CCTV cameras are available in lots of different styles many of which have a specific purpose. It is important to ensure that the right cameras are selected for each application. Incorrectly specified cameras can result in poor performance and render a CCTV system unfit for its purpose.
Any CCTV images must be adequate for the purpose for which you are collecting them. It is essential that you choose camera equipment and locations which achieve the purposes for which you are using CCTV.
An extract from the ICO guidelines for CCTV systems
The ICO guidelines provided by the government in the UK require that CCTV systems are good enough for the purpose they were intended for. This sounds obvious but an incorrectly specified camera can result in an image that is of no use and should not therefore have been installed.
The following information should give an insight into what types of camera are available and what can be done with them.
Types of CCTV Cameras
CCTV cameras come in many different shapes, sizes, types and most importantly standards of quality.
Domestic CCTV camera
A typical domestic CCTV camera available from high street retailers, often low resolution with limited night vision range. Cables will be pre-made making installation simple although running cables through walls can be difficult with the connectors already fitted. Smaller cameras are often not noticeable and therefore provide a relatively ineffective visual deterrent. Brackets are small which makes the cameras easy to knock out of alignment and provide no cable management meaning most cables remain visible.
Some cameras use the common BNC connector although others will use system specific connection making upgrading difficult in the future.
Domestic Wireless CCTV Camera
Wireless video signals are transmitted to a receiver connected to a screen or recorder. Low resolution with limited night vision range (5M-10M).
Although the video signal is wireless a wired power supply will often be required. Many of these cameras use the 2.4ghz frequency that is common to many other wireless devices. For this reason they are prone to interference and can rarely provide stable images over the advertised range.
Infrared Bullet Camera
A larger all in one camera than a typical domestic CCTV camera. A Bullet camera often combines features of more expensive housed cameras with the convenience and value of all in one cameras. Most come with on screen display, vari-focal lenses and substantial brackets amongst other features. Cables are normally concealled within the brackets and the cameras cannot easily be knocked out of alignment. Typically these cameras have integrated infrared illuminators creating an area of night vision usually over a considerable distance due to the higher number of IR LED's. The illuminated area tends to be quite narrow and is usually most effective at medium distance. Bullet cameras are noticeable enough to provide a visual deterrent while still remaining relatively unobtrusive.
Housed CCTV Camera
A heavy duty CCTV camera housing, provides a tough resilient and weather proof casing for a CCTV camera. A CCTV body camera is mounted inside and due to the wide range of cameras and lenses available this style of camera offers excellent flexibility. The larger size of a typical housing provides a noticeable and obvious deterrent although these cameras can sometimes look out of place on a domestic property and are best suited to commercial installations. Many housing having optional mounting points for external infrared illumintors and also feature built in heaters and strong cable managed brackets. The housing gives no clue as to the quality of the camera housed within.
A body camera is a professional CCTV camera with many advanced features. Many body cameras have interchangeable lenses typically using CS mount lenses. The lenses are available in a variety of focal lengths, zoom ranges and aperture settings meaning a body camera can be adapted to a wide variety of applications. The cameras are not weather or waterproof so for use outdoors a housing would be required. The cameras often feature on screen displays with in depth menu structures allowing many features and settings to be accessed and adjusted. Due to the larger lens size more light is able to pass to the image sensor, this results in clearer images with better detail.Body cameras can be powered from 12 or 24 volt DC or even 230 volt mains in many cases again adding to their flexibility.
This sort of camera is the first choice CCTV camera for a professional CCTV installer and can be found on many commercial premises.
Vandal Proof CCTV Dome Camera
A tough vandal resistant external CCTV camera available with or without night vision. Usually IP65, 66 or 67 rated meaning these cameras can be mounted outside and will remain watertight. Cables are not on show and with tough polycarbonate lens covers and strong cast aluminium housing these cameras are very difficult to damage or interfere with. The quality and features of these cameras varies greatly with the price meaning a well selected model can suit many applications.
Internal CCTV Dome Camera
Usually without night vision and non weather proof these cameras offer a high resolution solution for professional applications and use privacy masks to disguise the angle of view. Varying quality versions are available and the cheaper versions will not be high resolution.
PTZ CCTV Dome Camera With External Housing
Pan Tilt Zoom camera wired back to a joystick or other compatible control option allows the camera to be rotated, zoomed and focused remotely.
These are almost exclusively used in professional applications due to higher cost. They offer high resolution images, advanced features and greater coverage potential than a static camera. They often feature large optical zoom lenses that allow the user to zoom in and achieve clear images of distant objects.
IP CCTV Camera
An IP CCTV camera is a camera that transmits a data signal as opposed to a video signal. They can often offer significantly greater resolution images and advanced computer based features such as image analytics. An IP CCTV camera cannot usually be identified simply by appearance alone. They are available in almost all of the style and formats listed above so can be used as an alternative option for almost any system.
Although currently associated with higher cost, increased usability and simple installation means it is a rapidly growing market and will eventually become the standard for CCTV cameras. Configuration and set-up will require specialist networking knowledge and equipment.
Specialist CCTV Cameras
Specialist CCTV cameras such as the thermal imaging predator or metal mickey cameras allow full motion and zoom control,
These high resolution cameras have tough housings and customisable configurations. Thy are ideal for vehicle CCTV systems or high risk, temporary installations and can be quickly deployed, easily monitored and controlled remotely.
Post mounted camera
Post mounted cameras come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A post mounted camera provides a solution where a camera needs to be deployed at short notice in a temporary location. Fully de-centralised all recording takes place within the camera and with PTZ functionality a tour of preset locations can easily be set up. Playback and configuration is via a wireless connection to a mobile computer. Many features can be customised as units such as this are often bespoke, different lenses, increased storage and mobile data connections are all possible options.