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Honeywell Security Group - Selecting Video Surveillance Cameras

PTZ - Box - Field of View - Resolution - Illumination - True Day/Night


Selecting the right cameras for your video surveillance system is critical to the success of your project. First, you need to determine what you want the camera to capture for you. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you want to see a scene and know if something is happening?
  • Do you want to see an event and determine exactly what is happening?
  • Do you want to see the individual and determine exactly who is involved?

Your answers to these questions will begin to affect the type of cameras you need. Once you can answer these questions, use the rest of this guide to understand other factors when selecting the right camera.

Camera Type

  • Will your cameras be used indoors or outdoors?
  • Should it be a visual deterrent or discreet?
  • Is there a particular look you prefer?

There are numerous camera types to consider from PTZs, box cameras, mini-domes and bullets.

PTZ - Pan/tilt/zoom cameras are very versatile, can pan (move left and right), tilt (move up and down), and zoom in or out. Additionally, PTZ cameras can rotate 360º to view an object directly below them. Indoor and outdoor options are available.

Box - Box cameras are comprised of the camera body, lens and power supply. For indoor use, a mount bracket is required for installation. For outdoor use, housing is required.

Mini-Dome - Dome cameras are half spherical-shaped cameras. These cameras are usually used when discreet applications are needed. They can be vandal resistant, and indoor and outdoor options are available.

Bullet - Bullet cameras are stylish with a bullet-like shape. Some come with infrared lighting, and they can be used indoors or out.

Field of View

The field of view is a measure of how large an area the camera is capable of viewing. The focal length of the lens affects the field of view.

A shorter focal length lens captures more of the scene and therefore displays a larger field of view.

Conversely, a longer lens magnifies the scene more, thereby decreasing the field of view.


Resolution is the measure of noticeable detail that you see in an image. The higher the resolution, the better the definition, clarity and quality of the picture. Lower-resolution cameras produce images with less detail. A high resolution camera could capture the detail of a person’s face or a number plate from a wide area.

The wider the area you want to view, the more resolution you will need in order to see all the detail. If you want to monitor a smaller area and do not need to see a detailed view, a camera with lesser resolution might do.

Keep in mind that higher resolution images also mean larger file sizes, which will take up more storage space on your DVR.

Technology for Lighting Issues

Because light is vital for producing a quality image, it is essential to understand your lighting conditions prior to selecting a camera. The amount of light available will determine the amount of light required in order to produce usable video. There are technologies available to ensure you capture usable video regardless of lighting conditions:

  • Day/Night
  • IR Illumination
  • Digital Noise Reduction
  • Digital Slow Shutter

True Day/Night cameras have a movable IR filter. During daytime performance, the IR filter is in place to block all the IR light, creating a nice colour image. At night, when the amount of light decreases, the IR filter is replaced with a clear glass filter that allows all available visible and IR light to reach the sensor and to be recorded. As a result, colour images are captured during the day and clear black and white images at night.

Artificial IR Illumination can be provided by IR Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to augment the naturally occurring light in the scene. If IR LEDs are used, when the ambient light drops below a defined threshold, the IR LEDs turn on, the mechanical IR cut filter within the camera switches, and the camera changes from colour to black and white. Perfect colour images are captured by day and clear black and white images at night.

Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) removes noise artefacts, improving the performance of motion detection and typically giving end users the ability to record for longer periods using digital or network video recorders.

Digital Slow Shutter (DSS) technology improves the light sensitivity of the camera and extends its usable range. This allows a brighter image to be obtained with minimal motion blurring.

Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) technology allows end users to capture all the details in a scene, whether those details are partially obscured by low light or distorted by strong backlighting. With WDR, you get clear images when there are both very bright and very dark areas simultaneously in the field of view of the camera.

Contact Honeywell Security for additional support in selecting the right cameras for your applications. © Copyright Honeywell

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