How to Buy a CCTV Security Camera

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How to Buy a CCTV Security Camera

CCTV or closed circuit television security cameras are an affordable and convenient form of home and small business security. CCTV allows multiple cameras to be linked to the same monitor, meaning that a small business or a homeowner only needs one monitor to view multiple cameras, no matter how many there are in the monitoring system. But while CCTV security cameras are now cheaper, and more readily available than ever before, many buyers are still confused by the specifications, the models, the pricing, and even where to purchase a good security system.

For the most part, CCTV security cameras are relatively easy to come by and can be purchased on their own or as a full security system including the monitor, broadcaster, cables, and cameras. Sometimes they can be wireless, offer a variety of vision specifications, and even offer mobile access. Buyers should consider what specifications they need, how many cameras they want, and where they want to buy their camera before making a purchase.

Choose the Type of CCTV Cameras

While almost all CCTV cameras sold today are some type of rotating camera such as ePTZ (Electric Pan/Tilt/Zoom) or ball cameras that record a solid radius, there are still a few other considerations such as whether the camera should be wired, wireless, or connected directly to a computer or IP address. These last are sometimes also known as remote access cameras, because the owner can access them from anywhere on the Internet.

Wired CCTV Cameras

Wired CCTV cameras are the most common and the cheapest type of camera. Generally these feature an audio/video/power cable that is simply plugged into the monitor or control box. From there, buyers can see everything the camera records right from the monitor. Disadvantages include that the wire might be inconvenient to lay and that extension cables and connectors might be necessary. Advantages include that a wired CCTV camera provides a standard quality video line that does not go out if the Internet connection does. Wired cameras can be purchased with either BNC or DIN terminations or connection ports.

Wireless CCTV Cameras

There are two types of wireless CCTV cameras, and both are very popular. Wireless CCTV is a great alternative to wired cameras, especially for anyone who cannot manage to lay the wires, or wants less clutter in their home or business. Modern wireless CCTV cameras are generally safe from interference by other devices, and offer quality comparable with that of wired cameras.

Analogue Wireless CCTV Cameras

Analogue wireless cameras are common on old CCTV setups, and can still be purchased new, although digital versions are now much more popular. Analogue cameras use radio and video frequencies to transmit data over radio frequency. Generally analogue wireless CCTV cameras have a maximum range of 91 meters and can sometimes suffer from electronic interference.

Digital Wireless CCTV Cameras

Digital wireless cameras are more common today, but can also be more expensive, even when purchased used. The advantages include higher quality audio and video, a wider range of transmission, two-way communication, digital remote control functions, and multiple channel capabilities through a DVR. Digital wireless uses high frequency radio to transmit audio and video, allowing it to quickly obtain images and sounds.

IP CCTV Cameras

The IP or Internet protocol camera is simply connected to a computer router and can be accessed via any computer with the proper codes. These cameras can be analogue or digital, and can be wired or wireless. In most cases, these are sold as remote access cameras, or have ‘remote access’ as one of the features, rather than being sold as IP cameras.

Outdoor CCTV Cameras

Outdoor or outdoor/indoor cameras are any type of cameras specifically made for outdoor use. Many wired cameras are outdoor/indoor cameras, but not all wireless cameras are. Anyone who is planning on placing a CCTV camera outdoors should check the specifications to ensure that the camera is waterproof before placing it somewhere where it can get wet and damaged as a result.

Select Video Quality and Style

The video quality and style are also important factors when deciding on a CCTV security camera purchase. For example, most users do not realise the difference between black and white and colour recording, or the advantages in different light levels and reception. The type and quality of the imaging chip also makes a huge difference to the performance of the camera, but once again, most first-time users have no idea how to even interpret the data available in descriptions and on boxes.

Select Light Levels and Response Based on Lux Level

Light level and response is one of the most important considerations for video quality, mostly because it determines how much light the camera picks up. The more light, the higher the quality the video. Light level is measured in lux, and in reverse order. The lower the lux number, the better the CCTV camera records under low light conditions. There are ten lux levels perceivable by the human eye.

Lux Level

Quality

100,000 to 130,000 Lux

Direct Sunlight

10,000-20,000 Lux

Full Daylight

1,000 Lux

Cloudy Day

200-400 Lux

Indoors

100 Lux

Dim indoors/very cloudy day

10 Lux

Twilight

1 Lux

Sunset

0.1 to 0.001 Lux

Moonlight

0.001 Lux

Moonless night

Lux is generally measured according to what can be perceived by the human eye. Most high quality cameras have trouble recording at the lowest levels, unless equipped with night vision. These are labelled as night vision cameras and might switch to green or heat view for the night-time period. Importantly, cameras with very high lux levels are not very efficient for indoor or night-time recording because they most likely have very poor video quality.

Understand HD, High Quality, and Standard Resolution

CCTV cameras are generally labelled according to their video quality. Common qualities include HD, digital, analogue, and more. Usually video camera quality is rated in resolution, and is used to indicate the pixels per inch in the final product. Essentially, a low resolution video camera can be quite fuzzy on a small monitor, while higher quality cameras are, of course, more expensive. Lines are the normal measurement of resolution and can range from about 300 to upwards of 700. Lines are measured in TVL (TV Lines), with standard quality being about 300-450, high quality or high image being 480, and very high image quality being 540-700.

The number of TVL or TV lines results from the number of lines that the camera chip has, which affects the quality of the camera. A very small camera or a very cheap one has very small chip, while a more expensive or higher quality camera has a larger chip. Usually the larger the chip, the better the quality of the video, although there are other factors involved. Chips include both CCD and CMOS, with CCD being the newer, higher quality of the two.

Choose Between Black and White and Colour CCTV Cameras

Many people automatically assume that colour video is optimum, but this is not always true. Many cameras offer the ability to switch between black and white or colour, but many are sold with just one capability. For the most part, colour cameras are excellent for daytime recording such as in stores and in cash registers. Cameras equipped with night vision are most often black and white, because black and white is higher contrast, and therefore easier to see in low-light situations. Anyone who plans to record at night, or in low light, should choose a black and white or alternating camera, usually known as an IR camera.

How to Buy a CCTV Security Camera on eBay

CCTV security cameras can be purchased on eBay in both new and used conditions. Buyers can choose to purchase wireless, wired, digital, analogue, or IP speakers in a range of qualities and sizes. Options on eBay include budget brands, high quality brands, and HD to standard resolution cameras. CCTV cameras can be purchased individually, in sets, with a DVR recorder, or in a bundle with multiple cameras, any cables and connections needed, and sometimes even a monitor and DVR.

Because there are so many options on eBay, you can choose literally any brand and style you want, in whatever quantity and quality you like, as long as the CCTV camera’s specifications are suitable for your needs. Also, you should be aware that there may be shipping or customs charges that might be present when purchasing cameras internationally. If you do purchase your CCTV camera on eBay, you can also choose to purchase locally in order to receive your camera more quickly and to benefit from cheaper shipping.

Conclusion

CCTV cameras are most often used as security cameras because they are affordable, relatively available, and can allow multiple devices to be connected to the same output, such as a DVR. CCTV cameras come in a variety of qualities, with different features, and different functions, but most users can easily choose between one camera and the next based on their specific needs. Common cameras include mounted cameras that can record a range (such as 180 degrees) of distance, but ePTZ cameras are also popular.

Various options of cameras can be purchased to suit different needs, such as black and white or night vision cameras for night recording and very basic cameras for standard recording. A quality of at least 2 megapixels is required for reading licence plates, so quality is also a consideration. Most people should consider looking at their needs, deciding what quality of camera they need, how many cameras are required to get the job done, and what the budget is before purchasing a CCTV camera.

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