Why is CCTV quality so bad? 13 reasons and solutions

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

When considering the question “Why is CCTV quality so bad?”, it’s important to identify factors that affect surveillance system performance. This article examines common issues that degrade CCTV quality and provides practical solutions for improvement.

See how Solink can complete your CCTV security system.

What are CCTV cameras?

CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras are key components in security systems. Traditionally, CCTV referred to analog security setups, but now the term includes a broader scope, encompassing digital and cloud-based security cameras. These cameras play a vital role in surveillance, safety, and monitoring in various settings.

A woman looking at tv screens in a dark room.

Why you should be concerned about CCTV camera picture quality

The quality of CCTV camera footage is critical for effective surveillance. High-quality security camera footage offers several benefits:

  • Clearer images: Easier identification of individuals and activities.
  • Better evidence: Higher resolution footage yields more reliable evidence.
  • Improved night vision: Enhanced capture of clear images in low-light conditions.
  • Wider coverage: High-quality cameras, like fisheye cameras, effectively cover larger areas.
  • Advanced features: Including facial recognition and license plate reading.
  • Increased deterrence: Visible high-quality cameras deter potential wrongdoers.
  • Easy integration: Better compatibility with modern security systems.
  • Remote access: High-quality footage accessible remotely in Solink.
  • Reduced false alarms: Higher accuracy in motion detection and threat assessment with Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service.
  • Enhanced zoom capabilities: Maintaining image quality when zooming in.
  • Adaptability: Better performance in various lighting and weather conditions.
  • Long-term reliability: Higher quality cameras have a longer lifespan.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Reduced need for replacements or repairs over time.

13 reasons your CCTV cameras record low-quality footage

Various factors can lead to low-quality footage in CCTV cameras. Understanding and addressing these reasons can significantly improve your surveillance system:


  1. Lack of regular maintenance
  2. Analog cameras have not been updated for years
  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

Lack of regular maintenance

Neglecting regular maintenance is a common reason for poor CCTV quality. Issues like lens obstruction, dust accumulation, and outdated software can significantly impair camera performance. In challenging environments, these problems are even more pronounced, leading to blurred or unclear footage.

To resolve this, establish a routine for cleaning and inspecting cameras. Solink’s automatic camera health checks are particularly beneficial, alerting users to problems such as cameras going offline or being obstructed. This ensures timely maintenance and preserves the quality of surveillance footage.

Analog cameras have not been updated for years

Analog cameras, once standard in the surveillance industry, often produce lower quality footage compared to modern IP cameras. The limited resolution and functionality of analog systems can be a significant drawback in scenarios where detail and clarity are crucial.

Upgrading from analog to IP cameras is a key solution. Solink’s compatibility with a wide range of camera types, including IP cameras, can greatly enhance image quality. If you’re experiencing subpar performance with analog cameras, considering an upgrade can be a crucial step towards better surveillance quality.

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) greatly reduces the clarity and detail of surveillance footage. SD recordings lack the finer details necessary for a clear understanding of the scenes being monitored, which is essential in security situations.

Solink addresses this by offering the capability to record both SD and HD feeds simultaneously. This provides immediate access to the low-bandwidth SD feed, while retaining the option to review higher-quality HD footage when needed, striking a balance between immediate access and detailed analysis.

Using digital zoom

Digital zoom, which works by enlarging the image digitally, often leads to a significant reduction in image quality. Unlike optical zoom, which physically adjusts the camera lens, digital zoom can result in pixelated and grainy footage, making it hard to identify crucial details.

To overcome this issue, utilize cameras equipped with optical zoom capabilities or adjust the camera placement to reduce the need for zooming. Optical zoom maintains image quality by adjusting the lens for clearer, more detailed views, even at higher zoom levels.

Cameras positioned too far from the focus point

When cameras are placed too far from the area of interest, they may fail to capture essential details clearly. This can hinder the ability to recognize faces, read license plates, or observe other critical elements, particularly in security and investigative scenarios.

Strategically placing cameras closer to key areas can significantly improve image capture. This involves aligning camera placement with the primary surveillance goals, such as monitoring entrances, cash registers, or sensitive areas, ensuring that the footage is both clear and relevant.

Cameras positioned incorrectly

Incorrectly positioned cameras can lead to issues like blind spots, glare, or unhelpful viewing angles, reducing the overall effectiveness of the surveillance system. A camera facing directly towards a light source, for example, may produce glare that obscures important details.

Correct positioning involves aiming for angles that maximize coverage while minimizing obstructions and backlighting. Regularly reviewing and adjusting camera positions, considering environmental changes and evolving surveillance needs, can greatly enhance the coverage and effectiveness of the CCTV system.

Inadequate lighting conditions

CCTV cameras often struggle in low-light conditions or in areas with significant contrast between light and dark. Poor lighting results in grainy, unclear images, compromising the camera’s ability to capture useful footage for security purposes.

Improving lighting conditions in key areas can greatly enhance image quality. Additionally, considering cameras with better low-light performance and a broader dynamic range can be beneficial. Technologies like Solink’s can optimize performance in various lighting conditions, ensuring clearer and more reliable footage.

Limited field of view

A limited field of view in CCTV cameras can cause significant areas to be missed, which is particularly problematic in larger spaces where complete coverage is necessary. This limitation can hinder the surveillance system’s ability to monitor all relevant activities effectively.

Expanding coverage through the addition of more cameras or using cameras with a wider field of view can address 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 especially can suffer from poor weather resistance, leading to issues like fogging and water spots that degrade image quality. These problems are particularly prevalent in harsh weather conditions and can hinder the ability to capture clear footage.

Choosing weather-resistant security cameras suitable for the specific environmental conditions they will face is crucial. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the dome covers, along with installing weather shields or positioning cameras under eaves, can provide extra protection and ensure clear visibility.

Outdated firmware or software

Using CCTV systems with outdated firmware or software can lead to a range of issues, including compatibility problems, reduced functionality, and security vulnerabilities. These can all negatively impact camera performance and the quality of the footage captured.

Regularly updating the firmware and software of your CCTV system is critical. Updates often include performance improvements, new features, and security patches that keep the system running efficiently and securely. Keeping your system up-to-date ensures you get the most out of your surveillance technology.

Inferior lens quality

The lens quality in a CCTV camera is fundamental to the clarity and detail of the footage. Inferior lenses can result in blurry, distorted, or low-contrast images, which are 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, thereby enhancing the overall effectiveness of the surveillance system.

Inadequate storage and compression

Heavy compression of video footage to save storage space can significantly degrade video quality. Over-compression results in pixelation and blurring, making it challenging to discern important details in the footage.

Solink’s dual recording of both SD and HD feeds offers a practical approach to balancing storage space with minimal loss of quality. Adequate cloud video storage solutions and efficient compression algorithms are important to maintain the integrity of the video footage.

Network issues

For IP cameras, network bandwidth and stability are crucial. Poor network performance can lead to lower video quality, dropped frames, and even connection losses, hindering the effectiveness of the surveillance system.

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

Solink enhances CCTV camera performance, addressing issues like poor image quality and maintenance challenges. Its advanced features and cloud-based system ensure clearer, more reliable surveillance. Solutions like dual feed recording and automatic health checks make Solink invaluable for any CCTV setup, maximizing the potential of modern surveillance technology.

To see how Solink can improve the quality of your CCTV system, sign up for a demo today.