5 Things You Need to Know About CCTV Cameras


Technical specs for CCTV equipment can sound complicated at first, in this article we highlight

5 Things you Need to Know About CCTV Cameras:

1. IP rating and Night Vision

IP stands for “Ingress Protection” and the two numbers that follow the acronym tell you how well protected your cameras are from solids and liquids. The simple rule is: the higher the rating, the better.

You'll find that most cameras in the market have an IP66 rating. This means they are dust tight and able to withstand powerful jets of water from any direction. Strong winds? Heavy rain? Stick with IP66 and you won't have to worry about your cameras.

Most outdoor surveillance cameras come with IR (infrared) capabilities or, night vision. The LEDs (light emitting diodes) used for night vision switch on automatically as it gets dark, revealing any potentially suspicious activity that may be occurring.

2. Types of Casings and How they Differ

There are at least four different types of CCTV cameras available: Bullet, dome, PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom), and more recently, PZ (Pan Zoom).

The most common types, as you might have already noticed are bullet and dome. Other than their physical appearance there really isn't a difference between these two, so choosing one over the other comes down to personal preference.

PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom, or speed domes) and PZ (Pan Zoom) cameras are often used by public institutions and large corporations due to their particular abilities of moving in multiple directions and zooming in as the operator desires. You might have seen these in shopping malls or public streets, since they are used to monitor large spaces where there is a lot of activity. As seen on TV, they are effective in helping to catch shoplifters, and in identifying people who may pose a public threat.

3. IP or Analog?

There are many differences between IP and Analog CCTV cameras, but the main one is how they physically connect to power and video recorders.

Simply put, an IP camera has its own IP (Internet Protocol) address and connects to your private home network. You can plug it straight to an Ethernet socket on the wall and it will be picked up by your local network. Through this single connecting cable (CAT5/Ethernet cable), the camera receives power and sends data to the video recorder.

An analog camera on the other hand, transmits data and obtains power separately. The single cable coming out of the camera splits into two: a power cable (12v DC) and a video cable (RJ59). One connects to the power source, and the other directly to the video recorder. At the moment, analog CCTV cameras are more cost effective, and once the cabling is in place upgrading to better equipment is easier.

4. Lenses

Understanding lens sizes is quite straight forward: the smaller the size in mm, the wider the area you’ll be able to see. For example, with a 2.8mm lens you'll get a broad view of a large area like an outdoor car park, and see all general activity including any suspicious behaviour. With a 60mm lens on the other hand, you’ll see a particular area like an access point or recycling bins and see intruders or potentially malicious individuals.

Once you have a good idea of the best suitable size for your requirements, you can choose between fixed or varifocal lenses.

Fixed lenses are often used indoors because they provide a general view of the area; however, they’re also suitable for outdoor use provided you prefer having a broad view over focusing on particular details. Varifocal lenses in contrast, are often used outdoors because zoom and focus can be adjusted (within a range) to capture specific details.

In summary: if you install a fixed lens CCTV camera in a long garden, you'll see the general activity, but if you install a varifocal lens CCTV camera in the same long garden, you'll be able to see the general activity and adjust the zoom and focus to get a clearer image of a specific area.

5. Resolution

Newer CCTV cameras provide HD quality images at an affordable price. You’re probably already familiar with the general rule: the higher the resolution, the better the image quality (and also the price tag). Higher and better resolutions will continue to be made available in the market. For now (at time of posting), just remember that: 1MP will give you good quality, 2MP (also known as 1080p) will give you better quality, and 4MP will give you the best quality.