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5MP VS. 4K Security Camera: Which One To Choose

5mp vs 4k

When it comes to security cameras, 5MP and 4K cameras are both standouts. With their remarkable resolution and image quality, both offer unrivaled surveillance capabilities. In this article, we’ll explore the features, benefits, and ideal use cases of each of these high-definition cameras. Whether your security needs are for your home or your business, this guide will help you make an informed decision.

Basics of 5MP And 4K

When deciding between 5MP and 4K security cameras, it’s a good idea to start with a good understanding of camera resolutions.

What is 5MP?

5MP resolution stands for the image quality of 5 megapixels. It’s an indication of the number of pixels a camera can capture in an image.

In the context of security cameras, a 5MP camera captures images that have a resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels and are composed of 5 million pixels. Increased pixel count provides sharper images, making it easier to identify objects, faces, and other important details.

4K refers to a specific resolution standard that provides exceptional image quality and clarity. Also known as Ultra HD (UHD), represents a significant advance in visual technology.

In the context of security cameras, a 4K camera captures video footage at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, composed of 8.3 million pixels. This superior image quality is particularly advantageous when capturing fine details of large areas, expansive outdoor spaces, or locations that require long-range monitoring.

5MP vs. 4K: Comparison Table

The key difference between 4K and 5MP lies in their pixel count: 4K offers approximately 8.3 megapixels (3840 x 2160 pixels) and 5MP provides 5 megapixels (2560 x 1920 pixels), with 4K resolution having a better image quality and greater detail.

The chart below provides an at-a-glance summary of the differences between 5MP and 4K:

Criteria 5MP 4K
Resolution 2560 x 1920p 3840 x 2160p
Pixel Count About 5 million pixels About 8.3 million pixels
Aspect Ratio 4:3 16:9
PPF( FOV=40 feet) 64 96

PPF is used to calculate the number of pixels per unit of measurement in the camera's field of view(FOV). The calculation formula is: PPF= horizontal resolution/ field of view.
To ensure accurate identification for facial and license plate recognition, it is widely advised by experts that the minimum measurement should be at least 40 Pixels Per Field (PPF).

Choosing Between 5MP And 4K Security Cameras

When choosing between 5MP and 4K security cameras, the following five elements are the most important.


4K and 5MP security cameras have different bandwidth requirements based on their different compression standards.

4K security cameras with H.264 compression typically require higher bandwidth, (from approximately 10 to 20 Mbps) than 5MP cameras (from 2 to 8 Mbps) due to their increased resolution.

4K security cameras with the more advanced H.265 compression consume significantly less bandwidth than H.264, ranging from approximately 5 to 10 Mbps. Similarly, 5MP cameras using H.265 compression consume less bandwidth than H.264, ranging from around 1 to 4 Mbps.


Costs of 4K and 5MP security cameras vary depending on several factors, but 4k cameras are generally more expensive. Taking Reolink as an example, an entry-level 5MP camera such as the RLC-510A can be purchased for $50. A mid-to-high-end 5MP camera with PTZ and night color vision such as E1 Outdoor. Can be purchased for $100.

4K camera costs vary widely. 4K PoE camera without PTZ function like the RLC-810A costs less than $80. However, a wireless 4K camera with zoom and other advanced features such as the Argus PT Ultra costs less than $200.

Storage capacity

The storage required for 4K and 5MP security cameras depends on multiple factors, including bitrate, resolution, fps, and more. The information below can guide you through calculating the memory used by each camera’s mainstream and substream:

  • For 5MP cameras:

Generally, a 5MP camera's mainstream bitrate is 6 Mbps and its substream bitrate is 2 Mbps. To calculate:

Storage usage per mintute (mainstream) = 6 Mbps x 60 seconds / 8 bits = 45 Mbps

Storage usage per mintute (substream) = 2 Mbps × 60 seconds / 8 bits = 15 Mbps

  • For 4K cameras:

4K camera's mainstream bitrate is 8 Mbps and its substream bitrate is 2 Mbps. To calculate:

Storage usage per mintute (mainstream) = 8 Mbps × 60 seconds / 8 bits = 60 Mbps

Storage usage per minute (substream) = 2 Mbps × 60 seconds / 8 bits = 15 Mbps

Field of view

With their high resolution, wide-angle lenses, and millions of pixels captured in a single image, 4K cameras provide a significantly wider field of view. Capturing the same, wide coverage area with a 5MP camera would produce blurry edges, and physical features, license plates, and other important details would not be identifiable.

Night vision

4K security cameras have image sensors and processing technology that lets them capture much clearer images at night than 5MP cameras.

4K vs 5MP Security Cameras Features

The chart below identifies the different features and specifications of 5MP and 4K security cameras.

Feature 5MP Security Cameras 4K Security Cameras
Image quality 2560 x 1920 pixels 3840×2160 pixels
Field of view About 70°-90° About 30°-110°
Image Clarity Good Excellent
Storage consumption 15-45MB/minute 15-60MB/minute
Cost Around $65 Around $150

Which Security Camera Is Best For You?

When considering a 4K camera or a 5MP camera, your specific needs will determine which is right for you.

When to choose a 5MP CCTV camera?

If you need a balance between image quality and storage space and have a limited budget, a 5MP camera is a practical option. It is more suitable for medium-sized commercial or residential applications like parking lots, driveways, and home entrances.

Watch this video captured by the Reolink 5MP camera to see its resolution:

When to choose a 4K CCTV camera?

4K cameras are a good choice for those with a higher budget looking for a surveillance solution for a large area. It will provide the greatest detail and widest coverage, and is appropriate for warehouses, big box stores, construction sites, backyards, long hallways, and other large facilities.

Watch this video captured by the Reolink 4K high resolution camera:

Note: If you are interested in 4K CCTV camera, check out our comprehensive guide on 4K security camera to get more information!

Recommendations For 4K And 5MP Security Cameras/Systems

Now that we have discussed the advantages and considerations of both 4K and 5MP security cameras, let's delve into some specific recommendations. You can make a more informed decision regarding which camera is best suited for your needs.

The RLC 520A is a 5MP PoE camera with an included spotlight that provides clear, detailed surveillance footage. Built-in AI technology helps this camera intelligently detect and analyze motion, objects, and even human activity, reducing false alarms and providing more accurate alerts. The camera’s PoE function makes installation simpler.

Reolink RLC-520A

PoE IP Camera with Person/Vehicle Detection

5MP Super HD; Smart Motion Detection, Outdoor/Indoor Protection; 100ft Night Vision; Audio Recording; Time Lapse, Remote Access & Control.

The E1 Outdoor Pro is a 4K WiFi PTZ camera with a color night function that provides clear day and night images. Its 3X optical zoom enlarges images to display greater detail without losing quality. The camera’cs auto-track lets you detect and track moving objects within its field of view, and its IP66 weather resistance rating makes it suitable for various weather conditions.

Reolink E1 Outdoor Pro

4K WiFi PTZ Camera with Auto-Tracking

4K 8MP Super HD, Smart Person/Vehicle Alerts, 355° Pan & 50° Tilt & 3X Optical Zoom, Auto Tracking, Color Night Vision.

The RLK8-800B4 is a 4K security system that can be connected to up to 8 security cameras so you can monitor and capture footage from multiple areas or angles simultaneously.

Besides, one standout feature of the RLK8-800B4 is its infrared (IR) night vision capabilities. This means that even in low-light or complete darkness, the cameras can capture clear images and videos.The IR technology allows the cameras to illuminate the scene with invisible infrared light, ensuring that you have a reliable surveillance solution around the clock.

Reolink RLK8-800B4

4K 8-Channel PoE Security System

4 pcs 4K Ultra HD Security Cameras; 2TB HDD 8-Channel NVR for 24/7 Recording; Person/Vehicle Detection; Plug & Play; 2 Network Solutions.

Additional Comparison: 720p vs 1080P vs 2K vs 5MP vs 8MP

The chart below provides comparisons of other resolutions.

Resolution Pixel Horizontal resolution Aspect ratio PPF( FOV=40 feet)
720p/1MP 1280*720 HD 16:9 32
1080p/2MP 1980*1080 2K full HD 16:9 48
2K/4MP 2560*1440 2K Super HD 16:9 64
5MP 2560x1960 2K+ 4:3 64
8MP 3840*2160 4K 16:9 96

Beyond 5MP and 4K: 16MP Surveillance Solution

With advancements in technology, camera manufacturers have pushed beyond traditional resolution limits to explore high-resolution security options, including 12MP and 16MP models.

Reolink recently introduced its inaugural 16MP model, the Duo 3 PoE. Featuring dual lenses and boasting a resolution of 7680x2160 pixels, this camera ensures unmatched clarity and an expansive field of view. Setting up this high-resolution camera is a breeze, requiring only a single Ethernet cable for both power and data transmission. Users can effortlessly access and view 16MP footage from anywhere using the Reolink app or client.

Reolink Duo 3 PoE

Groundbreaking 16MP Dual-Lens PoE Camera

16MP UHD, Dual-Lens, Motion Track, 180° Wide Viewing Angle, Power over Ethernet, Color Night Vision.

Reolink has introduced a groundbreaking addition to high-resolution surveillance with a new 4K WiFi 6 security camera. This series exemplifies the power of 4K resolution and incorporates the latest WiFi 6 technology. WiFi 6 utilizes advanced features like Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), allowing more efficient data transmission. This efficiency is especially beneficial for handling the substantial data generated by 4K video streams.

Here are some products from this lineup:

  • Reolink E1 Outdoor Pro: A smart 4K 8MP PTZ WiFi camera featuring auto-tracking, tailored for outdoor use. This camera ensures effective surveillance around the clock, both day and night.
Reolink E1 Outdoor Pro

4K WiFi PTZ Camera with Auto-Tracking

4K 8MP Super HD, Smart Person/Vehicle Alerts, 355° Pan & 50° Tilt & 3X Optical Zoom, Auto Tracking, Color Night Vision.

  • Reolink RLC-810WA: Functioning as a dual-band WiFi 6 security camera, this device enhances 4K 8MP footage with reduced latency. Users can enjoy live streaming from anywhere with an internet connection.
Reolink RLC-810WA

4K WiFi 6 Surveillance Camera

4K 8MP Ultra HD, Dual-Band WiFi 6, Color Night Vision, IP67 Waterproof, Smart Detection, Two-Way Audio, Built-in Siren.

  • Reolink RLK12-800WB4: For those searching for a comprehensive security solution, this 4K WiFi 6 security camera kit is an ideal choice. Combining a wireless NVR with four 4K WiFi 6 security cameras, it delivers enhanced reliability and efficiency in surveillance.
Reolink RLK12-800WB4

4K Security Kit with Next-Gen WiFi 6

4 pcs 4K Ultra HD Security Cameras; Dual-Band WiFi 6; 2TB HDD 12-Channel NVR for 24/7 Recording; Peron/Vehicle/Animal Detection; IP67 Weatherproof.

Exploring 4K Resolution Comparisons

When it comes to choosing the right resolution for your display or camera, it's essential to understand the differences between various 4K options. These links provide valuable insights into different 4K resolution comparisons:

  • 4K vs. 8K: A detailed breakdown of the distinctions between 4K and 8K resolutions.
  • 4K vs. 2K: Explore the pros and cons of 2K and 4K resolutions for your specific needs.
  • 4K vs. 5K: Learn about the nuances between 4K and 5K resolutions and when each might be ideal.
  • 4K vs. 5MP: Discover the differences between 5MP and 4K resolutions in security camera systems.
  • 4K vs. 2160p: Delve into the relationship between 2160p and 4K resolutions for video content.
  • 4K vs. Blu-ray: Understand how 4K compares to Blu-ray in terms of video quality.
  • 4K Resolution Explained: Get a clear explanation of the pixel count in 4K resolution.

These resources will help you make an informed decision when selecting the 4K resolution that suits your specific requirements.


1. Is 4K better than 5MP?

4K is generally considered better than 5MP in terms of video or image quality, but factors including color accuracy, dynamic range, contrast, and overall image processing are also important.

2. How many MP does a 4K camera have?

Multiplying the horizontal and vertical pixel counts gives you total pixel count, so the calculation would be:

3840 pixels × 2160 pixels = 8,294,400 pixels

Divide the total pixel count by 1 million to get the megapixel count of 8.29 megapixels.

3. Is 5MP considered high resolution?

5MP resolution is considered a moderate resolution by today's standards. It offers a respectable level of detail for applications like digital photography, printing, or displaying images on screens, but it will not provide the level of detail or resolution provided by higher-end cameras or newer devices featuring higher megapixel counts.

High resolution professional cameras generally offer resolutions ranging from 20MP to 50MP and beyond, letting photographers capture more intricate details, but for everyday photography or displaying images on standard screens, 5MP will provide satisfactory results.

4. Is 5MP the same as 1080p?

No. 5MP refers to a camera resolution of approximately 5 megapixels, and it provides more detail and higher resolution than 1080p, which refers to a video resolution of 1920 pixels × 1080 pixels. 1080P is a standard high-definition (HD) resolution, but 5MP offers a higher pixel count and superior image quality than 1080p.


When deciding between a 5MP or 4K security camera, choose wisely and invest in the one that matches your needs and provides the detail and image quality necessary to protect your property and assets.

If you have other questions or comments regarding 5MP or 4K security cameras, leave your comment below!


All Comments Are Welcome

Yucy, as a proficient editor in Reolink, specializes in the field of home security. Her expertise lies in providing insightful information regarding the latest advancements in security systems, surveillance technologies, and safety measures. Comment and discuss with her!