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How to Choose Cameras for your DVR Surveillance System

When purchasing a DVR Surveillance System for your home or business, the question comes to mind: "which CCTV Cameras would a professional Installer recommend for this application, and why?" This guide focuses on how to select cameras based on indoor/outdoor requirements, lighting, desired angle, and distance away from target. It also addresses the benefits—if any—of purchasing Sony over Sharp CCDs, size of the CCD, and TV Lines of Resolution.

Will the camera be used indoors or outdoors? Typically all outdoor cameras can also be used indoors, but not all indoor cameras can be used outdoors. Most cameras that are built with exterior metal casings are considered weatherproof. A camera that is classified as “weatherproof” is one that can withstand freezing temperatures, rain, and heat. The typical operating temperature of a weatherproof camera is 0° F to 120° F. Vandal-proof or tamper-proof cameras are also usually considered weatherproof. If the camera will be installed in an area where it is a potential target to be damaged, a Vandal-proof (tamper resistant) camera will offer extra security to help prevent secure the premises against would-be trouble-makers.


Infrared (or IR) Cameras typically have outer metal casings, and therefore most of them are considered weatherproof. Indoor cameras, when used in conjunction with an Outdoor Housing, can be used outdoors. Any type of camera with Infrared Illuminators cannot be used inside an Outdoor Housing because the IR LEDs will bounce off the housing’s glass window.


For more extreme temperatures, it is usually advised to use an indoor Box camera in conjunction with an Outdoor Housing with a Heater and Blower. These enclosures will prevent the camera’s internal mechanisms to freeze or to overheat.
Most plastic covered Dome Cameras are designed for indoor use only. On the other hand, the Dome Cameras that have metal casings can be used outdoors. Such casings are typically found in Vandal-proof and/or Infrared Dome Cameras.

Angle, Iris
It is quite common to use an indoor camera with an outdoor housing to achieve a wider angle or a more zoomed-in shot that outdoor cameras cannot achieve. For wide angle 100+° views consider a lens with a shorter focal length, such as 2.5mm. Varifocal Lenses offer the benefit of pre-setting the field of view (angle and zoom) that best fits that particular camera. For example, a 2.8~12mm Varifocal Lens will allow for a wider angle view when set at 2.8mm, or a more narrow, zoomed-in view at 12mm, or anything in between. At the lower focal length, one would be able probably half a dozen vehicles parked parallel to each other at 15 feet away. The makes and models of the cars would be visible, as well as the colors of each car. However, the image would not be clear enough to decipher the license plates on any of the cars. On the other hand, the higher focal length used on the same camera from the same location would be able to clearly make out the license plate on one of the cars, but this same car would occupy most of the field of view; the other cards would not even be in the picture. When the objective is to see a wide-angle perimeter view, the correct lens would be one with a smaller focal length. When specific information is needed (such as a license plate, exchange of cash, or facial features), choose a lens with a greater focal length. If you are unsure, consider a Varifocal Lens.

An advantage of our Varifocal Lenses is that they are all Auto-Iris, which comes in handy when the amount of light changes, e.g. outdoors, or when the camera is pointed toward the sun or any kind of fluorescent lighting. Auto-iris lenses automatically help to compensate for the amount of light that enters a camera, versus Manual Iris (which has to be adjusted manually), or Fixed Iris (which cannot be adjusted at all). Manual Iris lenses are suitable for cameras that can easily be reached and manually adjusted. Fixed Iris lenses are the most cost-efficient, and are suitable in situations where the light remains constant, e.g. perhaps in an office.


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