Surveillance Camera System Buying Guide

Although the application of CCTV security has not changed much in recent years, the tools and equipment have changed significantly. Cameras got smaller, cheaper and better, but the big breakthrough came in recording devices.

Therefore, many customers looking for complete CCTV surveillance and recording systems are confused by such a variety of products available. The aim of this article is to guide buyers towards the best possible and most economical type of CCTV equipment based on the intended implementation and requirements.

Choosing the right cameras.

It is practically impossible to describe all available species in this short article. We will instead turn our attention to the most popular and widely used camera types.

CCTV surveillance cameras produce images using CMOS or CCD (Charge Couple Device) chips. Tiny, very cheap CCTV cameras typically use CMOS technology, produce poor quality images and have very poor light sensitivity. Decent quality CCTV cameras use CCD technology. The size of the CCD chip is typically 1/4″, 1/3″ or 1/2″. As a rule of thumb, the larger the size, the higher the quality of the image produced and the higher the price. 1/4″- and higher density 1/3″ CCD chips can now produce an image as good as many 1/3″ or 1/2″ chips.

The number of TV lines in the surveillance camera image is a measure of the image resolution (sharpness). The greater the number of TV lines, the better the resolution and therefore the overall picture quality. A standard definition camera can have 350-380 lines, over 400 TV lines is generally considered good resolution, while over 500 TV lines is considered high resolution. B&W chip cameras have higher resolution and better light sensitivity, making them suitable for use in dark areas where lighting conditions are poor most of the time.

On the other hand, color cameras offer a more realistic and natural image. CCTV cameras are usually divided into different types based on the camera body used.

Professional cameras.

Have a boxy body with the ability to use different types and sizes of lenses. Interchangeable lenses allow this camera to monitor objects from virtually any distance. Although they are intended for indoor use, they can also be used outdoors when combined with a weatherproof housing. They are considered to be the most flexible and are the most commonly used by professionals for commercial installations.

bullet cameras.

Bullet cameras, as the name suggests, are contained within a spherical body.

Most bullet cameras are weatherproof and sealed without the ability to use different lenses. The big advantage of the bullet camera is the small size and the integrated design, some bullet cameras will even have built-in infrared LEDs in the future. Infrared technology is simply LED light in the infrared spectrum (not visible to the human eye). This light illuminates the viewing area and allows surveillance in total darkness. This is a great future, but it only works up to a certain distance (usually between 10 and 50 feet, depending on the model). Easy to install and aesthetically designed, bullet cameras are a good choice for residential and do-it-yourself installations where objects being monitored are within approximately 25 feet of the camera location (using standard 3.6mm Lens).

onboard cameras.

Board cameras are basically fixed lenses mounted on a circuit board. These cameras may be packaged in a small housing (mini cameras) or dome (mini dome), or simply sold unpackaged for assembly by the buyer. Lenses in these have either a standard industrial aperture or a very small aperture “pinhole” lens. Pinhole cameras are often referred to as “spy cameras” and can be covert mounted for covert surveillance purposes. The most popular examples of covert cameras are smoke detectors and motion detector cameras.

Because the lenses in board cameras are pre-assembled, have a fixed aperture, and are typically short focal length (i.e., wide-angle), their versatility in use is limited. However, in the right situation, especially in a home environment, this type of camera can be a cost-effective solution. We have briefly described the most common camera types, now let’s describe discus fish, how and where they are used.

Professional types with C/CS mount lens attachment generally offer the best performance and many important futures, such as lens control output, backlight compensation and many more…

The distance from the object to be monitored to the camera does not matter, which is why the ability to choose different lenses depending on the location is so important. Installation is a bit complicated and professional installation is highly recommended. We recommend this type of security cameras for commercial installations.

Most bullet cameras in comparison don’t offer high resolution and flexibility in lens choices, but are likely to be weatherproof, some have built-in infrared light, and most importantly, are relatively easy to implement. They usually come with a 3.6mm lens which is suitable for most standard installations (good for covering small to medium sized rooms or equivalent).

Cameras with 6mm or higher lenses may be required for larger rooms or longer distances. They are a good choice for any do-it-yourself installation.

Onboard cameras, on the other hand, are commonly used in covert camera installations, sometimes referred to as spy cameras. Many are basically boards with a built in transmitter. We won’t go into wireless cameras now, as that would be enough stuff for an entirely new article.

Board cameras are sold as a simple circuit board for integration into covert camera devices. They are also available in dome housing, various popular dome cameras or integrated with smoke detector, motion detector, exit sign and so on. Most also come with a 3.6mm lens, but some have lens interchangeability.

Over time, the most practical design has been the dome camera, with its aesthetic appearance that blends in with the surroundings, especially with a fold-down seal, ideal for use in shops, lobbies, gas stations and other public places. Motion and smoke detection cameras are also a practical solution for covert installation, they are absolutely no substitute for your security alarm or fire protection. They should always be chosen based on the location of the camera (indoor/outdoor), distance to the surveillance object, lighting conditions and budget.

When buying security cameras, customers are faced with the fact that they need to choose one recording device or another.

The days of the well-known CCTV time-lapse video recorders are almost over.

Although some customers still prefer this old-fashioned recording solution, it’s worth investing a little more money to buy a quality digital video recorder (DVR). The digital recorder converts analog camera video into a digital format and stores it on the hard drive. There are currently two main types of digital recorders on the market.

PC-based systems.

A special board and software installed on the computer allow camera inputs and store videos on the hard drive.

Many people mistakenly believe that a personal computer with additional hardware installed will get the job done. This explains the hundreds of companies that put up a sign, ran a few ads, and started working in basements and garages posing as DVR manufacturers and security specialists. The main problem with this type of CCTV recorder lies in the main component of it… Yes, it is a computer designed for unlimited tasks, but not good. The truth is that any computer based digital video recorder is and will always be prone to software crashes, hangs, system instability, virus related issues, etc.

standalone systems.

Very similar in looks and controls to standard VCRs, truly remarkable devices. Most of the video processing is done by hardware, avoiding system crashes. Videos are also stored in digital format on the hard drive. The basic operating system, usually Linux, is permanently stored on a special processor that cannot be overwritten or damaged. Designed and built for a single application, it far outperforms its PC-based rival in performance and reliability.

Some DVR systems even have a remote monitoring feature, which is useful when monitoring is required in different locations over the Internet or a network. The most important factors to look out for when choosing the right DVR recorder are motion detection and frame rate. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video recording. Motion detection allows recording video from each camera only when motion is detected; This is great for increasing video recording time.

security monitors.

The video from the security recorder can be viewed on a standard television monitor. It’s okay to do it this way if image quality isn’t that important. However, for a professional installation, security monitors are just as important as cameras. They offer longer picture tube life (necessary with any static image which can cause image burnout) and much higher resolution.

Cables and wires.

Finally, every camera installation requires proper wiring. A good quality cable will prevent video degradation over long distances. It is recommended to use RG59 or RG6 coaxial cable as they are fully shielded and prevent video loss up to 400 feet away. Coaxial cables require BNC connectors and proper installation, which may be performed by an experienced technician. Non-coaxial plug-and-play cables with factory-installed BNC connectors can be used for short runs (up to 150 feet). The plug-and-play cables can be easily installed even by inexperienced users.

Cables for CCTV cameras consist of two cables bundled in a jacket. One cable for video and one for power.


Any CCTV system is only as good and reliable as its weakest component. With this in mind, it just doesn’t make sense from an economic and practical point of view to invest in cameras of the highest quality and performance and at the same time buy a low-performance recorder.

For example, why would you use CCTV cameras with a resolution of 500 TV lines with a monitor that only offers 380 or less? All the benefits of a high-resolution camera are sacrificed by the limited capabilities of the monitor. It’s important to ask questions before purchasing a video security system, and your dealer is likely to be able to give you more details and recommend devices for specific needs and requirements.

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