Security cameras are an awesome way to add a level of security to your home or business. Aside from telling you who goes into and leaves your property, they’re a great way to deter potential criminal activity.
Security cameras allow you to keep an eye on everything. If something goes missing, you have a break-in, or the police are looking for someone in the area, your security camera’s footage will tell you exactly what is going on.
These intelligent cameras allow you to watch your kids, friends, neighbours, pets, clients, customers, and anyone else who walks through your doors. But, there are so many on the market today it can be difficult to know where to start.
This is a comprehensive guide to all things surveillance. In it, we’ll tell you what security cameras are, where they come from, the different types available, specifications to look out for, and where you should place them.
Without further ado, let’s get started with the basics.
What Is Video Surveillance
Video surveillance is when you monitor actions, behaviours, and events to manage, direct, or protect people and their surroundings.
Video surveillance comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be done with a handheld camera or high-tech surveillance equipment, depending on the situation.
Video surveillance is used by a huge variety of entities. Small business owners use it to keep their assets safe while governing bodies enforce the law and track criminal activity.
Regular households also use it to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and keep their homes protected when away on vacation.
The laws surrounding video surveillance vary hugely depending on your location. Some see security cameras as a breach of privacy, while others see them as a necessity. Video surveillance is also used for international espionage across a multitude of countries.
While the first surveillance camera appeared a little later, the first movie camera was developed in the 1880s. It was 13 years later that the first motion pictures film was screened to a huge audience.
In 1942, however, the first Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) was invented and installed by German scientists who wanted to record the footage of the V-2 rockets being launched.
Seven years later, in 1949, the first commercial version became available, allowing businesses to track what was happening in their stores. Unlike, these CCTV cameras did not require any government permits.
New York then became the first city to install these cameras in its streets in order to repel random criminal acts that were taking place. From 1968, new models continued to be released, and crime started to drop dramatically.
In 1990, these cameras were installed on ATMs and in 1996, the first IP camera was launched, cutting down the need for CCTV and making the video surveillance world more efficient thanks to computers.
Since then, terrorist attacks have risen, which has led to an increase in video surveillance. As a result, companies have launched their smart cameras of higher quality and record all footage to Cloud systems.
As mentioned above, there are a massive variety of security cameras now available to choose from. The type you choose will completely depend on what you hope to achieve by implementing a security camera into your property.
Fixed view security cameras are the most old fashioned models but are still extremely popular, especially for homeowners. They’re a simple, no thrills way of keeping an extra pair of eyes on your home. Here are some of the main types available on the market today:
Fixed view security cameras typically need to be mounted onto a sturdy structure and then adjusted to a specific angle of your preference. They are best used for situations where a particular area needs to be targeted, for example, a front door.
Fixed view cameras are great for surveying small areas and perfect for smaller homes or businesses. They also often cost less.
Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) security cameras are among the most versatile and functional models on the market today.
They’re slightly cheaper than IP models, can cover huge areas, can be configured to scan specific areas based on your preferences, and by owning one, you can control the camera to track an event.
Thanks to their ability to cover larger areas, you instantly reduce the amount of money spent on security cameras as you will need less of them. In some cases, one PTZ camera is enough.
That said, it?s worth noting that these are more complex systems and, therefore, do take some getting used to. They’re also more expensive than fixed view models.
As the name suggests, 360-degree angle security cameras can film everything around them. These are often found in office buildings, on ceilings. They offer a 360-degree view of any location you choose to monitor.
That said, they can also be mounted on tables for meetings. These cameras come with a wide variety of features depending on the model you choose—for example, waterproofing, vandal-proofing, and even infrared.
Aside from the different types of security cameras available, they can also all be sold in a huge variety of camera housings.
The type of housing you choose will once again wholly depend on why you want to install a security camera in the first place. It will also depend on the location of the camera itself. Here are some of the most common types of camera housings for you to check out:
As the name suggests, these types of security camera housings are used outdoors. They are designed to withstand even the harshest weather conditions and come with an impenetrable cover meaning that even the heaviest rains can’t damage them.
They stop dust, insects, and moisture from entering and damaging the security camera. Of course, their most impressive feature is that they are weatherproof and highly durable. However, they are often not designed for indoor use.
Dome housings are, of course, shaped like domes and can be installed on ceilings or desks. They are among the most popular types of security camera housings on the market today as they are visible without being intrusive.
They can be integrated with a 360-degree security camera, meaning they often offer a complete view. Because of this feature, they’re often referred to as speed domes.
Depending on the model, dome housings can be used indoors and outdoors and are great for virtually any location. Not only this, they’re often weatherproof, although this does depend on the model you choose.
The bullet security camera housing is another easy to install unit that needs to be attached to a wall or ceiling. While it can also be used outdoors, this cylindrical and sleek shaped housing is more popularly used indoors.
It needs to be mounted pointing towards the specific area you want it to cover to install it. Unlike other models, it is not designed to offer a 360-degree view of an area. These housings do not allow you to tilt, pan, or zoom. However, they usually are waterproof.
There are some security cameras that you may not even know are there. These are known as discrete cameras and can often be mistaken for smoke detectors, clocks, or even motion sensors.
They can be found indoors and outdoors, are extremely easy to install, and are great if you want to catch someone doing something they shouldn’t be.
For example, if you have a hunch that an employee is stealing money or produce from your business, a discrete camera could be exactly what you need to prove it.
While they are tough to detect, they’re also easy to tamper with if discovered by the wrong people, so be sure to check your system regularly if you opt for a discrete housing for your security camera.
Specifications To Consider When Choosing A Security Camera
Choosing a security camera is not as easy it seems. They now come packed with a huge variety of features that make them incredibly complex gadgets to make a final decision on.
With that in mind, you need to ask yourself where your camera will be, what you want to survey, and what technical specifications you need your camera to have to achieve your security goals.
Below are some questions you should ask yourself when choosing your security camera for your home or business.
What area of your home do you need to survey? Does your business or home have an outdoor space as well as an indoor one?
When choosing your security camera, it is important that you consider whether you want it to be placed indoors or outdoors. This is because you may have to select a housing unit that is weather, bug, and dustproof.
On the other hand, if you want to install a security camera indoors, you will not need as sturdy a housing unit.
Once again, the type of housing unit you choose will completely depend on where your camera will be situated.
You will also have to consider what type of camera you are buying. For example, if you have chosen a 360-degree security camera, a bullet housing may not be the best option.
As if you have chosen a fixed view camera, a dome housing may not be the most effective choice. In addition to all the above, you need to consider whether you want your camera to be visible or discrete.
Internet Protocol, or IP security cameras, are the digital cameras that send the video footage they take via a computer network. Each IP camera has its IP address and password, and the footage is stored using a network video recorder.
Because these security cameras are wireless, they’re easier to set up and install as well as more flexible. They often use cheaper cabling and come with remote viewing and management.
CCTV stands for closed-circuit television and is a much older type of security camera. While these cameras offer the same lens and sensor considerations and physical installation, they are powered differently, are not as scalable, and require physical configuration.
CCTV security cameras also offer lower resolution footage and tend to cost more because their Coaxial and power cables cost more than network cables. Lastly, they’re not as safe as their IP counterparts because coax cables can be physically breached.
Based on the information above, we highly recommend opting for IP security cameras as these are more powerful, accurate, and safe- and that’s not to mention cheaper as well.
When choosing your security camera system, you also need to establish whether you need to acquire video footage at night. Are you a small business in an area where crime is high? Or do you worry about your home when you go on holiday?
These are just some reasons you may want to be able to film at night. If so, you need to think about choosing a camera that has night vision or infrared.
These features allow you to focus on an image in dark or black conditions because they employ IR LEDs that can detect heat signatures up to 150 feet away.
It is worth noting that infrared is utterly invisible to the human eye but does give your security camera a clear view of what is going on even in the darkest conditions.
If you are placing your security cameras outdoors or in low light, we recommend you choose models with infrared LED technology to get a better view of the area you are surveying.
The resolution you need depends entirely on what you are trying to capture on your security cameras.
If you’re using a security camera to keep your home safe, you may not need a super high-resolution camera. That said, if you own a business that handles large sums of money, high-resolution cameras could come in handy if anything were to happen.
High-resolution refers to the quality of the image you are capturing. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the picture. Analog resolution cameras are measured in TV lines, also known as TVLs.
The higher the number of TVLs, the higher the resolution of the camera footage. Today, the lowest resolution you’ll find in stores is approximately 420 TVLs, while the highest is about 700 TVLs.
When choosing a security camera, it is important that you know whether you’ll be filming at night or during the day, or both.
CCTV cameras can record in colour during the day, but if they do not have enough light at night, they tend to switch to black and white, affecting the quality of your footage.
Aside from considering the need for infrared and night vision, you may want to think about support lighting for your camera. Outdoor lighting such as an LED light could make all the difference when it comes to colour definition.
Some cameras do not require any support lighting; however, these are significantly more expensive. That said, you may save money on lighting, electricity, and installation. Plus, you’ll be able better to identify colours in cars, clothing, and more.
As with most gadgets, security cameras have become much smarter in the past twenty to thirty years.
They’re now equipped with features that allow them to cover all angles in a room, detect all motions from a cough to a sneeze, and even recognize specific faces and learn from peoples daily routines. Here are some extra features you could look into:
Wireless security camera systems are easier to install and manage, let alone more flexible and cheaper.
By choosing a wireless model, you’ll be able to install your security camera much further away or higher than if you were to purchase one with cables. This is because you won’t have to run the wires to a receiver to function correctly.
Not only this, wireless security cameras require fewer tools to install them and therefore can save you a tremendous amount of money. They’re also more manageable and allow for remote viewing, which leads us to our next point:
Statistics show approximately 2.32 billion smartphone users this year alone, a number expected to grow to 2.87 billion by 2020.
With that in mind, it makes complete sense that modern security camera models now allow users to get a live feed directly from a smartphone or tablet. These cameras traditionally work with mobile applications on iPhone, Android, and other operating systems.
Whether you’re at work and want to check up on your family or pets, or out shopping for your business and need to make sure everything is in working order while you’re away, you can do so as long as you have a wifi, 3G or 4G internet connection.
The latest security camera models have motion detection, which means they only record footage when they detect even the slightest movement. These motion detectors allow you to save disk space and make sure you only get the footage that you truly need to see.
These motion detectors can come equipped with passive infrared (PIR) sensors, which detect changes in heat and start recording in the dark based on these patterns.
Aside from giving you a complete view of what is happening during the day and at night, you can also program your security camera to record at specific times of the day and have it saved directly to your PC.
We can’t stress enough how important it is that you choose your camera according to the location where you will be placing it.
Indoor and outdoor security cameras do work very differently, and by choosing the wrong one for your desired location, you may be wasting a lot of money. But, what are the benefits of each? Let’s have a look:
Outdoor security cameras are best known for their ability to catch or deter intruders from breaking into your home or business.
Normally if you want to catch an intruder, you would go for a discrete model, while if you’re going to deter criminals altogether, you will opt for a more obvious model.
Both types of outdoor security cameras can be placed right outside your front door or around your house and are designed to withstand any harsh outdoor elements.
It’s important to make sure that your outdoor security camera is enclosed in a waterproof, bugproof, and dustproof housing unit so that it stands the test of time.
Indoor cameras traditionally produce much higher quality images as they are typically exposed to better lighting. With them, you can monitor your children, house guests, babysitters, house sitters, and anyone else in your home while you are not.
By choosing a model that also offers remote viewing, you’ll have the opportunity to keep an eye on your home, even if you’re miles away on holiday. Plus, it’s a great way to stop your teenagers from throwing any parties while you’re abroad!
Buying security cameras to monitor both the inside and outside of your home is a great way to keep you, your house, and your loved ones safe from intruders. The type of security system you choose will completely depend on what you want to achieve with your cameras.
You need to decide where your security cameras will be placed, how much of your home they’ll be monitoring, whether you want them to be wireless, and of course, whether you want a live feed straight to your mobile or tablet.
If you’ve decided that you’re definitely in the market for a new surveillance system, then head over to our buying guide, where we’ll share more information on security cameras as well as highlight some of the best models on the market today.