Welcome to the first installment of CCTV Myths.  The premise of this series is to debunk as many of the misconceptions people have about security camera systems as we can come up with.  Whether or not you've had a couple or many of these thoughts yourself, it's all in good fun, so sit back and enjoy a good laugh.

1. All cameras can be controlled from the DVR

Most of the cameras you’re able to purchase do not meet this specification.  It’s actually a very small percentage.  Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) cameras are built for this purpose.  They are specialty cameras containing a motor that enable you to have complete control over them from a controller.  Another option is mounting fixed cameras to pan tilt motors.  This will enable you to move those normally stationary cameras up, down, left, and right.  You still won’t be able to zoom in and out with them though.  The last and more expensive option are cameras with motorized lenses.  You can’t pan or tilt, but you can zoom in and out.  Cameras like this aren’t very common and don’t usually end up giving people the desired effect.


2. Wireless systems are more popular these days

Wireless is no more popular today than it was ten years ago.  Wireless systems are either cheap and therefore very poor quality, or on the verge of being unrealistically expensive and very difficult to install.  For these reasons, you should never be considering a wireless system unless you have no other choice.  The reason good wireless systems will cost you three or four times as much as a wired system is because of all the extra hardware needed to put it in the same ball park with wired systems as far as performance and reliability are concerned.  Analog systems also have a limit on the quantity of cameras you can have.  Additionally, they’re prone to interference from other wireless devices (i.e. – cordless phones, routers, etc…) and will often experience frequent video loss.  If you’re thinking IP cameras might be your solution, keep in mind the large price tag and the bandwidth issues and limitations you’re going to have to start considering.  They’ll also require quite a bit of network configuration, but they are almost certainly going to give you better results.


3. Everyone is buying HD cameras now

Standard analog cameras and DVRs are still the most popularly purchased items on the market.  The reason is mostly based on price.  They continue to offer you the most bang for your buck.  The other big reason is the fact that nothing bigger and better is usually necessary.  Everyone thinks high definition is the way to go because everything else is HD these days.  Everyone has this thought right up until they see the price.  After that, people generally start to look more at what they actually need in a security camera system instead of focusing on what will give them the best picture quality.

4. If you have security cameras, you’re asking for trouble

We honestly don’t know where this one comes from.  People seem to think that if someone sees security cameras, they’re going to view it as a challenge.  The fact is, if they’ve seen that you have security cameras, then your security cameras have seen them.  Before they even make their next move, you’re CCTV system has already identified them.  Others argue that cameras are often vandalized.  We’ll give you that one; it happens.  What exactly is the alternative though?  If you have a problem with vandalism like this in your neck of the woods, would you rather they trash your home or business instead of your cameras?  At least with cameras, you've had a chance to catch these people in the act.

5. The more TV lines, the better the picture quality

This applies to analog cameras.  The resolution generally ranges from 400TVL-1000TVL.  Unfortunately for the consumer, there’s more to pay attention to than just this number.  The quality/brand of image sensor inside of the camera has more to do with image quality than the number of TV lines.  If you were to compare a cheaper image sensor at 1000TVL to a high quality image sensor at 700TVL, you’d see that the image quality is almost identical.  If anything, the 1000TVL image may even look a little fuzzy next to the other.  You need to do your homework regarding these sensors.  More importantly, find sample video.  Don’t trust what you may find on a retailers website.  Use websites like YouTube and Vimeo to see what people are posting and saying about the product you’re looking to buy.  In the end, your level of satisfaction with a product is going to mostly be based on how few surprises there are.

Don Stephens is a Technical Support Manager at CCTV Camera World, a leading Security Camera distributor located in Buffalo, NY. His area of expertise is in designing professional security camera systems for medium and large scale businesses, schools, and government projects.

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