Choosing what type of Security Camera you need for your Installation
Choosing the right security cameras for a particular application is an important step in designing a surveillance system, especially if you want that system to actually be an effective crime solving tool, rather than simply a deterrent.
If you are in the market for such a system and aren’t sure what type of cameras you should be looking at, hopefully this writeup will help!
Security Camera Styles
This covers the main styles of CCTV Cameras that are out there and their typical applications..
- Box Cameras:
These are your traditional cameras that you often see mounted in almost any location and used for most applications. The real benefit to box cameras is that you can, in most cases, use a wide variety of changeable lenses on them that allows you to get the right field of view for your video, depending on the distance from target, etc. You can often find higher quality build standards on box cameras, as well, although the other styles are catching up. Box cameras can be placed in outdoor housings to allow them to be used outside, but they are not typically weatherproof themselves. Box cameras don’t generally come with infrared devices, although you can get extremely low-light versions or purchase infrared illuminators to go with the camera.
Box cameras can be used just about anywhere and offer the most flexibility when you need to “hone in” on a specific area from any distance or angle. They are easily noticeable, as well, but need housings if they are to be placed outside. They come in analog or IP/Network types, and can be intergrated into any system fairly easily.
- Dome Cameras:
Dome cameras are widely used because it is more difficult to tell which direction the camera’s lens is facing. They are also easier to mount, less obtrusive, and can come in weatherproof versions for outdoor surveillance. These cameras come in small and large form factors, with clear and blacked out domes. They are also available with infrared. Lower-end versions usually don’t have replaceable lenses, but some higher-end models do.
If you want your security cameras to be less obvious, more deceptive, and have a bit more flexibility when it comes to having infrared and being able to mount it outside without purchasing additional equipment, you may want to consider a dome camera. These can also be found in analog and IP/Network types, and some are vandal resistant/proof, as well.
- Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) Cameras:
Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) Cameras usually have a slightly larger form factor than dome cameras and are much more flexible because they can focus on more than one location and zoom in or out to capture specific areas or events. They aren’t usually weatherproof, but can be placed in an outdoor inclosure with a blacked-out dome that would protect the camera and deceive subjects. PTZ Cameras require more monitoring and configuration to truly bring out their potential, and can be extremely helpful in monitoring live situations. They are also meant to be place in more of an open location so that an entire 360º area can be covered, rather than a corner where you only have 90º of visibility.
Overall, PTZ cameras allow for more flexibility and an extended range of possibilities that could add a lot to a surveillance system. It might be a good idea to consider having a few of these around just for their flexibility. These come in analog & IP/Network Types and are growing in popularity as quality increases.
- Large Bullet/Barrel Cameras:
This style of camera can be best compared to the Box Cameras mentioned above. They are often mid-large on the size scale, with built in infrared/night vision, and usually have varifocal lenses that are adjustable for different distances. These have grown popular because of their cost effectiveness, allowing someone to purchase a relatively price-efficient camera that has a built in lens and infrared that can be mounted and left alone. Another reason they are becoming more popular is because there are several high quality versions that can be placed outside without additional accessories.
If you have a location, inside or outside, that needs a cost-effective solution that produces OK-good image quality and is easy to setup, this may be the solution for you. There is often less flexibility with the focal length, so I suggest using a lens calculator tool to make sure you are going to get the intended results from the lens size you are purchasing. These cameras aren’t as easy to find with IP/Network support, but we should see more and more with that feature in the near future.
- Small Bullet Cameras:
You often find these in convenience stores and other shops. They are smaller than the above styles and often produce less quality. They aren’t necessarily cheaper, but some are. They will fit almost anywhere and usually have fixed lenses. Many of these cameras are weatherproof.
The small bullet camera is best suited for general applications that don’t require awesome clarity or performance, but as technology changes we are likely to see much better quality come out of this smaller form factor. There are some IP/Network bullets that are slightly larger than the average ones out there, making it possible to include this camera in an IP-based solution.
Coming in all shapes, forms and sizes, the “Spy” camera market is huge. From wall clocks to height strips and fully functional pens, you really can’t nail down a specific form factor for this type of camera. If you are considering a “covert” approach to your surveillance, you may want to look into them, though. Their quality is often sub-par, because manufacturers are trying to squeeze too much technology into too small of a package, but if you look around at test-footage from different cameras, you can surely find something acceptable.
Some covert cameras are analog and wired, while others, like this mini dvr pen camera, record onto a thumb-drive device that is built into the pen.If you want to be covert about it, this is the only way to go. Most of these cameras are analog or use onboard recording methods. Make sure to be careful with local laws on recording video and audio when utilizing something like this, though, because laws vary from location to location.
In closing, always consider camera style, location, perspective, expenses and monitoring when putting together a security system. Too many out there are incapable of actually solving crime, which is the entire purpose of spending the time and money, so please make sure you are doing it right before just throwing something together.