1080P or 4K?
  • When I experimented with a 1080P NestCam I could not clearly read license plates of cars passing by or parked out front. Do you find that 1080P cams work well? Have you upgraded to 4K, possibly using h.265 compression and noticed a big difference?


  • Hi Robert,

    1080p (2 MP) cameras are good for general-purpose video surveillance, but like you say you may not be able to make out fine detail such as license plates from a distance.

    However you don't need to go all the way up to 4K (which is 8 MP)! There are plenty of IP cameras with resolutions in between (3 MP, 4 MP, 5 MP etc.) that will get the job done.

    Also relevant is the camera's lens. You may find that for cheaper cameras, their video quality is limited by the quality of the lens rather than the resolution of the sensor. The focal length of the lens is also relevant: wide-angle lenses get more in the frame, but if your priority is recording car license plates, then a lens with a longer focal length, with the camera specifically pointing to the road or driveway, is more appropriate.
  • Ben, do some IP cams allow you to adjust the lens optically?
  • Ben, when I was working with the NestCam I always thought that the image was overly compressed since it's cloud-based and that a moderately good local NVR might look better because of the greater bandwidth that's available via local ethernet. Ans as you mention, the optics are important too. It's hard to evaluate these cameras without having them at ,my place for testing.
  • Hi Robert,

    Yes, some cameras with more sophisticated lenses allow you to adjust focus and focal length (fixed zoom) - sometimes manually but often mechanically via their web interface.

    Virtually all standard IP cameras allow you to adjust their compression quality, and when recording over a local network, you will probably want to use a medium-to-high setting so that you get a good quality image.

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