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CCTV frame rate comparison – which is right for me?

Still of frame rate comparison videoIP cameras come with a range of frame rates with most offering 30 frames per second (FPS) but an increasing number offering 60 FPS or more. If you’re new to the technology it’s tempting to use the highest setting, as the higher the better? Right?

Well no, this is not the case for most applications.

Apart from considering the right frame rate for the scene being monitored, also bear in mind that increasing the frame rate will increase storage requirements and CPU use. This may not be such a big deal when you only operate a few cameras but the cost of hardware may ramp up quickly if you operate a larger camera estate.

Your chosen frame rate, together with your choice of resolution and how long you wish to keep the recordings for (retention time) will largely determine how much storage space you require.

What is a good frame rate for CCTV?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one easy answer to this question. It depends on the scene you are observing and what your operational requirements are. There is no one-size-fits all.

To help you decide which frame rate is best for your requirements, take a look at the video below. It will give you a good idea how different frame rates compare to each other.

It is said that the human eye recognises 15 FPS as smooth video, so you may notice that there is little discernible difference between the higher frame rates.

Some guidance that may help

A basic rule:

  • Fast object movement in a scene requires a higher frame
  • Slow movement allows a lower frame rate

You’ll need a very high frame rate if you’re monitoring a motorway or a roulette table in a casino. However, you’ll be fine with a lower frame rate if you’re monitoring a reception area or office environment.

For forensic evidence purposes a lower frame rate and a higher resolution is often the preference. This is used in areas like entrances where your key objective is to capture people’s faces for identification.

As a very rough guide for day-to-day monitoring a frame rate of 5-10 FPS would suffice in most instances.

Remember that a frame rate of 10 FPS would only require half the storage space of setting your cameras to 20 FPS. Getting your frame rate right can save you significant amounts of money in hardware costs, plus there are some energy savings too.

Also consider whether you require continuous image recording or whether recording on detection triggers would be preferable. Most modern CCTV systems are set to record on a trigger event only. This avoids video data of no importance clogging up your storage space.

Alternatively, you can record at 1 FPS continuously and ‘speed up’ the recording to a higher frame rate (e.g. 8 FPS) when the trigger event happens.

Need further help?

Hopefully this helps you to understand how frame rates affect your security camera feed and storage. Enabling you to make better informed decisions.

Please note this is only a rough guide and there are a range of other variables and options to consider when it comes to CCTV system design and configuration.

We are here to help you with this so please contact us – if you’d like assistance.

Need a more detailed comparison – download the video

You can download the frame rate comparison tool to view it in higher quality. It’s a .zip file – right click and choose ‘Save file as’.

Published on September 18th, 2013 by Kevin Bowyer

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