Our standard cameras come in many different styles. Many of them have a variety of lenses that will allow for us to focus in on areas of concern, or to change the width of the view of the camera. These are used for all types of applications from standard installations to hidden mini cameras. Almost all of these cameras will switch from color to black and white at night. This gives the ability for clearer resolution at lower lighting.
With night vision cameras, there are a few items to keep in mind. One of the most important is that these cameras will have infrared LED’s that are built into the housing. This allows for objects to be illuminated even in pitch-black environments.
When considering placement of these types of cameras, never place them where there is a reflective surface within 15’ or less (car windshields, windows, etc…) as the reflection of the LED’s at night will cause a blinding of the camera, and you will not be able to see much of anything with your camera.
Most of the less expensive night vision cameras will only be able to project the infrared lighting approx 30’. Some are rated for further distance, but beware that most ratings for their distance fall short from where they really are.
The best idea with this is that if a manufacturer’s spec calls out it will illuminate up to 100’ in pitch black, then it is a safe guess you are covered adequately up to 50’ of distance.
Over the last 20 years, I have redefined my thinking in regards to security, especially when it come to cameras. Back then security cameras were not worth the effort or costs. Poor resolution, lack of adequate lighting, and the VHS style recording systems led to a false sense of security. With today’s technology, most of these issues in regards to cameras have been resolved.
Cameras can now play an important role in providing the security for your family, business and all of your valuable items. Choosing the correct camera for your needs is important to understand. I have listed a few things that hopefully will help our clients understand the differences when choosing the right camera for their security applications.
Placement, Distance, and Height
One of the main items to consider is the placement of where your cameras need to be and what video you may need when referencing the captured images.
For example, if you need facial recognition in your recorded images, then you need to consider that most standard cameras with 600 lines of resolution or less, will only show facial recognition at 30’ or less in distance from your camera location. If it is an image captured at night it will be less distance (approx 20’). Most images outside of that distance will allow you to see someone is there, and that they are wearing a blue hat and a red jacket, etc… but the image of their face will be distorted at 30 feet or more of distance. If facial recognition is a must have, and you need this at any distance, you want to consider a megapixel camera. I will discuss this more in detail a little later on in this article.
Another thing to consider with location is the height of the camera placement. I cannot tell you how many times I walk up to a building and see a camera mounted 15’ or more above a door and the camera is pointing almost straight down at the door entrance. It will give a great shot of the top of someone’s head, but you cannot tell who it is at the door. I always suggest keeping the cameras placed approx 8-9’ above ground level. This will always allow for a great shot of someone’s face, but still be high enough so that most people cannot reach up and alter the direction of the camera. Also keep the camera pointed in a manner so it captures your area of concern, but also capture as much area leading up to or surrounding that area. This allows for more opportunity of video of the person leading up to your area of concern.
Also consider weather or not you need video of a person coming or going from your area of concern. Keep in mind that if you get a great shot of someone entering, it may be that as they are leaving and they are carrying something in their arms, all you may get is an image of the back of someone’s head and you cannot tell what it is they are carrying.
Most standard cameras have a resolution that is 700 lines or less. The higher resolution the clearer the images will be. Most of these cameras will have a day/night feature, which allows a color camera to turn to black and white in lower lighting. This allows for better quality of video at low light. However, zooming in on images creates pixilation and distortion. We use these cameras for short distances or for the client who has a small budget but needs cameras for his/her security application. Use this camera with a standard style DVR. Uses a standard style coaxial cable RG59 or RG6.
Megapixel cameras are usually associated with an IP based camera. Without going into too much detail, I will simply explain that this type of camera is used when clarity of resolution is needed at greater distances. It allows for a video image to be enhanced without pixilation. It is truly the Hi-Def of the camera world. The costs associated with this style camera are higher than a standard camera, but it is well worth it when you are talking about clarity in recorded images. Use this with a Hybrid DVR or PC driven software. Uses a Category 5 or 6 style cable.
The placement and the type of the cameras is specific to each clients needs. People always wonder why I ask so many questions when I meet with a customer about cameras. I need to understand all of their concerns and why they feel they need cameras. I want to make sure that we cover things that the client may not have thought about, and to let them know we have a solution for their specific needs.
If you are a customer who is requesting an installer to put in cameras, and they ask you very few questions about placement, you may wish to reconsider your choice in contractors.