There is a proliferation of choice in the security camera market today, able to suit most people’s requirements and budgets. From specialist suppliers to big box stores, there are so many offerings. How do you decide which one is for you? Here’s five tips to get you started.
1 DETERMINE WHERE YOU WANT THE CAMERAS (what are you looking at?).
You may require an image that is close to the camera, however there are many applications of CCTV cameras that require viewing further into the distance. This is when the focal length and Field of View of the camera matters. You want your camera focal length to reflect your primary viewing area. If you need it, multifocal cameras are available too, of course, but will cost you more.
2 IMAGE RESOLUTION
The resolution of a security camera image is just like the resolution on any computer monitor. The higher the resolution the better the overall image will be. A 4K camera is generally considered in most applications to be a good camera that will cover most images to a high standard. A term used in Security Camera jargon is DORI distance. DORI stands for Detect, Observe, Recognize and Identify, and it’s basically the distance at which the image becomes clear enough to resolve to a given level. Good cameras can identify images at 40 feet or less, depending on the focal length/zoom of the lens.
It’s also important to consider viewing the camera images in different light situations.
Higher-specification cameras will include IR (infrared) viewing for night-time vision, and even better cameras will show full color even in night and low light situations. The Dahua TiOC (Three in One Camera) has this ability and provides the sharpest images and makes it easier to identify persons and actions in low light levels.
The modern security camera will have capabilities to assist observing images in low light, bright light, and the settings can be adjusted to suit the position of your camera. This is where you will see terms such as WDR (Wide Dynamic Range), HLC (High Light Compensation), BLC (Back Light Compensation).
WDR requires 2 image sensors, both giving the right exposure to light and dark areas of the image. High light compensation reduces glare so that you can see the image more clearly, in contrast to Back Light compensation where a bright background dominating the contrast level is overruled so that you can see detail in the darker areas.
There is a way to mitigate low light levels in lower-specification cameras, and that is to include a separate light, often triggered by a PIR motion-detector. Ring, Nest and other mass-market cameras include cameras that come with a triggered light.
3 DETECTION TRIGGERS
Most cameras can now trigger recording when a key motion or intrusion is detected. The ROI (Region of Interest) gives the area where a change will start a recording and initiate a trigger (often a sound) to indicate motion. Previously, security guards monitored camera images 24/7. This technology has enabled us to get on with our lives and just view our recordings as needed.
Which leads us to point four…
4 ACCESS TO IMAGES
The use of apps on Smartphones allows access to images wherever you are, and you may even converse with those near the cameras as many cameras now include a microphone. No longer is there a need to be confined to an office with a monitor, 24/7. You or your staff can monitor your assets on the go.
5 CAPTURING THOSE IMAGES
This is where you may see a big difference between camera types. You may be restricted to viewing images on a propriety cloud-based system, with limited capacity or limited time and sometimes limited downloads. And these services are not always free. This is something to consider beyond the cost of the original cost of purchase and installation.
This is where the systems connected to a Network Video Recorder (NVR) and, for older systems a DVR, shows potential. For the cost of the server and HDD to hold the data (plus some network cabling) you can record the images and can access them for a number of days (determined by the capacity of the HDD). The quality of NVR systems differ so good quality equipment will give you more peace of mind and reassurance that your system will last you for years to come.
So, like many things in life, you get what you pay for. Most readily available security camera systems are low-mid level. For higher specification systems plus custom, design, consultations and installation services you need to go to an experienced security camera specialist. They have the knowledge and know how to help you get started at your convenience.