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What Type of Cable to Use with HDCVI Cameras

The type of cable you're either able to or should be using has been under debate since HDCVI cameras hit the market. While it was originally stated that solid copper RG59 should be used, there have been more than a few people to state that it's not required; installers and retailers alike. We're going to put all previously formed statements and opinions aside for this and simply show you what type of video quality you can expect from various cable types and lengths.

The conditions for this test are as follows:

  • Two identical fixed lens HDCVI dome cameras were used side by side for this experiment, you can find them here
  • The test was conducted indoors in a temperature controlled room
  • Both HDCVI cameras were being powered by the same 12 volt 2 amp power supply with a 1 to 2 splitter directly attached to each camera's pigtail
  • The dome camera using solid copper RG59 cable (50ft) was never disconnected from the DVR
  • The second dome camera was only disconnected for the purpose of swapping cable type and/or length
  • The power portion of all Siamese cables was never used
  • Video and power baluns were used with network cable but never for power
  • Neither camera was ever disconnected from power
  • The cameras were only left to record after swapping cables for a few minutes as the effects were instantaneous and constant
  • The cutout was positioned 10 feet* from both cameras.

 

*It was kept at 10 feet so it'd be easier to see the negative effects in the video. These effects were amplified with increased distances.

We're not going to cover brands or manufacturers and how they varied. The truth is that the difference in results from brand to brand was, or was almost, unnoticeable. You may notice the appearance of tinted lines running horizontally across the screen, or a flickering effect. This is caused by the fluorescent lighting being within the field of view of the camera's lens. It is not an effect caused by the cabling.

At no point in this test will you see complete video loss. At no length of any cable type that we ran, whether it be in this test or not, have we ever encountered complete video blackout. This includes approximately 1000 feet of RG59/U, Cat5e, and Cat6 cable.

Plug-and-Play Premade Siamese Cable

25 Feet

  • Shadowing apparent around right side of head and left hand
  • Noticeably brighter contrast; likely lighting differential
  • No lines

 

60 Feet

  • Shadowing significantly more obvious
  • No further effect on contrast
  • Lines begin to form; likely caused by the shadowing effect

 

100 Feet

  • Shadowing continues to worsen
  • No further effect on contrast
  • Lines worsen

 

150 Feet

  • Shadowing continues to worsen
  • No further effect on contrast
  • Lines worsen

 
This cable type seems to work acceptably at 25 feet, but we would not recommend using anything longer in length than that. This is probably only possible for someone setting up a single camera system.

RG59U Siamese Cable (Copper Clad Aluminum)

50 Feet

  • Very small amount of shadowing apparent
  • Noticeably brighter contrast; likely lighting differential
  • Lines beginning to form around sign; likely caused by shadowing

 

100 Feet

  • No increase in shadowing effect
  • No further effect on contrast
  • Lines slightly worsen

 

150 Feet

  • No increase in shadowing effect
  • No further effect on contrast
  • No increased negativity on forming lines

 

240 Feet

  • No increase in shadowing effect
  • No further effect on contrast
  • Lines worsen

 

The copper clad RG59 cable appeared to cause some difficulty with the camera's ability to interpret the sign containing the lettering. As a result, that seems to be the only negative effects we encountered up to 240 feet. At approximately 260 feet, the shadowing and line effect quickly spread to other areas and by 300 feet, the image appeared almost identical as the image for premade cable at 150 feet. We would not recommend exceeding 240 feet as the image quality went downhill very rapidly beyond that distance.

Cat5e Network Cable (Solid Copper)

25 Feet

  • Shadowing already obvious around entire body
  • Noticeably brighter contrast; likely lighting differential
  • No lines

 

50 Feet

  • Very slight increase in shadowing
  • No further effect on contrast
  • No lines

 

75 Feet

  • Shadowing becomes much more obvious but still faint
  • No further effect on contrast
  • No Lines

 

100 Feet

  • No further effect on shadowing
  • No further effect on contrast
  • No Lines

 

Because the shadowing is very apparent right at 25 feet, we can not recommend using Cat5e cable with HDCVI cameras. As distance increases, the effect will completely distort finer details (i.e. - facial clarity).

Cat6 Network Cable (Solid Copper)

50 Feet

  • Shadowing becomes noticeable
  • Noticeably brighter contrast; likely lighting differential
  • No lines

 

100 Feet

  • Shadowing effect increases
  • No further effect on contrast
  • No lines

 

At short distances, Cat6 appeared as though it might be a solution, but when we hit 50 feet, it became obvious that it was not. Like Cat5e, because it cannot maintain a clear image at short distances, we would not suggest its use.

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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