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A box camera consists of a box-shaped camera body, which contains the electronics and imaging circuitry. Most box cameras are sold without a lens, which must be purchased separately. The ability to easily change lenses allows coverage of the exact field of view that is required. Most box cameras have a C/CS mount, which is the standard for the industry, compatible with a huge selection of available lenses.
Box cameras are great for all types of applications; to deploy outdoors, or in adverse environments, requires a weatherproof enclosure, or housing, which may be outfitted with a heater if conditions exceed the temperature rating of the camera. They should be mounted at heights sufficient to discourage tampering, and if necessary, employ locking housings and have wiring protected with metal conduit. See our Box Cameras
This type of camera is called 'bullet' because of it's shape. It has a built-in lens and an outer casing that protects the lens and electronics. They are sometimes called 'integrated cameras' because of their self-contained design. Bullet cameras come in many different configurations, from a simple indoor mini-bullet, to very sophisticated outdoor cameras with zoom, infrared, and long-range capabilities.
Bullet cameras are usually deployed with a wall or ceiling mount that allows free positioning of the camera on an adjustable bracket. This type of mount can be easily vandalized, so it is advisable to position bullet cameras high enough to preclude easy access to them; if this is not possible, consider using an anti-vandal dome camera instead. Some bullet cameras have special vandal-resistant mounting hardware. See our Bullet Cameras
Dome cameras have a hemispherical dome-shaped housing, and are mounted directly on a wall or ceiling. This type of camera is very commonly used for a wide variety of applications, as it affords the ability to conceal wiring, prevent weather damage, and deter vandalism, while presenting a more attractive profile than a box or bullet type of camera. Dome cameras can incorporate all the features of any box or bullet camera, with the additional physical advantages that the dome shape provides. See our Dome Cameras
PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras provide the ability to pan (right or left), tilt (up or down), and zoom (up to 400X) via remote control, either manually or in preset tours and patterns. This type of camera can be significantly more expensive than stationary types, but in some cases it may be a better solution than three or four stationary cameras. For complete control of a scene this is the way to go.
To capitalize on the ability of a PTZ camera to cover a wide area from a central position, it is best to mount such a camera on a pole, corner of a building, or even on the building roof. PTZ cameras are usually housed in a dome-shaped enclosure which can be flush-mounted, surface-mounted, or suspended via a mounting bracket. When planning for installation, don't forget to run control wires (18/6, 22/6, or cat5) to any location that may require a PTZ camera.
Although many DVRs can control PTZ cameras via built-in keypad or a software interface, a keyboard/joystick controller is recommended for ease of use and advanced programming functionality. Most PTZ cameras support control via common protocols (communication languages) like Pelco-D; some manufacturers require controllers using their own special protocols. See our PTZ Cameras
Zoom cameras provide the ability to change the focal length of the camera in real time via remote control. This type of camera does not have all the features of a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera, but will provide some limited ability to change the field of view, via adjustment in the optical lens and/or via digital enhancement of the image. While PTZ cameras are almost always deployed in a dome-style housing, zoom cameras can be found in a dome, box, or bullet style. They are useful when, from a fixed point of view, there is sometimes a need to zoom in for a greater detail, whether this involves capturing a license plate or face for identification, or viewing a cash transaction more closely. See our Zoom Cameras
There are many brands of wireless cameras on the market, usually targeting the consumer who doesn't want to bother with the installation of wires, or who needs to be able to move the camera to different locations, as with a baby monitor. In general, the image quality is not as good as with wired cameras, and the range of such cameras is limited, especially in buildings with concrete walls or high levels of radio interference. See our Wireless Cameras
Sometimes called 'hidden', 'nanny', or 'spy' cameras, covert cameras are designed for a myriad of uses, from relatively simple wired indoor cameras, to body-worn surveillance gear, and portable miniature camera/recorders which can be easily placed in a location unnoticed.
In general, public places are off limits to this type of recording, but courts have concluded that regular members of a household, including domestic help, cannot claim a reasonable expectation of privacy, and therefore it is not a crime to record their activities in the home using a 'nanny cam'. You should check your local laws to determine what covert activities are permitted. See our Hidden Cameras
Night Vision (Day/Night) Cameras
The terms 'night vision' and 'day/night' refer generally to cameras that have the ability to capture a clear, natural-looking image under any lighting condition, even near-complete darkness. There are some important differences; most day/night cameras have two modes of operation, automatically switching from color to black and white in lower light, but 'true day/night' cameras achieve good image quality in ultra-low-light without the use of infrared (IR) illumination. See our Day/Night Cameras
The are many types of situations requiring cameras that can resist attempts to damage or remove them. In this regard, there are obviously different levels of threat, and the camera should be able to withstand the anticipated action, whether it be casual mischief, a thief with tools, or the direct impact from a physical blow. For extreme situations, bullet-proof and bomb-proof cameras can be deployed. See our Anti-Vandal Cameras
License Plate Cameras
License plate cameras have special sensors and electronics which allow them to capture a clear, sharp image of a license plate under any conditions, even if the vehicle is travelling at high speed. Common uses include toll booths, government and military installations, and gated communities.
1. How many cameras do I need?
This depends on the number of areas you want to cover, and the number of angles necessary in each area. See more...
2. How do I choose the right camera?
Decide where the cameras will be placed. Indoors or outdoors? What are the lighting conditions in each area at the times you want to record? See more...
3. Why should I buy a complete CCTV system?
You will save between 15% and 25% off our regular prices for these items. You will also know that you are getting a complete system, with all the necessary cables, connectors, and adapters See more...
1. How to determine the number of cameras you need...
To be able to determine the the number of CCTV cameras necessary, there are two questions you must ask yourself: how many areas do you want to cover, and from which angles do you want to cover them. For example, a typical small free-standing house will have four exterior areas to cover (front, back, and both sides), and will only require one camera for each angle, but there may be cases where you will want additional cameras to see more angles or expand the angles that you have. It is best to take the time to plan carefully, so you can accomplish what you want on the first try, rather than waiting to find that you have left out an important area of coverage.
2. How to decide which cameras you need...
To choose the right security cameras for the job, there are several factors to consider, such as the environment in which the cameras will be placed, the lighting conditions, and the risk of vandalism or theft of the cameras. Once you have decided how many indoor and outdoors cameras you need, the next step is to decide on the specific qualities of each camera.
For outdoor usage, you have to choose weatherproof cameras, and if the temperature in your area drops below freezing, you should use cameras with built-in heaters. The second thing to consider is lighting conditions. Will you be able to get a good image with available light? Most cameras will produce a good image under most normal daytime conditions, but there are cases where the view from a particular angle contains strong glare or backlight, and in these cases you will want a camera with backlight compensation and/or wide dynamic range capabilities; these additional features allow the camera to produce a good image despite the difficult lighting conditions. At night, there may not be enough available light to capture a good image, and so you can either provide additional lighting, or you can choose cameras with low-lux day/night sensitivity, or IR cameras that provide their own infrared illumination up to 150 feet. Finally, for outdoor situations you may need to protect the cameras from vandalism or theft; in these cases, an anti-vandal dome camera is the best way to go.
For indoor cameras, you have to know exactly what you want to see. If you want to see a wide view of the space, you should choose cameras with wide angle lenses of 2.8mm or 3.5mm focal length, which will provide from 70 - 90 degrees angle of view, depending on the specific sensor CCD in the camera. If you want to focus on an object from a distance, you will want to have a varifocal lens, which will allow you adjust the focal length (zoom) to get just what you want in frame. Now that you've considered the angles of coverage, you are ready to choose from our wide selection of indoor cameras, from standard or anti-vandal domes to bullet cameras and even hidden cameras built into alarm motion sensors or smoke detectors. See our Cameras
section for more information on security cameras.
3. Why you should buy a complete CCTV system...
When you order a complete CCTV system, you are getting the cameras you need along with a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), which will store the recorded video, providing the ability to search, play back, and export it. We offer a large selection of stand-alone DVRs, network IP systems, and many types of specializd recorders, bundled here in a full range of video surveillance solutions for any situation. See our DVRs
section for more information on DVRs.
Price and Support
You will save between 15% and 25% off our regular prices for these items. You will also know that you are getting a complete system, with all the necessary cables, connectors, and powers supplies, put together by our experienced support technicians, who can walk you through the installation.