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Evaluating CCTV Camera Specifications: How to Make the Right Choice

Published on 27 September 13
Evaluating CCTV Camera Specifications: How to Make the Right Choice - Image 1

The basic purpose of a CCTV camera is round-the-clock surveillance for safety and security purposes. These cameras record âstillâ images as well as videos that can be viewed at a later date. What is interesting is that while they are not particularly new technology, their pricing and innovating manufacturing has put them within the reach of most domestic home budgets.

Restaurants and commercial establishments also use them to prevent shoplifting, theft and vandalism in retail, service or administrative establishments. The government and police force frequently use public CCTV systems to keep watch on neighborhoods, roads, airports and any other high risk location which may require monitoring and surveillance.

Indoor Cameras vs. Outdoor Cameras

CCTV cameras can be used inside buildings or on the outside of any structure, directly exposed to the elements like sun, sand, wind, snow and rain. They are built to withstand the elements and incremental environmental damage.

  • Outdoor cameras are weather proof since they have to withstand stringent weather conditions. They are made to be waterproof and no extra protection is required upon installation to safeguard outdoor cameras.
  • Indoor cameras on the other hand are not waterproof, so great caution has to be taken to ensure that they are not exposed to the elements as this could lead to damage and malfunction.
  • Outdoor cameras are generally wireless and require no cable attachments whereas indoor cameras are all connected to a DVR and monitor or draw from a wired power source.
  • Outdoor cameras generally have good night vision and perform better in low-light conditions since they have to be able to record good quality footage even in the dark.

Camera Specifications

  • While choosing a CCTV camera to suit your needs, several factors have to be taken into consideration including technical specifications and physical constraints if any. Ever-increasing product ranges in the market and constantly evolving technology can make it extremely challenging to make an informed choice with so much selection. Understanding the variables in CCTV camera technology can help you narrow down your choices.

The core of the technology is the CCD sensor that converts light into an electrical signal. This electrical signal is then processed and converted into a video signal output that can either be recorded or displayed on a monitor.

The video signal treatment depends on the type of camera. There are two principal types of CCD Chip cameras: Analogue or the newly introduced Digital. These two types can be further sub-divided into:
  • Medium resolution color
  • High resolution color
  • Medium resolution monochrome
  • High resolution monochrome
  • Day or night cameras that provide color during the day and monochrome at night.
Each of the above categories is available with varying levels of performance - from base to advanced features.

Monochrome vs. Color CCTV Cameras

Human memory recalls and reacts better to color footage than to images produced in monochrome or black and white. It is far easier to track down or remember an intruder who was wearing a pair of blue jeans and a green sweatshirt than a grey figure in monochrome. However, color cameras are more expensive and the decision depends completely on the discretion of your budget.

Analogue vs. Digital

Traditional analogue cameras are connected with RG59 Siamese cables that bundle the video and power cables. The cameras capture a video signal and transfer it through a cable to a DVR where it is recorded and a monitor where it is displayed. The DVR converts the analog signal to digital, compresses it and stores it on a hard drive for later retrieval and viewing.

Digital signal processing (DSP) cameras offer better features than their analogue counterparts do.

  • Standard DSP cameras take clearer images and can operate over a wide range of lighting conditions. Their other advanced features include back light compensation for low light conditions, remote set-up and control, video motion detection, and on-screen menus. These features make DSP cameras ideal for use in complex surveillance conditions.
  • Premium DSP cameras split the screen into many zones. The DSP function then calculates the average brightness of each zone and compares it to those in all the other zones. The camera then adjusts the picture detail for areas that are in silhouette. This advanced feature is great for odd lighting situations. In addition, the back light compensation feature ensures good quality pictures in daylight.

Installing Analog Cameras in Your Home

This can be easily done with a little information and the correct tools for a DIY (do-it-yourself) professional installation.
  • Siamese cables. RG59 Siamese cables are the standard cables used to connect the cameras to the power supply and the DVR/monitor. It has one video cable and one power cable.
  • Locations for your cameras. Decide where you want to strategically place your cameras. You also need to decide the angles of the cameras to attain the best view possible. There is software like the IP Video System Design Tool which can actually help you make this decision.
  • Point of entrance. If you have cameras outside your house, find one point of entrance to bring all the cables into your house.
  • DVR and monitor. Decide where you want to place your DVR and monitor. Then bring all the cables from your point of entrance (say, the attic) to this location.
  • With BNC connections. If your Siamese cables already have BNC connections then at this point you need to connect them to the DVR.
  • Without BNC Connections. If they do not have BNC connections, then buy them and crimp each end on. Then connect to the DVR.
  • DC Voltage. Ensure that your cameras receive only DC Voltage for their power supply otherwise they might suffer permanent damage.
Remember that the range of CCTV camera products is very wide. While it may seem daunting, it caters to all sorts of budgets and desired price ranges make it much easier for you to find one that suits your needs.
This blog is listed under Gadgets and Hardware Community

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