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Intro to CCTV Cameras

CCTV Cameras shoot in Standard Definition

Resolution is measured in TV-Lines

Recorded and Broadcasted Online by a DVR

easy to install

CCTV cameras connect via BNC Siamese Cable

Siamese cable is two cables wrapped together, as shown in the image to the left. The cable with the black end carries your power, while the cable with the silver end carries your video. The silver cable is has what is called a BNC connector on it, BNC is a self-locking version of Coax cable (you have probably used Coax cable to connect your Television to an antenna or cable box).

The resolution of CCTV cameras is measured in TV Lines and they record up to Standard Definition

You record a CCTV camera with a DVR. DVRs have three different quality levels for their recording: CIF, D1, and 960H. You will want to decide which quality you want, and then get get cameras and recorders that record at that same quality. Getting a high quality camera, and a low resolution DVR will not result in better video than a low quality camera and low resolution DVR - and vice-versa.

If you are looking for HD recording, you should learn about IP cameras.

Not all CCTV Cameras are equal: How to Tell 10 Year Old Technology from Standard Definition Quality:

Buyer Beware: CCTV Cameras at Big Box Stores / Other Online Retailers

CIF DVS + 400-540 TVL Analog Cameras About the Quality of a 1990's Flip-Phone

We don't carry any DVRs that record in CIF or any cameras that record at 420 or 480 TV Lines. Cameras that uses this 10 year old technology are technically also CCTV cameras, but it is important for you to know that we don't sell this junk.

This is what "Big Box Stores" sell.

Many online retailers still carry DVRs and cameras that use this 10 year old technology and offer them for very low prices. We do not carry cameras or recorders that are this low quality because we don't think they can actually protect anyone. They offer the illusion of security rather than the ability to identify and prosecute criminals.

Ripoff Report: Low Resolution Recorders with High Resolution Cameras

Frequently, we've seen competitors pairing 420 TVL, 480 TVL, 540 TVL or even 600 TVL cameras with CIF recorders. Companies started putting higher quality cameras into their packages for one of two reasons: either because they wanted to decrease the total number of options they manufactured (and drive costs down) or as a cynical attempt to appear as though their systems were higher quality than they are. We'll let you make your mind up as to which reason you think applies to the CIF system you're looking at. Either way, you're paying for quality you aren't receiving. Don't get a CIF DVR or a camera below 600 TV Lines.

CIF Footage Video

At 25 FT with this store-bought system, we can't tell if this face is even of a human.

identifying faces with CIF at 25ft

Our Standard Definition Cameras

D1/960H Footage Video

D1 / 960H Standard-Definition TV Quality

D1 is square and sized like (non-widescreen) Standard Definition TV. It is sometimes also called 4CIF since it has 4 times that resolution.

Our Econ level DVRs record in D1 resolution and can be paired with any CCTV camera that we carry (we only carry cameras above 600 TVL).

960H recording has the same height as D1 DVRs but are wider. They are properly formatted for wide-screen TVs and monitors

Our Standard Pro level DVRs record in 960H resolution and should be paired with any 700 or 720 TVL cameras.

Why People Choose Standard Definition CCTV Cameras

CCTV cameras come in many different shapes, styles, with different resolutions and features. Standard Definition cameras are usually chosen by home users and small businesses because of cost concerns with HD. Large businesses, governments, military, and commercial installations usually need HD recording and go with IP cameras.

Choosing between Bullet and Dome Cameras

There are five main body styles of CCTV cameras, but most people end up choosing between Dome and Bullet Cameras. Our Bullet cameras are weatherproof, mount on the side of the wall, and can have long-range lenses; they are best used outdoors. Dome cameras can hang from the ceiling or mount on the wall and can be used indoors and outdoors. Some Dome cameras are vandal-proof and all of our dome cameras are weatherproof. Unless you want a long range lens (which has trouble fitting in a dome design) or need protection from vandalism, there is very little difference between a dome or bullet camera's capabilities, the decision is mostly about what you think looks better in your space. A basic bullet camera is slightly less expensive than a basic dome camera.

Choosing between Fixed, Vari-focal, and PTZ lenses

CCTV cameras come with one of three lens types. Fixed lenses have a focal point and angle of view that are not able to be modified. Both vari-focal and PTZ cameras have the ability for you to choose your viewing angle and level of zoom, but PTZ cameras are very expensive and can Pan and Tilt as well as Zoom (that's where we get PTZ). PTZ can be controlled remotely via a joystick. The viewing angle and level of zoom for a Vari-focal camera must be changed in person.

Vari-focal cameras have lenses that allow you to physically adjust the viewing angle and focus of a camera. The most common form of vari-focal is wide angle 2.8mm to telephoto 12mm. The terms sound complicated, but you've actually done this a ton of times already. Every time you twist the lens of a DSLR camera or push the zoom button on a digital camera, you are changing the focal length and viewing angle. In photography, we call this "zooming."

a DSLR camera is a vari-focal camera

All three of these shots are taken with the same analog camera at 960H resolution, the only difference was focal length


This is all the way zoomed out for the widest possible shot.


All the way zoomed. It has the narrowest viewing angle (show below).

Vari-focal's effect on viewing angle

960H resolution, 3.6mm Lens. A Wide Angle Shot

Notice that in this shot, you can the access road, the parking lot, and the door to the warehouse.

960H 3.6mm full shot

960H resolution, 12mm Focal Length. A Zoomed Shot

In this last shot, you'll want to notice that you can't even see the access road at all, despite getting a great shot of the man's face. This is why, in Standard Definition surveillance systems, Zoom cameras are also used in conjunction with wide angle lenses.

960H 6mm full shot

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  1. Custom Site Builder

    Build Your Own System

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    Here at SCW, we specialize in building custom security camera systems exactly around our client's needs.

    We don't even sell everything-in-a-box surveillance systems because of concerns about quality.

    So if you want a surveillance system, feel free to make one from our cameras and DVRs or choose one of our more popular configurations.

    But if you need to customize anything, feel free to call us at 866-414-2553. You can also click on this link and fill out this form, and we will email you a quote (or call you if we need more information on your needs).

    Our system customization is a completely free service.

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