10 tips for buying CCTV cameras

If you are looking for a CCTV package for your home or SME, you are definitely making the right choice. CCTV cameras offer security and peace of mind. When thieves or criminals attack homes or businesses, CCTV video footage can help identify crime and criminals instantly. Surveillance studies conducted in cities, especially in crime-prone regions, suggest that the installation of CCTV cameras acts as a deterrent to crime, and media reports suggest a marked decrease in the number of cases reported criminals in areas where CCTV cameras are operational.

Once you have made the decision to buy and install CCTV cameras, the next step is to find the one that suits you best. With so many options available, how do you decide what works best for you? Price can be a deciding factor. Many websites offer cheap new CCTV camera packages, starting at $599. With price points for every budget, buying a CCTV package doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal. A first-time buyer will find myriad options: What kind of camera resolution or display resolution is best? What are the best display frame rates? Do I need night vision? How much video recording and video storage capacity will I need?

In this article, we break these terms down for you and help you decide on the best CCTV package for your needs:

1. CCTV camera resolution

Most tech-savvy users handle phone cameras and camcorders and talk about megapixels and camera resolutions like a pro. However, when searching for CCTV camera packages, you may come across the term TVL or TV lines. What are these? Well, most CCTV cameras work with an analog camera or analog television system. Therefore, instead of pixels, we speak in terms of TV lines. We understand that the higher the number of pixels, the better the image quality we receive. Likewise, the more TV lines there are (subject to lens size, light, etc.), the better image quality you will receive on your CCTV camera. For most home and business security purposes, camera resolutions can range from 420 to 700 TV lines. In fact, 700 TV lines is the most you can find. Once you get into the field of digital CCTV, you can find pricing options with much higher resolution cameras.

2. Internet display resolution

Internet display resolution uses CIF (Common Intermediate Format) as the unit of measure. Defines a video stream with a resolution of 352 X 288 that can be converted for viewing in PAL or NTSC format. Confused? Let’s try it again. Your camera captures an image at a certain rate called frames per second. CIF resolution refers to how your DVR records this image or sequence of images. In a fledgling hard drive or hard drive industry, storage was expensive. Naturally, people preferred to compromise and capture lower resolution images at the sacrifice of 4 CIF and maximum frame rate. Now that video storage becomes affordable, you can now capture images at 4 CIF and get maximum detail. As the name suggests, 4CIF offers almost 4 times the image size and is especially beneficial in places such as counters, entrances, banking, etc., for facial recognition and image clarity. In other areas, where you prefer smooth, lag-free action in motion capture, you can turn to CIF while recording.

3. Internet display frame rate

We talk about the frame rate (frames per second) in terms of captured video streams and their quality. The concept remains the same no matter what type of video capture device you use. The device actually captures snapshots and plays them back in quick succession to make it look like fluid movement or action. In general, in terms of CCTV camera packages, anything above 30fps would provide smooth, jerk-free footage. Many places are now offering exceptional deals even on 120fps CCTV camera packages, making it as “real time” as possible.

4. All Weather CCTV Cameras

When purchasing a CCTV package, you may want to consider the location of the cameras. Depending on whether you want to mount cameras outdoors or indoors, you can choose from a wide variety of waterproof cameras. Waterproof cameras better resist damage from rain, snow, and moisture. Some weatherproof cameras may come with a sealed glass casing to protect them from environmental damage. Another advantage of airtight sealed chambers includes protection against dirt or dust, floating debris and moisture, even in closed spaces such as department stores, storage facilities and inside factories, auto repair shops, etc.

5. Day and night recording.

Whether you’re considering an investment in CCTV cameras for your home or business, you may want to look for cameras that offer night vision and 24-hour day and night recording. Break-ins, robberies, and property vandalism often occur at night, and poor visibility is the number one reason criminals go free. Infrared and night vision cameras capture quality images despite dark environments. They provide a better definition of objects, people or animals, and facilitate recognition and identification. Focus area, installation angle, lens size, and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) functions can determine the efficiency of night vision CCTV cameras. Installation of infrared cameras may also require a nighttime setup using infrared lighting or simulating nighttime conditions. If you’re considering recording 24/7, it’s also important to look at DVRs with maximum storage and back up accordingly.

6. Online viewing

Many security and surveillance companies offer customer-focused features that go beyond installation and maintenance. One of these features includes registering a domain name with your security company and having them set up a personalized website to view your property anytime, anywhere via a PC, tablet, or your web-enabled cell phone. Simply enter your specific URL, and you’ll be linked to your CCTV-protected property, home or business instantly and in real-time. This is especially good if you want to keep an eye on your business on the go or take care of your children, pets, or even the elderly while you’re at work.

7. Tracking through smartphones

With smartphones stepping up to meet the challenge of personal computers, it’s no surprise that security companies are now offering wireless tracking through their web-enabled smartphones. Creating a domain name with a specific URL allows you to customize the security display system on your smartphone. You do not have to download any external application or software for this purpose. The security system companies that sell you these CCTV packages may offer these features for a nominal price.

8. Video compression

An important aspect of CCTV installation includes compressing large video data into a format that can be easily stored or transmitted. Compressed data must go through the reverse process for display. Standardizing this process allows several different devices to interact with each other efficiently. In the CCTV industry, the gold standard is H.264 compression used by many different HD and Blu-Ray disc players, streaming video formats, and other Internet applications. CCTV cameras using H.264 video compression guarantee the absolute best quality of streaming video.

9. Alert systems: Message or email, motion detection

CCTV cameras allow you to capture images as they happen or an additional feature called motion detection can be added or purchased with your CCTV cameras. In the latter case, only the movement in front of the camera causes the image to be captured and recorded. Motion detection is useful if you prefer to use less disk space for recording. In a designated quiet area, sudden movements can be recorded, making it easy to store minimal data and review it later. Many motion detector cameras may be pre-installed with an alarm or sound system that can be activated by motion. Some surveillance companies may also provide an email alert system that alerts you to an intrusion or movement in a monitored area.

10. Recording and storage

Any CCTV package is incomplete without a reliable DVR system that can record and store your data for future reference. Online recording and viewing allows you to view your monitored area in a specially designated domain. Remote monitoring is possible both on your computer and on your smartphone. Offline recording and storage require hard disk space, which can be purchased according to your needs. Some hard drives range from 500GB to 2TB and can allow you to store your video data for up to 12 months.

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