There are several factors to consider when searching for the best security camera system. As with anything, there is no one size fits all solution for security camera systems. The purpose of this article is to provide a buyer’s guide for homeowners and business owners that are shopping for a video surveillance system. This guide will help shoppers understand the terminology used and the important points to consider when choosing a camera system that best fits their requirements.
Over the last 30 years, analog CCTV camera systems with standard resolution have held the majority share of the market. Technology has evolved and this is not the case anymore. HD is now the latest and greatest for both business and home security systems. HD video provides a much higher resolution than its standard definition counterpart, heightening the level of security and ability for people/object recognition. The reason for this is because older, non-HD Analog equipment is measured in TVL (TV Lines of Resolution), while HD Analog equipment is measured in Megapixels. For example, a 1000 TVL camera will have 1000 individual lines on the screen to produce the image that we see. While this may seem like a lot, consider that a 1 Megapixel HD camera has 1-million pixels, or colored dots, on the screen to produce the image. The higher the number of pixels, the sharper the image will be. A 4K, or 8 Megapixel image, has 8 million individual pixels. For this reason, Megapixel cameras produce superior image quality as the image is more densely populated with points of resolution. One of the major advantages HD has over non-HD is the ability to use digital zoom to focus in on one area of the recorded video without distorting the image.
DVR v. NVR
Currently, there are 2 standards for HD surveillance cameras; HD over Coax and IP. HD over Coax uses the same RG59/RG6 Coaxial cable as older Analog equipment but transmits HD video back to the DVR, or Digital Video Recorder, instead. As with all HD over Coax systems, the cameras are connected directly to the DVR via Coaxial cable.
On the other hand, IP cameras connect to an NVR, or Network Video Recorder, via Ethernet or network cable (Cat-5E). Traditionally with IP cameras, the cameras do not connect directly to the NVR, but rather to a network switch, or access point, that is on the same network as the NVR. From there, the cameras connect to the NVR via an IP address that acts as a path for the data to be transmitted. In the last couple of years, manufacturers have begun to incorporate POE switches into their NVRs so that cameras may connect directly to them for more ease of use.
Both DVRs and NVRs provide the same functionality; being used to view live or recorded video and viewing this footage remotely from mobile devices, such as iPhone and Android, and PCs, including Windows and Mac. The main difference between the 2 formats is the type of cable used to connect the cameras. HD over Coax recorders are backward compatible and can be used with older Analog cameras, allowing users to upgrade from standard resolution to HD one camera at a time. Furthermore, the existing Coaxial cable can be used with the HD over Coax cameras, eliminating the cost of running new cable in order to upgrade from SD to HD.
IP / Network Systems
IP cameras are becoming increasingly popular, but require a bit of networking to get started. Being that the cable from the camera does not always connect directly to the NVR, users will have to locate the IP cameras on their network and add the cameras to the NVR. Luckily, all of the IP cameras that we carry feature a Windows installation wizard that locates the cameras on a given network automatically. We supply IP cameras and NVRs that are able to record in HD resolutions ranging from 1080p HD to 4K Ultra HD. Most of the IP cameras that we carry can be powered by PoE (Power over Ethernet), meaning that both video and power are transmitted over a single Cat-5E cable rather than running them separately over 2 cables. Without amplification, IP cameras can be run up to 328 feet. For longer distances, we offer additional repeaters and switches that can be added along the cable run to extend the transmission range.
HD over Coax / Analog Systems
HD over Coax cameras use traditional RG59 Coaxial cable with BNC video connectors on each end. While this type of cable and connection has been used in the surveillance industry for more than 30 years, advances in the last few years have allowed Analog cameras and DVRs to transmit 1080p video and beyond over Coaxial cable. Compared to IP camera systems, HD over Coax systems are easy to install because they are essentially plug-and-play. The Coaxial cable is simply run from the cameras to the DVR, add power, and the system is ready to record. The most common type of cable used with HD over Coax system is RG59 Siamese cable. The term Siamese is used to refer to the fact that it is actually two separate cables, one for video and one for power, run alongside one another. The two parts of the cable can be separated should the application require it. The major advantage that HD over Coax has over IP is that it is able to use the Coaxial cable from existing Analog systems and does not require new cable to be run. This provides the potential for exorbitant savings. We have HD over Coax systems in 4, 8, and 16 camera packages and recommend them over all other options as they have proven to be the most reliable.
We carry several different cameras styles, ranging from domes to bullets to Fisheye cameras. A large amount of the cameras that we carry are outdoor security cameras that are completely weatherproof to protect the electronic components from harsh weather, dust, and humidity. For areas where the cameras are susceptible to being tampered with, we can supply vandal-proof dome cameras, such as the 5MP-D5, that prevent a would-be vandal from damaging the camera or changing the angle of view by tilting it towards another direction.
When surveying the location where the camera system will be installed, users should keep in mind the angle of view that will be required to capture the parts of the property that they wish. Our widest lens size is 2.5mm and provides a 170-degree horizontal angle of view, ideal for capturing an entire room or fence line. Our most popular lens size is 2.8mm and provides about a 90-degree horizontal angle of view. These wide angle cameras provide the best coverage for surveilling large properties and open spaces. If the object being monitored is further away, a more powerful lens, such as an 8mm, 12mm, or 50mm lens will be required.
Many of the cameras that we carry offer varifocal lenses that can be adjusted to find the perfect viewing angle for any application. A handful of the varifocal cameras that we carry have a motorized lens so that the angle of view can be adjusted from the DVR/NVR without having to physically touch the camera. Finally, PTZ (Pan, Tilt, and Zoom) cameras offer a motorized zoom lens in addition to a motor that allows the user to pan and tilt the camera housing from side to side and top to bottom. Many times, a combination of these cameras provides the best solution.
Wireless Security Cameras
Wireless security cameras are more popular now than ever before. Unfortunately, they are still not perfect and have their own share of limitations in regards to functionality, resolution, and reliability. For the most part, the term “wireless” only refers to video transmission, and not power. This means that a cable will still have to be run to the cameras for power or the user will have to use one of the various battery-powered cameras that are available because it is rare for a power outlet to be located near where the camera is mounted. While a wireless, battery-powered camera may seem like an ideal solution, users should note that they are very limited in how many hours a day they can record for, their ability to use infrared to record at night, and how often the battery pack has to be replaced or charged. If the battery has to be replaced often, then the user will have to climb up to where the camera is in order to do so. Because they are not as reliable, we do not carry battery-powered cameras and recommend using hardwired cameras. The only time that we recommend using wireless camera solutions is when the distance between the camera and the recorder is too great or it is not practical to run cables, such as having to trench cable across a roadway or parking lot.
One of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a CCTV security camera system is storage. All of the recorders that we carry include an internal surveillance-grade hard drive for storing the recorded video footage. We only use surveillance-grade hard drives because they are specifically designed to be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can handle the most grueling recording schedules. We offer several hard drive options for our recorders because the higher the resolution of the cameras, the more data they consume. For example, a 4 camera HD surveillance DVR with a 1TB hard drive can record continuously in 2 Megapixel (1080p) resolution for up to 7 days. Most of our customers choose to record only based on motion detection so that hard drive space is not wasted and so that they can record for a longer period of time without upgrading to a larger hard drive. Most of the recorders that we supply have more than one hard drive bay to accommodate more video storage drives when needed for specific applications.
While many people choose to purchase cloud cams that record to a cloud server rather than an internal hard drive, we do not recommend them. For one, there is a monthly fee to record to a cloud server, and two, cloud servers are managed by providers. This may seem very convenient for some, but for those who do not want their data being viewed and managed by another entity, recording to an internal hard drive is the most secure.
Why Buy from CCTV Camera Pros?
Since 2006, CCTV Camera Pros has strived to provide not only the best products but the absolute best customer service and support in the surveillance industry. We are a veteran-owned business and proven industry leader with more than 65,000 satisfied customers. We manufacture our own line of HD over Coax systems and accessories and carry the top brands for IP to ensure that our customers receive the best products for their security applications at competitive prices. Our team of surveillance experts has a combined experience of more than 70 years in the industry and can assist you through every step of the way. In addition to offering complete plug-and-play packages, we also build custom surveillance solutions based on the needs of the customer. There is no project too big or too small. All of the equipment that we sell comes with a full 2-year warranty and free, live tech support for the life of the products. In addition, every single purchase includes a 100% money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied. At CCTV Camera Pros, we pride ourselves with providing the best security camera solutions!