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Understanding PTZ Webcam Resolutions And Pixels: More Isn’t Always Better!

If you’re shopping for a PTZ webcam, it is important that you understand the truth behind the marketing lingo. You will probably not need a PTZ webcam that is more than 2 megapixels. Here is why.

About Resolution

Your computer screen has a certain native resolution. A 13-inch laptop is usually 1280 x 800 pixels. A 2 megapixel image wouldn’t even fit on this screen. A 21-inch monitor might be 1920 x 1080 pixels. A 2 megapixel image would take up the entire screen.

About Digital Vs Optical Zoom

A PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) webcam uses motors to pan, tilt, and zoom. Obviously.

This is very different from ePTZ cameras, where the camera has no moving parts. An ePTZ camera can digitally zoom, and then pan and tilt within the image. All of our fixed-position cameras can do that, actually.

The problem with ePTZ (or any fixed camera) is that the image quality degrades as you zoom in. There is a direct relationship between the webcam’s resolution and the image quality when zooming. Click these images to compare this 720p fixed camera, as the image digitally zooms in.

For comparison, a 720p camera basically equals a 1 Megapixel resolution. You can see that the image can handle a good amount of zoom before it degrades too poorly.

However, a PTZ camera using optical zoom will remain crystal clear no matter how far in you zoom. Click to compare this 720p PTZ camera, zoomed out vs zoomed in.

So – a higher resolution does make a difference for fixed-position cameras. But only if you need to do a lot of zooming.

Put The Facts Together…

TrueLook sells up to a 2.1 megapixel PTZ webcam. That is 1080p. That could take up your entire screen, or your entire 1080p HD television. As you zoom in, you lose no image quality.

So why would you buy a 10 megapixel PTZ camera? You wouldn’t. It wouldn’t result in any better quality – those extra pixels would not be able to display on your screen.

The Marketing Mumbo Jumbo

Why do other webcam services try to sell you higher resolution PTZ cameras? Because they are actually using digital zoom. They are not “true” PTZ cameras, and thus you end up paying a lot more for those extra megapixels so that the image can digitally zoom.

However, they are clever marketers. A 10 megapixel webcam sure sounds better than 1 or 2 megapixels.

But now you are an educated consumer.