras fit a medium budget and provide decent image quality and resolution that prove the surveillance system is not installed in vain. If you want, though, to get the best of the best on the market now, go for a 4K camera with 12-megapixel resolution, multifold digital zoom, and a wide field of view.