How to Purchase a Modern Camera System, Part 2

Video surveillance has become a popular security tool for businesses as well as homeowners. In fact, according to Statista, 125 of every 1,000 U.S. citizens use it for one purpose or another. “The statistic shows the number of video surveillance cameras per thousand people by country in 2014. In 2014, there were 125 surveillance cameras per thousand people in the United States” (

Probably the most difficult part of buying a video surveillance system is knowing what to buy when you plan on reviewing three or more proposals from individual companies that often see video surveillance through entirely different glasses. In this blog post, we’ll provide some valuable tips on the most important aspects associated with camera systems that you need to be aware of.

Indoor dome camera  protects an office area equipped with an intrusion alarm system.

Upgrading Existing Vs. Installing New

There are two basic types of CCTV systems to choose from–Analog and Network IP (Internet Protocol). Analog cameras, the first on the market, have served society in the United States since 1949. Digital, network IP cameras, however, which entered the marketplace in the early 2000’s, have since demanded an increasing portion of the CCTV market.

There are two basic applications where the need to purchase video surveillance is keen. They encompass: 1) the purchase of a new video surveillance system, and 2) the upgrade of an existing camera system.

When looking for a new video surveillance system, the first and most important consideration is whether you want traditional analog or the newer digital IP (Internet Protocol) cameras. In this regard, where analog cameras require the use of a shielded coaxial cable, IP cameras need UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) cable. For additional information on these

Signage that warns of video surveillance is important in retail for two reason: 1) crime prevention, and 2) legal issues.

cable types, go to:

To learn more about choosing the right camera system for your specific application, whether it’s new or existing, click here for Part 1.

Performance Issues

Today there are several standards by which the video surveillance industry gages performance and hence quality. The most important thing to understand is the difference between SD (Standard Definition), HD (High Definition), and MP (Mega Pixel). Without going into a lot of technical detail, suffice it to say that SD cameras are analog and HD and MP cameras are digital IP.

The following chart offers a good look at the performance issues related to the various analog and digital IP cameras that professional security companies offer:

This chart offers a glimpse into the performance issues related to Standard and High Definition cameras as well as Mega Pixel and VGS–all from a standpoint of resolution. As you can see, resolution is directly related to image size.

Both SD and HD are part of the HDTV (High Definition Television) broadcast standard. Of the two, HD cameras, because they produce a larger, more detailed image than SD, are considered superior. HD and MP are what you need when using a VMS that incorporates image analysis, aka: machine learning, and other modern video processing capabilities.

The difference between HD and MP cameras is simply image size as expressed in Mega Pixels (MPs). In order to qualify as an megapixel camera, a camera’s resolution must be in the megapixel range, which is 1 MP and higher. As you can see from the chart, the HD/720p camera does not qualify as a megapixel camera, although we can certainly express its resolution in megapixels–in this case 0.9 MP. The HD/1080p camera, however, does qualify as a 2.1MP camera.

This sign gives fair warning that there’s video overlooking the cellular phones at an Ohio Walmart.

All of this, in addition to resolution, boils down to the physical size of a camera’s imager. Imager size determines the physical size of the digital image in pixels. For example, where an HD/720p image has a physical size (resolution) of 1280 X 720, a 10 MP camera exhibits a 3648 X 2753 pixel image. Clearly the 10 MP camera produces a better resolute picture than the HD/720p, so as a general rule, the bigger the imager the better the camera..

As a rule of thumb, if the area being monitored with video is relatively narrow, such as 10 to 30 feet wide, a simple SD, HD720p, or HD1080p camera might do the job, thus keeping the price down. However, if a wide area requires monitoring, or if the area in question is relatively far away from the camera, a MP camera will be the camera of choice. MP cameras also can provide multiple screen views depending on the VMS and software employed.

In Part 3, we’ll talk about the various recording options as well as the use of video to verify intrusion alarms. The goal of course is to reduce the likelihood of false alarm fines from your local community.

How to Purchase a Modern Camera System Index:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 (yet to come)

ESC Can Help

In order to put all of this together, in order to purchase the right camera for your circumstance, it’s necessary to have the help of a highly technical, successful security integration firm, like Electronic Systems Consultants LLC of Greater Ohio. To discuss your situation with an ESC professional, call 614-754-1393, send an email to ESC@Tpromo.Com, or use the comment/suggestion form below. Be sure to watch the website for part 3. –John Larkin, ESC Senior Partner

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