How to Select a Good Quality Security Camera

by Benjamin Aries
A wide variety of digital and analog security cameras are available to consumers.

A wide variety of digital and analog security cameras are available to consumers.

Security cameras are valuable tools that can help monitor important areas, and reduce crime. Over the last several decades, many security camera innovations have occurred. Modern wireless technology allows cameras to be installed practically anywhere, without dedicated cable connections. Consumers can now choose both analog and digital devices in many different configurations. These options can easily seem overwhelming. However, by carefully evaluating the available camera features, buyers can find a suitable setup that meets their needs and budget.

Video Formats

Determine which video format is best for your application. The two general varieties of security cameras are analog and Internet Protocol. An analog camera uses a traditional video format, and can be directly connected to a standard television screen or video recorder. This type of security camera has been available for many decades, and is typically less expensive than its IP counterpart.

Consider how important it is to view the security footage remotely. IP cameras use a digital video format, and are more modern than analog devices. Due to the digital signal, the video from an IP security camera can quickly be sent through a computer network or over the Internet. Compared to the older analog format, an IP camera is easier to view from a distant location, such as an office in another city.

Decide if low cost or high resolution is the primary objective. An analog camera is limited to a relatively low resolution, and each analog camera must be directly connected to the monitoring station. On the other hand, the resolution of a digital camera is often good, and can equal or exceed the quality of an HD television. Increased video quality carries a higher price. The higher initial cost of an IP camera system may be worth the investment if an existing computer network can be utilized.

Wired and Wireless

Weigh the pros and cons of a wireless system compared to a wired setup. Both analog and IP cameras are traditionally hard-wired using physical cables. Analog devices use RCA-style video cords, while IP systems rely on computer network cables. Using a wired system is a low-cost approach when only a few cameras need to be connected. Placing many different cables for a large network of many cameras can quickly become a pain, however.

Consider a wireless setup if many cameras need to be installed, or if more cameras will be added in the future. Wireless cameras can usually be installed anywhere, as long as electrical power is available. These cameras contain radio transmitters, and send the video signal through the air to a nearby receiver. Several cameras are able to transmit to a single receiver. This wireless approach can be expensive initially, but increases the flexibility and adaptability of a security camera system.

Evaluate the importance of signal security. If sensitive information needs to be monitored, a wired camera system may help foil eavesdroppers. Traditional analog video transmitters can be received and viewed by anybody with the proper hardware. Wireless IP cameras are more secure, due to their digital format. Overall, however, a hard-wired setup is typically the most difficult to intercept and can be an important safeguard for monitoring confidential areas.

Camera Housing Styles

Determine if a special camera housing is needed. A wide variety of indoor and outdoor camera styles are available. Security cameras designed for indoor use are often the least expensive. These devices work well in inhabited areas that are well-lit and dry. However, an inexpensive indoor camera may have problems if rain, moisture or dark conditions are common.

Use a camera designed for outdoor use if weather is a concern. These cameras feature tough housings and can be used in rainy or winter conditions. Some camera housings are also tamper proof. This can be helpful in outdoor areas where vandalism or animal nuisance is common. Many outdoor security cameras also contain lights or infrared illumination, which increases the image quality in low light.

Consider whether a hidden or visible camera is the best choice. Both types of camera have advantages and disadvantages. A hidden camera can be useful for gathering clandestine evidence. Recording employee theft and documenting insurance frauds are two common examples where a hidden camera is an advantage. On the other hand, a highly visible security camera can help deter crime. People are generally less likely to misbehave when video surveillance is obvious.

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