How Do I Select the Right Security Camera?

What security camera should I choose? Where should I put it? Questions like these must be answered as you decide to enhance the security of your home or office. Here we’ll do an overview of exactly what you need to know to select the best security camera for your needs and to know the best location for installation alarm systems.

Selecting the right camera

Cameras have different features for different purposes. When the area and objects to be under surveillance is determined then you must next determine the camera features to best suit the security needs of the organization.

  • Fixed or Pan, Tilt, and Zoom (PTZ Cameras)? When you walk into a building have you ever got the feeling someone was following you? How about just staring at you? Look up and you may see one of two types of cameras: Fixed or PTZ. The fixed camera will just stare at a particular view. The PTZ camera will survey the scene with movements like up and down, left and right, zooming in and zooming out. Fixed cameras are cheaper ($200 to $500 for fixed vs. $2000 or more for PTZ) and thus are more widely used. Fixed cameras aren’t usually monitored on a daily basis whereas PTZ typically are. PTZ cameras are also commonly used when security personnel are available to monitor the cameras from a central security room.
  • Megapixel or Standard Definition? Think of picture quality of an HD television compared to picture quality of the television you were exposed to when you were a child and think of the image quality of movies today compared to image quality just 10 years ago. The improvements from standard to high definition image quality means smaller items in images can be identified and used as evidence or clues during an investigation of a surveillance video. Roughly 4% of surveillance video cameras that were sold in 2008 were high definition but due to the clarity of the images. Cameras with high definition are being chosen more and more by organizations. Security cameras can go up to 16 megapixels in resolution whereas a high definition television has a limit of 3 megapixels.
  • Analog or IP? The difference between the two is the same between a camcorder that records on a video cassette (analog) and an all digital camcorder (IP). While both types can be transmitted through a network an analog camera requires an adaptor to do so. A major benefit for using IP video surveillance cameras is that only IP cameras are capable of having megapixel resolution. Most infrared and thermal cameras are only available in analog, however. IP cameras are rapidly replacing analog cameras in the video surveillance market and currently represent about 20% sold.
  • Color, Thermal, or Infrared? With security cameras, color may be beneficial in low lighting but that’s just about the only time. In this case an infrared or thermal camera would be beneficial as they produce black and white images. Black and white images won’t blend together in the dark as color images would. Thus, color cameras would be better suited for surveillance during the day or of well lit areas. Infrared or Thermal are better suited for darker areas. Infrared cameras use infrared illuminators to create a clear image. These special lamps make infrared cameras considerably more expensive, like 2 to 3 times more, than color cameras. Thermal cameras are even more expensive and can cost from $5000 to $20,000. These cameras produce outlines of objects and do not require any lighting and would be good for areas like in the middle of the desert or woods.

Location, Location, Location

The security camera is a crucial component of surveillance and the placement of it is as crucial as the security camera itself. Placing the camera in the wrong spot would be as effective as putting a blindfold over the lens. The very purpose of a camera is to survey activity and protect property. When placing a camera one must consider the assets being protected and all possible ways people can enter the secure area, known as chokepoints.

  • Assets: Cameras should be placed in those locations that most effectively cover your valuable assets. These are items and areas that are important to a particular business or organization. Areas of merchandise, safes, walls with expensive art, and valuable equipment are some examples of assets. The areas where critical activity occurs, such as parking lots, checkout counters, and lobbies, are also considered to be assets.
  • Chokepoints: These are all the possible ways for entering a particular area. Cameras that are strategically placed at these entry points provide for a cost-effective monitoring system. Driveways, doorways, hallways, corridors, windows, even accessible chimneys are examples of chokepoints.

Certain cameras are better suited for certain situations and certain budgets. It is common practice for businesses and organizations to use different types of cameras to cover different areas. An IP PTZ camera for example could be used to secure a wide space such as a parkparking lot. A fixed infrared camera may be used at a chokepoint in a warehouse with low lighting. With the right selection and placement of video cameras a video surveillance system is most beneficial for the security of any establishment.

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