Do I get a “Color” or “B/W” camera and monitor?

This decision depends on two factors:

What will be the light conditions in the area to be viewed?

If the lighting conditions will be in low light areas such as outdoors, dim
restaurants, and dim factories, then we suggest you use B/W.  If the viewing
areas are well lit, then color would be acceptable.

The reason is that B/W cameras can produce image in low light condition and
color cameras need more light for a good image.  B/W cameras can also utilize
the addition of “Infrared Illuminators” to help them see in low light conditions.  
Color camera cannot use infrared illuminators.

Does the positive identification of color objects (people,
cloths, cars) have a significant impact on the primary use of
the video?

If you need to see that a customer is at a counter, but you are not concerned
about the color of his outfit then a B/W system would be adequate.  If you are
concerned that this same person needs to be positively identified and that could
mean knowing the color of his outfit, then a color system should be used.

How big should the screen size of the monitor be?

The bigger the monitor size - the better it will be to view image details.  If you
only want to know about events that occur, then a 5” B/W monitor would be
OK, but if you want to view more details and want better potential for
identification, then choose a larger monitor that is at least 12” or more.

Do I need a “Quad Monitor” or a “Sequential Switcher

The answer to this depends on what you want to see and how many cameras
are connected to a system.  If you only need to view one camera at a time,
then a switcher model could be adequate, and the monitor could switch back
and forth between the cameras.  If you have four cameras and you want to be
able to see all the images at the same time, then it would be best to get a quad
monitor that splits the screen into 4 squares which will let you see all cameras at
different locations at the same time.

How many cameras will I need?

If you want to view more than one area, and you will need at least one camera
per area.  In some cases you may require two or more cameras in an area.  A
general rule of thumb would be that each camera should cover an area of no
more than 30 ft if good identification is required.

How far can the cameras be from the monitor?

Cameras usually come with cable that is about 63 ft.  But the cable length can
be extended to go further to 300-400 feet with approved extension cables.

Do I use “wired” or “wireless”?

Where ever possible “wired video” should be the first consideration as it
produces a clearer image and it is more reliable with less chance of interference.  
Wireless has its’ advantages in situations when Video Observation is only needed
on a temporary basis or when the prospects of getting a wire between two
points is next to impossible.  Wireless is also excellent for simple observation
applications when high definition is not criteria and when low cost solutions are
the objective.

What is the PIR Motion Sensor on the top of the camera
and when is it used?

The small item mounted to the top of the camera is a PIR (Passive Infrared
Sensor).  It is a sensor that looks for, and detects the movement of objects by
sensing heat sources.  The PIR detection feature is a user option.  When the
feature is active the sensor will detect anything moving in front of the camera
and the monitor will chime and bring that camera to full screen while at the same
time triggering an output relay that can activate a professional VCR to start
recording.  This feature is great if you want notification and a recording of
activity in front of any camera.  Typical applications include unmanned lobby
areas, receiving doors, back doors, restricted areas, and at times when the
business is closed.

When is a Dome Camera or a Bullet Camera used?

Dome cameras are commonly used when there is a need to mount cameras to
the ceiling.  The benefit of the Dome camera is that you cannot see where the
internal camera is facing and as such, it provides an illusion of increased
surveillance.  Domes are less obtrusive and generally accepted in any
environment.  Bullet cameras (commonly called Tube Camera or Lipstick
Cameras) are smaller and less noticeable but they are visually directional in their
viewing and they are weather resistant for outdoor applications.

Why should I use a Time Lapse VCR?

Video surveillance is only as beneficial as the person watching it or the recording
of the video for review at a later time.  Watching an event take place on a
monitor will not be a benefit if you wish to enforce, prove or demonstrate
anything unless it is recorded.  We recommend a Time Lapse VCR that can
record video over long extended periods of time without the need to change
tapes and manage the recorder.  Professional Time Lapse Recorders are not the
same as consumer VCR’s. Consumer VCR’s are not designed to operate over
long extended periods of time required for video surveillance.  Time Lapse
recorders can be setup to record in different modes that can capture up to
1280 hours of video before a tape change is required.

What are the issues concerning Audio?

Some observation systems have “Two Way Audio”.  This means that you can
communicate with cameras in the system.  To communicate it is “Push to Talk –
Release to Listen” function with any one camera at a time.  Its function is very
similar to an intercom system and the user benefits can be significant when used
effectively.  Care and discretion must be considered when using audio
surveillance equipment especially when there is perceived privacy.  You should
inquire regarding federal, state and/or local regulations applicable to the lawful
installation of video and or audio recording or surveillance.  Party consent may
be required.
How to Choose an
Observation System
Digital Video Surveillance
Personal Protection Products