Whether it is residential, commercial or institutional, security cameras are a required part of any complete security plan. That said, the sheer volume of choices and features available to the consumers can be daunting. Technological advancements have made high-definition video capture by security cameras very affordable. The image sensor choices range from 2 megapixels (MP) or 1080p to 8 MP or 4K resolution and allow for superb levels of image capture not previously seen in older CCTV devices. While the camera is only one part of the equation when it comes to setting up high-definition video surveillance, the standard dome camera offers an ideal platform with the connectivity option and lens choices required for high def video. Let’s take an in-depth look at one of the more popular styles of surveillance cameras, the dome camera.

So what is a Dome Camera?

The simplest definition of a dome camera is a surveillance camera where the camera components are encased in a circular dome. This design creates a sleek package for the camera and its multiple mounting options, making its presence in a space both less obtrusive and aesthetically pleasing compared to other security camera designs like the bullet camera or box camera. This, combined with a wide variety of available lenses, image sensors and connectivity options, makes a dome camera a very compelling choice for any security system.

Typical Applications of Dome Cameras

The dome camera is a very versatile camera. When coupled with the right configuration of components, this camera can be used indoors, outdoors, and in varying lighting conditions. The best application of dome cameras is for static coverage of a wide area within a limited range.

The presence of dome cameras is quite common. They can be seen in large public spaces, retail stores, parking garages, hotels, and smaller spaces like banks, restaurants, and elevators.

Advantages of Standard Dome Cameras

The standard dome camera is a versatile platform available with various traits to address multiple circumstances. Some of the features include:

Dome Security camera

  • Discrete Positioning: Besides the discreet design of dome cameras, the dome cover makes it difficult for onlookers to easily determine the camera’s position, enhancing its use as a deterrent for unwanted activity in a space.

  • Vandal Resistance: The dome protects the internal components from physical intrusion. With enhanced mechanical protection and tamper-resistant mounting, cameras can be acquired for vandalism-prone deployments.

  • Weatherproof: Cameras for outdoor deployment can be used with weatherproof/water-resistant designs. Features like internal heaters to protect the mechanism from weather extremes allow for uninterrupted area coverage.

  • Night Vision: To address surveillance in low or variable light situations, dome cameras with infrared LEDs and progressive CMOS sensors can be employed.

  • Lenses Option: Typical dome cameras have a small fixed focal length lens that provides excellent wide-angle coverage critical for such uses as monitoring gathering places, entryways and even public transportation vehicles. Another option is using varifocal lenses, which allow a camera to zoom in on distant objects. This feature’s enhanced detail makes it a very compelling feature to add to the dome camera.

Disadvantages of Standard Dome Cameras

  • Optical Issues: The protective dome can cause optical issues. Dust, spider webs, smudges, and condensation can accumulate on domes, reducing images’ clarity. Increased regular maintenance may be required to maintain optical efficiency. The dome may also impede the effectiveness of the infrared LEDs by creating a bounce-back reflection of the infrared energy.

  • Installation: Comparatively, dome cameras are more challenging to install than bullet or box cameras. They require a higher degree of skill and access to install correctly than their counterparts.

  • Repositioning: Unlike bullet or box cameras which can easily be repositioned by hand, repositioning a dome camera requires the removal of the dome, making it a more difficult task.
  • Effective Visual Range: While it excels in wide-angle viewing, the lenses on dome cameras are not well suited for long-distance surveillance.

Different Styles of Dome Cameras

The versatility of the dome design has led to multiple styles of dome cameras being available to the end-user. To determine the best fit for you, let’s look at the different members of this family, their features and consider their appropriateness for different tasks and their inherent strengths and weaknesses.

Mini/Micro Dome Cameras 

As the name implies, mini/micro dome cameras are smaller versions of the dome camera. Some are only 40 mm (1.5 inches) in height, making them great for covering smaller areas where a regular dome would stand out like an elevator or public transportation.

While a benefit to discrete placement in closer quarters, this small size also means they only have fixed focal length lenses, limiting their visual range. Additionally, there are few infrared options for night/low light applications, and they are less robust for extreme weather situations.

Turret Cameras 

Known by many names, including the eyeball or flat-faced camera, this design is similar to dome cameras. The lens and sensor mechanism is in a ball housing that fits into a socket base, lacking a covering dome.

This design makes the installation and moving of the camera easier than a regular dome. The infrared does not suffer from the dome-created bounce-back, making it more efficient. While the design addresses some shortcomings of the dome design, it is still best suited for wide-angle viewing. Its domeless design makes it susceptible to vandalism and dust.

PTZ Cameras

Also known as a speed camera, a PTZ camera is a dome camera with internal motors that can move the camera horizontally 360 degrees(pan) and vertically 180 degrees(tilt). The lens can be focused on objects near or far(zoom).

The abilities of the PTZ camera make it a great choice for large areas. PTZ cameras can cover any possible dead zones a regular dome camera’s field of view may have or for the active surveillance of moving targets. The capabilities of PTZ cameras make them highly desirable, but they do have drawbacks. Besides the standard dome camera shortcomings, they are also costly, especially when coupled with surveillance software that can exploit their many features. In some circumstances, it is more cost-efficient to use multiple fixed dome cameras in an area to get the required coverage than to use a PTZ.

Conclusion

The key to any successful implementation of a security plan is to understand the requirements and match these needs with the best options for the budget. Dome cameras come in a variety of sizes. Full-size or larger dome cameras often come with more advanced features, but many don’t have varifocal lenses. On the other hand, Mini domes often have limited, if any, IR capabilities. The dome camera family offers the end-user many diverse options to fulfill their security requirements cost-effectively.

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