Table of Contents:
- Night Vision Security Cameras
- Pan Tilt Zoom Security Cameras
- License Plate Recognition Cameras
- Wide Dynamic Range Cameras
- IP Security Cameras
- Varifocal Lens Cameras
- Spy Cameras & Hidden Cameras
Night Vision Security Cameras
For the human eye to see clearly, it must have adequate light. The same is true for security cameras. During the day, when office spaces and parking areas are properly lit by natural or florescent lighting,
security cameras provide crisp images and colorful detail. At night, when those offices are closed and parking areas are dim, traditional security cameras may produce grainy video or video that is so dark the objects within the camera's field of view are unidentifiable. In these types of security environments, installing a night vision security camera is the most economical way to produce quality 24/7 surveillance video.
What makes a night vision camera unique is the way it reacts to changing light conditions and makes use of available light. Like traditional security cameras, night vision cameras provide perfect color video during the day, or when optimal light is available. However, the difference between traditional security cameras and night vision cameras is evident at night. When there isn't enough available light to produce a quality image, the night vision camera will automatically change from a color camera to an infrared receptive black and white camera. This change enables the night vision camera to produce crisp images and fine detail in any lighting condition - even in complete darkness! Night vision security cameras do this by using filters and enhanced video imaging technology to increase its sensitivity to infrared light. This type of light is near invisible to the human eye but provides the camera with enough ambient light for clear picture quality. Because infrared is not a visible source of light, it is particularly useful in covert security installations.
In addition to producing clear and detailed video in low light levels, night vision cameras will allow you to see further into the darkness than a traditional security camera. When a traditional security camera is mounted outdoors near a light fixture, the camera can see only what is immediately within its view, a 15 to 20 foot area. This is because the camera must compensate for varying degrees of dark and light. When a night vision camera is installed with IR illuminators, the view can increase from 20 feet to more than 100 feet.
Many night vision cameras have IR illuminators built-in to their camera housing. Depending on the needs of your environment, night vision cameras are available with housings for indoor or outdoor use and have more or fewer IR illuminators. The more IR illuminators available, the further into the darkness your camera will see. If a night vision camera is already installed, but does not have enough available light for the camera's field of view, a separate IR illuminator can be installed near the camera to increase its viewing distance.
Night vision cameras are specifically designed for problem lighting environments. Instead of installing costly electrical fixtures or wasting electricity keeping lights on after-hours, consider installing night vision cameras for your 24-hour surveillance needs.
Pan Tilt Zoom Security Cameras
Video surveillance is within your control when you add a Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) Camera to your security installation. The PTZ Camera's combination of precise positioning and dramatic zooming allows you to cover a larger area using fewer cameras. The expanded coverage and added functionality of these cameras provide users with the depth needed to protect the most vulnerable areas with versatility unmatched by traditional static security cameras.
Unlike a static security camera, a PTZ Camera is built on a swiveling head mechanism that gives the camera the flexibility to quickly pan a full 360 degrees and tilt up to 90 degrees. The swiveling head mechanism can be directly controlled one of three ways: at the security office using a security grade joystick, via the front panel of a digital video recorder (DVR) such as the EZWatch TurboView DVR, or remotely through the DVR's software using your keyboard/mouse. In addition to direct control, the PTZ Camera can be indirectly controlled by pre-programming viewing tours or setting the camera to automatically track movement. These features are ideal when security personnel have multiple cameras to view on multiple monitors or the security system is passively monitored and the PTZ is being used to support the view of static cameras.
Pre-programmed tours are easily customized to cover specific points of interest in a predetermined pattern, like a security guard making rounds to ensure the property is secure. The camera smoothly pans to areas of interest, tilts to achieve the best angle, zooms in and out of particular scenes, and then returns back to its home position. If security personnel notice something unusual in the camera's view, like a person or a vehicle, they can take control away from its pre-programmed tour to follow the suspect. Once the PTZ Camera has returned to its home position, it will remain there until the next tour begins or it is activated by the auto-tracking feature.
The auto-tracking feature uses motion within the cameras field of view to create an alarm condition. When the PTZ Camera is in the home position, it has the widest field of view possible. If it senses movement anywhere in the scene, like a person or vehicle, it will focus its attention on the moving object and follow it until the object leaves its field of view. To ensure the camera only tracks objects of importance; perimeters can be set to ignore areas that may cause a false alarm. To see some videos of our advanced PTZ Cameras in action, click here!
The defining feature of any PTZ camera is its ability to zoom in and out of spaces; quickly and dramatically changing its field of view. When using static cameras, the field of view is limited by the focal length of the lens at the moment it's installed. Over time, you may want to tighten or expand the camera view or find that your current view is obstructed by stacked boxes, large equipment, or new construction. In order to change the view, the camera and its lens must be manually adjusted. This change often requires someone on a ladder or rented equipment to make the adjustment while another person is at the DVR to deliver the desired view. However, a PTZ Camera can do all of this with a couple of clicks of a computer mouse saving you time and frustration. EZWatch offers PTZ Cameras with 10X to 36X digital zoom on camera lenses with up to 50mm focal points as well as PTZ Cameras with megapixel technology.
As with any security camera, it is important to keep the installation environment in mind when selecting the housing, mounting accessories, and camera accessories needed to maintain the integrity of your security system. EZWatch offers PTZ cameras and accessories for indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras as well as specialty housings for enhanced viewing in complete darkness. Whatever your security need, EZWatch’s PTZ Cameras put the video surveillance control back in your hands.
License Plate Recognition Cameras
When designing your security surveillance system, it’s important to remember that not all aspects of the system are intended to catch someone in the act of committing a crime. In addition to monitoring events as they happen, security cameras can be used to gather forensic evidence. License Plate Cameras enable you to record clear images of a vehicle’s license plate as it enters or exits an area. If an event occurs, you can provide investigators with the information they need to identify suspects or important witnesses.
License Plate Cameras, like the EZWatch ALPR Camera Platinum, are distinctly designed to focus on the alpha-numeric characters of US license plates. These license plates are coated with a reflective material that reduces glare from headlights and makes the letters and numbers stand out against their respective backgrounds. To increase contrast detail, License Plate Cameras record video in black and white and may use infrared illuminators to increase the ambient light to ensure proper video exposure. As the camera receives the video images, it will process them through a series of filters to increase the lightness or darkness of the video before sending it on to the Digital Video Recorder. This filtering process, known as contrast stretching, decreases the gradation between black and white and makes objects within the image more defined.
Positioning the License Plate Camera within range of the vehicle’s license plate is very important to capture clean, identifiable license plates. Depending on the zoom range of the lens, License Plate Cameras are capable of capturing the license plate of vehicles moving up to 75 mph at a distance of up to 100 feet. However, it is recommended that the cameras are mounted at an angle so that the license plate represents 1/10 of the field of view. The combination of correct angles and the contrast stretching filtering process result is clear video of all vehicle license plates that enter the camera’s field of view.
License Plate Security Cameras are recommended for a broad range of applications. For lower risk environments that have few entrances and exits, such as parking garages and gated communities, a License Plate Camera should be mounted near the entrance and can be used to supplement other safety policies. In environments where theft is likely to occur, such as gas stations, convenience stores, or warehouse/distribution centers, a license plate camera can be used in conjunction with color cameras to identify the make, model, and color of the vehicle. In high security areas, license plate cameras can be enlisted to support record keeping detail by combining it with an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software. The software can be pre-populated with a list of approved license plate numbers and cause an alarm condition if a vehicle enters an area with an non-approved license plate.
In most cases, the presence of a security camera system is enough to deter would-be criminals from engaging in criminal activity. But, when it’s not, it is important to provide investigators with as much information as possible to identify everyone involved. Collecting the license plate number on all of the vehicles connected with an event is one more piece of information you can obtain with the help of a dedicated License Plate Camera.
Wide Dynamic Range Cameras
Lighting is the most critical factor to consider when selecting the right camera for any security surveillance installation. For environments that maintain constant lighting conditions, like an interior office or storage area, a standard color security camera is a great choice. If the environment changes from day light to complete darkness, like a parking lot, night vision cameras stream clear video day or night. But what about areas that are affected by dramatic changes in available light, like a sunlit lobby? Environments such as sunlit lobbies or street facing store fronts require a camera that can adapt to various lighting conditions. Wide Dynamic Range Cameras have built-in technology which digitally creates a middle ground between the brightest and darkest areas within the camera's field of view. The enhanced color image is carefully balanced and transmitted to the digital video recorder assuring all areas within the field of view are perfectly exposed.
If you've ever taken a picture in front of a sunset, you know the affect dramatic light can have on a camera. The image you had carefully created now has two focal points; the sunset and the darkened images in front of it. The same thing happens when you point a standard color security camera at an object that becomes backlit by the sun or by vehicle headlights. When a standard color security camera is installed, the white balance and lens aperture is adjusted to allow for more or less light. This camera is customized so that it is tuned to that specific environment. If the light in the area changes and the camera is no longer in sync with its environment, the once clear image may be blurry, washed out, or so dark that a person cannot be identified. Wide Dynamic Cameras adjust automatically to whatever light is available.
The digital sensory chip within the Wide Dynamic Camera controls its ability to adapt. For example, if a Wide Dynamic Camera is pointed at the entrance of a 24-hour convenience store, the lighting conditions will be very different in the early morning versus late at night. During the day, the camera contends with the sun as it moves across the sky. At night, car headlights provide the biggest challenge. The Wide Dynamic Camera's digital sensory chip isn't concerned with where the light comes from but rather how white it is as compared to the darkest item within its field of view. Pixel by pixel it gathers information and discerns the range of colors. It then compares the white area with the dark and processes each image, minimizing the effects of both, before streaming it back to the DVR. The result is video that can be used to help identify persons of interest or vehicles as they enter or exit the scene.
Wide Dynamic Cameras are ideal for any environment that has large windows or glass doors such as office lobbies, convenience stores, and restaurants. They are also designed for areas that may be affected by bright bursts of light like elevators, stairway entrances, warehouse doors or parking garages.
Security and surveillance technology has come a long way since the introduction of analog cameras and video cassette recorders (VCR). The new wave of high performance IP Security Cameras provide even greater accessibility and control of your security surveillance system. In addition to easier installation, IP Cameras offer enhanced digital zoom and on board digital processing which enables users to recover video faster and extract greater detail.
The IP in IP Cameras refers to Internet protocol; the method these cameras use to transmit video. In traditional security installations, coaxial cable is used to home-run the analog camera from the point of installation to the digital video recorder (DVR). If the cameras are installed within a few hundred feet of the DVR, running the wire and minimizing the amount exposed cable isn’t too difficult of a task. However, if the camera is more than 750 ft away from the DVR, in a warehouse or parking area for example, the video begins to degrade losing clarity and definition. The further the analog signal travels, the more detail it will lose along the way. An IP Camera resolves this issue by processing the images on the camera and transmitting digital signal instead of analog. The cameras can then be connected to a local hardwire switch using Ethernet cable or a secure wireless router, minimizing cable runs and maintaining information-rich video.
Besides the traditional housing styles and technology formats offered by analog cameras, IP Cameras come in a variety of pixel ranges in increasing levels of detail and clarity. Analog cameras are measured in lines of resolution (TVL) and use different types of lenses to increase the focus on an area and narrow the field of view. Once the video is digitized, the video images allow for minimal pixel resizing. Alternatively, IP Cameras are digitized at the camera level and can therefor transmit much more detail. Pixel counts can range from 720p and 1080p in high definition IP Cameras to more than 5 megapixels (mp). The higher the pixel count of the IP Camera, the more detail the image holds. Once received from the network, software is used to enhance and resize the available pixels giving the user the ability to magnify portions of the image and gain detail unseen in the current field of view. While some IP Cameras also use lenses to narrow the focus, the digital zoom capability allows the camera to maintain a wider field of view.
Not only does transmitting wirelessly or over Ethernet achieve higher quality digital video and shorter cable runs, it is also easier to install. For wireless IP Cameras, simply plug in the wall transformer and assign an IP address during the camera setup. The camera can then be wall mounted or placed on a desktop and moved as your security need changes. If your security surveillance application requires more than two or three cameras, network cameras are a great option. Network IP Cameras physically connect to a power over Ethernet (POE) switch and on to your network. From there, all of the cameras can be managed by video management software and stored on a hard drive. And, because the camera receives power from its Ethernet cable, no additional sources of electricity are needed and there is one less wire to run. If long-term video storage is desired, IP Cameras can be combined with a Network Video Recorder or NVR. Whether your installation requires one or two cameras or hundreds, IP Cameras produce enhanced quality video, provide greater flexibility and are easier to install than tradition analog cameras.
Varifocal Lens Cameras
Measure twice, cut once. That’s the saying we’ve all heard from professional builders and carpenters. However, this saying extends to more than just sawing wood or hammering nails. For cameras installed with a fixed focal length lens, measuring for field of view must be precise. To use another phrase, once the camera is in place, what you see is what you get. Considering the many video surveillance cameras available, a camera with an adjustable lens will give you greater flexibility during installation and if your needs change in the future.
While some security surveillance cameras may be pre-packed with a lens, like dome cameras (hyperlink dome cameras), not all lenses are alike. There are three main categories of lenses: fixed focal length with a manual iris, vari-focal length with a manual iris, and vari-focal length with an automatic iris. The automatic and manual iris label describes how much light the lens will allow the camera to see as the lighting conditions in the environment changes. If lighting will remain constant, like in an office setting, a manual iris is a great option because you will only need to adjust the iris during installation. But, if light in the environment changes over the course of the day, an automatic iris is your best choice. To illustrate the difference, imagine going to the optometrist for an eye exam. When the optometrist dilates your pupils it is the equivalent of seeing with a manual iris. Your pupil, like the iris of a camera lens, is forced to allow as much light as possible. In a dim room, you see clearly but when you walk outside your eyes are flooded with light which makes your vision out of focus and creates blind spots within your field of view.
The fixed length or vari-focal length refers to the ability to adjust the camera’s field of view. Vari-focal lenses are typically found in a 2.8mm to 12mm, 4mm to 9mm, or 5mm to 50mm configurations. Fixed focal lenses are available in in various sizes but are limited in scope (fixed) to the noted lens size. The smaller the lens size, the wider the field of view. Depending on the distance between the installed cameras and the point of interest, camera lenses with the same focal length will produce different fields of view. Therefore, before you make a camera selection, know how you want the camera to perform.
Security surveillance cameras generally have three uses: to survey an area for disturbance, monitor behavior, or identify individuals. If your goal is to survey an area such as a parking lot, select a lens with the widest field of view. To monitor behavior, such as making sure a grocery store clerk stays at their register during their shift, a mid-range lens is ideal. However, if you want to have enough detail to help police identify someone you don’t know, like a robber entering a convenience store, a longer range lens is needed. If you are unsure how your camera will be used, if your use will change over time, or you would prefer to have some flexibility in your installation height and field of view, choose a camera and lens combination with a vari-focal length and automatic iris lens.
Spy Cameras & Hidden Cameras
When people know they are being monitored, they are likely to behave as expected. To find out what is really happening behind the scenes, strategically placed hidden cameras give home and business owners full access to employee behavior and provide peace of mind while away. Known as covert cameras, nanny cameras, spy cameras, and hidden cameras, these unseen cameras can be placed in unexpected places so you can monitor the unfiltered behavior of their employees, caretakers, or contractors.
EZWatch offers two main types of hidden cameras: pinhole and self-contained. Determining which type of cameras you need depends on the level of discreteness you desire and the other types of security equipment installed. If this will be your only security camera, a completely self-contained camera with a built-in digital recorder is easy to install and will provide covert recording. Completely self-contained covert cameras like the Clock Radio Spy Camera or the Covert Tissue Box camera include the camera, a fully functional digital video recorder that uses a removable memory card or cable to review recordings, and a power supply or wall transformer. To conserve memory, many self-contained hidden cameras will use motion activated technology to signal when the digital video recorder should start and stop recording. In addition to their small size, these cameras are great to use because they are disguised as everyday objects and often go un-noticed.
If the hidden camera will be used in conjunction with a security camera system, a pinhole camera or otherwise disguised camera will be a great addition. Pinhole cameras are physically smaller than traditional cameras, about the size of a postage stamp, but produce a crisp, clean image. Because of their discrete design, pinhole cameras can be concealed in almost any object. Likely places to install this type of camera include a locked filing cabinet, within a busy art canvas, a hollowed book, a drop ceiling tile or within a lamp base. Ideally, the object should have enough space to secure the camera as well as obscure a small 1/8” hole. If you would rather install a camera that is already hidden within an everyday object, EZWatch offers the PIR-GOLD Motion Detector Hidden Camera. Disguised as a typical motion detector, this camera can be mounted flush to the wall which minimizes exposed wiring. After the ideal angle and placement is selected, installing a pinhole or hidden cameras is similar to installing a traditional camera. Simply connect the camera to your recording device via BNC cable, secure power to the camera, and be careful to disguise the transmission and power cables.
Whether you install pinhole or self-contained camera, it is very important to keep in mind that most of these cameras come with a wide angle, fixed focal length lens. This type of lens will capture the widest field of view possible so careful consideration should be used to determine how close the camera should be mounted to the area of concern.
While no one likes to think their employees, caretakers, or contractors are misbehaving on the job, a strategically placed covert camera can be used to eliminate worry or provide proof of wrong doing. Hidden cameras are easy to install and come in a variety of styles and options that produce quality video so you can capture every moment while you are away.