Surveillance Camera

A surveillance camera is a key component of a security system. Long restricted to a small number of users, surveillance cameras have become more widely available in recent years and are now found in many different situations, both at businesses and in homes.

Why install a surveillance camera?

A surveillance camera is the key component in a video surveillance system. Whether stand-alone or paired with an alarm or intercom system, cameras allow users to remotely monitor and therefore protect the location where they're installed. On business premises, in a private home or in a public space, a surveillance camera or a network of cameras helps to prevent intrusions and thefts.

If theft or damage still takes place, video surveillance can help to identify the culprits or how they operate, understand what happened and identify the failings in a security system. The footage can also be used as evidence for an insurance company to prove that a break-in took place, or can be given to the authorities to identify suspects.

A surveillance camera can be used in different ways: it acts as a deterrent if it's highly visible and discourages the least experienced burglars, and allows remote video surveillance of a home, commercial premises or any other location. It can also be combined with an alarm system or motion sensor. In this case, if an intrusion takes place an alarm can be triggered and you'll be alerted via a call or a notification on your smartphone, or a security company may immediately respond.

Surveillance cameras are also used with intercoms. A videophone (also called a video intercom or video doorkeeper) is installed at the entrance to your property (or to a company's offices) to visually check on entry points and prevent unwelcome individuals from entering the premises. At a business, a surveillance camera can also be combined with a clocking-in system to check the identity of people presenting their badge. Discover all our products

The different types of surveillance camera

The basics of a video surveillance kit are a surveillance camera, a management terminal (computer software, data storage, etc.) and a viewing device (control monitor, computer screen or smartphone in the case of a camera connected to the internet). Several different types of camera and monitor can optimise a protection system and other accessories can be connected to the security setup (alarm, siren, videophone, etc.).
  • Analogue or IP video surveillance camera?
Video surveillance cameras can be divided into two categories: analogue and IP. An analogue camera sends the footage it takes to a recording device via a cable. This is the most traditional and affordable type of camera. An IP video surveillance camera is more sophisticated: it has an IP address and connects to your network via an Ethernet port or Wi-Fi. This solution allows you to manage a security camera remotely, and because it's connected to the internet you can also access the footage from any computer or smartphone that can access the secure connection.
  • Wired or wireless camera
There are also two different types of video surveillance cameras. A wired camera is connected to a monitor and recording device via a cable. Installation work is required for this type of wired network and this is usually carried out by a professional. Meanwhile, wireless video surveillance cameras can be installed more quickly and without a cable, as the footage is sent via radio waves or Wi-Fi. Nevertheless, there is a risk of interference (in the case of radio waves) and the general consensus is that wired models provide a more stable image than wireless cameras.

How to choose a video surveillance camera

A large number of video surveillance cameras are available on the market. Depending on the level of protection you want, how the location you want to secure is laid out and your requirements, you'll opt for one or other of the types available and decide whether or not to pair it with other security accessories.
  • Image quality
Because a video surveillance camera is used to view what's happening around or inside your property, the quality of the footage needs to allow you to see the scene properly on the monitor. A videophone that has a camera can also be used to identify visitors, so the image quality is essential. It's best to choose an infrared camera, which provides clear footage on your monitor even at night along with a wide-angle lens that gives a good overview, and a model that features good colour and depth contrast. Pay attention to the definition (the format in pixels) and the resolution of the footage (indicated in lines) when choosing a device.
  • Audio quality
This isn't always useful and it all depends on how you intend to use your video surveillance camera. However, clear audio might be essential, particularly if the camera is part of an intercom system that allows you to talk to visitors. The microphone therefore needs to be good-quality to ensure minimal background noise, even remotely.
  • Accessories
Below are a few accessories that you might be offered when buying a camera. Decide how useful they are based on your needs in order to make a choice.
Some cameras have a powerful integrated floodlight: this is practical if used outdoors or to light up a path when someone is present. A projector can also act as a deterrent for intruders and ensures better visibility. It works in a similar way to infrared vision in terms of night visibility.
Other types of camera have a vandal-resistant dome to prevent the device from being damaged or destroyed.
Some models feature a presence sensor: this means that the camera only takes footage when it detects a presence, rather than shooting continuously. This saves on your video storage space, and watching the footage shot takes less time! The presence sensor can also be set up to trigger an alarm and start the camera rolling. This increases your chances of protecting your possessions: you can scare off intruders and give yourself a good chance of identifying them!
  • Connectivity
Cameras that connect to the internet are also available. These allow you to watch the footage remotely, either in real time or later, on your computer monitor or smartphone using an app and a Wi-Fi connection. A notification also immediately alerts you if the camera detects a presence, giving you the chance to take action before a theft or damage takes place.
  • Other deciding factors
If you'll be using your camera outside, choose a model that's resistant to the weather, notably wet weather. Indoors, waterproofing isn't so important.
Some camera models such as the Netatmo connected camera feature a presence sensor that distinguishes people from vehicles and animals. This is practical for avoiding false alarms and only alerting you if there's an actual intrusion.

A motorised camera, i.e. one that can be pointed in different directions remotely, can be useful for monitoring a room. A zoom feature is sometimes also offered. This can be useful if you're monitoring a fairly large area (warehouse, garden).
The look can also be important. A camera that has a solid and sturdy design can deter intruders and make them think you have a sophisticated security system. However, if discretion is what you want there are models that feature a minimal design, or even mini surveillance cameras that are easy to conceal.

Lastly, price is also an important factor! There's a camera for every budget. Remember that quality is needed for effective protection, but don't invest in gadgets or accessories if they're not essential for how you'll be using your camera.

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