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How To Choose A Camera System.

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by: Amy Howard

There are many reasons to install a camera system. If you own a business, you may want to be able to identify or avoid theft or keep vandalism from your property. Or you may just want to be able to keep an eye on things without actually being there physically. As a homeowner there are a bunch of other reasons to have a camera system. You may be having trouble with a neighbor, trespassers, vandals, or perhaps you have kids and want to be able to keep an eye on them but you can't be there every minute of every day.

Whatever your reason for wanting a camera system if you don't get the right kind of equipment based on your needs, you will just waste your money. So if you are thinking of getting a camera system, you will need to look at your situation in order to get the right system.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. Is what you want to see indoors or outdoors?

2. How many areas do you want to see at your location?

3. Is there a lot of light available throughout the day and night?

4. Do you want to see a wide area, such as a parking lot, or a specific location, like the front door?

5. Is it important to see the small details or is a general idea good enough?

6. Do you need to see the picture only on sight or is off sight viewing necessary?

7. Do you need record what the camera sees?

8. Do you need to record for a long or short period of time?

Okay, now that you have an idea of what you are trying to view, we can take a closer look at the equipment.


First let?s look at the camera itself. There a hundreds of cameras to choose from. There are even fake cameras that you can use if you only want to give the illusion of having a system. Of course there are different prices ranging from cheap (poor quality) to the ridiculously expensive but does everything. If you don't know what to ask for, you could be disappointed in what you get.

Do you want color or black/white? If you need to see the details clearly and you have good lighting throughout the time you need to keep watch, then a color camera is probably going to be the way to go. Color cameras are typically more expensive than black/white and they don't see very will in the dark.

If you only need to have a general idea of what is going on in the area then you can go with black and white. Don't misunderstand me, you can get a nice clear picture with a black/white camera but if you are looking to be able to identify someone and not have there be any question, then color is for you. If the lighting in the area is bad then color may not be the best camera for the job. If you only have lighting issues at night then you can get a day/night camera. That will get you a color picture in the daytime and a black/white picture at night.


Now let?s focus on the lens for a while. The type of lens you want will depend on what you want to see, how far away it is, and how wide of an area you want to see. For most applications you can get a lens that is adjustable to fit just about all your needs. There are some cases where only a very specific lens will work, but those usually only occur in high end jobs. If money is real tight, then you can get a camera that has the lens built in. I would like to caution you here and say that once you get a camera like this, you can't just go and adjust it to get the picture you originally wanted. So, make sure you get a camera with the right lens.


A quad processor will give you the ability to view more than one camera on one screen or one at a time. If you have a system with four cameras you can see all of them on one television screen or if you see something going on one camera you can choose to see only that location. Caution ? the recorder you put on a quad will only record what the quad is allowing you to see.

A multiplexer is a step up from that. You can view your cameras any way you want. You can see each camera individually and multi cameras on the screen, in intervals. The playback, allows viewing the cameras in any form you like.

Recording devices-

First you must decide how long you want to record. If you have a business and you are closed on the weekends and holidays, you may want to record for at least 72 hours. If it?s for your house and you go out of town for long periods of time you may want to consider a longer recording time. There is a time lapse recorder (very reasonably priced) that can record for 960 hours. That?s 40 days and a whole lot of video to watch if you are looking for something that happened a week ago.

Something that has been on the market for a while and is finally coming down in price to something that is almost reasonable is the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). The DVR comes with so many features it?s a little scary. First the picture quality is improved because you aren?t viewing it from a tape that has been recorded over again and again and again. Second, it has a built in multiplexer that will let you view more than one camera at a time on the same screen. Third, it?s easy to upgrade so that you can view your cameras remotely. So if you want to go on vacation and still keep an eye on things you can. Forth, the video is stored internally and it?s a whole lot easier to view video without having to rewind and fast forward. Plus there is no need for a tape library. There are probably a few more things a DVR can do but these would be the most popular.


What do you want to see the picture on? Monitors can vary in size and picture quality depending on your budget and how much space you have. You can view cameras on your existing television or you can view them on your computer screen or over the Internet.

Wireless Systems-

A word about wireless systems. Wireless technology has come a long way. It?s more reliable and the picture quality has improved greatly. I also like the idea that you can easily move the system. There is a system that just came out that has an awesome price. I have no idea how long the system will last, what the range is or if there are some environmental factors that can interfere with the picture. But if you are on a serious budget, this could be the answer for you.

I would like to thank you for reading this report. I hope this report has helped you learn a little more about camera systems. It?s not easy to make an informed decision when you know very little about the subject. I hope now that you have read this report you have gained some insight into what kind of system would work best for you. If your system is driven only by cost, then please don't expect to get a great quality picture. If your system is driven only by features, then you had better open you wallet a little. I would highly recommend that whatever you are looking for, that you talk to a security consultant and discuss what is available for you in your price range.

Listen I have only scratched the surface when it comes to cameras. There are so many varieties available today it can be a little overwhelming for someone who doesn?t know what they are doing. There are cameras that can Pan-Tilt-Zoom. There are covert cameras that would make James Bond proud. You just have to know what you want and how much you can spend. I?m sure you wouldn?t go shopping for a car or a house and not know what your budget is or have an idea of what you wanted. Take this information and use it wisely

About The Author

Amy Howard has been in the security industry for more than 13 years. She understands the frustrations that people can go through when trying to find a camera system that will fit their needs and not break the bank in the process. She has created a website for people to get more information on camera systems and camera equipment. You can visit her website at

This article was posted on August 31, 2005 <

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