Closed-circuit television, or CCTV, cameras produce either still or video images for surveillance. That’s something just about anyone who watches crime shows would know, but how does one go about choosing a surveillance camera for a home? These systems are complex, but not difficult to master.
Types of CCTV cameras available
Cameras can be analog or digital. It is critical to know the difference because they use different types of storage medium.
Analog systems record straight to videotape. Stores with this form of surveillance record at a very slow speed. That is what turns a 3-hour tape into 24-hour storage. The recording speed allows the camera to capture four frames per second. Time moves faster than most people realize, though. In one second, a person can walk into the frame and disappear by the time the camera snaps the next image.
Digital feeds do not store on a videotape. These systems send a signal directly to a computer. Compression of the signal minimizes storage space. The amount of compression depends on the complexity of the device. A standard digital camera uses a compression ratio of 5:1, but DVD quality devices will compress even further.
There are drawbacks to both forms of technology. With analog devices, you must worry about tape storage or use non-analog media. The standard-definition digital video cameras offer poor image quality too. The maximum pixel resolution runs around 320,000. The alternative is to purchase a multi-megapixel IP-based device that provides better quality images. Uncompressed digital recordings also take up massive amounts of storage space. These cameras often work with motion detection sensors to cut back on the amount of necessary free space.
A network camera, sometimes called IP cameras, can be either analog or digital but offer an embedded video service with an IP address for streaming. Once streamed, the image can be manually monitored or recorded on a computer. Network systems are inexpensive surveillance solutions because they require only a network camera, cabling, and a PC. There is a question about the quality, but if the price is an issue than a network system is the most cost-effective approach.
How to choose a CCTV (Surveillance) security system
The process of purchasing and setting up CCTV cameras starts when you evaluate your security needs. Consider how tightly defined you need the images, for example. Should the system be wireless or are you willing to install cabling? Are the cameras strictly for indoors or will they be outside too?
Select the camera system that most suits your situation. For indoor/outdoor use, a standard wired color camera will work. They have IR cut-filters for night vision and offer a variety of connection ports. The drawback is they will require video extension cables to set up.
The alternative is an IP network camera that connects to a router. IP cameras provide access to remote areas over the Internet. This means you can see what is going on using a smartphone, laptop or tablet computer even when you’re on the go.
If in doubt, have a security company come and evaluate your home or business. They can set up the equipment that suits your needs and fits your budget.