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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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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.