Hello,

My name is Paul and I’m a specialist and reseller in the Security Camera business since 2004. I have been servicing South Florida and I provided advice and information to the public and system operators about the effective, appropriate, proportionate and transparent use of surveillance camera systems.

I will explain in this article what are the main features to consider when buying a security camera system.

Paul Johnson

Specialist | Reseller

What makes a good security camera?

One of the most important aspects in securing your home or business is the humble security camera.

Today’s security cameras offer a wide range of high tech features, like low-light technology and motion detection, that make them, now more than ever, a crucial part of your home security arsenal, providing law enforcement with all the visual data they need to catch criminals fast and efficiently.

The main goal of a security camera is to effectively monitor your home for unwanted activity, and to document that activity should it occur.

 

There are many different types of security cameras out there, but this is the one thing they all have in common: visual documentation of undesirable activity in and around your home or place of business.

With that said, a good security camera will have the ability to actually record events.

Some security cameras have a constant feed of live video, requiring user input to snap pictures or record video during suspicious events; others have advanced motion detection capabilities that enable them to capture pictures/video of any activity and upload them to a physical storage medium (such as a hard disk) or a cloud.

In today’s modern world, the latter is generally preferable, even if you get racoon-related false positives, because it gives you the peace of mind you need without having to constantly stay on top of things.

 

Any good security camera will have great picture quality.

High quality images allow you to see fine details. In the event of a home invasion, for instance, high quality pictures can give details about the perpetrator’s physical appearance, such as facial features, hair color and clothing. These details can help law enforcement track down the guilty party quickly and effectively.

Top-end indoor security cameras tend to have different image capturing modes.

During the daytime, for instance, using a full color camera is ideal to pick up the most detail possible should a security breach occur in your home.

However, at night, this mode would obviously not provide much visual information, which is why a lot of high quality indoor security cameras also feature night vision mode, which ups the visual detail of images in low-light settings, or even infrared technology, which can pick up living objects’ heat signatures.

A good outdoor security camera will have outdoor-specific features such as image stabilization and weatherproofing to ensure high-quality image capture when weather conditions are less than ideal.

Not only will quality outdoor security cameras have low-light image capture capabilities, but they’ll also tend to have infrared technology, which is ideal for outdoor vicinities that lack lighting at night.

Some security cameras pick up audio. Not only is this ideal for indoor settings, but it’s especially suited for when you’re using your security camera as a baby monitor.

Finally, easy storage and storage accessibility is a key trait in any good security camera. Go for a model that features cloud storage, uploads to your smartphone, or a hard drive.

These modern-day options are preferable to, say, a built-in memory card, because you don’t have to remember to change them out. Likewise, a smart thief could just remove an onboard memory card, so a good camera is most usually going to have the ability to upload data to offsite storage for ultimate security and privacy.

Factors to consider before buying a security camera

(Starting from the most important one)

1) Resolution

The first thing you should consider is image quality for video and still photo captures. The camera you choose should have a high enough resolution to meet your needs.

If you want to ensure accurate visuals over a long distance, for instance, a high-resolution camera can help with that. With 1080p video capture, zooming and cropping won’t throw off image quality.

For even greater accuracy over long distances, go with an even higher resolution model. Likewise, high resolution imagery also ensures a greater chance of getting a clear image of a perpetrator’s face, which can seal the deal in cases of robbery and other similar crimes.

2) Different Capture Modes

Also, it’s important to consider what time of day you’ll be using your security camera. Full color image capture works best during the day time. This way, you can accurately see a criminal’s hair color or the color of their car, which can help lead to their apprehension.

If you’ll be using your camera at night or in a totally dark setting (like an unlit basement), you’ll need a low-light camera or an infrared camera. Infrared is the way to go when there is zero light.

You won’t see facial details as you will with low-light cameras, but you will see heat signatures. If your needs are pretty broad in this department, consider going with a camera that has different image capture modes so you’ll get a good shot of suspects no matter what time of day it is.

3) Motion Detection
Motion detection capabilities are pretty essential if you can’t devote a lot of time to constantly monitoring your security camera’s footage. These types of cameras pick up any motion-related activity. While they do pick up false positives, such as pet activity, they also are very effective at picking up criminal activity. It also saves you from spending hours of looking through empty footage.
4) Viewing angle

If you need to cover a wide area of space, a dome camera might be preferable, or a security camera that automatically pans. If you are able to invest in multiple cameras, your camera network should still be capable of viewing every hotspot in your home or business, such as entrances/exits, storage areas, and safes.

If you choose to set up a network of security cameras, choose an option that is purpose made for that niche, and that features accessible ways to view large amounts of data, such as simultaneous multi camera playback.

5) Built Quality
If you need an outdoor security camera, go for a model that is dustproof, heatproof and weatherproof. This ensures that you not only get the maximum lifespan out of your security camera, but that it takes clear photos and videos no matter what the outdoor conditions are. Image stabilization technology is also ideal for outdoor security cams, when wind can be a factor in getting a clear shot.
6) Storage
Choose a security camera that comes with a storage option that will be easy to use for you. Instant cloud uploads are the most hands-off approach, but they may require subscription to a cloud service. For a free option, go for a camera that uses hard drive storage.

Infographic

Security Cameras F.A.Q.

Do all security systems come with sound?

Unfortunately, not all do, but there are some that come with one way sound, and two-way sound depending on your usage.

If you’re trying to find a camera that captures the outside audio, and doesn’t act as a 2-way, you’ll want one that just has one-way audio.

If you’re looking for something that has 2-way audio, you’re probably looking for a different kind of camera that lets you monitor who’s asking to get into a gated area.

There are some cheaper options that don’t have audio at all, and there are some that have a microphone built into the actual camera as if they are a webcam of sorts.

What network features should I look for?

Before taking the plunge and purchasing a security system, you’ll want to ensure that you’re looking for a security system that has the whole package.

There are systems that come featured with a ton of cameras, an HDD or DVR of sorts, a control system, and more. There are other features that you should ultimately look for, which include the following:

  • Playback from multiple cameras
  • A remote that’s wireless
  • Android and Apple compatible for remote monitoring and remote control – literally
  • Alerts for motion detection whether to your email or sent as a text message
  • Privacy masking for sensitive areas of the home – like a bathroom, locker room, etc.

The more features you want, the more likely you are to spend a bit more. Get ready to splurge if you want the highest of the high, and the latest technology, as unfortunately, privacy and stability doesn’t come cheap.

Tips for choosing the best security camera for your needs

When choosing the best security camera for your needs, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Consider the following:

 

  • High-resolution security cameras take clearer images over longer distances, and image quality isn’t significantly reduced by zooming and cropping.
  • A wide viewing angle ensures the largest coverage area per camera. Consider a dome camera or a camera with auto panning for the widest possible coverage per camera.
  • Motion detection capability allows for a more hands-off approach, only alerting you when there is movement in the vicinity. Many find the few outdoor animal-related false positives you get worth it compared to the older method of scanning hours of footage.
  • If you need multiple cameras set up in a network, choose a system that is purpose-designed for that for ease of use and greater accessibility.
  • If you will be away from home a lot (for work, vacation, etc.), consider choosing a security camera that automatically uploads relevant data to your cloud or smart device. This allows you to easily view any security breaches remotely.
  • Cloud storage is the most hands-free video storage approach but may require a monthly or annual fee.
  • Full color security cameras are ideal for daytime.
  • Low-light and infrared cameras are ideal for nighttime.
  • Cameras with audio are ideal for nanny cams and baby monitors.