What is Frames Per Second? Review Guide

It's extremely easy to get lost in all of the numbers and features thrown at you when reading or talking to someone about technology. Today I'm going to discuss one of those topics, which is Frames Per Second (or FPS for short) and how this relates to security cameras, specifically.

Frames Per Second represents, quite literally, how many times per second a security camera will take a still image; it then stacks those images back to back and plays them in rapid sequence and that's how you get video playback. The more images per second that a camera can capture then the smoother the playback will be and the less jittery the video will look when playing back.

The absolute biggest misconception when talking to people about Frames Per Second is that the minimum to have good quality is 30 FPS. I'm not entirely sure where this rumor started but it couldn't be further from the truth. As a quick side note in fact, TV shows are filmed at 24 FPS. I think what scares people is the 1990's bank robbery footage where the criminal is seen skipping across the screen and is barely visible. To be considered full motion video a camera needs to capture in at least 7 FPS which is a lot less than one might think. Most security experts will tell you that no more than 15 FPS is required for general coverage security footage. Of course, there are always exceptions for special needs cameras like LPR's (License Plate Recognition cameras which capture your license plate as you drive, used in street cameras and toll roads). This is one of those topics you really need to see to believe, and luckily we made a video of different frame rates side by side so you can get a first hand look at this.

As you can tell in the video even 10 FPS looks pretty decent until you see the cars driving by and it really accentuates how capturing those additional frames per second adds to the overall quality of the playback.

One thing that's often overlooked when talking about Frames Per Second is how it effects your archive time. The more frames captured per second will increase the amount of storage you need. Recording at 15 FPS in comparison to 30 FPS would require literally half the amount of storage. So decreasing your security cameras to 15 FPS from 30 FPS would effectively double your archive time.

I get asked quite a bit why manufacturers even make the frame rate adjustable at all and not just make it fixed? It's for interoperability mainly so cameras can work openly with many different recording systems. Also having the ability to set one of the cameras to capture at a low FPS than another because it's in a low traffic/low risk area so you can bump up the FPS in another area is always helpful.

So when you're looking at the specifications for your security camera system, keep in mind that for the majority of people 15 Frames Per Second is more than adequate for general security.

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