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Positioning & Installation Tips For IP Cameras

IP cameras offer excellent benefits for home security, including ease of installation and advanced functions. However, if not installed or deployed properly, these benefits can be negated.

Whether you are installing your own security system, or you are having it professionally installed, be sure that the right cable is being used and that it is installed correctly.

Here are more tips for IP security camera installation:

  • Be sure that UTP connected devices (ex. couplers, modular plugs and wall plates) match the Category of the cable used, and that this is done consistently throughout the installation.
  • For optimum performance (by design and specification), cable runs in an IP camera system can only extend up to 295 feet.
  • The bend radius of both Cat-5e and -6 cables must be limited to four times the cable diameter – the acceptable bend radius is no less than 1 inch.
  • The pull tension while installing Cat-5e/-6 cannot exceed 25 pounds.
  • Limit the length before stripping the sheath from a cable in a wall box so that the excess can easily be pushed back into the wall cavity.
  • Do not staple Cat-5e/-6 cable. Use D rings, bridle rings, J hooks and other devices that do not risk altering the outer form or dimensions of the cable.
  • Keep a 6-10 inch parallel distance between Cat-5e and -6 cables and high-voltage wires (120/240VAC).
  • Strip Cat-5e/-6 cables back as little distance as necessary when attaching them to connecting devices.
  • Use either the T568A or T568B connection format and stick to just one throughout the entire installation for conformity.

Aside from the proper cable, you must take the surroundings of your security camera placement into consideration. Be sure that the IP cameras you choose are suitable for the environment in which you install it.

  • Be mindful of the different lighting conditions your security cameras will be subjected to when selecting cameras.
  • When considering camera placement, keep in mind the field of view and any obstructions that might prevent a clear view of the area.
  • Be sure there is sufficient network connectivity available in the vicinity of where your camera will be placed.
  • For all outdoor cameras, especially in areas known for lightning, use surge protection.
  • Assure that the PoE power supply you use is adequate for the job. Be sure to compute the power load before making a final choice.
  • To assure the integrity of the camera (especially in areas prone to crime), use vandal-proof housing.
  • Cat-6 UTP is always best, but Cat-5e is a cost-effective alternative, doing an adequate job of handling most video transport needs.
  • Using fiber instead of metallic has its advantages. Foremost, fiber allows you to run camera signals at greater distances and with greater bandwidth than metallic cable can provide.
  • Last but not least, use safe installation practices to assure that everyone goes home at the end of the day.

If you are looking for affordable prices on professional security camera installation, give us a call today 888-203-6294. You can also browse our CCTV surveillance selection online at Stay connected with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Common Outdoor Security Camera Issues

Outdoor security cameras act as your first line of defense against potential burglars. The presence of outdoor security cameras alone can act as a deterrent and they can provide you with evidence should anything happen. Because they are placed outdoors, these security cameras are susceptible to possible dangers which may compromise your security system. Here are a few outdoor security camera risks and how to safeguard your security equipment.

Vandalism & Theft
Unfortunately, to cover their tracks and eliminate possible evidence, thieves may resort to vandalism and theft.

In order to protect your equipment, you will want to choose vandal-proof security cameras or CCTV cameras with metal housings or covers. These not only make it harder for them to be stolen, but they also help to keep your security camera clean.

You should also consider the placement of your security cameras. Installing outdoor security cameras where they are visible yet out of reach will help to maximize their effectiveness and reduce the risk of damage.

Lighting & Thunderstorm
Though it may seem highly unlikely, there’s still a chance your security equipment may get struck by lightning, especially in areas where thunderstorms are common.

Because metal can be highly conductive, avoid mounting your cameras to a metal. Also, be sure that your CCTV or PoE security system is grounded properly. This can minimize damage by redirecting the lightning current into the earth ground.

In addition, employing lightning surge protectors prevents voltage spikes by blocking voltage that exceeds specific thresholds and instead directing the excess into the outlet’s ground line.

Should the thunderstorm result in power outage, UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supplies) units will provide reliable backup power. They will even work if you unplug all system, cable, modem and antenna connections during a thunderstorm.

Hacking is a big concern for network IP cameras, as hackers can possibly jam the operating device or decrypt your safety code.

In these cases, you will want to boost your network security with WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) security protocol. You should also change your passwords frequently and make your passphrase complicated.

In addition, updating firmware regularly for your IP security cameras is key. Some may be hesitant to perform this task as it can be inconvenient, however, these updates often contain patches for recently found loopholes or vulnerabilities that may threaten your system.

Be sure to update your firmware every few months, or check the product website to ensure you are using the latest firmware version. Also, remember to read the information carefully before upgrading.

Spider Webs or Bugs
If you employ IR security cameras outdoors and under eaves, they are likely to attract nocturnal bugs and insects that are naturally drawn to lights. Unfortunately, bugs and spider webs can compromise image quality and may even trigger false alarms from motion sensor cameras.

These issues can be combated with regular cleaning and maintenance of your outdoor security cameras. Using natural insect repellents (ex. citrus, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint) are reported as very effective in keeping spiders away. In addition, you may use spider repellents, contact sprays, aerosol sprays and web eliminators around the camera (not directly on the lens for obvious reasons). Lastly, if you reduce the motion-detection sensibility accordingly, you will reduce false alarms.

Extreme Weather Conditions
You may worry about the performance of your security cameras if you live in areas that experience extreme and inclement weather conditions (ex. freezing winters, sweltering hot summers). Luckily, security cameras come with an IP (ingress protection) rating that determines their ability to sustain harsh weather. For example, an outdoor security camera with IP rating 66 is also known as completely water-proof (can withstand solid matter and liquid, such as dust and rainwater respectively).

Reflection Of Lights
Beware of pointing your outdoor security cameras at reflective surfaces (ex. ponds of water, glass panels, car windows) as it will cause lens glare and obstruct viewing.

To avoid this, place front door and back door security cameras outside and out of reach. Also, adjust your camera field of view to shy away from potentially reflective surfaces.

Fogging, Clouding, Or Condensation
While security cameras are often assembled to be sealed-up and air-tight to prevent moisture seeping into the lens, sudden changes in temperature may cause fogging.

This issue is common in the early morning and will sometimes go away on its own. If the problem persists, you may want to consider placing a packet of silica gel inside the housing case. Also, regularly wiping the outer lens covers with a micro-fiber cloth will help protect your cameras.

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Surveillance System Storage

Security cameras play a major role in home security. Aside from deadbolt locks and alarms, security cameras can provide video footage of incidents and alert you as needed. Of course, the quality of the security camera and surveillance footage is important, and the proper video storage has a direct impact on this.

When it comes to video surveillance storage, there are basically two options – local and cloud. Evaluating their differences can help you narrow down your security system options.

Local Storage
Local video storage saves your footage locally – usually via microSD cards. Security cameras that offer local storage have built-in microSD slots that can typically handle anywhere from 16GB to 128GB. These cards may be included in your purchase or you may have to purchase them separately.

Once the microSD card is properly inserted in the security camera, you may then set your preferences in the accompanying mobile app for video storage. You may choose event-based recording, which only saves clips when motion or sound is detected, or continuous recording, which records everything around the clock.

When the card is full, you may continue recording (by overwriting the previous footage), or stop recording and manage footage manually. You can usually view saved clips in the app, but you may also removed the microSD card and stick it into a card reader or card adapter if you would like to save videos to your computer.

Those who are concerned about privacy often prefer this option, as you are in charge of managing your videos. In addition, your video surveillance footage is easily accessible without having to pay a monthly fee (which is common with cloud storage).

Cloud Storage
Much like smartphones store photos and other data on “the cloud,” security companies seem to be following suit with video surveillance footage. Rather than purchasing additional parts and manually managing your videos, you can opt for cloud storage.

Your event-based or continuous recordings are sent off to remote servers and you are charged a monthly fee based on the service provider and the type and amount of surveillance footage you store.

These subscription-based cloud storage services are generally more convenient than dealing with microSD cards, however, you do not have control over these remote servers. Thus, outages can cause major issues, such as delays in accessing your saved videos. And for the privacy-conscious, you might always wonder who has access to your footage.

Local Vs. Cloud
It really just comes down to your own needs and preference. Local storage gives you more control while cloud storage provides more convenience. If you really can’t decide on one or the other, there are hybrid options on the market that offer a mix of both.

Along with other factors, video surveillance storage is important when deciding on a security camera system. If you need any help choosing a security camera system, or simply want to view some cost-effective quality CCTV surveillance cameras and systems, visit or call 888-203-6294. Our representatives are happy to answer questions and provide you with a free quote.

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Security Camera Image Sensors: CCD Vs. CMOS

Choosing the best security camera system can be based on many factors. When it comes to the individual security cameras, the quality of images and video captured is largely dependent on the image sensor.

The image sensor (also known as the “eye”) determines the imaging capability and performance of your security camera. Their duty is to convert an optical image into an electrical signal, and is either a charge-coupled device (CCD) or a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) active pixel sensor.

To better understand which type of image sensor will work best for your security camera needs, we will take a look at the differences between CCD and CMOS.

What Is A CCD Image Sensor?
CCD’s receive light and convert it to electrons, then carry the electrons to a specific area across the chip to be processed. The conversion of analog light signals into digital pixels takes place in the chip without distortion. The special manufacturing process of CCD’s produces high-quality sensors in terms of fidelity and light sensitivity.

What Is A CMOS Image Sensor?
The CMOS sensor came from the MOS active pixel image sensor which emerged in the 1960s. Since then, its design and function has greatly improved, containing integrated circuitry and arrays of pixel sensors. Unlike the CCD, CMOS sensors process the elections at the same place that it receives the light, thus making it faster and smaller. The CMOS is able to do so because it has multiple transistors at each pixel, offering flexibility because each pixel is treated individually.

Now that we have covered the basics, we can compare the strengths and weaknesses of CCD and CMOS cameras.

  • CCD cameras provide high-quality images with low noise (grain), whereas CMOS cameras are more susceptible to noise. CMOS cameras often need more light to create a low noise image at proper exposure.
  • CCD cameras possess better light sensitivity than CMOS cameras, since the CMOS sensors have more transistors next to each pixel, which may interfere with the amount of light that reaches the photodiode (where the picture is processed).
  • CMOS sensors consume less power since the processes are confined to a smaller area. CCD sensors consume as much as 100 times more than CMOS.
  • CMOS chips require a simple and traditional manufacturing process (same as creating microchips) making them easier to produce and much more affordable than CCD. As mentioned, CCD sensors require a special manufacturing process which makes them more expensive.

Common Applications
In these common applications, one camera outshines the other.

  • Because of their superior light sensitivity and large effective imaging area, CCD cameras are better suited for low light conditions than CMOS cameras.
  • Since the CMOS image sensor is compact, CMOS cameras are better for hidden or covert surveillance.
  • Choose CMOS cameras for high-frame speed video shooting since the CMOS image sensor has a very fast processing speed (thanks to its ability to directly convert photoelectric signal to digital signal).

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To shop our stock of security cameras and surveillance equipment, including CMOS cameras and CCD cameras, visit If you are located in Southern California and would like to schedule a site survey or request a free quote, please call 888-203-6294.

Wired Security Cameras Vs. Wireless Security Cameras

Security cameras offer great benefits for various settings. From protecting your business or property to keeping an eye on nursing homes or daycare centers, surveillance camera systems can be incredibly helpful.

The extensive surveillance market is like a double-edged sword. While there is likely a security solution for nearly every need, sorting through the options to find the best security solution for you can be seemingly endless. However, with the proper approach and assistance, you can find a suitable surveillance system in a timely manner.

When shopping for security camera systems, it is best to evaluate your needs and research which solutions may better suit you. For example, choosing between wired or wireless security cameras can be determined by weighing their advantages and disadvantages, while understanding how these can play into your specific requirements.

To help you choose which is better for you, here are some basic pros and cons of both wired and wireless security cameras.

Wired Security Cameras


  • Video is transmitted straight to your recorder with no interference from other wireless devices.
  • A wide variety of camera styles are available.
  • Wired cameras make it impossible for the signal to be jammed.
  • IP-based wired cameras can provide video resolutions at High Definition and beyond, transmitting large amounts of data over CAT5 cabling.


  • Installation involves wiring (and likely conduit), making it a lengthier and more complicated process.
  • Changing the location of your cameras requires rewiring, thus providing less flexibility.

Wireless Security Cameras


  • The absence of wiring enables an easier installation process.
  • More flexibility in terms of relocating cameras.
  • Wireless cameras can connect to your existing Wi-Fi network.


  • Depending on the range of your Wi-Fi network, connectivity issues may arise.
  • Picture quality is not as good as wired cameras provide.
  • Crowded frequency (due to the overlapping of other wireless networks or channels) can lead to dropped signals, interference, and lost video.
  • Frequency issues make these generally less reliable than wired cameras.
  • If cameras are used outdoors, signal may be lost during inclement weather.

Other things to consider include the structure of your property or building and the location of power sources. While some may prefer strictly wired solutions, and others choose wireless, it is possible to create a hybrid system, incorporating both wired and wireless cameras. It is best to consider different options before deciding on a security system.

Let us help you create the best security camera system. Browse our stock online at or call 888-203-6294 to discuss your options. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Security Cameras: Types, Housing & Features

Shopping for security camera systems may seem like a one-size-fits-all deal, but, unfortunately, it is not. Because there are a plethora of security camera types and surveillance features to be considered, it will take some time to decide. Evaluate your security needs, do some research and weigh your options. To make it easier, we will break down the different types, housing, and common features of security cameras.

The following are the advantages and disadvantages of common security camera types.

  • Fixed – As the name suggests, fixed cameras are positioned to capture an image and are always pointing in the intended direction. Because these do no move, they are more reliable than PTZ cameras and can be optimized with different housing and features.
  • PTZ Cameras- PTZ stands for Pan, Tilt, and Zoom, thus, these cameras can be remotely positioned (thanks to specially designed motors and gears). These cameras may be set to automatically patrol an area, but they seem to be most effective when manually controlled.

For zoom capabilities, 32X is fairly common, although some higher end cameras may have a greater zoom range. While a greater zoom range is helpful when covering a large area, it is not always necessary.

However, there are some downfalls. Because PTZ cameras can adjust its viewing range, there are chances that they may miss something. Also, zoom decreases the size of the area being covered, and the camera can only be facing one direction at a time.

  • 360-Degree Cameras – Also known as virtual PTZ, the 360-degree camera utilizes several high resolution fixed cameras in a single housing (usually dome). The images are then stitched together and can be zoomed in on after recording (zoom capabilities depend on the cameras being used). Because this type of camera can face in all directions, it can be an effective forensic tool.

Unfortunately, these cameras are often oversold as a universal solution, despite the fact that very few rooms allow for an unobstructed view in all directions. In applications where this camera is necessary, it often does wonderfully. However, a standard fixed camera can be paired with a lens to give it a 120-degree to 140-degree view. Also, many rooms are better monitored with cameras in corners (which only require a 90-degree field of view).

Once you have chosen the camera type, housing will come into play.

  • Outdoor – Because of changing environmental elements, outdoor camera housing will be more weather resistant and include heaters and blowers.
  • Dome – These are designed to obscure the direction of the camera to outsiders. This is often the best deterrent, making it a high priority and often a default selection. Most people assume dome cameras cover the entire area, making a fixed dome camera covering a door entrance more effective.
  • Bullet – These are named for their sleek, cylindrical shape, often times resembling a bullet. This housing clearly shows the direction of the lens and generally provides a better picture. The front of the housing is close to the camera lens, decreasing reflections and making it easier to maintain. These act as deterrents as well, but are not as effective as ambiguous housing.
  • Discreet – These completely disguise the camera as something else, such as a smoke detector or motion sensor, or as nothing at all, with pinhole or flush mount lenses installed in a wall or ceiling. Because they are hidden, they are not designed to be deterrents. These are often favored by architects looking to achieve a certain aesthetic.

All types of housing can be made to be vandal resistant, which is a step up from weather resistant. These types of housings are most commonly dome shaped and are designed to withstand unfriendly environments while still providing a usable image.

The selection of features for your security cameras will depend on the application and your individual needs.

  • Resolution – Resolution is measured in megapixels (millions of pixels) and is a major factor in picture and video quality. The higher the resolution, the more space required to store the images and processing power to manipulate it.

To demonstrate the differences in resolution, an old analog camera is about ¼ megapixel, an HDTV screen is just over 2 megapixels, and the highest resolution projected image in movie theaters (4K) is 8.8 megapixels.

While higher resolution cameras may be appealing, these do not respond as well as lower resolution cameras in low light situations. Thus, it is possible to buy more resolution than you need, unnecessarily increasing storage costs while decreasing performance.

  • Low Light – Cameras with day/night capabilities are able to automatically adjust modes in various lighting situations. With advanced technologies, these cameras are able to produce usable images in near total darkness.

There are also cameras with infrared illuminators, which provide their own light source to obtain better images in low light settings. As mentioned, in order to improve low light performance, you will need to sacrifice some resolution.

  • Lens Features – Varifocal lenses allow the installer to manually adjust the image magnification when installing the camera. However, many fixed cameras now come with remote zoom and focus (allowing the user to adjust the camera without physically going to the camera site), as well as auto-focus.
  • Advanced Options – Other options to consider include wireless signal transition, ultra-high resolution, thermal imaging, explosion proof housings and more.

No matter what the application, there’s likely a perfect security solution thanks to the comprehensive options available. And while the selection process may seem overwhelming, we are here to help. Feel free to browse our CCTV surveillance systems online at or call 888-203-6294 to speak with a representative.

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Transitioning From Analog Security Cameras To IP Surveillance

Upgrading your analog security cameras to IP security cameras has plenty of benefits, including improved image quality and advanced features. Most IP surveillance systems can make use of existing network infrastructure that is in good condition, decreasing costs for installation. Whether you are looking to upgrade because your analog system is reaching end-of-life for support or because your needs have changed, an IP surveillance system is a smart decision.

Now, the actual task of transitioning from analog to IP security cameras should not be taken lightly. You want to be sure that you take all things into consideration to ensure that you choose the right IP video surveillance system and that it performs sufficiently. Here are a few aspects you should not overlook:

Goals & Challenges
If you are looking to achieve ROI, you must fully understand how your IP security system will be used. Operational goals and potential challenges should be determined beforehand. Think about what types of cameras and how much resolution you need, as well as how long the footage needs to be stored and which areas need coverage. Proper planning is crucial to the success of your security system.

No one wants to pay an arm and a leg for a mediocre surveillance system. If done correctly, you don’t need to. By defining a security budget, you can find the right cameras and video management software (VMS) to fulfill your needs and achieve your goals.

As much as a quick transition sounds ideal, it is not always feasible. Understand that a proper transition will take some time, and it may be in your best interest to plan a phased migration. This will help to accommodate budget availability and operational disruptions. Prioritize which area needs immediate attention and begin there.

Going from analog to IP improves video quality, but also requires more storage. Advanced VMS can help to effectively optimize your network resources and bandwidth consumption, thus decreasing networking and storage costs over time.

A new IP video system may need additional staffing, so you should think about this and how you will train the new and existing staff. This will impact both overall costs and ROI of your system, and may affect cameras and software selection. For example, casinos require live monitoring around the clock while parking lot surveillance may use video analytics to alert security personnel of incidents or events that need attention.

Numerous third-party integrations can help to increase the efficiency of your system as well as manage costs. While most current systems have an IP-based interface for integration, leading suppliers also have a wide range of integrations which are tested and ready to apply. These can offer functionality, automation, and other enhancements to solve project needs.

Cybersecurity is of utmost importance, especially these days. If not addressed properly, going from analog to IP opens up your system, and any indirectly connected networks, to endless vulnerabilities. Be sure to discuss your specific network safeguards, policies, and strategies with your installer. Also, enlist a new IP security system that provides the appropriate cybersecurity architecture, software, devices, and policies.

Pay attention to licensing requirements and Software Upgrade Plans (SUPs) or Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that come with most VMS systems. These cover everything from higher tiers of support to future upgrades. For example, third-party cameras may require a license for each IP address, and these licensing requirements can add additional costs.

Environmental Conditions
These include extreme heat or cold, humidity, corrosion, and high dust levels, along with ambient light levels, existing power sources, and network infrastructure. All of these can impact which security cameras and VMS equipment are necessary for you.

Because your security system should be operational and accessible at all times, it is important plan provisions for redundancy and back up for primary resources in case they fail. For most systems, simple RAID-5 or -6 redundancy in storage is sufficient. However, you should also consider budgeting for “failover” recorders and other server hardware, and have spare cameras on hand in case of failure.

It is only a matter of time until IP surveillance is the norm and analog security cameras are a thing of the past. But when the day comes, it is ever important to understand your security needs and what you expect from your IP surveillance system. Even a small mistake or misstep along the way can compromise your system.

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Home Security Mistakes & Tips

Making mistakes when it comes to your home security can compromise your safety, leaving you vulnerable to burglary and theft. When choosing the best home security system for you, avoid making these common security mistakes and ensure that you properly safeguard your home and loved ones.

Mistake: Buying The Wrong Home Security Systems.
There is no “wrong” home security system, however, what works for one person may not work for you. This is precisely why there are various types of security systems on the market.

In order to choose the best system for you, do your research. You want to look at different reviews from reputable sources. Search the security system you are eyeing, or the type of system you’re looking for. In addition to reviews, pay attention to any complaints from real buyers that you may come across. There may be legitimate issues that you should know about before making a purchase.

Also, these are some important features you should consider when shopping for a security system:

  • Remote monitoring
  • Real-time notifications
  • 911 & emergency services
  • Input capacity
  • Ease of installation

Lastly, to help you make the right decision, and possibly save you time, you should speak with a security professional. With expert knowledge and experience under their belt, a security professional will have a better idea of which type of security will best suit your needs.

Mistake: Not Testing Your Configurations.
It is rare that one home security system is enough for all your home security needs. For added protection, some components to consider may include:

  • Indoor and outdoor cameras
  • Motion sensors
  • Smoke detectors
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Glass break detectors
  • Door and window sensors
  • Freeze sensors
  • Water sensors
  • Driveway sensors

Of course, these are just some of the many components you may or may not want to add to your system. Whether you have one security camera or 20 different cameras and sensors, you should test all of them to ensure proper configuration and performance. For example, you may not know that your camera is poorly positioned or that your alarm system was not properly activated.

Try simulating a break-in with a friend, family member, or your pet to determine the capabilities of your home security system. Most criminals are seasoned vets so they probably know how to bypass one of more components of your system, thus having more aspects can help to ensure they are stopped.

Mistake: Lack Of/Poor Maintenance Of Home Security System.
Your security system should be maintained on a regular basis, whether it’s weekly, monthly, semi-annually or annually – do what’s best for what you need. Maintenance can involve various things such as updating software, changing batteries, changing faulty or defective parts, and more.

Professional Maintenance
Professional maintenance can be done annually or semi-annually. You may want to check if your vendor offers any maintenance packages in the service contract. If they don’t, you can enlist the services from a home security inspection company.

The services typically consist of the following:

  • Repair or replace broken parts of your home security system
  • Test the control panel and all other components of your home security system
  • Check that signals are sent to and received by the monitoring center

Professional maintenance ensures that there’s no guesswork in handling, fixing or replacing faulty components of your system.

DIY Maintenance
Your DIY checklist should include:

  • Check/change exterior lighting to ensure clearer pictures or videos for your surveillance cameras
  • Simulate intrusion to check if motion sensors will detect it or trigger the right alarm
  • Test your control panel if it has a test model but if your system includes remote monitoring (which it should), inform the monitoring team to avoid starting a false alarm
  • The National Fire Alarm Code requires annual inspection of residential household fire systems, but you can press the test button of your smoke detector to see if it’s functioning properly from time to time

Keep these tips in mind in order to avoid these critical mistakes when shopping for a home security system.

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Low-Light Security Cameras

There’s something to be said about low-light security cameras. Because lighting conditions in different environments are not always ideal for surveillance, low-light security cameras enable us to capture respectable footage in these situations. And with new technology, the quality of low-light camera images has vastly improved.

But before you invest in low-light security cameras for your home or business, here are some important facts and tips to know to make the most of your security systems.
Here’s some important information in order to make the most of your security systems.

First and foremost, you should know the related terms you may come across:

  • Low-Light
  • Day/Night
  • Starlight
  • SenseUp
  • Night Vision
  • Light Finder
  • Light Toucher
  • Dark Finder
  • Light Catcher
  • Thermal Imaging

All of these terms refer to the same classification of surveillance cameras. And while some of these terms are trademarked by manufacturers, the most commonly used terms for these cameras are “low-light” and “day/night.”

How It Works
Despite the sometimes confusing terminology, the basic components remain the same for all low-light cameras: a lens and sensor and some level of image processing. And to be clear, low-light cameras are different than thermal cameras (which track heat rather than motion or images) or cameras with IR illuminators.

A majority of low-light cameras use an IR cut filter, which is a mechanical filter that sits between the lens and the sensor (CMOS chip). The name is derived from its ability to “cut out” or filter out IR illumination during the day to improve color quality. At night, as available light diminishes, it slides out of the way to allow more light to get the sensor, thus improving low-light video quality. In order to help the video quality, it is also captured in black and white. In most cameras the filter is mechanically driven by an algorithm, however, some cameras allow manual control.

Because nearly all the cameras contain IR cut filters, it comes down to the lens and the processing to set these items apart from one another. The lens transmits light to the sensor and then the data on the sensor is processed by a processor. The variance among cameras is often in the optics. You want to be sure that both the lens and the sensor are of great quality, otherwise the potential for stellar images will be wasted.

Aside from the optics, processing is an important factor in determining the best low-light camera for you. Most manufacturers employ the same OEM processor yet make their own adjustments to them. The ability to control the tuning of an image is crucial as the tuning of an image during daylight will likely not hold up at night or in complete darkness.

Pay close attention to image toning, noise suppression, and the ability to maintain color and contrast in low light as these often differentiate one camera from another.

Typical IR cameras will capture images between 1 lux and 0.1 lux, however, the latest technologies can allow .01 lux to 0.00001 lux. This means that what would have been a completely black image a few years ago now looks like a near-daytime picture thanks to new low- and ultralow-light sensors.

While this achievement is impressive, in reality, there will rarely be any situations where there is complete darkness. Some ambient light will likely be present, whether it is from street lamps, the moon, or even the stars.

Spec Sheets Vs. Live Demo
As discussed, the impressive low-light sensitivity and lux will likely be included in the spec sheets, along with other important features. However, these spec sheets often represent technical specifications as opposed to actual performance.

Instead of simply relying on spec sheets, try to find a manufacturer or company that will provide you with a live demo and comparisons. This will give you a better idea of the low-light camera’s performance and whether or not it lives up to your requirements. In addition, third party reviews can give you more insight as well.

Just because a camera boasts a high megapixel count does not necessarily mean it will produce a better low-light image. With higher resolution and higher megapixels, each pixel becomes a smaller percentage of that sensor. For example, image the sensor has a fixed size, yet the resolution is doubled. The pixels are smaller, thus, the sensor for each pixel is also smaller, increasing the amount of sensitivity needed to maintain the same level of quality.

Lens Speed
The speed of the lens is important and investing in a fast lens and better optics is crucial. The lens determines what information reaches the sensor, and, because of this, you get what you pay for when it comes to lenses and optics.

Positioning & Distance
Proper positioning of your security cameras is critical. Focus on what you want to capture and the level of detail you need when choosing the location of your cameras.

Position surveillance cameras so that the common range of motion is moving across the field of view rather than having common movement coming toward the camera. Also, avoid bright light pointing directly at the lens – this can cause flare or “fog” on the image.

Consider the field of view in terms of distance. The level of detail from the camera is highly dictated by how close the camera is and how much it’s zoomed in.

And when it comes to distance, you want the right combination of lens and camera that factors in the distance from the area you are trying to monitor. If you need to detect motion from long distances, your best bet would be to switch to thermal cameras. Activity will be detected, however, it will be harder to determine whether it is a person or an animal.

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Hidden Spy Cameras

Before, spy cameras, like the ones seen in the movies, were merely pipe dreams. The ones that were available never really lived up to the expectation. Fortunately, technology improved over time and hidden cameras became more accessible to everyone.

Thanks to the Internet of Things, Wi-Fi enabled hidden cameras and DVRs are affordable and being used more frequently. You can use these wireless hidden cameras to keep an eye on your children, watch your home while you’re on vacation, or even monitor your business remotely. Hidden spy cameras can be monitored via an app or specialized software that you may access from your smartphone or tablet.

By employing wireless hidden cameras, you can discreetly keep an eye on things. Also, they are less susceptible to tampering as they cannot be easily detected. While visible CCTV surveillance cameras are meant to deter people from wrongdoings, hidden cameras are intended to catch people in the act.

Most hidden cameras are wireless to remain inconspicuous, however, not all are truly wireless.  Some are battery powered, while others may need to be prudently plugged in or attached to the electrical system in some way.

What usually confuses people when they see the term “wireless” is that it more commonly refers to the Wi-Fi connection, meaning you don’t have to connect it to any sort of landline or Ethernet cable. Most of these cameras come with their own software and must be configured to your network. IT may sound complicated, but it is no more difficult than connecting any other device to the Internet. However, some spy cameras require that users have an adequate working knowledge of IoT technology to operate them.

Before installing a hidden camera, be sure to review the laws regarding hidden cameras, surveillance, and recording.

Browse our selection of nanny cams, wireless surveillance, and hidden spy cameras online at If you have any questions or need assistance, please call 888-203-6294.

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