• By Thal Dixon
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Seeing Is Believing: Making Sure You Get The Best Security Camera For You

We all know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but I am still amazed at how many people make decisions about cameras based on specs that are written out that they do not understand. Relying on a few buzzword indicators, many people try to compare bids based on what they think will be a good solution for their problems. With all of this, it can be ard to tell which security cameras are the best.

If you saw a line item on an estimate that showed a 3MP camera and 4MP camera side by side for the same price, it would be reasonable to believe that the 4MP camera is a better choice. It can be much more complicated than that though. There are many factors that can influence the final picture quality besides the megapixels. Here are Five:

  • Lens quality – All lenses are not created equal. A nice glass lens is much better than a cheap plastic one. Many people will swear that soda taste better out of glass bottles than it does out of plastic. Since I left home for college, I personally refused to drink out of plastic cups and always use glass. It is the same for picture quality. This is something that I rarely see people talk about, but it will make a huge difference.
  • WDR Camera Feature – Quality cameras come with many settings that can improve picture quality. One of these features is WDR or Wide Dynamic Range. This is a setting that balances out the light in the background and foreground when there is a large difference. Because security cameras are placed in areas where the lighting is often less than ideal or changes, there are many settings that help with lighting.
  • Camera processor and Frame Rate – Cameras have processors that convert light into signals. This can be a CCD, or (Charged Coupled Device) chipset for Analog cameras or a DSP, (Digital Signal Processing) Chipset for Digital Cameras. The quality of the chipset can also help control the framerate that a camera can be set to. (Realtime Television is 30 Frames per Second.) This means that the camera will take thirty pictures every second. Some high- speed cameras can be set for 60 frames per second. If you want to watch a dealer in Vegas or cars speeding by, the higher speed is very important.
  • BLC Camera Feature – Another setting that improves the quality of some shots is BLC or Backlight Compensation. This is very important when trying to get footage of something inside with a window in the background that floods the room with light. The BLC setting and block out the light in the background so that your picture is not washed out.
  • Low Light or Starlight Feature – Many people want night vision capability from their camera. The problem, they don’t understand what type of night vision they need. Most cameras are sold with (IR), or Infrared these days. There is another type of night vision that professionals use referred to as Starvision, or low light. In a dark room inside or in a warehouse, IR is great because it creates its own light like a flashlight. The sensor can then detect the IR. There are areas in lit parking lots and even in some residential when a street light is in front of a house where IR won’t work well. There is too much light. This is usually easy to figure out. If a flashlight would not be beneficial to the user during the night time hour because of external lighting in the area, then a low light camera would be the best choice.

There are more settings and features that can make a difference, but these are some of the biggest that I run into regularly. A slight difference between 3MP and 4MP might not make much of a difference at all. A 2.5MP might be better than both if the features that you need are present. One of the things we do with our local customers is to invite them to come down to the shop and look at the camera pictures live. This kind of security consulting really allows customers to see their best options and the camera that gives them the best picture. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

At Dixon Security, we are security camera experts! Call us at 801-455-0413 for a FREE on-site evaluation.

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