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CCTV Cameras Guide

For anyone thinking about installing CCTV cameras the obvious question is: which type is best suited to my particular situation?

All are offered at affordable prices, are easy to install, and there is little maintenance, so you are left to concentrate on selecting the technology that will meet your requirements, for which you will, of course, need some information on which to base your eventual decision.

First of all, are you looking for the indoor or outdoor variety? The former are suitable in homes, offices, schools, hotels and suchlike and can be mounted at any suitable point inside the building, while the latter, which have hard-shell vandal-proof castings and a variety of lens options, are mainly used at entry and exit points where there is limited night lighting.

Perhaps a further word of explanation is necessary if you are unsure as to what constitutes ‘vandal-proof’. These cameras are encased within solid material and are additionally protected by break-proof glass which does not hinder the quality of the video camera. It really is difficult to break these cameras and they are therefore perfect for high security. You can mount them on walls or ceilings and they are also fog and rain resistant.

If you have a high-alert area which requires constant surveillance, both day and night, then the IR Day/Night Camera will probably do the job. During the day it works just like a normal camera, with standard colours, and then, at night, it switches to low-lux black-and-white mode. When visibility decreases infra-red LEDs are illuminated automatically to ensure continuing complete security. This type of camera is popular with the military and it is also common in other high security situations and parking lots.

Another type which provides illuminated viewing in darkness is the bullet camera, so-called because it is housed on a bullet-shaped casing. Weatherproof, compact, and with an integrated design, they are very effective both residentially and commercially.

However, a slight note of caution. IR is not always ideal for identification purposes, being a little too weak at a distance and a little too strong for close-ups, with a face often shown as a blur rather than the clear image that is required.

You may, therefore, want to check out DSS Night-Vision which, its supporters claim, gives clear colour images in situations where the human eye can hardly see hardly a thing. In some instances moonlight – or even starlight – can be sufficient to give a crisp night-time picture, but ideally the camera should be within 60-70 yards of a street lamp. If this is not possible, the installation of a low-light source would be helpful.

Bear in mind, however, that DSS CCTV cameras are not recommended for the surveillance of fast-moving objects – cars for example.

If you are looking to cover an area which attracts crowds – public places such as railway and bus stations for example – you would probably want to opt for a dome camera, in which, as the name implies, the camera is installed inside a dark dome, and in such a way that it is hardly noticeable. Thieves are deterred because they are unsure whether or not the camera is recording. Another advantage is that these cameras can be tilted and rotated, although it has to be done manually.

Still not sure whether to go for the cameras in weather-proof housings or the dome cameras? Think about it this way: the former are best when the camera needs to have a very far zoom, or when a very high deterrent effect is desired, while the static (not rotating) Dome Cameras look neater and are not as obvious. In addition, professional Dome Cameras have the same picture quality and specification as Housing Surveillance Cameras, but are generally easier to install and slightly cheaper to purchase.

It may be that you wish to go even further with a camera that is completely hidden, and this type is particularly suitable for public places such as theatres, clubs, cinemas and department stores. Because they are very compact, hidden cameras are ideal for secret monitoring. They also have a built-in recorder that records and broadcasts simultaneously. A large number of such strategically-placed cameras will enable you to keep a close watch on a wide area.

Then there is the Pan Tilt Zoom Camera, which offers even greater versatility, with the ability to view and zoom in all directions, and a facility which enables you rotate to different fields of vision automatically. These cameras can be set to follow pre-programmed routes and most applications include a joystick keyboard. Such cameras are ideal for big areas such as car parks.

For reliable security some experts in the field recommend that you stick to static, not-rotating CCTV cameras, as important evidence has sometimes been missed by the rotating variety, but that is for you to decide.

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