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CCTV Camera Buying Guide

This guide offers advice when buying your CCTV camera. It is very important to consider all the factors affecting your application when fitting your camera. These factors range from weather to light conditions. Your decision can also be affected by how high risk a site poses and what sort of images you are trying to collect. i.e. Will you need the images to identify an individual in court or are the images to monitor your staff. We have published this step by step guide to help you make those vital decisions.

Step 1,

Do you want your subject to know they are being filmed?

If the answer to this question is no then you will require a covert camera. These cameras are not detectable by people who are not aware they are there. They can come in the shape of a smoke detector with a built in camera for example. These types of camera are ideal if you suspect a member of staff of misconduct on duty.

Step 2,

What sort of quality are you wanting to achieve with your images?

If you are monitoring individual members of the public that are not known to you then you will need a camera with a high resolution. This is because it is crucial that the images provide the ability to identify an individual so that they can be brought forward for prosecution and the images can be reliable in court. A good resolution camera would be one that is over 420TVL (Television Lines) resolution. Anything below that definition would hinder the ability for a criminal to be identified. If you are just monitoring staff and there actions then an ID is not vital because they are already known to you and it is far more difficult for them to say "That is not me", when a crime has been committed.

Step 3,

What sort of light levels will you be capturing images in?

If you are dealing with low light levels then you will need a camera with a low LUX. This means even in near darkness you can achieve good quality images. A typically good low LUX illumination would be 0.001LUX. If you required a camera to work in complete darkness then you would require a camera that has IR LED's built in or a camera with IR sensitivity and a separate LED IR Illuminator. These cameras are typically rated with a 0LUX illumination level and can collect black and white images in total darkness.

Step 4,

Will your camera be subject to vandalism or accidental damage?

If the answer to this question is yes then you will need a vandal resistant camera. These cameras are built to withstand damage from implements and general tampering. They are an ideal option for high risk applications.

Step 5,

What sort of range will you be monitoring your subject at?

Depending on the distance that you are monitoring individuals or your property plays a huge part in what type and size of lens to select when choosing a CCTV camera. If you choose a vari-focal CCTV camera then you have the ability to manual change the angle and range of the lens when installing your camera this can give you a great variation in range and angle of view depending on the camera. If you buy a camera with a fixed board lens then you are not able to adjust the angle or range of that lens during installation. So it is vital you select the correct size lens when purchasing your board lens camera. You can view our CCTV Lens Calculator here which will give you a fair idea of what you will require.

Step 6,

Where will you be mounting your CCTV Camera?

If you purchase a CCTV camera with a 3 - axis bracket you can mount this camera just about anywhere. On a ceiling, on a wall or even on top of a roof. If you mount your camera too high you may only see the tops of peoples heads. If you mount the camera too low then it could easily be tampered with.

Step 7,

Are you placing the camera outside in an un-sheltered area?

If the answer is Yes! Then you are going to need a Weatherproof CCTV camera. Weatherproof cameras are designed to withstand wet conditions and the ability to withstand these conditions is measured with an IP (Ingress Protection) rating. The IP rating also shows the degree of protection against solid elements such as dust or human interference. An IP rating is made up of two numbers that indicate the degree of protection a cctv camera has. The first number indicates the degree of protection against solid objects of varying sizes and the second number indicates the degree of protection against water or liquids.

Here is an IP Rating guide for CCTV Cameras,

0 No special protection
1 Protection from a large part of the body such as a hand (but no protection from deliberate access); from solid objects     greater than 50mm in diameter.
2 Protection against fingers or other object not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter.
3 Protection from entry by tools, wires, etc., with a diameter of thickness greater than 1.0mm.
4 Protection from entry by solid objects with a diameter or thickness greater than 1.0mm
5 Protection from the amount of dust that would interfere with the operation of the equipment.
6 Dust tight.


0 No special protection
1 Protection from dripping water.
2 Protection from vertically dripping water.
3 Protection from sprayed water.
4 Protection from splashed water.
5 Protection from water projected from a nozzle
6 Protection against heavy seas, or powerful jets of water.
7 Protection against immersion.
8 Protection against complete, continuous submersion in water.

Step 8,

What style of CCTV Camera are you looking for?

There are many different styles of CCTV camera on the market today we are going to look at the many options you can choose from and why each style is suitable for different applications. The traditional CCTV camera is very bold in design and has an industrial look which means it would not be suitable for people looking to install a CCTV camera at home. However these types of camera are very popular for businesses as they are a very effective deterrent for crime.

Step 9,

Which lens is best CCD or CMOS?

There is no correct answer to this question. Many installers these days favor the CCD lens, CCD is an abbreviation for Charge-Coupled Device. This device is a silicon chip that turns light into a digital signal. This digital signal can then be read by a monitor, computer or digital video recorder. A CCD lens often gives a better clearer picture than CMOS however it costs more to produce. CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor lenses) lens operates at a lower current than a CCD lens. It also has a lower power dissipation which means there is less heat generated from this type of lens which can be an advantage when operating in an external camera as it will produce less condensation. It also means batteries with smaller capacities can be used and also means that batteries have more duration.

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