Selecting the right security cameras for your business is as essential as the system you choose. But just as there are different security systems to consider, there are as many, if not more, varieties of security cameras. With so many brands, each with various features, resolutions, and prices, selecting the best cameras for your business can be overwhelming.

By understanding the different kinds of security cameras available in the market, companies can make an informed decision that fits their budget and property needs. This post discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the three most common types of cameras and three types of specialized cameras, including PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom), panoramic and multi-imager or multi-sensor security cameras.

The 3 Most Common Security Cameras

1) Box Security Cameras

Box cameras are as they sound – a rectangular ‘box’ with a security camera lens. With an enclosed weatherproof housing, box cameras are ideal for outdoor use. Still, they can be beneficial in areas where image quality is essential. However, box cameras are rarely used indoors because of their appearance.

Box security cameras tend to cost more than similar dome or bullet cameras. Still, they provide better image quality as the ‘box’ has more room for better hardware. As well, the lens on box cameras is interchangeable. And when paired with a professional photographer’s lens, a box camera will capture detail that other cameras cannot. Therefore, box cameras are best for applications where a high zooming optical lens is helpful. Axis has a wide range of fixed-box and other IP cameras designed to provide the best quality surveillance.

2) Dome Security Cameras

Dome security cameras are more aesthetically pleasing than box cameras. Although dome cameras are suitable for indoor use, the cameras also come in outdoor weatherproof and vandal-proof housings. Dome cameras are available in plastic or glass housing. Although plastic housing costs less, glass domes are better for use outdoors but also cost more.

Outdoor dome cameras are available with waterproof and vandal-proof features. However, despite being weatherproof, the outdoor dome security camera often requires more maintenance than an outdoor bullet or box camera. As well, dome cameras are prone to water leaks, dirt, condensation, and reflections.

Avigilon Dome Camera

Pay attention to the IP Rating. The IP Code (or International Protection Rating) on dome cameras. The IP code rating classifies the level of provided protection against solid objects’ intrusion (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures.

Dome cameras come with options such as fixed lenses, variable and motorized varifocal lenses. Fixed lenses are the most common and are less expensive, whereas the varifocal lens can zoom in and out but tend to cost more. Mounting a motorized varifocal lens further away tends to provide less detail loss when viewed. As well, a VMS can control the varifocal camera remotely.

Fixed dome cameras are available in discrete, mini, small, or medium sizes. For example, for small, tight, and discrete applications, the Avigilon H4 mini dome is a good option. Though only 2.9″ in diameter, the Avigilon H4 includes all the powerful features and quality of Avigilon cameras such as IR, unusual motion detection, detailed images, and video analytics.

However, when a dome camera is placed outside, the IR illuminators often reflect onto the dome glass and cause image noise. This noise is where a bullet camera fares better in comparison.

3) Bullet Security Cameras

As the name suggests, bullet cameras protrude outside, like a gun’s barrel, making them more visible. Bullet security cameras install easily and come with a mounting handle that attaches to the wall. And once mounted, the camera can rotate to adjust the viewing direction.

Bullet cameras are suitable for outdoor spaces but are also easy to move because they are visible. However, bullet cameras can work from a distance and can be installed on a variety of surfaces. Therefore, mounting a bullet camera higher makes them more secure.

Like dome cameras, bullet cameras are available in a variety of sizes. However, IR illuminators function better in the bullet camera than the dome camera. There is no disturbance in the image due to the reflection of IR LED emitters on the glass. Bullet cameras are weatherproof and have a more extended range, making them ideal for large areas such as parking lots.

Axis bullet camera

The 3 Types of Specialized Security Cameras

1) Multi-imager or Multi-sensor cameras

Multi-imager or multi-sensor cameras have multiple lenses built into one camera body, which offers broader coverage. Because of the multiple lenses, the VMS shows three different images. Therefore, multi-imager or multi-sensor cameras are an attractive option for covering wider areas.

Avigilon H4 Multisensor camera coverage

2) Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras

A PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera contains mechanical controls that allow operators to pan, tilt and zoom the camera remotely. As a result, a remote operator can control the direction using the camera software. PTZ cameras can are programable and able to run patterns or turn to a specific position automatically.

A PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera contains mechanical controls that allow operators to pan, tilt and zoom the camera remotely. As a result, a remote operator can control the direction using the camera software. PTZ cameras can are programable and able to run patterns or turn to a specific position automatically.

Pay attention to digital zoom vs optical zoom on PTZ cameras. Optical zoom will zoom in on a location and still provide high-quality footage. In contrast, digital zoom is best for zooming in on already recorded videos. But a video that has been zoomed in digitally will appear more pixelated.

PTZs are useful for touring a large facility remotely, such as in a command center setup. For instance, in a large educational institution, a control center agent may “tour” the facilities hourly by rotating the cameras’ direction. And suppose there is suspicious activity on the camera. In that case, he or she can then zoom in to investigate further before visiting physically.

Because of the complexity of features in PTZ cameras, they have a higher price tag. So unless the facility has a command center set up, there is little benefit for a pan-tilt-zoom feature.

3) Panoramic cameras

Axis panoramic camera

Panoramic cameras provide a panoramic view and wide-area coverage with one camera. Therefore, this reduces installation and system costs. They are ideal for surveillance applications that require wide-area coverage in a single view, such as to secure a warehouse. Panoramic security cameras install easily, which makes them suitable for use in corridors and reception areas. However, the fisheye lens can warp the image, and zooming-in can lower the image quality.

Consider your options

When it comes to securing a business, there are many different security cameras to consider. Box cameras cost more than similar dome or bullet cameras but provide better image quality. Dome cameras are ideal for indoors but often require more maintenance. In contrast, bullet cameras are suitable for use outside but are visible and prone to tampering. And depending on the property, sometimes a specialized camera that offers more features may be the best option. Selecting the right type of security camera for the right application is vital in designing an effective surveillance system.

Do you want to learn more about security cameras and systems? Read more the resource centre, include posts on the difference between analog and IP cameras, wireless security systems, and the difference between DVR, NVR and VMS recording systems. And if you have more questions, contact us for a FREE online design session. We will help you pick the right video surveillance system and cameras for your business.

Written by : Carlo Di Leo

At the age of 24, with no experience in the security industry or any money in the bank, Carlo quit his job and started Spotter Security from his parent's basement. Founded in 2004, Spotter grew from a single man operation into a multi-million dollar security system integrator that caters to businessess and construction sites across Canada.

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