CCTV Camera Features

Most security cameras use Charge Coupled Device (CCD) technology. This converts images that come through the camera lens into electronic impulses. CCDs provide good quality picture at a low cost. CCTV camera formats are measured in inches. Most cameras fall between 1/4” and 1”, with 1/4” or 1/3” cameras being the most common in CCTV sales. It may be beneficial to buy a larger format if the camera is being used in a dimly lit environment, so that it can gather more light.

Most companies choose a color security camera, rather than black and white. For security and evidence purposes, they provide a more detailed picture. Black and white cameras can operate better in low light environments, but most high quality color cameras can switch between color and black and white.

The detail, or resolution, of a picture is shown by the measurement in horizontal TV lines (TVL). 350 to 400 TVL produces a normal picture, with high resolution pictures increasing to 480 or 500. You need to ensure that your whole system (recording system and monitor) can support this resolution though.

Signal to noise ratio (s/n) signifies how much signal or picture the camera transmits as opposed to noise which is shown as static. A s/n ratio of 40db results in an acceptable picture. 30db produces a poor picture and 60db produces an excellent picture with no static.

Lux measures sensitivity to light. As a general rule, 21 lux cameras can see well in the light of a 40W fluorescent bulb, and 0.5 lux cameras can identify images in dim light. The lux you will need will depend on the lighting where the camera is to be positioned.

  • Most cameras use CCD technology.
  • Most companies select color cameras for clarity.
  • Picture detail or resolution is shown in horizontal TV lines.
  • Signal to noise ratio shows much signal or picture the camera transmits compared to noise.
  • Lux measure sensitivity to light.

CCTV Camera Options

CCTV cameras can be used for anti-theft, access control and internal staff surveillance. They can range from a basic security camera and monitor to a highly sophisticated digital CCTV system that offers non-stop recording and can be remotely accessed online from anywhere in the world. They can also be accompanied by a burglar alarm. Monitored alarms are usually connected to a motion sensor.

The sensor system is activated using a keypad when the building is vacated, so any unwanted visitors outside business hours trigger the alarm. Employees who know the security code can disarm the system if they need to enter the building.

In the case of a home security system and businesses in populated areas, the alarm can activate a siren to alert neighbors and passers by and send a message directly to the security services. Businesses with more isolated premises may prefer to use a silent alarm so as not to scare off the intruders while the police are alerted.

Obviously the complexity of the CCTV camera system will determine whether you need professional installation. Basic home security systems can be installed relatively easily, but if the CCTV system is for your business it is probably wise to leave it to the experts.

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Types of CCTV Cameras

  • Professional grade cameras – these have box type bodies and can be adapted with different types of lense, such as variable focal length lenses, zoom lenses or motorized zoom lenses. Although meant for indoor use, they can be used outdoors when combined with weatherproof housing. They are considered the most flexible and are used for commercial installations.
  • Bullet cameras – contained inside bullet shaped housing. This type is weatherproof but sealed without the ability to use different lenses. Some have infrared LED built in (like burglar alarms) which allows them to continue monitoring, even in complete darkness. These small cameras are useful for home security systems and do-it-yourself installations.
  • Board cameras - consisting of a fixed lens mounted on a circuit board, board cameras may then be packaged in a small case - Mini Cameras - or dome - Mini Dome. These lenses are either of a normal industry aperture or of a ‘pinhole’ aperture. Pinholes are used for covert surveillance, and can be used as part of a home security system, planted in dummy household objects such as smoke detectors and burglar alarm motion detector cameras

For outdoor CCTV cameras, look for a lens with an automatic iris. Like a human eye, the iris controls the amount of light let in, so this is important for environments where the light level will change. Buying a manual iris will save you money, as long as you know that the scene illumination will not change.

Other specifications you may look for in a camera are pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ). This allows the camera operator to pan (scan left to right), tilt (look up or down), and zoom in or out. PTZ cameras are considerably more expensive than fixed cameras.

CCTV Equipment Prices

The CCTV system you require will depend mostly on what kind of premises you want protected. Providing a definitive price estimate can be difficult, however it is possible to provide information and costs that can help you to understand what price you might be expected to pay.

The prices below include a range of options that may or may not apply to your premises; to establish the best estimate, it is important to consider each factor to ensure that you have included every required features or service in your budget.

CCTV Camera Prices

CCTV cameras can be available for as little as $35from a number of suppliers, although it is important to consider the quality that this sort of option will offer. A single £25 camera is unlikely to be suitable if you are looking for high-quality business surveillance, for example, but may be enough for a homeowner simply looking to monitor their driveway and deter petty theft.

Generally, for a single suitable camera you should expect to pay somewhere between $60 and $125, although this price can rise if you are looking for the highest possible quality - adding optical zoom options, for example, can increase the price per camera to anywhere between $250 and $500 depending on functionality. It is also worth remembering that you might be expected to pay more for a wireless camera, or for a concealed or 360 degree camera, for example.

For a small business - a single office space - you could perhaps expect to pay between $300 and $650 for suitable camera equipment that covers your whole premises.

For larger businesses, however, you can expect to pay more. For top-quality cameras, you will generally pay extra, and for added features you can also expect higher prices. An outdoor dome camera with optical zoom, for example, could cost between $650 and $800. For many businesses, having the functionality offered by this sort of product can be essential.

Based on the information above, a large business - three floors of office space and parking - could then realistically expect to pay between $2000 and $3500 for their cameras, with outdoor surveillance and all floor space covered.

Type of CameraPriceFunctionality
Basic Quality Camera$35-$75
Provides basic functionality with lower-quality images. Best used for basic monitoring and as a crime deterrent.
Mid-Quality Camera$65-$150
Mid-quality CCTV cameras in this price range are more suitable for businesses looking to monitor their premises.
High-Quality Camera$125-$250
Higher-quality cameras offer more advanced quality and functionality. For businesses that require top-quality security or surveillance, this is the best option.
Outdoor Dome Camera with Optical Zoom$350-$750
For offices or businesses with outdoor space, this sort of camera offers the best protection. Able to withstand the elements, it includes Optical Zoom functionality that can help when it comes to monitoring specific items or a large area.

As well as factoring the cost of camera equipment, you should also consider service and installation charges, as well as any potential ongoing costs that your system might incur.

As well as using the estimated costs above, it is also important to compare the prices you might pay for specific CCTV products. The table below includes three trusted models that you may want to integrate into your own CCTV system.

Dome CCTV Camera
  • Full HD1080p video
  • Wide dynamic range
  • Audio and Alarm Function
 Day & Night CCTV Camera
  • 720p video resolution
  • Up to 165ft indoor and 660ft outdoor wireless ranger
  • Night vision up to 65ft away
IP CCTV Camera
  • Weatherproof
  • Auto iris
  • Network surveillance camera