Understanding the Dome Camera
By Doug Harper
Of all security cameras available, the dome camera is the least expensive while being very versatile. Their small size causes some limitations, while the size is also its greatest advantage. This is the most common camera seen in public places.
Business owners spend thousands on equipment in their offices to include desks, chairs and electronic equipment, not to mention the money invested in office supplies inventory. Thieves and even some employees can walk out the door with thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment or supplies if the spaces are not monitored. This is the reason that a security surveillance system is worth the investment to protect property. A good security camera system costs less than one desk, chair and computer station for one employee, yet one 4 camera system can cover four different areas of concern. Although most systems are not designed to be portable, the dome camera mounts well on a suspended ceiling tile. This means the camera can be moved to another room by just exchanging tiles.
A dome camera is simply a small board camera that is mounted on the inside of a dome-shaped housing. These cameras are usually mounted on ceilings or under overhangs above doorways and porches. Most dome cameras have a plastic cover for inside use and others have a metal cover for outdoors.
The dome camera is the camera of choice in most circumstances because they are generally less expensive and easiest to install. Also the indoor dome camera in a plastic cover makes it very hard to tell where the camera is pointed, so one camera can effectively deter theft outside of its normal field of view. You can’t duck below the cameras field of view if you don’t know which way the camera is pointing. The mere existence of the dome camera tends to ward off criminals and thieves. The outside dome camera because of its metal housing has an external lens that can be aimed and focused, but it is easy to tell in what direction the camera is pointing.
One big feature for a business or the home with a limited budget is you can expand your area of concern without buying a lot of cameras. The dome camera can be intermingled with dummy cameras or fake cameras. Most security camera suppliers have dummy cameras the look just like a real dome camera, even having a flashing diode to signify it is in operation. Putting real cameras in strategic areas and then a few dummy cameras will really deter theft, and only the owner or manager will know which are real and which cameras are the fake cameras. It’s a proven fact thieves don’t like bright lights, noise and cameras.
Choosing the correct dome camera depends on the owner’s needs. The cheapest would be a daylight camera that is in an area where there is daylight or sufficient lighting so that the camera operates as if in daylight. Most operators have gone to a day/night cameras. These cameras have the ability to take pictures in normal lighting and low light conditions. The day/night infrared LED dome camera can take pictures in darkness. These cameras usually take colored pictures except in low light and darkness then they automatically switch to black and white cameras, for better resolution. The PTZ dome or speed dome camera is the most expensive, but has additional features such as pan, tilt and the ability to zoom in on objects. The pan/tilt/zoom features are controlled by a security DVR and a remote controller. With heaters and automatic light sensing these cameras are great for outdoors with a 360 degree view and all-weather operation. These cameras are used mainly for factory floors, parking lots, streets and monitoring business buildings.
One concern of business owners is how much video you can store for review or evidence. Early security camera systems used security VCRs, which had tape as a media that took a lot of time re-winding the tape while the tape did not hold up well over time. These tapes usually recorded 1 to 4 hours of video, so the operator was changing tapes quite often. Today the security DVR uses a hard drive with the average size of 500 gigabytes, which can give us days of recording instead of hours. We can instantly go from one time to another to review the events as the DVR time stamps the video. To save hard drive space the security DVR creates motion sensing so recording is only done when there is motion in the area. The DVR can also disseminate between normal motion such as a fan and irregular motion as a person entering. The indoor dome camera in its plastic enclosure is good for a distance of approximately 300 feet.
I mentioned the PTZ dome camera before, but this is the most sophisticated security camera of them all. With its pan/tilt/zoom capabilities and its ability to be programmed the camera it is truly a fine surveillance tool. The camera can be programmed to pan and zoom into specific areas at preset times or intervals. A high-speed PTZ camera can be set to sense a door contact opening and turn and zoom in on the door. The zoom capabilities are amazing using a combination of optical and digital zoom. If a particular target or persons peaks your interest, you can take control of the PTZ camera with a remote keyboard or controller to follow and zoom in on the subject. The PTZ camera has some of the best lenses available with light sensing, LEDs and auto focus capabilities. With metal enclosures and internal heating units these cameras are built for real all-weather operation. The price is expensive, but no other camera will give you the field of view, definition, night capabilities and other features that this camera will provide.
When you are building your security camera systems or setting up your home security cameras, review your camera options. The dome camera may not fulfill all your camera needs in all cases, but my bet is down that you will want some dome cameras in your system. Don’t overlook the advantages of the fake cameras to supplement your system. Remember there is no better evidence in court then a time stamped security video of the crime, and the best way to handle criminals, is by deterring them, rather than confronting them.
Doug Harper is the owner of SharperSafety.com
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