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How to Choose a Good Security Camera

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Before analyzing options for purchasing a security camera, first thing to do is understand your requirements. For that, you have to ask three important questions mentioned below…

1. What is your requirement – indoor or outdoor??

Indoor and outdoor security cameras have different features and functionalities. We have mentioned them below. Read them carefully to understand which one suits best for your requirements.

  • Indoor Security camera:

As the name suggests, the indoor cameras are used to set up inside the home or in a room to monitor all the activities. It can also be a part of the entire home security system.

Unlike their old version, the new and advanced indoor security cameras deliver a lot more functionalities than only recording video footages. These cameras feature many options such as live video streaming and two-way communication which will let to check the safety of your kids after returning to home or check if someone who doesn’t belong is in your home.

However, indoor cameras are only suitable for inside surveillance. You cannot place them outdoor or point to face street or yard for surveillance. Choose an indoor security camera that suits your requirements.

  • Outdoor camera:

Outdoor surveillance cameras are helpful in checking out exterior areas of your home. Just like indoor security cameras, they can be used individually or as a combined security system. Be it to secure outdoor areas or make sure nothing uncommon is happening, you can find any outdoor camera suitable to your requirements.

Main factors to check out while purchasing an outdoor camera is weatherproof rating. It ensures the camera can withstand harsh temperatures and drastic changes. If you live in a locality with extreme cold or cold temperatures, then make sure the outdoor camera can withstand to them.

Another main feature to look out is night vision which helps you see the surroundings clearly even dim lighting conditions or during nights. 

2. Which one is better – Wired or Wireless?

Wired ones are the traditional cameras. Though they are a bit difficult to install, wired security cameras are ultra-reliable. As the name implies, these cameras are connected to recorder, router, power and internet connection through cables or wires. They are perfect for people who don’t require to move the cameras around. They are also suitable for people who want to keep an eye on the premises continuously.

No signal drops which means you don’t have to worry about connectivity issues or unclear video transmissions. But there are downsides for wired ones – with all those cords, you may have to hire a professional in order to install the camera. Or else, you may end with improper connections. If you live in a locality with regular power blackouts, then wired cctv cameras may not the best choice. Because even a single cut in the wire somewhere can stop the security feed.

Wireless security cameras only work for homes with strong WiFi network. They are easy the install but they have to be close to power source. They are suitable for tenants and home owners because they are easy to setup and take down and re-install them wherever you want. Downside of wireless cctv cameras is that they are susceptible to interference. And signal strength and coverage scope is based on several factors like router, presence of interference, WiFi range and others.

So, analyze your requirements carefully and choose the right one accordingly

3. Can Your Internet Bandwidth Support the Camera?

CCTV cameras that send alerts and stream live video through text or email usually take up a lot of internet data. The amount of bandwidth they require depends on image resolution, motion records, sound and other factors. So, make sure the internet bandwidth you have can handle the number of cameras you are going to install.

4. Types of Home Security Camera/CCTV Cameras

There are different types of surveillance cameras. We have mentioned each one of them below. Read them carefully and choose a type that suits your requirements

  • Bullet Camera

These are the most common type of security cameras. They are shaped in a cylindrical form.  They are typically an outdoor security camera that has a reliable high power optical zoom in feature and a strong night vision function. Bullet cameras have low maintenance compared to the other kinds. The wires involved in the installation of the camera run through the 3-axis bracket giving it a clean look. Bullet cameras can focus on a long distance outlook and store image and video feeds of larger sizes when supported by a suitable memory storage device.

  • Dome Camera

Dome cameras are also familiar to most of the people. When it comes to size, they are a littler larger than bullet cameras. They are usually installed on ceilings. Some of them can be fixed while other can have other features like tilt, pan, zoom and offer wide coverage.

The discreet design of the motor heads on dome cameras makes it impossible for a person to predict the direction of its focus. This alone stands as an advantage to outsmart any intruder making it an ideal choice for a home/work space. Dome cameras usually have wide angle lenses allowing it to capture a larger field of view. Dome camera installations are a bit bothersome as it requires quite an amount of expertise.

  • Pan, Tilt and Zoom Cameras

Also known as PTZ cameras, they are usually used for monitoring large spaces like common areas, parking lots, convention center, and business centers. It not only allows you to monitor the area but also focus on suspicious activity.

Working of Each Feature of PTZ camera:

Panning – With feature, cctv camera can move left and right to cover wide areas. some of them also come with 360-degree circle coverage.

Titling – This feature helps the camera tilt up or down to cover vertical angle. Titling angle range is different from one model to another. But the highest angle range is 180 degrees.

Zooming – This feature adjusts the camera lens physically and changes the focal length of the lens to zoom in or zoom out. By doing this, it does not affect the picture quality but, it again depends on the quality of camera that you are using. Some cameras end up showing pixelated images or videos that are not very helpful. Thus, it is recommended to check the optical zoom capability of the camera and then select

  • Turret Camera

This is a combination of dome and bullet camera. So it has a discreet design like dome and angle flexibility like bullet. As the camera is small in size, it is also called can eyeball camera. They can be used an indoor or outdoor camera system.

Features to Consider While Purchasing a CCTV/Security Camera

Now that we aware of your exact requirements and types of security cameras, we have mentioned factors that will refine your search and help you choose the right one.

1. Image Quality and Resolution

The first important feature of a security camera because without you will not be able to identify the intruder. A security camera should always have good image and recording quality.

Resolution of a security camera is represented in total number of pixels (both in width and height).

For example – 2MP image has 1920 (width) and 1080 (height). When multiply these two numbers you will get the total number of pixels i.e., 1920 x 1080 = 2,072,600.

Apart from that, height of an image is also considered as resolution. In that case, 1080p resolution represents image with 2 million pixels.

In most of the cases, 1280 x 720 resolution is sufficient. But if you are not budget constrained, then full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels provide very clear image (even when zoomed). But remember that cameras with high resolution often use more internet bandwidth and battery life.

According to general guidelines, best resolution range for home security camera is 1MP (1720p), 2MP (1080p), 4MP (1440p), 5MP (1920p) and 8MP (4K/2160p).

2. View and Coverage

Also known as viewing angle, is the coverage a camera can see. Focal length or camera lens size is the first thing that determines the viewing angle and it is usually measure in mm. The table below provide insights on the same.

To present in simple words, smaller the focal length and wider the area. However, lesser will the farther details. Bigger the focal length, narrower the viewing angle and further you can see clearly.

There are five different types of viewing angles. We have mentioned them below for your information.

a. Super-wide angle:

This viewing lens has coverage of 180 degrees and it creates a fisheye effect. They are suitable for larger and commercial spaces. They can capture complete view of any unusual activity or any movement in the property. If you want to capture anything in high detail or specific, then type of lens can be the right one.

b. Wide-angle:

This type of viewing angle covers 60 to 110 degrees which provides effective focal length of 10 mm to 25 mm. They are best suited for smart security systems as they can view enough distance and width to cover an entire yard.

c. Standard/Medium angle:

They offer a viewing angle of 25 degrees to 60 degrees with a focal length of 25 mm to 65 mm. These lenses help in capturing and focusing on things that are closer and important rather than distracting the user with unnecessary footage and content

d. Telephoto:

The telephoto lenses cover a very small viewing angle of 10 degrees to 25 degrees along with a focal length of 65 mm to 160 mm. These cameras capture pictures of distant objects and let you have a closer look as if they are very near to the lens. These types of cameras are ideal to secure your personal belongings or your home.

e. Super telephoto

With a focal length of 160mm to 600 mm and a viewing angle of 1 degree to 10 degrees, these types of lenses are great to capture things that are very far away from the reach of the door or camera and notify you at the earliest.

While analyzing suitable lens for surveillance cameras, you should check out two features – varifocal and fixed focal length. Varifocal lenses provide adjustable field views (without changing lenses) within certain range (3 to 8 mm, 9 to 20 mm and others) after the camera is installed. Fixed focal lengths provide only one view.

3. Motion Range

Since most of the security cameras are stationary, they give you a vision of a constant angle but if something happens a bit out of the reach, the moment does not get recorded.

Thieves and criminals are always a step ahead and they notice the viewing angle of the camera so that they can enter from the side. In such situations, PTZ cameras are helpful as they cover a wide area and allow you to pan from one side to the other, tilt up and down and zoom in if necessary. They are also helpful in picking up details in crowds. However, they require assistance from a human operator.

4. Motion Detection

Motion detection feature is an important feature that you must consider while buying a camera system for your home. These cameras have built-in sensors that get activated as soon as it notices any movement. This triggers the machine to start capturing the videos.

Some cameras also send you an alert or notification on detecting motion. The viewing range also plays a major role here. While some cameras get activated on sensing motion at a range of 90 degrees, few other cameras detect motion at a range of 270 degrees. You can also select a motion boundary range for your system.

When we talk about detecting a motion, there are few cameras that get activated on the movement of a leaf as well. You can fine-tune this process and select an option wherein the camera gets activated only when it detects the motion of a person.

5. Night vision

Most of the theft usually happens during nights. If you want to secure your home at that time of hours as well, then choose a cctv camera with night vision feature. It can clearly capture the image and video of the burglary, even if there is no sufficient light.

During low lighting conditions, the camera will switch to night automatically. Some of these models come with customizable option of when and at what time night vision feature should be activated.

Night vision cctv cameras usually use infrared LEDs to see through darkness. However, they are not fit for recording during day. That is why most of the cameras have infrared cut filter which blocks IR light during day time. So, you can see the video clearly with all colors. This IR filter feature is often mentioned as true day/night.

Night vision capability of a camera is usually listed in feet. Sometimes, a variation of total darkness and low lighting conditions is also mentioned. Dome and some bullet cameras can reach up to 200 feet using this feature. But never purchase an indoor camera to look outside as it will not have the capability to capture images. If the camera is facing any widow at night, then you may not see clearly due to glass reflection. If such cases, we recommend to install the camera outside and use outdoor motion sensor light for better clarity

6. Live Video Streaming

This feature is most helpful in situations where you want to keep an eye on your maid, baby or elderly at home. When it comes to commercial purposes, it is helpful for cash registers, storage units and offices. Most of the CCTV cameras have this amazing option. However, quality is the reason that differentiates one model with another. The live streaming can be remotely accessed either on a computer or smart phone. Some models provide only smart phone connectivity. As the videos streaming will happen real-time, you can prevent the burglary or catch the thief quickly.

7. Audio Facility

Some modern CCTV cameras have auto detection apart from video and image. Few of them have one-way audio and other with two-way audio access. With one-way, you can detect sounds and see the video streaming. But with two-way, you can listen to sounds, see the video and speak through the camera as well.

With audio functionality, home security camera also acts as an intercom. CCTV cameras with two-way audio have a mic to pick up the sound and a speaker to deliver the sound. This feature is especially important for monitoring kids, elders and pets. You can also listen to sounds happening out of camera view, if it is connected to extra speaker.

8. Alerts and Notifications

Apart video coverage and recording, some security cameras can provide alters when there is a breach or motion the area. Based on the functionalities, it can either send an email or text alert when it notices any abnormal movement.

Some cctv cameras can also send alerts to many people at once (number of persons using or included in that app). Some send emails as well as a failsafe.

9. Weather Resistance

If you are choosing an outdoor camera, then make sure it can withstand the harsh weather conditioners like sunlight, rains, ice storms, high winds and freezing temperatures. IP (Ingress Protection) represents the capability of camera’s resistance to surrounding weather conditions like sun, dust and water. Among the two numbers, first one represents camera’s capability towards solids and second one describes liquid resistance.

Apart the camera, make sure the hardware included with the camera should also withstand the weather conditions. The camera you choose should be capable of handling weather conditions entire year and several years.

10. Storage and Connections:

Whether its video, image and just motion captures, you will need to store the data somewhere safe. Storage specifications can affect the power and network connectivity of a camera. Below, we have provided a list of different storage and connections of a security camera.

  • Cloud Recording:

Most of the wireless cctv cameras connect to internet through WiFi. When it comes to storage, they use cloud options. With this option, the recorded images or videos will be stored in a remote server. It will stay there for a predetermined time and automatically deleted after that in order to make space for new data. Usually storage time ranges from 24 hours to a week. Mostly cloud storage is provided free for some GB. When it exceeds, you may have to pay some amount based on the storage space. Using cloud storage option, you can monitor your home no matter which part of the world you are.

  • Memory Card

Some security cameras contain memory cards inserter into them. They record the images or video in this card. This is suitable for people who want to avoid monthly storage expenses. Though it is an affordable option, you may have to swap empty cards on regular basis to keep on the surveillance recording uninterrupted.

If the cctv camera has high-resolution then it can take more storage space. So you may have to use only memory card with high storage space. If not, the data will not be stored once the memory card is full.

128GB, 64Gb, 32Gb, and 16GB memory cards are suitable for cctv camera usage. The drawback of memory card storage is – if the camera is stolen, then data will also go with it.

  • Hard Drives

Also called as digital video recorders (DVR) or network video recorders (NVR), are one of the storage solution for security cameras. They can either built-in or external. The recorded video can be stored in the drive so you don’t have to change the memory storage regularly. However, data storage limit depends on the hard drive’s capacity. These systems are usually present in wired cctv cameras.

NVR – These systems are connected to cameras using Ethernet cable. This cable even acts as power and network connections to your cameras.

DVR – They use coaxial cable and BNC connectors for connection. For power connection, each camera in the network will have plug in power supply. In some cases, multiple cameras are connected to single power source. When it comes to hybrid DVR, it can connect with analog and IP cameras for recording video.

11. Scheduling

This is one of the important features as it will help you adjust or specify the security camera according to your requirements. It helps you turn on/off, detect any motion or send any notifications within certain time range. This feature is helpful when you want to keep an eye on your kids when they get back from home or while you are at a vacation. Scheduling reduces the false alarms as well.

12. Recording

some cameras continuously record and stream videos, other cameras start recording only when its sensors notice a motion. It is better to choose a model with CVR (continuous video recording) feature. With this feature, you can see the complete timeline of the recording.

13. WiFi Capability or Internet Bandwidth

Camera with WiFi connectivity is much better than wired ones, because it makes the device tamper proof. And you don’t have to deal with all the wires.

Home security cameras send alert notifications to email through email or text which can take up a lot of internet bandwidth. The amount of bandwidth required for a camera depends on image resolution, motion detection, alert notification and several others. If you have a budget for your monthly internet bill, then make sure you understand your security camera impact on it. Also, ensure with internet service provider that the router you have can handle the camera and its output.

14. Wireless Range

Ability to change the location is the most important benefits of using a wireless camera. Choose a camera that can maintain wifi connection regardless of how far you move it from the router. Usually, some cameras use Ethernet port which can be hardwired to local network. Home surveillance cameras that support PoE (power-over-ethernet) eliminate the use of AC adapter and a cable. But the router you use and the switch should also support the PoE injector.

15. Battery Backup

Some clever thieves cut out the power before entering into home. In such cases, camera will not be able to track the motion or record anything in the darkness. So, you will lose all the forensic evidence. However, some cameras come with battery that will work for some time even if there is a power cut. It is worth to invest in a surveillance camera that has this feature.

16. Mobile App

Most of the home surveillance cameras can be operated through tablet/smartphone through an App. Apart from letting you watch the live streaming, this App lets you customize the camera functionalities like adjust motion, detect sound and others. Check out whether the app is easy to operate before making the purchase.

17. Smart Home Integration

Modern home security cameras are much more than just for surveillance. They can turn a normal house into smart home. Some security cameras can even create home hub like google home or amazon alexa. This provides advantage of remote control like operating lights, door locks, and security cameras when you out of town or a vacation.

18. Security

Security cameras can be compromised due to hacking. They often hack the baby monitors and home cameras to eliminate any problem to their cause. So, make sure to purchase a camera that supports up-to-date wireless security protocol and also encrypts internet transmission. Never ever install a security camera without changing its default codes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the most important features to look while purchasing home security camera?

You can read our buying guide to know exactly which factors to choose. However, if you a short summary, then read further. The first thing to check whether you need an indoor or outdoor camera. Choose a home security camera with highest resolution you can afford with your budget. HD, wide angle lens, night vision, PTZ, storage and other features.

2. Is there any difference between weather resistance and waterproof home security camera?

Weather resistant cameras are suitable for areas with protected area because they cannot withstand direct contact with sprinkler systems or direct water contact like sprinklers or rain. But a water resistant camera can withstand direct contact with snow, ice, rain and others. IP rating lets you decide whether security camera is capable or not. Standard IP rating is less than 44. For a weather resistant camera, 44 to 65 is the ideal IP rating. For waterproof home surveillance camera is between 66 and 67.

3. Security camera or surveillance camera, which one to choose?

There is a very slight difference between the security camera and surveillance camera. The security cameras are active throughout and send you alerts or notifications in case of any unexpected situations.
The surveillance cameras work in a passive manner. It just observes and records whatever is happening in the area of activity. It is always suggested to use a security camera for the safety of your house.

4. which cctv camera is best for home in India?

If you want to secure inside the home, then Mi MJSXJ02CM is the best indoor security camera for home in India. However, if you want to secure outdoor areas, then Sricam SP007 is the best outdoor camera for home in India.

5. What is the best cctv camera brand in India?

Mi, Hikvision, Zicom, Sony, Samsung, CP plus are some of the best cctv cameras in India.

6. How does a home security camera work?

Home security camera lets you monitor your house and track all the activities that are happening around your home. You can check the live streaming through an app. Depending on the features of the camera; you can even talk with people or play automated messages. You can even archive a few videos.

7. Can a pet trigger an alert through motion detection?

Cameras with motion detection feature generally have a limitation based on different weight settings. A basic motion sensor won’t be able to detect small animals or an infant. On the other hand, a modern motion detector can distinguish between different objects of interest through facial recognition. In addition to the weight, speed and movement patterns also play key roles in activating a motion detection alarm.

8. Do wireless home security cameras work during power outages?

It is vital to keep your cameras connected to the wireless connections all along. This ensures your recordings are saved and stored in your hard drive or cloud. However, most wireless security cameras scan and record even without the internet but only saves the images when the power is back on. If you need to use the two-way audio feature on the camera during a power failure, make sure your camera is in the vicinity of your cellular signals.

9. Will the companies that sell the security cameras have any access to my videos and images?

Privacy is of utmost priority to many of the security companies. They respect consumers’ privacy when you buy a self-monitoring camera. The companies will not have any kind of access to your images and videos. But the companies do offer video monitoring if you hire them to keep a check on larger properties such as parks, malls, and other buildings.

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