If you’re old enough to remember watching TV on an old standard definition (SD) television set, you’ll understand what a leap forward it was when high definition (HD) television was first introduced. Most Americans made the switch in the early years of the 21st
century. And few of us have ever cared to look back. There’s simply no comparison between SD and HD. SD was grainy, fuzzy, and indistinct. HD is sharp, vibrant, richly detailed, and amazingly lifelike.
HD is the New Standard
For consumers, the transition to HD was about investing in a new HD-capable television. But it all began with HD video cameras. At first not all content was filmed, or broadcast, in HD. But that too has changed. Of course, HD is now the true standard, so it’s easy to forget the difference between old “standard definition” television and modern high definition television. We needed new television sets to view the new HD content that was increasingly being produced and broadcast. And that brings us to HD video cameras
Your HD television would be useless without HD cameras to produce high definition content in the first place. These modern cameras offer unprecedented clarity, detail, and vivid definition. Colors are bright and life-like, and details are so distinct, you can now see an actor’s every wrinkle, blemish, or stray hair. While television screens have certainly grown in size over the years, HD is not about making things bigger than life. It’s about making them true-to-life. In real life, people sometimes have a tiny piece of lint on their clothing. The difference between SD and HD is that now, you can even see the lint.
Video Surveillance Revolution
While that may make things more challenging for actors and directors, it makes modern surveillance technology far more effective. Countless crimes have been solved using video surveillance footage. But many went unsolved in the past, despite primitive surveillance. These old systems simply didn’t provide enough resolution—enough fine detail—to identify a given perpetrator. That’s no longer the case. HD cameras provide remarkable clarity and detail, even at a distance. Many also now feature screen formats that more closely resemble the widescreen format that many of us have grown accustomed to viewing on our HD television sets. Technically, HD provides better resolution because it supplies more information in a given frame of video. Digital images are created by pixels—the tiny dots of light that combine to form an identifiable image on your screen. HD cameras deliver more pixels per square inch, and that means greater detail.
Keeping Pace with Frame Rate
Frame rate per second also matters. Old video surveillance cameras saved space by filming at reduced frame rates. The brain perceives a series of progressive static images as seamless motion when those images are viewed at a rate of at least 24 frames per second. Think of old movie film. It features a series of photographs taken in fast sequence. When viewed in sequence, at a frame rate of 24 or higher, we perceive these images not as photographs, but as a “motion picture”. Most modern HD cameras are capable of supplying that frame rate, or higher, for natural looking video imagery.