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Different CCTV cameras and what they offer

The technical side of CCTV cameras very important and something you should be aware of before making an investment.  Here we explain the differences between CCTV cameras as well as the suitability of different CCTV cameras for certain situations.

Indoor or outdoor camera?

Obvious as it may seem, there are important differences between cameras you want to use outdoors and cameras you want indoors.  Foremost of these concerns, rather than camera type itself, is the casing it comes in.

For cameras exposed to the elements, weather-proof casing is essential.  This ensures that water and dust will be kept outside the camera, well away from the sensitive electricals inside.

As well as weatherproofing, it is worth considering vandal proof cameras for CCTV installations where there may be a danger that thieves may attempt to tamper with the camera.

If a CCTV camera is vandal-proof then it will typically be encased in a solid protective material.  Additionally, the camera lens will be protected with break-proof glass, which coincidentally, does not impinge on the quality of the images recorded.  Vandal-proof cameras are also typically weather resistant.

Different types of CCTV camera

1. Infrared cameras

IR cameras are often referred to as day/night cameras.  As the name suggests, they are capable of capturing images during the day or the night, and so provide 24 hour surveillance.

In the day an infrared camera will behave like a normal camera, capturing coloured images and video.  At night, or in low light or even no light environments, the camera will capture images and video in monochrome.  In environments with decreased visibility, infrared cameras will flood an area with infrared light from infrared leds positioned around the outer edges of the camera lens.

Therefore, IR cameras are most appropriate for monitoring low or no light areas, or for providing 24 hour surveillance. These types of camera are often found car parks and are also favoured by the army.

In terms of camera design, IR cameras are available as bullet cameras, domes cameras, box cameras and pan-tilt-zoom cameras.

2.  Bullet Cameras

Bullet cameras can be used as indoor or outdoor cameras.  Bullet cameras which do not have day/night capability and are not protected by weather-proof casing can be very small and cost-effective.  They can be mounted on walls or on ceilings.  Bullet cameras with infrared capability are typically larger, as are bullet cameras contained in weather-proof casing.

Visibly, bullet cameras can provide a strong deterrent and they can also boast an impressive range of sight up to, and sometimes more than, 300ft.  They are, however, vulnerable to vandalism if mounted in a place where they can be easily reached.  It is also clear which way they are pointing and can have an exposed cable unless they come with a cable management bracket.

3. Dome Cameras

Dome cameras have become increasingly popular in recent years.  They are most typically found in retail stores, bars, restaurants and the home.  Day/night capability and weather-proof casing are available with dome cameras which are often also vandal proof.  Some of the advantages of dome cameras is that they are discreet, can be mounted vertically, horizontally or diagonally, and that they often have a tinted case which conceals the direction in which the camera is pointing.

Increasingly, dome cameras boas a pan-tilt-zoom capability.  Here the camera can rotate to follow its target when they would ordinarily have left the camera field of vision.  This is particularly useful in dome cameras as their tintec case disguises the fact that the camera if moving to follow a target.  However, if it is long distances that you need your CCTV camera to cover, other types, such as the bullet camera or the box camera, may be more appropriate.

3. Box Cameras

Box Camera CCTV units are not discrete, and in the same way as the bullet camera, this has both its advantages and disadvantages.  On one hand their visibility could provide a deterrent to would be vandals or thieves.  On the other hand their visibility may be intrusive in an indoor environment and it is clear what they are pointing at.  A large range of lenses are available for box cameras, meaning it is possible to have zoom and long-distance capability and they can also be covered with weather-proof casing.  They are also relatively inexpensive but rarely come with IR capability.

NEXT >> The differences between Analogue and IP CCTV systems

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