What to Look for When Buying 4K IP Security Cameras

Advantages of 4K Security Cameras

4K@30 slider

Over the last several years 4K resolution has become the industry standard when talking about security cameras and systems.  Technology has made it easy for consumers to enjoy 4K resolution video surveillance at their homes and businesses.  When they were first released, 4K security cameras cost much more than many consumers budgets would allow and the 2K surveillance cameras could outperform them in many aspects.  However, now that they have been around and developed more they are the cameras that everyone wants and trusts.  The price of a good 4K IP security camera has come down significantly and the product performance and capabilities has steadily increased.  In this article we are going to talk about some key things to look for and look out for when deciding which 4K security cameras to purchase.

Is it a True 4K IP Camera?


The most important thing to make sure of is that the 4K camera you are buying has true 4K resolution.  Believe it or not there are some companies that market their product as 4K even when they don’t have true 4K resolution.  You can verify that it is 4K by looking at the specs, true 4K resolution is 3840x2160 pixels.  4K resolution is twice that of 2K and four times that of 1080p (see table below).  This means that images will have greatly increased clarity and definition.  This makes it easier to read license plates, identify people, and notice small details.  A digital zoom (zooming in on the pixels) will also work much better on 4K images, as the pixels are much smaller so the image will not appear nearly as pixelated as the same zoom on a 2K or lower image.  Furthermore, a good 4K camera will have a larger image sensor.  This means that in addition to a better quality image less light is required for a color image.  A good 4K IP camera will be able to stay in color longer before needing to switch to black and white night vision.

Camera NameResolutionsName by vertical pixel countName by horizontal pixel countMega Pixels
Analog Surveillance Camera640x480480p security camera0.4MP
HD Surveillance Cameras1280x720720p security camera 0.9MP
Full HD Surveillance Cameras1920x10801080p security camera2MP
Super HD Surveillance Cameras2560x14401440p security cameras2K Security Camera4MP
Ultra HD Surveillance Cameras3840x21602160p security cameras4K Security Camera8MP

What is the Frame Rate?

320FPS 4k

Another key detail to look for is the camera's frame rate.  The frame rate is how many pictures or frames per second (FPS) the camera can record.  This determines how well the camera will handle recording motion.  You want a frame rate of 25-30FPS @ 4K resolution to ensure that motion is fluid in the 4K videos.  There are countless cameras out there that claim to be 4K resolution and 30FPS.  While these cameras may be capable of 4K resolution and 30FPS, many of them can only do one or the other at one time.  The majority of them can do 4K @ 15FPS or 1080p @ 30FPS, but not 4K @ 30FPS. This means you will have to sacrifice either the clarity or motion handling of that camera. At Montavue all of our standard 4K cameras (non-AI) can record true 4K resolution @ 30FPS, giving you fluid movement and clean, detailed images.

H.265- A Must Have for 4K Video

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One of the challenges of early 4K cameras was how large their file sizes were.  They take up twice as much space as 2K cameras, meaning you could only fit half as many days of recording on your hard drive.  As many of you know, surveillance grade hard drives are not cheap so many consumers stayed away from 4K cameras because of that fact alone.  People needed a way to record in 4K without eating up so much hard drive space.  Then came H.265 compression, which is quickly becoming the industry standard for recording.  Older cameras were only able to use H.264 or lower compression, resulting in larger file sizes.  File sizes are half as big using H.265, allowing people to use 4K cameras without spending a ton of money on hard drives.  When looking at 4K surveillance you will want to make sure that the camera can use H.265 to get the most out of your system.  For a detailed explanation of H.265 compression, please see our article H.265 vs H.264.  At Montavue, all of our cameras are capable of H.265 compression, helping our customers save on hard drive space.

Can the NVR Handle 4K?

MNR8136 4K 16 Channel NVR_rowicon

If you are looking at getting a complete surveillance system (cameras and NVR), you will want to double check that the NVR can handle 4K video as well.  There are many systems out there that come with 4K cameras but the NVR that comes with them can only record at 2K, meaning you are wasting money and should just buy 2K cameras.  This is a common marketing gimmick among many of the surveillance companies that you should be aware of.  Here at Montavue all of our NVRs are capable of recording at 4K resolution so there is no need to worry if the NVR will maximize the cameras capabilities.

What is the Field of View?

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Another benefit of buying 4K security cameras is that they tend to have a larger field of view (FOV) than their 2K and 1080p counterparts.  This results in fewer cameras required, which could mean some savings overall on your system.  You will want to double check the FOV on the cameras however, as some companies still sell 4K cameras with <102° FOV.  At Montavue our 4K cameras have an impressive 112° FOV (vs 104° for our 2K cameras), so if you decide to purchase 4K security cameras you will be able to cover more area with fewer cameras.

MTB8110 4K Fixed Lens

MTB8110 Montavue 4K 8MP IP Bullet Camera with Color Night Optics Night Vision - Right

MTD8110 4K Fixed Lens


MTB8112-V 4K Varifocal Lens


MTD8112-V Varifocal Lens


As you can see, 4K IP security cameras have surpassed 2K and 1080p cameras in almost every category.  While a 2K security camera still does a great job, 4K is the way to go if you want the latest and greatest in security camera technology.  4K security cameras will be the industry standard for years to come and will continue to grow and advance as technology allows.  At Montavue we invest heavily in R & D so that we can continue to offer our customers the most reliable, cutting edge IP cameras available.  If you would like to learn more about 4K security cameras or have any questions, feel free to call or message our team of US based surveillance experts.

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