Why are CCTV cameras so bad? 13 reasons security camera quality is too low

A rusty camera on a wall.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

When addressing the question “Why are CCTV cameras so bad?”, it’s essential to understand the various factors that can impact the performance and effectiveness of these surveillance systems. From technical limitations to environmental challenges, this article explores the common reasons behind subpar CCTV camera quality and offers practical solutions to these issues.

See how Solink can complete your CCTV security system.

What are CCTV cameras?

CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras are a staple in security systems. CCTV traditionally only referred to analog security setups. 

However, the term has evolved to encompass a broader range of technologies, including advanced digital and cloud-based security cameras. These systems play a crucial role in surveillance, safety, and monitoring activities across various settings.

A rusty camera on a wall.

Why you should be concerned about CCTV camera picture quality

The quality of CCTV camera footage is paramount for effective surveillance. Here are several benefits of high-quality security camera footage:

  • Clearer images: This allows for easier identification of individuals and activities.
  • Better evidence: Higher resolution footage provides more reliable evidence.
  • Improved night vision: Enhanced ability to capture clear images in low-light conditions.
  • Wider coverage: High-quality cameras, for example fisheye cameras, can effectively cover larger areas.
  • Advanced features: These include facial recognition and license plate reading.
  • Increased deterrence: Visible high-quality cameras can deter potential wrongdoers.
  • Easy integration: Better compatibility with modern security systems is ensured.
  • Remote access: High-quality footage is accessible remotely using Solink.
  • Reduced false alarms: Higher accuracy in motion detection and threat assessment is achieved, especially with Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service.
  • Enhanced zoom capabilities: Maintaining image quality even when zooming in is possible.
  • Adaptability: Better performance in varying lighting and weather conditions is observed.
  • Long-term reliability: Higher quality cameras tend to have a longer lifespan.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Over time, the need for replacements or repairs is reduced.


13 reasons your CCTV cameras record low-quality footage

When it comes to CCTV cameras, several factors can lead to low-quality footage. Understanding these reasons is key to improving your surveillance system:

  1. Lack of regular maintenance
  2. Analog cameras not upgraded to IP
  3. Recording the SD feed instead of the HD feed
  4. Using digital zoom
  5. Cameras positioned too far from the focus point
  6. Cameras positioned incorrectly
  7. Inadequate lighting conditions
  8. Limited field of view
  9. Poor weather resistance
  10. Outdated firmware or software
  11. Inferior lens quality
  12. Inadequate storage and compression
  13. Network issues

Recognizing and addressing these issues can significantly enhance the quality and effectiveness of CCTV surveillance.

Lack of regular maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to keeping CCTV cameras functioning at their best. Neglect can lead to problems such as lens obstruction, dust accumulation, and outdated software, particularly in challenging environments. Routine cleaning and inspection are crucial for maintaining camera clarity and functionality.

Solink’s automatic camera health checks are a game-changer in this aspect. They notify users when a camera goes offline or is blocked, ensuring problems are addressed promptly to maintain continuous, high-quality surveillance.

Still using analog cameras

Analog cameras, once the standard in surveillance, often fall short in image quality compared to modern IP cameras. They lack high resolution and advanced features, which are vital for clear and detailed surveillance footage.

While Solink’s cloud video surveillance solution is compatible with nearly all camera types, the transition from analog to IP cameras can significantly boost image quality. If you’re noticing subpar camera performance, upgrading to IP security cameras could be a wise move.

Here’s what one of Solink’s technology experts recently stated at a quick service restaurant (QSR) conference:

“I was at a large QSR conference last week. The CTO asked everyone to put up their hands if they had upgraded their iPhone in the last year. Most people did. He then asked who had bought new cameras in the last year. Nobody raised their hand. The average store in their network had 10-15 year old cameras. No one wants to spend a couple thousand to upgrade crucial infrastructure in their business, but no one bats their eyes at spending a thousand dollars a year on the newest phone. My rule of thumb is that, for every two new iPhones, you should be buying new cameras.” ~ Anthony Moussignac, Director of Restaurant Sales, Solink

Recording the SD feed instead of the HD feed

Recording in standard definition (SD) instead of high definition (HD) can drastically reduce the quality of surveillance footage. SD recordings lack the detail and clarity that HD provides, which can be crucial in identifying important details in the footage.Solink addresses this by simultaneously recording both SD and HD feeds. This allows for immediate access to the low-bandwidth SD feed, with the option to switch to the higher-quality HD feed when needed, ensuring both efficient use of bandwidth and access to high-quality recordings.

Using digital zoom

Digital zoom, unlike optical zoom, enlarges the image by simply magnifying the pixels, leading to a significant loss in image quality. This often results in grainy and pixelated images, making it difficult to discern fine details.

To overcome this, use cameras with optical zoom capabilities or position cameras closer to the area of interest. Optical zoom maintains image quality by physically adjusting the camera lens, providing clearer and more detailed images even when zoomed in.

Cameras positioned too far from the focus point

Improper positioning of cameras can lead to blind spots, glare, or unhelpful angles, reducing the effectiveness of the surveillance system. For instance, a camera facing directly towards a light source may produce glare, obscuring important details.

Correct positioning is key. Aim for angles that maximize coverage and minimize obstructions and backlighting. Regular reviews and adjustments of camera positions, considering environmental changes and new surveillance needs, can greatly improve the coverage and effectiveness of the system.

Cameras positioned incorrectly

When cameras are placed too far from the area of interest, the details captured can be insufficient for useful analysis. This distance can affect the camera’s ability to capture clear images, making it challenging to identify faces or read number plates, crucial in security and investigative scenarios.

To address this, strategically place cameras closer to key areas. Ensure that the placement aligns with the primary surveillance goals, whether it’s monitoring entrances, cash registers, or other sensitive areas. Adjusting camera positions can significantly enhance the quality and relevance of the footage.

Inadequate lighting conditions

CCTV cameras often struggle in low-light conditions or areas with high contrast between light and dark. Poor lighting can result in grainy, unclear images, which compromises the camera’s ability to capture useful footage.

Enhancing lighting conditions in key areas can significantly improve image quality. Additionally, considering cameras with better low-light performance and a wider dynamic range can be beneficial. 

Limited field of view

A limited field of view can cause important areas to be missed by the camera. This can be particularly problematic in larger spaces where complete coverage is necessary to monitor all activities.

Expanding coverage through additional cameras or using ones with a wider field of view can mitigate this issue. Careful planning of camera placement to maximize coverage, while minimizing the number of cameras needed, is essential for an effective and efficient surveillance setup.

Poor weather resistance

Dome cameras, while sleek and versatile, can be prone to issues like fogging and water spots, especially in harsh weather conditions. These problems can significantly degrade image quality, making it difficult to capture clear footage.

To combat this, it’s important to choose weather-resistant dome cameras designed for the specific environmental conditions they’ll face. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the dome covers are also crucial to ensure clear visibility. Additionally, installing weather shields or placing cameras under eaves can provide extra protection against the elements.

Outdated firmware or software

Running outdated firmware or software in CCTV systems can lead to a host of issues, including compatibility problems, reduced functionality, and security vulnerabilities, all of which can negatively impact camera performance and image quality.

Regularly updating the firmware and software of your CCTV system is crucial. These updates often include performance improvements, new features, and security patches that keep your system running smoothly and securely. Staying current with updates ensures you get the most out of your surveillance technology.

Inferior lens quality

The quality of the lens in a CCTV camera plays a crucial role in the clarity and detail of the footage captured. Inferior lenses can result in blurry, distorted, or low-contrast images, which can be inadequate for detailed surveillance needs.

Investing in cameras with high-quality lenses is essential for achieving clear and detailed footage. High-quality lenses provide better focus, sharper images, and more accurate color representation, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the surveillance system.

Inadequate storage and compression

Heavy compression of video footage to save storage space can lead to significant loss of image quality. Over-compression results in pixelation and blurring, making it difficult to discern important details in the footage.

Balancing storage space with minimal loss of quality is key. Solutions like Solink’s dual recording of both SD and HD feeds offer a practical approach, providing immediate access to lower-bandwidth footage while retaining the option for higher-quality analysis. Adequate storage solutions, local and/or cloud, and efficient compression algorithms help maintain the integrity of the video footage.

Network issues

For IP cameras, network bandwidth and stability are crucial. Poor network performance can result in lower video quality, dropped frames, and even connection losses, all of which hinder the effectiveness of your surveillance system.

Ensuring a robust and stable network is essential for optimal IP camera performance. This might involve upgrading your network infrastructure, optimizing bandwidth usage, or choosing cameras that are more efficient in their data transmission. Keeping the network in top condition is as important as maintaining the cameras themselves.

Solink significantly enhances CCTV camera performance. By addressing common issues like poor image quality and maintenance challenges, Solink’s advanced features and cloud-based system ensure clearer, more reliable surveillance. 

Its solutions, including dual feed recording and automatic health checks, make it an invaluable tool for any CCTV setup, fully realizing the potential of modern surveillance technology.

To see how Solink can upgrade your CCTV system,  sign up for a demo today.