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Can I hose my cameras to clean them, what is IP66?

Can I hose my cameras to clean them, what is IP66

Over the decades we have been installing camera systems we have seen many times that cameras get water in them and the client assumes this is a warranty claim as they are IP66 rated.

So firstly, let’s look at this rating.

IP66
Able to protect against powerful water jets.
Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
Test duration: at least 3 minutes (3 minutes of water does not create the same issues as days at a time in storm season).
Water volume: 100 litres per minute (this is at the nozzle).
Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m (this may equate to very little pressure at the camera).

This all sounds like they are quite waterproof, however these specifications are misleading, let’s look at some household pressures that put this into perspective, as you can see, these numbers are significantly above the approved limit.

A water jet cleaner, like a Gernie is around 10,000 kPa, 10,000% greater than the camera can handle.
A garden hose without a nozzle is around 250 kPa, 250% greater than the camera can handle.
A garden hose with a jet nozzle can be around 2,000 kPa, 2,000% greater than the camera can handle.

Clearly these water jets are well above the guaranteed measure.

Now to discuss wind, as we know there are many times gusts of wind reach up to and over 100kph, with around 125kph enough to start lifting or moving heavier objects. Combine this with heavy rain and you have a situation where your 100kPa is again well exceeded and your camera may get water injected around the seals or threads.

So what does this all mean you may ask, well it means that if you hose your cameras, install them directly in exposed weather, Gernie them or otherwise allow them to be wet and hit by harsh wind, they will probably get water ingress which will eventually kill them, and these issues do not form a valid warranty claim as the manufacturer’s only warranty against the IP66 specifications.

When cleaning your cameras, use a damp microfibre cloth and do not leave them wet, when installing them, even if they are weather proof, they belong under an eave unless they are in a housing or have a stronger IP rating, and remember direct sunlight will also damage your cameras and cause wear on the seals, further reducing the cameras ability to withstand the harsh Australian elements.

So to keep your cameras healthy and clean.

  1. Always mount under eaves or away from direct weather exposure
  2. Never allow water to hit them directly
  3. Clean your cameras gently with a damp microfibre cloth

If you follow the above tips, your cameras will last a lifetime and will always deliver crystal clear images like the day they were installed.

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Selecting the correct security camera when good night vision is required

Selecting the correct security camera when good night vision is required

Intro

There are so many cameras on the market, ranging from low quality diy kits to high quality installed security systems, from no name brands to reputable brands like OzSpy, HikVision, Dahua, etc., each having it’s own ranges of cameras with different features and performance. So exactly what makes a great night vision camera, or better still, are there things to look out for?

The answer is yes, there are a couple of areas to look for, one being the sensor brand and model, the other is the LED array, both of which we will cover here.

LED Array

Firstly we will discuss the LED array, which are the LED(s) around the lens or next to the lens that normally glow a soft dim red at night. These act as a flashlight for the camera and come in many shapes and sizes.

There are a few things to remember about IR, that will help you understand what to look out for and what to expect.

LED is like any other light, like a torch, or a spot light, it needs something to reflect off. Imagine you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean with a torch, if you shine it at the boat below you it will be bright, but if you shine it on the water it won’t be, and worse still if you shine it into the distance or up into the sky it will be non-existent. This tells you that the usable light only travels a short distance and needs to reflect of something light to be useful, shining into water or the distance makes it useless. Keep this in mind when placing or evaluating your IR/night vision capabilities, if your camera is facing into the distance or darkness and there is nothing to reflect off, it will be useless unless someone walks up to it.

Your LED IR may also not like dark trees, or swimming pools, or even a dark fence as it will not have a light surface to reflect off, so even if you have a reasonable quality camera, the position may affect the visible or usable night vision.

A camera inside a room or patio is amazing at night, when you place the very same camera outside in a large grassy area, it may be next to useless. This is purely because of the reflective surfaces giving the camera lots of reflected light to use.

Rule of thumb: Make sure there is something for the light to reflect off.

IR Range

Next is the IR range of the camera, which is normally advertised in meters, for example with a 30m IR camera you would expect 30m night vision, but sadly this isn’t true at all, in fact you should always take off 30% or even 50% to get a more realistic usable range. This is because in testing the camera is placed in the darkness and someone walks in white overalls, at the point they completely disappear, or just start to appear is the distance factories advertise. The big issue is, crims rarely wear white overalls, and at the point of just seeing an outline is not usable.

Rule of thumb, for excellent night vision allow a drop of at least 30%, so a 30m camera, would suit a 20m area.

The Sensor

Now for the important part, the sensor, this is the CCD or CMOS electronic sensor that turns light into electronic signal and is the most crucial part of the equation. There are many brands and many models, and it is way too much for the average person to keep track off, each brand also has many models, so if you want exceptional night vision, you should stick with the SONY Starvis IMX sensor, if you want above average night vision you should stick with a SONY non Starvis IMX sensor, if you are happy with average night vision an OV or other non SONY brand will be fine.

Normally suppliers will list their great night vision cameras with names like Starvis, Starlight, Night Shot, Dark Fighter and so on, try searching in our search box at the top of the screen for Starvis and you will see our specialty night vision cameras.

We sometimes get complaints that the Starvis cameras don’t turn on the night vision and stay colour, that is because they need such little light, often they will stay full colour at night.

SONY Starvis Nigh Vision Cameras

Rule of thumb: If you want excellent night vision, stick with SONY Starvis, for good night vision stick with SONY (not starvis), for ok night vision try OV (Omnivision) or other no name brands.

DIY Kits

As specialty night vision cameras are much more expensive to manufacture, you won’t find them in DIY kits, regardless of the brand, if you are serious about your night vision, you will need to buy specialty cameras and build your own system.

Rule of thumb: Don’t expect night vision like this from a DIY kit or no name brand camera.

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Setting up a 3G remote surveillance camera

Setting up a 3G remote surveillance camera

What if you wanted to set up a camera in a remote location and needed to remote view, in this article we will discuss a simple way to set up a remote surveillance set-up with a 3G modem and a car battery/solar system using a standard IP camera.

We will only cover setting up the camera for email alerts, remote access and motion detection as well as the overall set-up, we will not be covering setting up the 12v DC power supply.

Firstly you will need all your parts:

1x 3G modem with RJ45 (LAN) plug preferably 12v DC

1 x IP camera with SD and P2P

1 x 12v power source like a car battery or solar set-up with a 2.1mm DC connector attached

1 x 2 way DC splitter (Search our site for VPSPLIT) for dividing the power to both devices

1 x IP66 JBOX

1 x LAN lead (Cat5 or Cat6)

1 x 12v DC power supply for initial setup

Despite many people telling you how hard this is, it is relatively simple.

Before going bush, you will need to set up your system and test it from home, so for now in the comfort of your home, insert the SD card (preferably 128GB), plug the camera into your home modem and also into the 12v DC power supply and then open internet explorer (must be IE) and type in your cameras IP address. If you are using an OzSpy IP camera, it is probably 192.168.1.168. If you are on the wrong network range, you will need to fix that first so you can see the camera.

Next login to the camera and set-up your email alert, this will set the camera to take a high res image and email it to you whenever it sees motion. Now download the correct app, if you are using an OzSpy camera, this will be FREEIP or BITVISION, then navigate to the Config>Network>Advanced>P2P and scan the serial number into the app, you should now have live view on your phone, and set-up motion detection so the camera knows to take action when it sees something move.

Make sure everything is saved and restart your phone and the camera and test again.

Now the last step is to plug the camera into your new 3G router and test to see if you have connectivity. As you have already setup your camera and phone app, now you simply unplug the  LAN lead from your home modem and plug it into your new 3G modem, restart the 3G modem and the camera, wait 5 minutes and then test the phone app, you should now be set-up.

The last step it to take your set-up to it’s location and finish the set-up.

Once on site locate your 12v DC power source and use the VPSPLIT to give you power to the modem and the camera, you can add an extension cable to the camera to put it up high, or hide it away somewhere. You will also need to make sure that the modem is weatherproofed so use an IP66 weatherproof JBOX, available from electrical suppliers. Do not use a metal box as this will cause a loss of signal to the 3G modem.

After plugging it in, wait five minutes and walk in front of the camera, you should receive an email, and if you have PUSH activated on the app, your mobile should show a notification. Lastly, try logging into the camera with the app, you should be able to view the camera remotely now showing your setup is working well.

An alternate way of setting this up would be using  PoE injector at the power end so the camera would not need the 12v DC chord and you could run the LAN cable to the camera a larger distance with less effort.

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How to use a mix of visible and covert cameras to nail the crims

How to use a mix of visible and covert cameras to nail the crims

When you find out there is a problem in your home or business and you decide that electronic surveillance equipment like CCTV or hidden cameras may be the answer, you are then faced with the choice, to catch or deter, or both.

In this blog we will discuss the pros and cons of each and some simple methods to improve the effectiveness of either.

The first thing to consider is that a covert camera will catch someone and a visible camera will deter someone or move the crime to a new location. Moving the crime is an important consideration as a poorly placed CCTV camera will be ineffective if the actual criminal act is not happening exactly where it is pointed.

So how can you make sure that you do both, well the best method is to funnel the criminal into a controlled location where you can catch them, this is done by placing your overt or visible security cameras in locations where you effectively push the crim into an area where they feel safe knowing there are no cameras watching them, and then nab them with a covert camera.

This can even be achieved with a dummy camera or two as well as your existing security cameras as we did in the following installation.

The bottle shop man

Some time ago we had a client who owned a bottle shop and the staff were scamming him by buying hot slabs of beer from him behind his back and selling cold six packs and pocketing the cash, this went on for years and no matter how hard the client tried, he could never catch them, and worse than that, he had no evidence as the books always balanced, however he knew there was an issue as warm slabs of beer were becoming the best seller and cold six packs never got sold anymore. He also noticed a big hit to the businesses bottom line and profits became tight.

This client already had a functioning CCTV system that was clearly installed without the thought of catching, or even reducing the crime with camera placements in very generic positions.

The client came to see us and we arranged a meeting after hours and had a look at the site, where we quickly were able to ascertain that the staff would had plenty of hidey holes where they could pocket some cash without being seen, so we recommended that we relocate his cameras to useful positions, add some new cameras with better resolution and a covert camera at chest height beside the till.

The client agreed, so we went to work and added the covert camera and new cameras after hours, and we also added a dummy camera on the other side of the till to force the staff to face the covert camera by turning their back to the dummy camera if they were to steal money.

The next day we went on site and the client announced we were upgrading the system so there was no suspicion about the new dummy camera and we completed the upgrades and left.

It was just the following day that the client called thanking us that they had the perfect shot of one of the staff members turning her back on the dummy camera and unknowingly facing the covert camera and stuffing money into her underwear. We insisted he do nothing yet and wait a week to see who else is involved.

A week later we called to check in and he told us it was perfect, he caught several staff members pocketing cash and they all fell straight into the trap we set by forcing them to face the covert camera.

The lesson of this story is that by thinking about how people will act when they see a visible camera, you can move the crime into a specific controlled environment where you have a cleverly concealed covert camera and put an end to a problem that may have been plaguing you for years.

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The risks and methods of using dummy or fake cameras

The risks and methods of using dummy or fake cameras

Using Dummy or fake cameras

Many people often suggest that a great way to save money is to buy dummy cameras and rely on the art of bluff to avoid crime. This in some situations can be a good plan, however in most situations the plan is flawed due to the following issues.

The problem with the bluff tactic

If you 100% rely on fake dummy cameras to solve your security woes, you better be sure they look convincing as once the crim works out one is fake, you have lost your entire security solution and the crim will be confident there are no real cameras and that you probably don’t have an alarm as well, even if you have stickers everywhere, and if this is true, the crim will also know that they have plenty of time to go through your home or business without any fear of being caught.

The problems with dummy cameras

Firstly, there is a definite difference in the look of a $300 metal camera with the internal parts visible and a $5 plastic unit without any resemblance to a real camera, and make no mistake, the bad guys can tell as well.

You will also notice many dummy or fake cameras have blinking red light to try and convince people they are real, however real cameras do not have a red blinking light so to a trained or even slightly aware crim, this is a beacon advertising the camera is not real and in in fact a fake camera.

Normally you will also notice the lens of the dummy camera is black plastic and not even transparent, whereas the real camera has a glass lens, this is extremely obvious to anyone who has looked at a real cameras and most manufacturers of dummy cameras do this.

And finally, the cable coming out of the rear of many dummy cameras is a glossy black tube, again bearing no resemblance to a real camera.

A better solution

Rather than buying dodgy looking plastic dummy cameras from your local supermarket or auction site, contact your local security system business like OzSpy and ask if they have any broken or out of date cameras for sale that can be used as dummy cameras.

Every day we sell these at different stores as when we have faulty cameras or cameras that are old and were removed from a job, we cut the cable off and sell them for the same price as a good dummy camera, and as they are a real camera, the crims will never catch you trying to bluff them.

The ideal solution

To ensure you get the maximum protection you really do need to have some real cameras recording what is happening in your home or business, however sometimes you may not have the initial budget to buy all that you need to start with.

To make your system look as big as it needs to be, ask your security advisor when asking for a quote for some broken or old cameras that you can add to the system in the places you cannot afford to install real operational cameras.

This way you can have a small two camera installation with real evidence collection and a range of non-working cameras giving the crims the impression that you are like fort Knox and impenetrable, making them think twice about choosing your home or business as their preferred target.

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Things to consider when placing your cameras

Things to consider when placing your cameras

Introduction

CCTV cameras are like your eyes in many ways, they don’t like the sun, quick changes in lighting, headlights, etc., they also work in some scenarios better than others.

So we will discuss some things to consider when designing your system, specifically in relation to camera placement.

Height

Placing your cameras too low so they risk getting stolen is a concern, however placing them too high will only get the top of someone’s head, and if they are wearing a cap, they don’t even need to face down to conceal their identity.

Consider the face shot when placing your cameras.

Another consideration with height is the type of camera, for example domes look neat and are less likely to be bumped or deliberately moved as they are available in vandal resistant, however they cannot look above themselves or if they do, its not by much.

A bullet camera on the other hand can aim slightly up, allowing you greater views from low eaves. You are also less likely to get IR flash as discussed later from bullets as apposed to domes.

Identification shot

The key to getting the money shot is to get the face close enough so it fills about 20% of the screen, or at least enough to see the face clearly, this will ensure the police will accept it as evidence, or at very least help you identify the culprit.

Placing wide angle cameras (which make things look far away) on the front of the house and expecting to clearly make out a face on the street is unlikely in many situations, a better solution would be to have the wide angle camera watching the yard, as well as a narrower lens looking at the entrance.

Where to aim

Only you know what you want to see, however keep in mind where people are likely to enter your property and have those areas covered well, and the other areas can be covered with wide angle lenses just for a record of what happened.

For drive ways, we always use VF (vari-focal) which are adjustable or MVR which are motorised and you can zoom with your phone.

You should also consider a camera looking sideways at the front door to capture this area in great detail.

The truth about night vision

When looking at a camera you will see it’s IR rating in meters. To truly understand this, it is tested in darkness with someone in white overalls and marked as soon as the person’s outline can be seen.

This of course bears little resemblance to a burglar sneaking around in dark clothing.

These are manufacturers specifications and every brand we have ever used (which is virtually every known brand) has night vision that can be disappointing in some situations, however if night vision is really important then we recommend reducing the stated distance by at least 30% to get a better idea of what is “usable night vision footage”.

So if you really want 20 meters night vision, buy a camera that can do 30 meters and you will get a better result.

If you really need excellent night vision, ask for a specialist camera, or one that uses the SONY STARVIS sensor as these are significantly better in low light.

Weather

Although cameras are labelled IP66 Outdoor, you should always select a dry location over a wet one as when it rains and there is water on the lens, your image will be distorted, it will also get much dirtier much quicker, so under an eave or other structure is better.

Sunrise and sunset

Even though we love a good sunrise or sunset, this can play havoc with cameras, causing temporary blindness, erratic night vision, burns on the sensor normally showing as pink or other colour areas or dots, and eventual death.

To avoid this, just position them so they don’t face directly into the sun, so avoid East or West facing cameras that see the horizon.

Shadows

Your cameras have very sensitive software designed to adjust to the average brightness of your image, try and avoid positions where the camera has 50% bright and 50% shadow, in some situations the camera may seem to flash or sometimes be over bright or sometimes too dark.

Cameras can handle some shadows, but keeping this in mind will reduce the chance of any issues.

The more expensive the camera is, the less this likely would be an issue.

IR flash

Every installer will have experienced the issue where during the day, the camera looks great, at night it has either a foggy halo, white haze, low performing night vision or something blindingly white on the screen.

This can be a down pipe too close, the camera bouncing off a white fence, the camera center too close to the mount, the eave within the shot, the house wall too far in the shot.

Whichever scenario causes it, it is all the same, there is the IR night vision light, reflecting back into the camera affecting the light balance.

make sure there is no flash or bounce back and your night vision will improve.

Absolute darkness

Whilst you don’t want IR flash, you do need things to reflect the light back. If you were in the middle of the ocean and shone a torch into the darkness, it would still be dark. Cameras are the same, they have IR which is like an invisible torch, but they need something, preferably light to reflect off to brighten things up.

We see the same camera looking terrible facing into the void, but add some outdoor furniture and scene lights up. This is why some suppliers show indoor night vision shots as they always look a lot better as the IR is reflecting around the room.

Aim at each other

If possible try and make sure your cameras can see at least one other camera, this will prevent people being able to sneak up behind a camera and damage it, it will also make you feel better knowing you have a 100% perimeter cover.

Wide angles for wide areas only

Don’t fall for the trap of buying all super wide angle cameras because they see more, firstly they are almost useless for identification more than 10 meters away and also for skinny areas like the side of the house and the drive. For these areas use a 6mm lens or a VF lens so you can adjust it, you will get a much better result.

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CCTV and Security Camera FAQs

CCTV and Security Camera FAQs

When purchasing a CCTV security camera system there are many terms used in the industry that mean little to anyone else, and sometimes an unscrupulous salesperson will use this against you and try and baffle you with the jargon.

We hope you find our CCTV FAQs helpful in the daunting task of understanding the technology so you can make the right choice for your situation.

What is HD and all the terms like 1080P 720P, CIF, D1, 960H, 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, 4MP, 5MP, 6MP, etc.

All these terms refer to camera resolution or recorder resolution (but mostly cameras) which is the absolute key to selecting a great CCTV system that will meet your needs.

CIF is 360 x 240. (86,400 total pixels)

D1 is 720 x 480. (345,600 total pixels)

960H is 960 x 480. (460,800 total pixels)

The above three in our humble opinion are totally unusable for evidence and considered junk now. This quality system is a common one sold in department stores and auction sites. Virtually every day we go to sites and rip them down and bin them as there has been an event and police would not accept the footage. If you look at the total pixels which is what the image is built on a CIF system has 86k verses the most common HD (1080P) which has 2m which is 24 times clearer.

The below are HD camera resolutions, the easiest way to tell is look for the MP (mega pixel) rating like 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, etc., or the P at the end of the number like 720p, 1080p etc. If you are thinking about a security camera system, we strongly advise that you stick with HD, otherwise you are throwing your money away.

1MP 720p is 1280 x 720. (921,600 total pixels) – ok for small areas but not ideal when evidence is required

2MP 1080p is 1920×1080. (2,073,600 total pixels) – Great for small areas and ok for larger like a small yard

3MP is 2048 x 1536. (3,145,728 total pixels) – Great for small areas and ok for larger like a small yard

4MP is 2592*1520. (3,939,840 total pixes) – Great for small areas and ok for larger like a small yard

5MP is 2560 x 1920. (4,915,200 total pixels) – Great for small areas and good for large areas

6MP is 3072*2048. (6,291,456 total pixels) – Great for small areas and good for large areas

8MP is 4K UHD 3840×2160. (8,294,400 total pixels) – Great for small and larger areas

12MP is 4K 4000*3000. (12,000,000 total pixels) – Great for small and large areas

33MP 8K UHD 7680×4320. (33,177,600 total pixels) – Not commonly used for security

What do all the acronyms describing cameras mean like AHD, TVI, CVI, HD-SDI, IP and CVBS?

There are several different processor manufacturers globally and each have their own processors which are very similar and pretty much make AHD, TVI and CVI the same or at least indistinguishable from each other unless side by side.

Basically they are:

AHD, TVI & CVI = These are the preferred technologies for 8MP and under and the most commonly used in homes and businesses for 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, 4MP as they deliver great quality, there is no latency (delay), they are perfect for replacing an old analogue (CVBS) system using existing cable and compared to IP they are very cost effective. At OzSpy we use all three of these technologies often depending on the specific requirement of the client.

IP = Internet Protocol and in most cases strictly adheres to this. IP mostly uses Cat5/5e/6 cable and although can really deliver some great resolutions, there are issues with dropping frames segments (you lose parts of the stream) and latency of around 10-15 seconds meaning if you are watching something on the screen it probably happened 15 seconds ago. At OzSpy we use IP mainly for large industrial sites and for the connoisseur wanting very high resolutions.

CVBS = Standard old analogue systems which are nowadays not seen as evidence level and the footage is often (or mostly) rejected by the police. We do not supply or install CVBS cameras due to them no longer being recognised as evidence level recording. If you are wondering if a system is CVBS then look for terms like: D1, 960h, CIF, etc. Make sure the cameras and recorder are 1280 x 720 or over, anything less will not provide the evidence you need when something goes wrong, and even todays high standards, you may be better to stick with a 2MP (1080p) system to be sure.

HD-SDI = This was a great interim technology a few years ago and was originally developed for TV broadcasting. This tech delivers great quality, however it is expensive, difficult to find replacement parts for some systems and very finicky in regards to the cable type used making it not that good for retro fitting to HD. We no longer supply or install this tech unless it is finding a rare replacement part for a client.

What is a DVR/NVR and what is the difference?

DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder and NVR stands for Network Video Recorder.  Basically they are the recording unit in a CCTV system, DVR for coax based systems and NVR for IP (network) based systems.

Most people will tell you the quality of the picture is dictated by the cameras which is true to an extent, however it doesn’t matter how good the cameras are if the recording unit is poor quality.

Arguably this is the critical component as the recorder has most of the features like remote view, motion detection, alerts etc. At OzSpy we only sell and install systems that have the latest features whilst maintaining reliability and picture quality. You should also note that a cheap DVR/NVR may not only be unreliable and poor quality recording, it may also be so complicated you will need an expert to assist in general use.

How many days recording can a DVR/NVR store?

The length of archive depends on number of cameras, frames per second (FPS) and amount of available hard disk space (HDD). The other setting that can effect this is motion detection, however some DVRs will still record constantly whilst there is no motion at a reduced rate.

For a typical four camera 1080P 2MP system recording 24/7 @ 12 fps you will get approx. 1 week storage from a 1TB HDD. See frame rates below to see how to increase this.

What frame rate is needed?

FPS (frames per second) is pretty much how it sounds as it describes how many photos are taken per second by the security camera to make the video. When you watch TV it is 25 fps however the human eye has difficulty discerning the difference between 12 and 25 and to be honest if you are recording even at six frames per second then each second you will get six photos so it really doesn’t make much difference. Not much can happen between the frames unless it is a road with fast moving vehicles, then a higher frame rate is recommended.

Remember the HDD storage time will double each time you halve the fps, for example as above the 1080P camera on a 1TB HDD will last a week @ 12fps, whereas @ 6 fps the same system will hold two weeks recording.

What is motion detection and how does it work?

The easiest way to explain motion detection is that the DVR/NVR will compare each frame (photo) and look for any difference. The difference is then calculated as a percentage and compared to your sensitivity setting. If something doesn’t match it marks the recording as motion.

Most DVRs and NVRs give you the option to record motion and/or record full time, as well as features like email notification etc.

Can I view live and recorded video remotely?

Yes, you can view live and recorded video from anywhere through the Internet. All OzSpy branded DVRs have a wizard that will set your system and your mobile device for remote view in a matter of minutes.

What kind of broadband do I need for remote view?

This is a complex question as a typical connection between your phone and the recorder may include several servers and satellites as well, and if any of these are slow, you will be affected. If you are running a cheap system with low resolution, an old adsl account will suffice, but if you are running 8mp or similar, any disruption will cause connection issues and patchy playback. For over 3mp you need NBN or above to get a quality playback and live view and if there are any bottlenecks you may have connection issues.

Can several users view one site at once?

Most systems allow multiple users to view the same site simultaneously. However, as more people look at the same cameras/DVR at the same time, the bandwidth will be shared between them.

You can also set different users for different access to ensure that the users who you do not want to be able to delete footage cannot.

Can I watch several sites on one screen?

Yes as long as each DVR is the same brand you can ask your supplier for the CMS software which will allow you to watch up to 128 cameras on the screen with unlimited locations, however this takes a super fast internet connection due to the massive amounts of data.

Will it work on my Mac and Win10 machine as well as Android and iPhone?

Yes all our OzSpy branded DVRs are cross platform and will work on all devices, however generally Macs are more difficult to get working than Win10 so we do not offer tech support for Mac computers.

Can I record audio?

Yes, if the Security DVR system comes with an audio option you can record audio. Most cameras do not come with built in audio as it effects the weather proof capabilities, so you may need a separate audio module which we have available on request.

How many cameras do I need?

Generally most small business and homes have between four and eight cameras. We recommend you invest in an eight channel recorder even if you get four cameras as most people decide later on that they need an extra camera or two. If you buy an eight channel at the start you can add extra cameras for the cost of the camera and cable only.

What style of camera should I go with?

Basically, despite hundreds of shapes and sizes it boils down to a dome shape or a bullet shape when considering an average system.

Bullet cameras are better at handling adverse weather conditions and have more flexibility in relation to aiming them. They are however more vulnerable to tampering and theft so make sure they are high enough not to be pulled down by a rope or by hand.

Dome cameras are better at anti tampering, however they are best used under an eave (soffit) to avoid direct exposure to the elements.

As far as image quality goes there is no difference as they are just housings and have the same camera inside.

If night vision is important, we recommend a SONY Starvis security camera which will deviler significantly better night vision.

What is Lux?

Illumination is measured in units called Lux. The easiest way to understand when looking at a CCTV camera is the 0.1 Lux is similar to the light when there is a full moon and no clouds. 

Virtually all cameras have IR which enables them to see in pitch darkness which makes the Lux rating less important unless it is for a very specific task.

Can I zoom in with a camera?

Yes, but you need a special camera called a Pan-Tilt-Zoom or PTZ camera or a motorised lens camera.

PTZ cameras can pan left and right, tilt up and down and zoom whilst motorised cameras cannot change direction but can zoom in and out which can be very handy in certain situations.

If you are using 1080P (HD) cameras or above you can also digital zoom in on the image after recording, however the lower the resolution the less effective this is.

We hope that this has helped you in your quest to select the right system for your needs. Please give us a call if you require further information as we are happy to help.

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What Makes a Great CCTV System

What makes a great security camera set-up and what to look out for with changing technology

For anyone who has ever looked at, or purchased a security camera system, you will see the industry and the technology changes at a rapid pace, like the computer industry, particularly in the last couple of years. This has not only left the buyer confused, but has also left many in the industry scrambling to keep up and still offering less than ideal solutions. We will discuss what makes a great system and what is the best value tech for small business, home security, and other smaller installations.

When thinking security cameras, the most common purpose is to catch a perpetrator, or deter theft or both. With such a simple task one would think it’s just a matter of putting some cameras up and away you go. This is rarely the case as there are many variables to consider.

Firstly, you will need a system that records at a quality that is considered as evidence grade, which means that if you get a great recording of a crime, will the police accept it, will the courts accept it, and will it show clearly what the event was? This is not produced by ensuring a certain resolution as many cameras on the market have great resolution, but poor colour reproduction under certain lighting conditions which may turn a red jumper purple. Other set-ups may have a great camera that simply is mis-positioned, or worst of all a camera that simply doesn’t stack up or the recorder skips sections like many IP systems on the market.

You will also need to decide on the focus, is it to catch them or deter them, as a system built to deter crime can be very different to a system designed to catch a particular person or persons. You may decide you want both which is fine, however your security consultant may recommend a blend of overt cameras for general deterrence and a couple of covert cameras to deal with an ongoing problem. Quite often the covert cameras will be moveable so you can use them to deal with issues as the issues move around.

So now you have decided what you want to achieve, next comes all the jargon like AHD, TVI, CVI, HD-SDI, IP and CVBS when selecting the technology base. To clearly explain all the finer details, we simply won’t have the space here, however there are some basics. CVBS is old outdated analogue tech, they now use this acronym and it somehow has distanced the tech from the fact it really belongs in the tip and will never produce what you need. Another easy tech to put aside is HD-SDI, this was developed for the film industry, and even though it a great performer picture wise, it is expensive, less stable, and more difficult to find spares.

Now for IP, IP systems are built on network protocols and make no mistake, several years ago it was the go to tech as there simply was no other way to get a mega pixel image, the problem with IP is that if too much movement happens at once over several cameras, the recorder simply skips the footage to “catch up”. This makes IP a very disappointing technology for many business owners as they will be missing segments of a few seconds here and there when the cameras get too busy. IP however is the best tech for complex installations like warehouses etc. as it allows for wireless bridging and larger expandable systems. IP also has the best analytics like facial, people counting and various other business analytical add-ons.

Lastly are the front runners for small to medium businesses, and are what we at OzSpy use in most of our jobs assisting franchise systems and businesses in general. They are AHD, TVI, and CVI, all of which can produce up to 8MP over coax which allows for old analogue (CVBS) installations to be upgraded to mega pixel quality at a very low price as the old cable is reused. There is little difference in the picture quality, however AHD is an open source product so it develops faster and can also have cable runs of up to 500m or more, but is more prone to hacking and low quality manufacturing, whereas TVI is often used by higher quality suppliers.

Okay, now we have your cameras and purpose of the system decided upon, what other features or tech do you need? Well, make no mistake, the heart of any great CCTV system is the DVR (digital video recorder) or for IP the NVR (network video recorder) as this is where it all comes together.

You should look at the GUI (user interface) and see if it is intuitive, simple to use and makes sense to you. If it looks complicated, you may never actually learn how to use it and the system will get pushed aside and placed in the too hard basket. At OzSpy we constantly help businesses replace their DVRs for no other reason except it was so complicated that it was unusable to the business owner and their team. Don’t let a technician with decades of experience in CCTV assure you it’s simple, look for yourself and make sure you will be comfortable operating it.

Your DVR/NVR should also have P2P remote access. This is very important as this allows you to access your cameras from your mobile devices and remotely without opening ports in your router and firewall which in today’s cyber security age is an unacceptable risk to any business or even home.

So now you have your purpose, cameras and recorder sorted, what next?

Well there are a couple more points to ensure you get the most out of it. Make sure you use a licensed cabler as poorly run cable, or cheap cable can easily turn an amazing security camera system into an unreliable, grainy system that simply never seems to work properly.

Take on the responsibility of learning the system, ask your installers to train you and your key team members, ask for any quick guides they have and provide them to the team or have them next to the recorder. In a mission critical event, you do not want to be calling your provider and asking how to operate the unit.

And lastly, maintain your system, each month wipe the cameras, clean the cobwebs, and check that the system is operating correctly, don’t wait until an event to find out your cameras are blurry or worse your recorder stopped recording months ago and nobody noticed.

Remember, if you get the blend right, you will have an easy to use, reliable, effective security camera system that will last for years and will exceed your expectations every time you use it, that does not have to cost the earth.

Craig Mitchell
Director OzSpy Pty Ltd
www.ozspy.com.au

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Counterfeit CCTV Systems

Warning many CCTV suppliers are selling counterfeit or grey market security cameras, DVRs and NVRs both in Australia and to Australia from abroad.

Over the last few years we have seen a massive increase in counterfeit security cameras and recorders in Australia, in fact we are often called to replace new systems that were installed by companies not using genuine products and the client has blown thousands of dollars on junk.

Firstly to understand, there are several layers in this issue:

Counterfeit black market products – These are as stated actual counterfeit, the casing looks almost exactly the same. We sat a Hikvision genuine and counterfeit and until we plugged them in it was impossible to tell them apart. Once we saw the picture quality and software it was painfully obvious.

Grey market products – These are used, recycled or not designed for Australian conditions like temperature, power, safety standards and video signal requirements. Again until you plug it in side by side you wouldn’t know.

The two main brands that we see a lot of are Hikvision and Dahua, both are leading brands and both are massively counterfeited.

Hikvision

Here you can download the Hikvision statement

Here is an excerpt:
We warn potential customers against purchasing these “black market” or “grey market” products from unauthorized distributors. Unauthorized distributors are selling counterfeit, used, modified or damaged products. Many of the products sold by unauthorized distributors have been altered in various ways, meaning that they are unsuitable for Australian conditions and may be non-compliant with Australian Standards. Also, because these products are no longer in original factory condition, Hikvision warranty is void, per company policy.

Dahua

Dahua’s statement is here and they list some of the dodgy sites selling them

Here is an excerpt:
the products brought from the unauthorized channels may be counterfeit and shoddy products. Dahua is unable to guarantee to provide the warranty services and technical support for the products brought from the unauthorized channels. Please purchase from the authorized channels.

OzSpy

We too can purchase counterfeit cameras at 60% less than genuine and they look the same. Just like a Bali Lois Vuitton hand bag, the real one lasts a lifetime, the Bali copy lasts a few months. At OzSpy we understand you need your system to keep on working (longer than a few months to a year) so we simply won’t sell inferior products just to be the cheapest.

You

If you get a quote on Hikvision, Dahua or many other brands and it seems cheaper than the rest, you should ask yourself, “Can these possibly be genuine”, and we think you will already know the answer.

Caveat Emptor – A neo-Latin phrase meaning “let the buyer beware.” It is a principle of contract law in many jurisdictions that places the onus on the buyer. So don’t risk getting ripped off and supporting the counterfeit industry, be aware and make sure who you buy your cameras from has been around for decades, has a good name and is not offering you a deal that sounds too good to be true.

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Choosing a Home Security Camera System

When thinking about home security, security cameras are often the best option as you can watch from your mobile phone, and if you hear a noise at night, you can switch on your TV and see what is happening outside, which vastly improves your sense of security, some people elect to buy a DIY kit, and some like installed security cameras, whatever you prefer, here are some tips.

What Drives a Great CCTV Security Camera System?

This is simple (according to us anyway), the CCTV (security camera) system must provide clear evidence level recording that is easily extracted to ensure user sees exactly what happened and has evidence to prove it.

The system should also provide easy access for live viewing from smart phones, tablets and PCs anywhere in the world without needing a network engineer.

Choosing a CCTV Security Camera System

There are several areas that need to be covered, so we will discuss each area below.

Resolution

You will see terms like 960h to 720p, 600TVL to 480p, 1200TVL to 1mp, 2mp, 3mp, 4mp, 5mp, etc. etc., it’s like the whole story was made to the highest level of confusing.

If you feel this then you are probably right.

The naming of the resolutions are done by specification and age. Meaning a High Resolution camera of 5 years ago does not mean it is HD now as high resolution several years ago was definitely not what we call full HD now.

When talking resolution, we follow these simple rules.

Small offices and front door close up, use a minimum of 1MP, although if you beleive it may be used as evidence we recommend 1080P (2MP) or above.

Front yards and larger retail/office areas, use a minimum of 2MP

Larger yards, industrial areas and other large spaces, use a minimum of 5MP

If you do not follow this formula, you are unlikely to get the results you need when something bad happens.

If the camera you are looking at has a H, like 960h or TVL like 1200 TVL then it probably IS NOT HD.

Always ask about the “p” rating, like 720p, 1080p, etc. or talk in Megapixels like 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, 4MP, 5MP, etc.

Technology

As per the resolution section above you will be presented with all the different technologies available like Analogue, CVBS, CVI, TVI, AHD, HD-SDI, IP, etc., the list goes on and on.

What does it all mean you may ask?

Well, not that much in some areas.

Firstly if it is Analogue or CVBS cameras then stay clear as these are obsolete technologies.

If it is CVI, TVI, AHD, HD-SDI or IP then the technology is current and mainstream, although HD-SDI is now an ageing technology and is becoming more expensive and is a little harder to install correctly.

Selecting a Security Camera Shape

There are many descriptions, like pig nose, eyeball, bullet, lipstick, dome, full body, etc. etc.

In actual fact there is only two things to consider when selecting the shape of the camera.

If it is under a few meters high then select a camera type/shape that a crim cannot grab and point away or easily throw a rope over and rip down.

Secondly, select a style that looks aesthetically pleasing as it will be there for years.

Selecting an NVR or DVR

The machine that records your camera images is a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or XVR with technologies like TVI and AHD, and an NVR (Network Video Recorder) for recording IP cameras, as IP cameras are network based. make sure your recorder has easy to set up P2P remote view, is secured against hacking and can handle resolutions high enough for your cameras. Another area for your recorders are if they have a fan, many recorders in the market have fans and are not suitable for a home security setup or a business where it is quiet.

Night Vision

many people require goos night vision as this is when many of the crimes are committed, however night vision is a complicated area as the majority of cameras may not live up to your expectations, so if night vision is important, then we recommend a SONY Starvis sensor, or at the very least any other SONY sensor, as cameras using other brands will often let you down. Another thing with night vision is that it rarely goes as far as advertised due to the testing system manufacturers use, for best result take on third off, do if it is a 20 meter IR camera, expect about 13 meters of usable night vision.

Audio

If you want audio, then this will be a specialised camera and they may not last as long outdoors as often the cheaper brands will eventually get water in through the mic hole, you can get around this by using a separate audio device outside the camera.

Reputation

It is expected that the average quality CCTV system should last up to five years and the industry is moving at an extremely fast pace. An ineffective CCTV system is actually a false sense of security and represents a waste of money.

Warranty

With all CCTV ask your installer to offer at minimum a 3 year warranty. With most OzSpy CCTV systems you have the option for up to or over four years warranty.

Licensing

Always get your equipment installed by a licensed security installer. Failing to do this at very least may void your warranty and at most may end with you facing penalties.

IP vs COAX

For 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, 4MP, 5MP and some 8MP, we recommend coax systems as they do not have the latency and dropped frames that equivelent IP systems. You can run a coax based system on Cat5/6, but you will need baluns to convert the cable and you should expect to lose about 5% or so in quality of image/recording.

If you are going 6 megapixel or over then we recommend Cat6 (IP), otherwise for all systems 5 megapixel and under, there is little difference between high quality coax and high quality Cat5 or Cat6.

Wireless

In the average home CCTV camera system OzSpy would not recommend wireless now that the frequencies are flooded and it is difficult to gurantee a reliable image using domestic grade systems.

Cheaper wireless systems flicker causing false recordings 24/7 for the particular channel causing a painful increase of effort in finding a relevant recording.

OzSpy does do wireless systems, but please know that professions wireless CCTV systems are custom built and a larger investment because we know that unreliable wireless CCTV systems make an average system unusable.

Security Cameras | Alarm Systems | DVRs | DIY Kits

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Do you need an NVR or can you just use an IP camera

Introduction

Over the many years we have been providing security, people often ask if they need all the equipment if they just want to watch the front door, or the pool, etc., and the answer is, no, if you just want to watch one area via a PC or mobile device, you can do that for under $200 with a HD or even higher resolution camera.


To achieve this you will need the following equipment.

  1. an IP camera that supports P2P and has 12v input, meaning it can take 12v DC directly (you can use PoE, but we will discuss using 12v DC)
  2. a 12v DC power supply
  3. a network cable to go from your modem to the camera

The process is very simple and most people who have a small degree of experience with modems and connecting to the internet can handle.

Firstly you will need to set it up before mounting it outside so you know everything is working prior to mounting it.


Then follow these steps:

  1. plug the network cable from your camera to your modem
  2. plug the 12v DC plug pack into your camera
  3. wait 30 seconds for camera to boot up, you can place your hand over the front and you should hear a click as it switches from day to night mode
  4. make sure your PC is plugged into the same modem
  5. launch IE Internet Explorer (not Edge, Chrome, FireFox)
  6. If you are on the same range as your camera, for example if your modem is 192.168.1.1 and the camera is 192.168.1.168 they just type in http://192.168.1.168 into your IE browser and you should see a screen requesting your to download a file from the camera. If you purchased your camera from a reputable source, this is safe to do.
  7. IE will now ask you to “allow” access, please do this.
  8. Now you can log in with the cameras default password and you have set it up.

If all of the above was successful, you can mount the camera and you are ready to watch the area in question.


Mobile device

To setup your mobile device, you need to setup the camera as above, then access the network/P2P option in the camera menu and follow the prompts, it will be self explanatory and reasonably easy to do.


Finding the Default gateway and range

If you are on a different range, like 10.0.0.1 or another, follow the steps below to setup your camera to the correct range.

First you need to find out what your network range is and your Default Gateway. Your Default gateway will be formatted like 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1, or something that looks similar.

You can go to your Windows search box on the bottom left of your screen and type cmd then hit enter, select command prompt and you will see a black box appear. Type ipconfig there and hit enter you will then see your default gateway. Write it down.

Now you will need to change your camera to that range, which can be tricky and if you totally don’t understand this part, maybe get someone to help.

Now you need to find out what your camera default IP address is, again it will be something like 192.168.1.168. This will be written in the camera manual.

Your task is to align them to the same range [must match].[must match].[must match].[must be different]

For example if your Default Gateway is 10.0.0.1 you need to get your camera onto 10.0.0.100 (note 100 can be anything between 1-255, but not the same as your gateway)

The quickest way to do this is to change your network adapter on your laptop IPV4 address to manual and make up a gateway that matches the range of the camera. For example if your camera is 192.168.1.168, add 192.168.1.1 as your temporary gateway into your network adapter IPv4 settings. You will also need to manually set an IP which should be almost the same as the Gateway, except the last number should be different and set your Subnet to 255.255.255.0.

Once this is done, plug the camera into the laptop network socket, log into the camera as per above steps, go to network and change the following settings.

Gateway change to your Default gateway of your modem which you wrote down.
IP address to [must match].[must match].[must match].100
Subnet to 255.255.255.0

Then hit save and reboot.

Your camera is now ready to plug back into your modem and should be accessible via IE on [must match].[must match].[must match].100

To revert your laptop, go back to your network adapter, and change IPV4 back to auto.

Good luck, and please if this sounds out of your level, ask someone for help.