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A video surveillance system is essential for any business, big or small. Choosing the right system, however, can be a challenge when you're trying to customize the installation to your customer's specific needs. Our security camera buying guide can help you find the appropriate IP cameras, recording device and video storage option to meet your project's specifications.
Dome cameras are ceiling mounted and named for their dome-like shape. These cameras are commonly used in indoor surveillance applications. Some models are fixed in place, while others can be remotely controlled to pan, tilt and zoom. The shape of these cameras can make it difficult to determine which direction the camera is facing, which can help deter criminals. Most dome cameras have a vandal-proof encasing, so these are a good option for areas where you want to place a vandal-resistant camera.
Uses and applications: Casinos | Banks | Libraries | Exteriors of buildings | Hotels | Restaurants | Any area where a camera is susceptible to tampering or vandalismShop Now
Turret cameras, sometimes known as mini dome, eyeball or flat-faced dome cameras, are small cameras that have a ball-and-socket design. These cameras offer lots of flexibility in terms of installation since the lens can pivot in any direction. Turret cameras also tend to have a compact form factor, allowing installation to be fast and easy in most cases.
Uses and applications: Hospitals | Banks | Libraries | Exteriors of buildings | Restaurants | Hotels | Theaters | WarehousesShop Now
These cameras are long and protrude outward like a "bullet." Bullet cameras are great for capturing long-range images from a fixed location and work well in setups where you know exactly where you want camera coverage. They are also attached to a mounting bracket, which makes them easy install.
Uses and applications: Parking lots | Airports | Traffic intersections | Hallways | Schools | Hospitals | Manufacturing sites | Gas stations | Other similar environmentsShop Now
PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras are a type of dome camera that offers much more control. They offer a wider field of view than stationary cameras and can cover a much larger area because of their ability to pan, tilt and zoom. They can also have the ability to rotate 360 degrees. Certain models can move between pre-set positions and zoom in automatically in response to detected events. PTZ cameras are commonly deployed in guard stations where personnel can operate them through a remote controller.
Uses and applications: Guard stations | Supermarkets | Prisons | Construction sites | Churches | Museums | Airports | Large outdoor areasShop Now
These cameras are designed to be installed without wires. Certain models even offer cellular connectivity, which makes them an ideal option for surveillance in remote areas or for hunting applications out in the wilderness where access to electricity and Wi-Fi networks is not possible.
Uses and applications: Deer leases | Farms | Camp sites | Hunting sites | Cannabis farmsShop Now
Panoramic cameras or fisheye cameras capture a very wide angle of view, typically ranging from 180 degrees to 360 degrees. They accomplish this by either having a very wide-angle lens or by having multiple lenses within a single camera structure. These types of cameras can be used in conference rooms or ceilings of small rooms to capture the entire room with one camera.
Uses and applications: Parking lots | Airports | Traffic intersections | Retail stores | Gas stations | Hotels | Hallways | Manufacturing sites | WarehousesShop Now
Covert cameras are small and discreet. They are typically used to capture people, sometimes up close, without them noticing. Examples of where these cameras could be used include at ATMs and drive-throughs or anywhere a discreet camera is needed. Some of these cameras even come disguised as another object like a smoke detector, wall clock and more.
Uses and applications: ATMs | Drive-thru lanes | Vending machines | Traffic monitoring | Tollway stations and checkpointsShop Now
When it comes to offering better quality video and clearer, more detailed images, the higher the resolution in a camera, the better. Resolution in security cameras is usually measured in megapixels. Most cameras today come in 2MP, 4MP, 5MP or 8MP options. Some options may offer 10MP, 12MP or 20MP resolution.
Field of view in a security camera refers to how wide or narrow that camera's capture zone is. This is measured in degrees, and the most common field of view tends to be 90 degrees. Regarding field of view, other aspects to consider are lens type and the size of the lens.
Two main types of lenses are fixed and varifocal. A varifocal lens allows you to adjust the focal length, angle of view and level of zoom. A fixed lens doesn't allow you to adjust those attributes. Fixed lenses usually have a wide angle. A lens with a shorter focal length like 4mm provides an image with a wider angle of view. Lenses with longer focal lengths, such as 100mm, provide a narrower angle of view.Shop Fixed Lenses Shop Varifocal Lenses
Optical zoom in a camera refers to the ability for the camera to zoom by moving parts within the camera lens. As opposed to digital zoom, which does not use moving lens elements. Instead, a portion of the frame is selected and enlarged by the camera’s sensor to fill the entire frame, but this incurs a loss in picture quality. Optical zoom doesn't experience this quality loss in the image. The higher the optical zoom, such as 40x zoom, the more the camera can zoom into an image without loss in quality versus a lower optical zoom, such as 2x zoom.
For outdoor cameras, weather resistance is an important feature. A camera's resistance rating is referred to as the ingress protection (IP) rating, such as IP66, IP67, IP68, etc. The first digit in the rating refers to the ingress of solid objects including dust. The second digit refers to ingress of liquids such as water. For outdoor cameras, a minimum rating of IP66 is recommended. However, the higher the better.
Analog cameras are still widely available in the video surveillance industry because they are less expensive than IP cameras. Also, many customers have had their analog systems installed for a long time and would rather not rip out and replace their coax cable and wiring to update to IP cameras. For those who prefer to extend the life of their analog infrastructure for as long as possible, high definition over coax (HDoC) cameras can offer a viable method to upgrade to HD video using their existing coaxial cabling.
An important factor to consider when setting up your cameras and surveillance system is choosing the right
camera cable for the type of system that you are using. If you're setting up an IP security camera
system, you will need to use network cabling such as CAT5e or CAT6 ethernet cable. This type of cable can
deliver both power and data to your IP cameras, allowing you to run one cable to and from the cameras. If
your IP cameras are not the Power over Ethernet (PoE) type, then you will need a 12v power supply to send
power to your cameras.
If installing analog cameras or HD cameras over coax, you will need to use RG59 Siamese cable to send power and receive video from your security cameras. You can also adapt HD cameras over coax to use network cable by using a video balun. You may want to choose that option if the home or business you are working in already has ethernet cable runs. This will save time by not having to lay new cables.
Although both Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) and Network Video Recorders (NVRs) are responsible for recording video, the difference between them is how they process video data. DVRs process the video data at the recorder, while NVR systems encode and process the video data at the camera, then stream the data to the NVR. DVRs only work with analog cameras, while NVRs only work with IP cameras. Hybrid recorders have the capability to record from analog and IP sources.
A key component of video surveillance systems is storage. Storage can allow you to save your recorded video for up to months at a time. The total amount of time you can store your video will depend on many different factors including resolution, number of cameras, frames per second, compression rate and more. So be sure to equip the system with enough storage capacity to save video for the desired amount of time.
In order to see live video footage and view playback of any previously recorded video, you'll need a monitor or multiple monitors. These will be available in a variety of screen sizes and resolutions to suit your needs. It's also possible to have more than one camera feed going to a single monitor.
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