When researching surveillance cameras a lot
of the camera functionality can seem like a confusing minefield of industry jargon and tech-speak. It's hard to know which features are important and
which are a useless gimmick to increase sales. Getting right down to basics is the only way to compare apples with apples, to make sure you get the
right camera for your security requirements.
Here are our tips on the fundamental security camera functions to look for when setting up or upgrading your surveillance system.
Field of view
The field of view, or FoV, indicates how wide the angle of vision is for the camera. The range can vary from 110° degrees up to around 180° which as you can see the difference is significant.
However, make sure you consider the area you are needing to monitor and the placement of the camera. If a camera is positioned in the corner of a room a 110-degree field of view would be plenty, a wider angle would be needed if you want to monitor the whole front yard or other large areas with a single camera.
The system used to store the footage recorded by the camera can vary. Choices include:
- Cloud storage - internet-based storage
- SD card - usually placed directly into each camera, often only capable of storing smaller amounts of footage.
- Home computer - extra storage space may be needed
- Network video recorder (NVR) or digital video recorder (DVR)
Check that the recording system you prefer is compatible with the cameras you buy and vice-versa.
The amount of footage and storage needed will vary depending if your camera is motion activated or set to record continually.
Picture clarity and image quality
Around 1080 pixels is standard for many security cameras. The general rule is the higher the pixel count the clearer the image will be, this is especially important in low light situations. Most cameras can provide a decent image of a well lit or sunny room, the challenge for most systems is during night or evening recording, which let's face it, is a common break-in period.
Higher pixel count also allows the camera more digital zoom (if the camera has this feature) which means it can get in close to record a clear picture for identification purposes.
Indoor or outdoor use
The choice of cameras for indoor use is vast, outdoor options tend to be fewer. Make sure the camera you choose is suitable for the area you want to use it in.
Cameras used for external monitoring need to be designed specifically for outdoor conditions. They need to be hardy, waterproof, and able to withstand extreme temperature variations, even if they are positioned under eves or on the veranda.
Night vision or infrared capabilities are usually needed for good quality monitoring in low light conditions.
Wireless (or nearly)
Often cameras are referred to as being wireless although this is not always strictly true. The wireless reference can indicate the camera communicates wirelessly with the recording system or cloud back up, removing the need to install Ethernet cabling throughout your building.
Most cameras which do not specifically state that they are battery powered will still need to have access to a power point or be wired into an electrical circuit.
Speak to your security specialist about the ideal wiring requirements for your home or business to ensure the camera system is compatible.
Would you like to be able to move the security camera remotely to track an intruder or keep an eye on your property? If so you will need to purchase a camera which has PTZ (pan, tilt and zoom) capabilities which will allow the camera to manoeuver around either automatically or manually.
Some cameras will only have one or two of the three options, consider the area requiring surveillance when deciding which capabilities you need.
Being able to access footage during or shortly after an incident happens enables you to respond quickly to a break-in or event by calling a security guard response service, the police, or a neighbour. It also allows your professional alarm monitoring service to see what's going on if an alarm is triggered at your home.
Many cameras and security systems allow you to connect from your smartphone or remote computer so you can check what's going on around your property from almost anywhere in the world. Others systems will send activation alerts via SMS, email, or an app to nominated contacts.
If you have questions about which security camera is best for your needs speak to your local home security specialist for expert advice.