Thanks to ever-expanding options for video surveillance, it's never been easier to protect your home, business, and personal possessions. More and more home and business owners have opted to install private security networks on their premises to deter theft, monitor employee conduct, and stay aware of what's happening on or around their property. And it's no wonder why… security camera systems are now available for just about every need and budget, and give you the freedom to view video footage from both on-premises CCTV monitors, or remotely over the Internet.
Wondering how to choose the right security camera with all of the options on the market? Start your search in the right direction by asking yourself a few basic questions:
Bright Light or Low Light?
The overall light level of the environment you're going to be filming in has a definite impact on your camera choice. If your video surveillance will be taking place in bright, well-lit areas, your choice of camera has very few limitations, because ample light makes it easy for just about any security camera to capture clear footage.
On the other hand, dim lighting conditions require a little extra consideration, because not every video surveillance camera is built to handle them. Look for a camera that has a light sensitivity rating of 1 Lux or below – it will either be labeled as a Day and Night camera, or will list low-light compatibility among their specifications. Day/night video cameras give you the most flexibility, as they allow you to consistently monitor a given space, even if light levels continually fluctuate.
Indoor or Outdoor?
Indoor and outdoor environments not only differ in lighting conditions (like the ones we mentioned above), but also have another big differentiating factor: weather. While the indoors tends to be climate-controlled with heating, air conditioning and humidity-control, outdoors it's a whole different story.
Wind, rain, UV rays and contaminants can all take an indoor-use security camera down in no time, so if you need to film outdoors, be sure to go with a tougher outdoor-grade camera. Keep in mind that even though most indoor cameras can't be used outside, many outdoor cameras are suitable for both indoor and outdoor surveillance.
Wired or Wireless?
Whether or not you want your security camera to be hardwired or not is another factor in your decision. Wired surveillance cameras typically send a more solid and secure video signal because they transmit via cable and not through the air, but can take more money and effort to install because wiring needs to be run. That either means hiring an installer, or buying the cable and taking the time to do it yourself.
On the other hand, wireless cameras can be placed virtually anywhere with ease, because you don't have to worry about running new cable or patching into existing cable runs. Signal security is also becoming much less of an issue, thanks to ever-improving encryption protocols like Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP).
Fixed or PTZ?
Do you plan to keep your security camera fixated on one specific view, or would you rather have the ability to look around? If you only need to focus on a certain section of a room, entrance or parking lot, then a standard-format fixed camera will do just fine. However, if you'd rather have the ability to remotely swivel and zoom your camera to follow the action or cover a wider area, then opt for a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) surveillance camera.
Unlike their stationary counterparts, PTZs are designed to freely move their lenses back and forth horizontally (that's the "panning" part), vertically (aka "tilt"), and adjust lens focus (zoom). All of this can be done at your command, as needed, but there are also PTZ cameras that can be programmed to automatically pan, tilt and zoom whenever movement is detected.
On-Premises or Remote Viewing Access?
As long as you'll be filming all of that video surveillance footage, how do you plan on viewing it? For many people, a video feed going to a digital video recorder (DVR) or CCTV monitor at home in the office is all that's needed. But what if you want to keep an eye on things from the road?
That's where remote-access surveillance devices, otherwise known as Internet cameras or network cameras, come into play. Designed to be hooked up to a computer network via cable or wireless connection, these web-enabled cameras allow you to log in and view what's going on from any Internet-connected computer or Smartphone.