Top Questions about Security Cameras

September 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Secuirty Buyers Guide

Looking to improve or purchase a Video Surveillance System but don’t know what is the best solution for your specific application. I bet you’ve done a search on the internet hoping to find that one link that answers all your questions and tells you exactly what you need. Yeah, good luck on that! There is so much out there, and so many companies, good and bad, that can offer security cameras to you. It takes hours and hours to filter through it all and separate the need to know, from the not what you are looking for.

ACS Security has 100’s of customers in the Baltimore Metro Area that have called us to help them with thier questions from a simple one camera add on to a complete system with digital recording. Well, have no fear! I can very simply narrow down the questions you have and help point you in the right direction.

Here are the Top 10 Questions I am asked on a daily basis about security cameras.

Question # 10. How far and wide of an area will the cameras see?
Answer – The larger the number the farther away you’ll be able to see. So for example – if you have a 3.6mm lens the area of sharpest focus is around 12 feet away from the camera but you will see a large area around the focal point. If you have a 50mm lens, then the focus moves to around 75 feet away from the camera and you will see less of the surrounding area because it is focused more on the object further away.

Question # 9. Do I need infrared (IR)?
Answer – If your camera is inside and you need to see the area when it is dark or the lights are turned off then I recommend using IR in this case. In most cases when installing cameras inside a High Resolution Low Light camera works well. No point in paying for something you don’t need.

Now if they are outdoor security cameras, infrared is great. Infrared LEDs can illuminate an area on its own with no other light source. So if you have a camera with IR LEDs, then even in a pitch black parking lot or alleyway you’ll still be able to see. It lights up people and objects so there is no hiding in the dark even when there is no lighting.

Question # 8. Do I need battery backup?
Answer – YES! You want an Uninterruptible Power Supply(UPS) with around 1000VA or more of battery backup. You also want the ability to plug at least 2 things into the battery-backed outlets provided. Those two items are your DVR and your camera power supply. So if you have a power outage your cameras will still get juice and your DVR will still be recording. The higher the VA rating – the longer your unit will stay powered off the battery. Having a UPS is normally a requirement of a full DVR warranty, and besides, it’s just smart to have.

Question # 7. Do I need fixed lenses or varifocal?
Answer – I get this one a lot, and honestly what I see through my eyes and what you see through your s are sometime two different things. Varifocal lenses give you the ability to manually adjust the zoom and focus on the camera to get the view the customer want and allows the installer not to worry about putting the camera in a specific spot to get the view. you need. This can be worth a lot if you are trying to cover wide areas far away, or you aren’t positive exactly what you need to focus on.

Question # 6. Do I need fixed cameras or moving cameras (PTZ)?
Answer – PTZ stands for Pan Tilt Zoom, and these cameras are electronically controlled cameras if you going to need to see different fields within a given area such as parking lot, warehouse or sports field then this is the solution. Someone is going to have to operate the camera around either through a keyboard/joystick controller, DVR or remote software. They work great when being operated but if you buy a PTZ and then leave it sitting in its home position all the time – you’ve just purchased a very expensive fixed camera. Now if you use it to look around your property every time you log in to look at your cameras, then a PTZ is the right choice. The only drawback is you can’t turn the camera back after it has been recorded and see what you missed. Your DVR will only record what your camera is looking at so fixed cameras usually are used if you need to record a specific area all the time.

Question # 5. Can one camera work for every location?
Answer – Every property is different, and sometimes each camera location on one property might need a different style, or a different lens. So if you found a company stating that they have one “end all, be all” camera that will suit every environment and all customers, hang up the phone. There is not a camera out there that is right for everyone or every scenario. That is why you got 5 million entries when you searched for business security cameras. Now pick up the phone again and call ACS Security Systems, Inc. because we offer a site survey and system design for every customer we talk to.

Question # 4. Can I go wireless?
Answer – Honestly…probably not. Most wireless security cameras are made for outdoor use and line of sight. Meaning the transmitter antenna and receiver antenna must be outside of all structures and be able to physically see each other. The signal will not go through walls very well, and trees swaying in the breeze will cause constant problems. So, if you have anything in the way, then you will either get no picture, or unstable reception.

Question # 3. If the camera focal point 18 feet away does that mean I can’t see anything past that?
Answer – No. That means the “Sweet spot” of the camera is around 18 feet away from that particular camera. Where ever a camera is focused, you’ll be able to see to infinity past that point, but it will get increasingly out of focus the farther away you get from that point.

Question # 2. Can I get license plates?
Answer – Sometimes the answer is a resounding yes, and sometimes no matter how much you want them, you just can’t capture them reliably. License plates are one of the hardest things to ask a camera to see. If you have an area that is around 12′ wide, where all of your vehicles have to filter through, and you can place a License Plate Capture Camera within 30 feet of the tag, and no more than 30 degrees off center from the plate – then you will get most plates day and night.

Question # 1. How much does security camera system cost?
Answer – This is a tough question because if you read Questions 10 through 2 you would realize by now that there are many variables that go into implementing a quality Video Surveillance System and no two systems are the same. Fixed Indoor cameras can start as low as $59 and go up to $499. Fixed outdoor cameras start at $99 and go up to $599. Then there is IP Cameras but that is for another time because that can get involved. You can find all kinds of cameras for cheaper but that truly isn’t all you need to be concerned with. I tell my customers all the time, don’t go down to the local Big Box Store and buy a cheap observation system, because you will get what you pay for. If you purchase a 4 camera system for $200, Congratulations – you’ve just bought a system that will be a very expensive paper weight in mere months. Any problems or technical issues good luck with tech support that is non-existent with those systems. Getting it on the internet to view it remotely is a pipe dream if you don’t have an IT person on staff Monday through Friday, or a relative with a degree in networking.

So cost is what everyone is most concerned with, and rightly so. Just keep in mind – when you need to pull up recorded video quickly and easily so you can get this information out to whoever needs it. What you don’t want, is to be on hold for an hour waiting for tech support or trying to fumble through manuals. If you’re lucky enough to stumble on the right footage, the wrong camera choices you made will make it impossible to tell exactly what occurred or who is in the video, do you think something like this can be used in a court of law.

These days without good quality cameras and video proof of the crime, and footage of vandals doing the deed you get nothing from your local police department. So let your security camera system do the work for you. This is where ACS Security Systems, Inc. is the first place to call when thinking about getting a system, if you want experience, trained personal, maintenance, ongoing customer training and solid warranty.

Call Jack Lucas at 410-557-6006 or 410-663-9799 for a site survey today.

  • Brooke Fraser

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