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Camera and lens selection may be the most important factors in designing a video security system. We receive more questions about this than anything else. We will walk through some of the key points of camera and lens selection and provide opportunity for you to explore further.
Lets start with lens selection first. There are three basic types of lenses used in CCTV security cameras. Fixed, varifocal and zoom.
A fixed lens is just that, fixed. It can not be adjusted.
A varifocal lens will allow for a manual adjustment that you set and leave and will usually have a small focal range. Some of the varifocal lengths may be 2.6-6mm, 4-9mm, or 9-22mm as an example. There are many other possibilities depending on the manufacturer of the camera.
A zoom lens is a lens that you can adjust through the security camera system as you view the camera output on a monitor. These types of lenses are used in PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) cameras.
For more in depth information you can download the free guide on "How to choose the right security camera." You can find a link to it in the right column.
So how do you know which lens size you need? That is determined by your field of view for a given scene. Click here to learn more about field of view and choosing the right lens.
There are also a number of key camera specifications that are important as well. Things like Back Light Compensation, Automatic White Balance, Auto Iris, Electronic Shutter, etc. Every camera has a number of programmable and automatic settings that become important to be aware of to make sure your getting the highest quality of image possible.
In addition to the camera lens and specifications is how it will be connected and powered. There are a number of different options here as well. Analog security camera systems are typically connected with RG59/U coax cable or other options.
The security cameras are typically powered by a power distribution unit. This allows for a central location for the power of the cameras rather than trying to power the cameras locally where they are. We provide details about this on our CCTV Power Supply Options page.
There are also other options when using IP Cameras instead of Analog cameras. An IP camera is a camera that is connected on a network. Just like a computer or a printer would be. This type of connection allows for even more ways to power your cameras. Cameras can be powered by POE or Power Over Ethernet. This is a convenient and low cost way to power the cameras compared to some of the more traditional methods. Click here to review our training on Understanding PoE.
Camera housing options
After determining which lens will work for a given scene and how you will connect the cameras then you need to decide which type of camera you will actually need to use.
What then are some of the basic camera options? First there are a few different styles for cameras. By style we are talking about what the camera is housed in. There are basically three types of styles. Box, dome and bullet. The box camera style is just a simple box or full body style. They are indoor cameras by themselves but can be placed into outdoor housings for outdoor use. Dome cameras come in a variety of sizes and configurations. There are outdoor vandal resistant domes, and indoor domes as well. Bullet cameras are smaller tube shaped cameras that are typically for outdoor use.
Besides the style of cameras you have differences in camera capabilities. Some of the basic CCTV security camera specifications are Color, Day/Night, Infrared and WDR (Wide Dynamic Range). A color camera will only display pictures in color. To display a color picture you need 1.5 times more light than it takes to display a black and white picture. That’s why there are Day/Night cameras. A D/N camera will turn to black and white when the light level gets below a preset point. This allows the camera to still get a good picture in lower light situations.
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Infrared cameras can add more ability to a D/N camera with the IR Led’s on the camera. The IR light can not be seen by the human eye but the camera is sensitive enough to use that light reflecting off objects in the given scene to provide usable images even when no other light is available.
So is there a camera that can handle glare and high contrasting light? Yes there is. WDR or Wide Dynamic Range Cameras are great for those type of situations. WDR cameras are designed to better handle these difficult lighting situations. They are ble to take the glare and bright light out of the image to provide clear and accurate images. For more information on understanding CCTV WDR security cameras click here.
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