SD Web Camera vs HD Web Camera – Online video applications

In today’s fast growing video/audio usage in applications like, Live Streaming, Video
Recording, Chats and Video Conferencing, there are many key stakeholders that impact
your overall experience with the technology.
Some of the key factors influencing your overall experience are:
1. Bandwidth
2. Streaming Server – Red5/Wowza/FMS (arguable)
3. Software used for broadcasting video/audio stream
a. Code Quality
b. Codec used
c. Settings like resolution, fps, keyframe etc etc
4. Computer used for broadcasting
5. Camera/Microphone used for broadcasting stream
For sake of our scope we are only interested in discussing the importance of a high
quality camera for your broadcasting uses. There are many web cams available in the
market, promising a decent resolution of 2 Megapixel and much more. (8 Mp, 10 Mp etc)
Example: IBall Face2Face C8.0 (My old camera)

Then there are new ranges of HD cameras coming up which promise a decent 720P or
more for video capturing/streaming.
Example: Logitech HD Webcam C510
So what we will see now is how a HD camera edges over a standard (“good enough”) 2 Mp camera! Firstly I have seen many people saying HD = 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080, and that’s it!
This is fairly incorrect from what I observe. HD cameras are bundled with drivers that enable them to capture greater details applying H264 codec compared to standard web cameras. Remember that all video encoding technologies use compression techniques to pack frames efficiently. Then the broadcasting codec decides the encoding technique/algorithm to use, which causes further loss of data.
Thus it is important that your source of capture ie: Camera device should be able to capture as much details as possible.
Below are 2 sample images from each of the two cams, showing the true difference between SD and HD capture.

 

1600 x 1200 using IBall C8.0 face 2 face
1280 x 720 using Logitech HD C510

 

A you tube video to help you understand better:

YouTube Preview Image

In truth most of the webcams out there boasting 2 / 5 / 8 mega pixels are little more than vga cameras enhancing resolution by software processing. If you hardware is truly capable of capturing HD details, then its worth paying for. The new H264 codec support in flash is like a high prospectus pipeline. So while your standard VGA cam is good for transferring a few glasses of water down the pipeline, its not fully utilizing the pipeline’s potential. So get yourself a good HD cam and see the difference yourself.

By Rajdeep Rath, Java developer and CEO of http://rtmpworld.com/