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CCTV System Buyer's Guide


CCTV (closed circuit television) systems are gaining mainstream popularity as a crime-fighting tool. Whether you're in the market for a business or home security camera system, choosing the BEST security camera is vital to ensure that high quality video surveillance footage is obtained.

Determine Coverage Area and Target Distance, see more details on how to determine the Coverage Area and Target Distance

Select Security Camera Focal Length :The best way to do this is to use CCTV lens calculator.

Choose the Right Camera Type , see more details on how to choose the Right Camera Type

Choose Camera Resolution, The higher the resolution number, the sharper the image will be. Go to check more at What is Camera Resolution

Understand light level: One of the most important specifications. Light levels are measured in Lux. The lower the number, the less light it will take to reproduce a clear image.

Select a monitor that will match the resolution of your CCTV camera system.

Cost Consideration: In general, the old adage "you get what you pay for" applies to a certain extent when buying CCTV equipment.

How to determine the Coverage Area and Target Distance
  • First, determine how wide of an area needs to be covered - this is called the field of view.
  • Next, determine the target distance in feet. The target distance is the distance that the subject is expected to be from the security camera.
How to choose the Right Camera Type

First, you need know common styles in market as below, then make a choice:

  • Bullet Cameras

(also known as lipstick cameras) These are small (about the size of a finger) cylindrical shaped cameras that are usually sealed in a weatherproof housing. They are a well hidden camera due to their small size and inconspicuous shape. These fit well under an eve of a house, and can be used indoors or outdoors. Here persents some common styles in market.

  • Dome Cameras

These are very commonly seen in malls and department stores where the security camera needs to look nice and blend in with the surroundings so as not to make customers feel uncomfortable. These security cameras also sometimes come with dark tinted glass which makes it difficult for anyone to determine which way the camera is pointed. Many dome cameras are also fitted with vandalism proof lexan plastic domes to prevent damage(like the right one). There are also dome cameras that come with fortified metal housings and crush proof glass. Dome cameras come in both indoor and outdoor weatherproof versions.

  • Box Cameras

These are very commonly seen in malls and department stores where the security camera needs to look nice and blend in with the surroundings so as not to make customers feel uncomfortable. These security cameras also sometimes come with dark tinted glass which makes it difficult for anyone to determine which way the camera is pointed. Many dome cameras are also fitted with vandalism proof lexan plastic domes to prevent damage(like the right one). There are also dome cameras that come with fortified metal housings and crush proof glass. Dome cameras come in both indoor and outdoor weatherproof versions.

  • IR Camera

Night Vision Cameras with good IR lighting - If your security cameras are going to be used for any night time surveillance where the lighting is dim, then you'll most likely want to choose a security camera that has infrared (IR) LEDs that illuminate the area. IR is invisible to the human eye but not to the camera

  • Black and white vs. color Camera

If you are going to use the cameras in an environment where the light conditions are very low, it is
recommended to buy a black and white CCTV camera system. There are advanced Day/Night
Cameras now. They are color in good lighting and Black and white in low light levels

  • Wired vs. Wireless Security Camera

Many first time CCTV buyers are attracted to the concept of wireless security cameras due to the 'high tech' appeal and the fact that no video cable is required. However, be aware that wireless cameras are susceptible to interference from other wireless devices such as cordless phones, wireless internet devices etc. that also utilize frequencies in 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 GHz range.

Also, wireless cameras do require a power cord so they aren't completely wireless in that sense. Finally, wireless cameras require a radio transmitter and receiver which add to the cost of the camera. Whenever possible, use a conventional wired security camera instead of a wireless system.

What is Camera Resolution

This refers to lines of resolution of the security camera. The more lines of resolution, the more detail that can be seen in the video so you want this to be as high as possible. 350 lines of resolution is fairly low resolution by current standards. 480 lines is very common and fairly good for general use. 525 to 580 lines of resolution is considered high resolution for standard CCTV and will give the best picture quality. There are megapixel cameras and hi-definition security cameras that have much higher resolution. These are on their way to market but are expensive and require more storage space for the increased video information.