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What to consider before choosing a CCTV system?


In the world of safety and security, everyone wants to be secured by adopting latest security surveillance technologies. The vast array of CCTV surveillance cameras and recorders on the market can be daunting, making it difficult to decide which system would be best suited to your home or business environment. To cut through the information overload, check out this list of nine points to help you make the best investment in a security camera system for your needs.

Think before you buy low cost camera

It’s always wiser to invest in a good quality, small, entry level system that allows you to add more cameras later on. Reputable security companies will offer a range of camera and recorder options from good brand. Another benefit of reputable brands is the confidence in their warranty offerings compared to small retailers’ unbranded cameras, which may only offer the required six-month product guarantee at best, and will rarely include the service of professional installation and an extended no-nonsense warranty period of up to 2 years.

Decide what you need to catch on camera

If you consider what you can see with your own eyes, it is tricky to find a camera that will be able to mimic it. Advances in technology mean today’s cameras offer a range of angles, some even provide 360-degree vision and function under a range of lighting conditions.

Think about what you need to see on camera. That will help you decide what type of camera and what different camera functions you need. Do you want the camera to be able to see a vehicle outside the front driveway gate or a pedestrian ringing the bell?

 Lens length and width explained

It can seem confusing to understand the technicalities of choosing lens size and wide angle degree when selecting CCTV cameras.

For each millimetre of lens size, the rule of thumb is that this is how far away in meters the camera will be able to view its subject (focal length). The degree of a wide angle lens will determine the field of vision and shorten the focal length as the angle gets wider.

For example, a basic 60-degree wide angle, 4 mm lens will effectively identify a human target at up to 4 meters, but it will not have enough range to view the neighbour’s property to the left or right.

Storage and data

CCTV cameras can be attached to your home or business network through internet protocol (IP) to sound the alarm of a security breach and transmit data such as images to a security provider’s control centre via a broadband connection, such as wireless, GSM or ADSL.

The HD cameras will require more bandwidth and better internet connections and can be data hungry when accessing the feed on mobile devices, as well as require higher levels of memory storage to keep the better quality film which will mean bigger file sizes.

Analogue vs HD or IP?

Ultimately the quality of the image you require from your camera will help you decide whether to buy more affordable entry level analogue cameras or if you should go with high definition (HD) or IP cameras instead.

A basic analogue camera offers a low-resolution image while HD cameras can record crisp high-resolution images suitable for identifying numbers and characters. If you are going to need the recordings for legal or investigative purposes a higher resolution offers a far more enhanced picture which can be digitally zoomed into while retaining image quality. The benefit of zooming in is that this intelligence can be shared with police investigators and security companies.

 Position is everything

Knowing where to put cameras is very important as having the best cameras poorly positioned is as good as having no cameras at all. When considering this, think about the topography of your home. Ideally, covering the entire perimeter of the property with cameras will offer the security of an early warning system – if the camera has been connected to outdoor beams – and of being able to investigate security breaches without peering out a window.

As can be seen in this video above, CCTV cameras act as a good deterrent.  The robbers lift a driveway gate and enter the property, but as soon as they spot a CCTV camera they beat a hasty retreat.

 Lights, camera, action!

CCTV surveillance cameras can record colour during the day but at night, unless sufficient support lighting has been set up, they switch to black and white. It’s important to provide support outdoor lighting, such as a LED lamp, for colour definition, so that a meaningful intelligence report can be written up describing, for example, the colour of vehicles and clothing of intruders. Low light cameras are available but are far more expensive, making it cost effective to use lighting.

Understand all costs

Selecting the correct type of CCTV surveillance camera is just part of the process of shopping around. You must also consider the cost of recorders and peripherals such as cables, connectors, an uninterrupted power supply and the cost of labour and commissioning of the unit. Professionals can help you by answering all the questions you might have and even pointing out questions you might not have thought of.

Ask a security professional for advice

Before selecting a CCTV surveillance camera, seek the advice of a security professional. They will be able to assess your property and show you recorded footage from different types of cameras, that will enable you to get the full picture on quality and pricing before you commit to a decision. Check the website of a professional service provider  for comprehensive advice and tips to help you find about the total costs of purchasing and installing a camera at the outset, to avoid any surprises later on.


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