If you deal in physical security then the odds are good that at some point you have heard about 4K System. It is gaining a lot of popularity as of late and more and more business owners have been considering it. Today, we are going to talk about what exactly 4K is, when it is appropriate to use and to help you to begin to figure out if you want to upgrade to 4K technology.

What is 4K Surveillance?

4K surveillance is the latest offering in the world of HD video cams. The 4K label on a camera means that the camera will record images at a level of about 12 megapixels or video at double the resolution of a standard HD TV (1920 x 1080). While that may not seem like much, (after all an iPhone 6 comes with 8 megapixels of resolution) when you compare the image or video from 4k to non-HD surveillance technology, you will immediately and intuitively understand that the increased resolution can be the difference between guessing and certainty when analyzing footage.

4k video surveillance system vs 1080p


Are all 4K sensors the same?

Some experts have expressed a concern about the quality differences among current offerings. The biggest concern is over the performance in low light situations. Simply having enough pixels to generate a 4K image is only part of the solution. The size of the sensor directly affects how your camera will perform. The smaller the sensor, the smaller the pixels and the smaller the pixels, the less light they can pick up. This means that a general rule of thumb is the bigger the sensor for your 4K camera, the better the performance in low light. While low light environments make the limitations more obvious, the smaller sensor will mean you get comparatively limited light absorption in all situations. This means that you have to be careful when choosing a 4K camera solution. The environment that you plan to place the cameras in needs to be considered in detail as much as the costs and technical considerations of the surveillance back end.

Technical Requirements at the physical location

The requirements for the 4K system are very similar to a standard system in terms of the physical location. As for power, wired is preferable. If a battery must be used, you should be aware that 4K systems can be battery hogs. A simple rule of thumb is “more pixels = more power needed”. If a wired power source isn’t an option, it may be worth your while to consider a system with redundant batteries or a regular recharge via an alternative power source.  Solar power can be a viable option for automatic battery recharging whether for normal operation or just in case of protracted power outages.

Is A 4K system right for your needs?

In the end, the need for a 4K system has a lot to do with the level of resolution you require for your given circumstances. Having said that, higher resolution is not always better. In some situations (ie- health care), the ability for security staff to be able to read every piece of paper in a field of view can actually be a negative should that information be sensitive, for example. The assessment will have to be made on a case-by-case basis.
There are additional issues to consider when examining 4K solutions and if you would like to know more, consider continuing to the next piece in this three-part series. In the next segment, we will lay out some of the pros and cons of the technology in more detail. For the final part of the series, we will look at the 4K market and make some predictions about the future.