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Selecting the Right Cameras



Security Cameras Made Simple a DIY Guide Chapter




The bottom of this section provides 3 different "practice exercises";
selecting the right camera. Let's see how you do!





Choosing the Right Cameras

There are four things to consider when selecting the right camera. We’ll teach you about each one and show you how easy it is to get it right.


  • Which housing should you choose?
  • Which lens should you use?
  • What resolution do you need?
  • What night vision distance is needed?


Housings


Security Camera Housings

  • The “Bullet Style” is great for outdoor use. The housings are solid and designed for harsh environments.
  • The “Dome Style” is usually found indoors. The Dome style is good at hiding the lens but cannot have a night vision system due to the smoked plastic cover.
  • The “Vandal Dome” is the answer if the public may have access to the camera. They can be used indoors and out. They are durable and designed to handle the weather and take a punch.
  • The PTZ design is a function of its operation. The housing supports 3 motors, a heating/cooling system, a vertical and horizontal moving system, a motorized lens and camera electronics. PTZs are usually found outdoors and used for large area surveillance.

Lens

It’s amazing to see so many security cameras sold online and no one even asks about the lens in the camera. Why? The camera lens dictates what the camera can see. Doesn’t anyone want to know what the camera will see and at what distance? To choose the right lens you only need to know two things:

How large of an area do you need to view?
…and how far away is it from the camera location?


These two distances dictate what size lens the camera will require. Choosing the right lens is simple if you understand the relationship between the horizontal viewing area and the distance from the camera.

The chart below shows a 3.6mm lens provides a 29 foot horizontal view at a 30 foot distance from the camera. The 6mm lens provides an 18 foot horizontal view at 30 feet from the camera. Because the 6mm lens provides a smaller horizontal view, an object at a 30 foot distance from the camera would appear larger and have more detail in the video.


Viewing Distances

With this information you can see there are only two factors you need to know to choose the right lens; the distance from the camera to the area you would like to view and the horizontal distance you want to cover. For example, if you want to view an area 80 feet from the camera and need a horizontal distance of 20-24 feet, the chart above indicates a 12mm lens would be a good choice.


The Brilliance of a Manual Zoom Lens:

Many of our cameras are equipped with a manual zoom lens. This feature allows you to mount the camera and then, using the zoom knob on the camera, you can manually adjust the viewing area. This allows you to zoom the view in and out until you get the perfect view. Because of this flexibility we highly recommend a camera with a manual zoom lens.

Let’s use one of our most popular cameras as an example; Item#U90VW. This camera is equipped with a manual zoom 2.8-12mm lens. The manual zoom lens allows you to mount the camera and then, using the zoom knob on the camera, adjust or “zoom” the viewing area in or out until you get the perfect view. The green lens chart below indicates viewing distances associated with this lens.

Zoom Lens Viewing Distances


The Pro’s Golden Rules to getting the right lens.


  • If the viewing area is under 40 feet from the camera select a camera with a 3.6mm fixed lens; its all that is needed.
  • If the viewing area is 40-180 feet from the camera select a camera with 2.8-12mm zoom lens (manual or motorized).
  • If the area is 100-300 feet from the camera consider using a PTZ camera with a 4-84mm motorized zoom lens.


Camera Resolution

There are many aspects to resolution but for our needs we’ll keep it simple.

Resolution is a way to measure the size of the video being produced.

Smaller images produce low resolution video; larger images produce HD or high definition video. It really is that simple; the larger the image being recorded, the higher the resolution and quality.


Resolution 4

There have been many different resolution standards over the years. The latest that we recommend is 4 Megapixel resolution using our CVI series or our Ultra series which offers both 4 megapixel and 4k resolution. More customers choose the 4 megapixel solutions for a couple of reasons; Its lower cost than 4K cameras and you can store twice as much video on a hard drive (4K video requires huge data storage). The good news is our Ultra series lets you mix 4MP and 4K cameras on the same system. Higher priority cameras can be 4K while less important cameras can be 4MP.


The Pro’s Golden Rules to getting the right resolution.


  • Use 4MP resolution cameras with a manual zoom lens for general surveillance. This allow you to zoom in optically for the perfect field of view and then the large 4MP video format allows you to digitally zoom into the video; all while maintaining excellent clarity.
  • Use 4K Cameras on high priority locations. The 2x larger format will provide twice the digital zoom capability of a 4MP camera.


Night Vision

The majority of security cameras these days are equipped with night vision. The night vision technology built into the cameras is the most cost effective solution for day and night surveillance. The cameras automatically switch from day operation to night vision when the light level drops below a certain point. For the money the night vision is very good but you should expect to see a 10-15% drop in resolution in night vision mode. By industry standards this is still considered exceptional performance.

More is not necessarily better when it comes to night vision. Always match the distance the camera is expected to view with the night vision rating of the camera. If you use an over powered night vision camera on object too close you will see “hot Spots”.


Night vision hot spotsNight vision without hot spot

How Night Vision Works



The Pro’s Golden Rules to getting the right night vision.


  • Select a camera that’s night vision range is no more than double the expected viewing distance. For example. If your desired viewing distance is 60-80 feet from the camera location we would select a camera with a 120 foot night vision distance. If our desired viewing distance is 30 feet we would not recommend a camera with night vision distance stronger than 60 feet. In short the “sweet spot” is 50-80% of the cameras maximum night vision distance.




EXERCISE 1: Which camera should be used?



Exercise 1

If the maximum viewing distance from the camera is 65 feet and at that distance we want to see 40 feet horizontally; which camera would be the best selection?


Camera Selection


Remember two rules from our “Pro’s Golden Rules”.

  • If the viewing area is 40-180 feet away from the camera location select a camera with 2.8-12mm zoom lens (manual or motorized).

This rule eliminates the first camera #U60BW. It only has a 3.6mm fixed view lens. The lens would be inadequate at the 65 foot distance. The other two have the correct lens.


  • Select a camera that’s night vision range is no more than double the expected viewing distance.

This rule eliminates the third choice #U180BW. The night vision system will be too powerful for viewing at the 65 foot distance.


The best choice would be the U90VW. It has the adjustable 2.8-12mm zoom lens which is recommended for distances 40-180 feet and the night vision system is rated at 90 feet. The 65 foot distance we have in our example would land right in the sweet spot for this night vision system. The best choice is #2 the U90VW.





EXERCISE 2: Which camera should be used?



Exercise 2

If the maximum viewing distance from the camera is 25 feet and at that distance we want to see 15 feet horizontally; which camera would be the best selection?


Camera Selection


Remember two rules from our “Pro’s Golden Rules”.

  • If the viewing area is under 40 feet away from the camera location select a camera with a 3.6mm fixed lens; its all that is needed.

This rule points us to the first choice the #U60BW.


  • Select a camera that’s night vision range is no more than double the expected viewing distance.

This rule eliminates the second and third choice the U90VW and the #U180BW. The night vision systems are too powerful for such close viewing.


The best choice would be the U60BW.





EXERCISE 3: Which camera should be used?



Exercise 3

If the maximum viewing distance from the camera is 110 feet and at that distance we want to see 50 feet horizontally; which camera would be the best selection?


Camera Selection


Remember two rules from our “Pro’s Golden Rules”.

  • If the viewing area is 40-180 feet away from the camera location select a camera with 2.8-12mm zoom lens (manual or motorized).

Again this rule eliminates the first camera #U60BW. It only has a 3.6mm fixed view lens. The lens would be inadequate at the 110 foot distance.


  • Select a camera that’s night vision range is no more than double the expected viewing distance.

This rule eliminates the second choice #U90VW. The night vision system is not strong enough at that the 110 foot distance.


The best choice would be the U180BW.


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