How to Choose Cameras for your DVR Surveillance System

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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.

CCD: Size
CCD refers to the size of the sensor chip inside the camera that picks up light. The smaller the CCD chip, the narrower the angle of view. Therefore a larger 1/3” CCD will typically yield better picture quality than a smaller ¼” CCD with the same resolution. CMOS technology is usually found in low-quality all-in-one surveillance kits offered at warehouse stores such as Costco or The Home Depot. All of the cameras that we sell are based on CCD technology.

CCD: Sony vs. Sharp—Is There a Difference?
Some may argue that a Sony CCD will outperform a Sharp CCD, which justifies the higher price tag on the Sony CCD. However, this is not true. When comparing the same camera, for example a 1/3” CCD 420 TV-Line 1Lux Dome Camera, the side-by-side benchmark test between a Sony CCD and Sharp CCD yielded results that were practically the exact same. The difference between the two CCDs is negligible to the naked eye. Similar results were derived when testing IR cameras, Bullet cameras, Pinhole/Covert cameras, etc. Our conclusion is that there is NO DIFFERENCE between Sony vs. Sharp CCD, and we are not going to pretend that there is, just so that we can sell you a more expensive camera. The Sharp CCD works just as well as the Sony CCD, all other factors remaining equal.

Will the camera be used during the day, at night, or both? Is the area well-lit during these recording times? If used at night or in darkness, how far away is the target area?

Lighting is measured in Lux. The rating 0Lux resembles conditions with pitch-black darkness, whereas 1Lux resembles conditions with normal daylight. All cameras sold at eDigitalDeals are color during the day. The Day/Night cameras automatically switch to black and white mode when the lights get low. Infrared Cameras are superior to non-Infrared Cameras because the LEDs (light emitting diodes) on an Infrared Camera will allow for viewing in pitch-black darkness. The greater number of LEDs equals the greater the viewing distance in darker conditions. A 54-LED IR Camera is capable of displaying imagery up to 100ft away, while a 12-LED IR Camera is limited to a mere 40ft away. There are cameras with high-powered IR lamps , which are equivalent to up to four times the number of standard IR LEDs for long-distance viewing in darkness.

Day/Night Cameras that can view in light ratings of 0.5Lux or less typically are advertised as HAD, Super HAD, or ExView CCDs by Sony. These high-performance CCDs allow for more superior viewing in darkness, but with this level of higher performance usually calls for a spike in price. Beware of companies that claim to offer a high-resolution, premium CCD camera for a lower price than what more established companies are offering for a standard-resolution 1/3” or ¼” CCTV Camera.

The main determinant of sharp picture quality is the number of TV Lines of resolution. The greater the number, the better the resolution… usually. Sometimes, CCTV sellers of lower integrity will have their factory “mark up” the TV Lines of resolution from 420 to 480, or even 520, in order to make it look as though they have an attractively-priced camera at a price that is almost too good to be true. We have had several of our clients compare 500+ TV-Line cameras from other sellers to our high-resolution cameras , which significantly outperformed our competition. Here is one such example:

[The competition’s 520 TVL] camera has a clear picture, but the color is not as real.  Mostly the blues are brightened making everything else look blue. 

Your 480TVL camera has a very clear picture and all the colors are exactly like real life.  There is also a great picture to the camera.

Comparing the two - The 480TVL camera has a better picture, better color, and also better clarity in the picture.  It seems as if the 480TVL camera has more TV lines than the 520TVL is supposed to have.

-          520 Sony ccd – 3 out of 5 stars
-          480 Sony ccd – 5 out of 5 stars

Higher resolution (480 TV-Lines and higher) cameras should be used to capture specific details such as facial features. The real test to get the best picture quality for your application is to do a side-by-side test with one of our cameras and compare it to a similar camera from our competition. If for any reason you are not satisfied with our product, you may return it for a full refund on the purchase price within 30 days of the purchase date, no restocking fees ever! Please contact us for more details regarding our Money-Back Guarantee.


Complete Packages Including Everything!
We also offer complete DVR packages , which are ideal for those who require a “plug-and-play” surveillance solution. The advantage of purchasing a complete DVR package is that everything is ready to install out of the box. The only configuration required is to customize the DVR’s software settings for a particular application. With our packages, we offer a wide variety of cameras, which buyers can choose any combination of quality cameras that fall within the DVR package selection. When you buy the complete package, you will receive free BNC Connectors, free 2.1mm power connectors, free mounts, and FREE SHIPPING!


Buying “A La Carte”
If you don’t already have a centralized power supply box to power your cameras, and you wish to buy cameras for your surveillance system, make sure the seller will give you free power adapters. In our experience a minimum of 200mA is required for cameras with 0-24 IR LEDs, and 500mA minimum for higher than 25 LEDs. Free mounts and free shipping is also a plus. As the highest rated surveillance seller on eBay, we offer free power adapters, and free mounts, and best of all… a MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE!

For more information or advice on which cameras you should select for your package or system, please feel free to contact us to speak to one of our knowledgeable salespersons.

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