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CCTV Security Camera Overview
Last Updated: 02/20/2008
Security Camera Overview

The professional CCTV camera comes in a variety of shapes, size, and function.  The general categories of cameras are:

? Fixed Dome Camera
? Standard Box Camera
? Bullet Camera
? Covert Camera
? Pan-Tilt-Zoom Camera

Security cameras are designed specific to the view required and the lighting conditions.  

? Color Camera
? Day/Night Camera
? Infrared Camera

An important aspect of the camera decision is the location of the camera in respect to the view that is required.  Camera positioning is very important, and like the human eye, the closer to the subject, the better the results.

Each camera is designed for indoor or outdoor environments.  The traditional Box camera can be hung from the ceiling or wall, and can also be inserted into an outdoor housing. Dome camera are designed for indoor applications or a vandal-proof dome housing.

There are specific cameras that need to be selected based on the Field of View (FoV), lighting conditions, and the mounting location of the camera.  There is no such thing as a one-size fits all in the successful CCTV project. It is important to note each camera location and select the camera best suited for that location.  

Answer these questions:
? Primary subject or FoV required
? Indoor or Outdoor?
? Lighting conditions (during day and night)?
? Optimal Mounting location(s)?

Indoor Dome Camera
The indoor dome camera is used in 90% of general indoor applications.  It comes in a variety of configurations including standard color, Day/Night, and Infrared versions.  It can be mounted on a horizontal or vertical surface but is typically ceiling mounted.  Lens options on dome camera may restrict their use in certain applications such as requiring more than a 20mm video lens.  Dome cameras are a primary choice in indoor camera locations.

Box Camera
A box camera is a standard camera that can be mounted alone or in an enclosure. The box camera uses a separate lens that screws on to the front surface and provides flexibility for different FoV requirements and is sold without a lens.  An auto-iris lens will have a small cable that connects to the camera for iris control in various lighting conditions.

Outdoor Dome Cameras
Outdoor Dome Cameras are typically hard shell vandal-roof casings that offer the same versatility in a variety of lens options.  Day/Night outdoor dome cameras are common in applications that have entry and exit points with limited lighting during the night.

Day/Night Camera
The Day/Night camera is the best choice for low-light conditions. The cameras are standard color during daylight conditions, the Day/Night camera switches either digitally of mechanically to a low-lux B/W mode.

Infrared Camera
During No-Light conditions, Infrared cameras provide infrared illumination of the FoF allowing monitoring of areas with no light available.  Te IR LEDs are automatically illuminated and the camera switched to the B/W low-lux mode offering camera views in total darkness.

PTZ Camera
Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera offer the ability to view in all directions and optically zoom in as required.  PTZ cameras also include standard color, Day/Night modes, and a few IR PTZ cameras have been introduced recently.  The CCTV operator can set the PTZ cameras to automatically rotate to different FoVs.  Options include Auto-tracking applications that dynamically track objects in defined areas.

IP Cameras
IP Cameras are considered today for applications requiring megapizel resolution or the facility cabling is difficult but an IP infrastructure is available.
A recent independent researcher developed a study on the cost effectiveness of IP Cameras versus traditional IP Cameras The study indicated that if IP infrastructure is in place, the IP-based video surveillance system will always be lower cost for any system size. Research conducted with industry participants including security integrators, value added resellers and industry analysts, including interviews and cost data, yielded some major findings:
? IP based systems of 40 cameras have a lower total cost of ownership than analog systems.

? 32 cameras is the break-even point for IP systems versus analog systems.

? If IP infrastructure is installed, the IP system is always lower cost.

? IP systems offer many non-quantifiable advantages, including improved image quality, better maintenance and service, increased flexibility, and systems that are easier to troubleshoot.

About the Camera technology
Sony CCDs are the predominate video element in security cameras today.  Sony makes few cameras, but they own the CCD market.  Do not think that Sony makes the camera touted as ? Sony 1/3? Super HAD Camera? as many vendors advertise their cameras. The camera has a Sony CCD, however the camera is not from Sony and could be almost any brand camera in the CCTV market.  Important factors of lens quality, vari-focal and auto-iris ability, quality of camera housing or enclosure, and lens optics are key to professional CCTV camera, and the successful CCTV implementation.

No More Fuzzy Video

Two things stand out in the CCTV market today, especially in the retail store environment that we see nightly on the 10:00pm newscast.  Fuzzy video in the form of low resolution, poor camera placement, low-light recordings, and 5 fps jerky video.   Just hanging a camera up on the ceiling that you bought from the local and national retail chain will only provide a general fuzzy video that generally provides that the

Facts about Cameras:
? If you buy an $80 camera, you?ll get an $80 view.
? 480 TVL should be a minimum requirement in any professional CCTV project.
? Location of the camera and the correct lens are keys to quality video capture
? Cameras love light and thieves hate the light!  Add lighting wherever possible

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