Low cost camera and digital video recording system have become common. Many are available from discount stores such as Costco, SAMs club or Frys electronics, but there is more to building an effective system than just buying a bunch of cameras. Here are some things to consider. 

  • Optics generally the larger the lens, the better the camera will perform in regard to low light performance and resolution. Zoom is also better done with optics rather than digital zooms that sacrifice resolution to obtain a larger picture. 
  • What you need to see A low cost camera will show someone moving in an area, but may not be good enough to identify a person, especially an unknown person. The images obtained may not be good enough for police to use as evidence in court. They may not be able to distinguish license plates or objects taken or moved. Higher resolution cameras may be needed to adaquatly do the job.
  • Field of view A single camera used to cover a warehouse may not allow for identification where as placement at a restricted point such as a doorway, gate, or driveway will. 
  • Light cameras have LUX ratings to specify there performance in different light levels. All cameras require light, but some can still operate with non visible light such as infrared. ,ow light modes often sacrifice color. Another approach is to have area lighting or motion sensor lights. Cameras that are facing in to a light, or in to the sun at certain times of the day may become useless. A camera that is in a business or office may become useless when the building power management turns the lights off. 
  •  Backup power To keep the system running in case of accidental or deliberate power interruption. 
  • Recording Unless someone is going to monitor the cameras a recorder will be needed. This is also recommended to provide evidence files in case there is an incident. 
  • Pan tilt zoom PTZ allows the camera to be repositioned for a better view. There are even automated circuited for a camera to track motion in the area. 
  • Internet While this is a frequently advertised “cool” feature. Adequate security measures need to be taken to prevent the camera system from being used as a surveillance system for thieves or other bad guys. Since modern camera systems are often IP based and part of the network password authentication is not enough and two factor authentication should be used. 
  • Critical areas Areas with valuable items, blind spots and access ways are ideal areas for cameras. 100 percent coverage is often not done for bugitary reasons. 
  • Wifi or wireless While this is often convenient, not having to run cable, the drawback is that there is the possibility of the cameras being monitored or jammed. Wired cameras are more secure, and even wireless cameras need a power source. 
  • Defense cameras should be placed where they can’t be approached without going through the field of view for itself or another camera.