Do you really need a Real Time CCTV DVR? And what it really means?

What is real time recording on DVR units? Real time recording means that each channel on the Digital Video Recorder is able to capture and record at least 30 frames per second. This is called full motion recording. It is the same quality as watching movie on TV. Human eye see 30fps recording as perfectly fluent video. Our eyes in fact can’t see the difference between 30fps and i.e. 60fps. Real time recording is often confused with picture quality. To make it clear, FPS (frames per second) describes smoothness of video, not a picture quality. Currently most of the DVR units are advertised as “Real Time DVR”. But there are few things we should pay closer attention to. There is a real time display and a real time recording and these are two different things.

Real time display means that DVR can display video with 30fps on all channels. That means that i.e. 16 channel DVR unit can display 480fps (16 channels multiplied by 30fps 16ch x 30fps = 480fps).

Real time display DVR may also feature Real Time Recording. It means that DVR can display and record 30fps on every channel.

Not every Real Time Display DVR features Real Time Recording. Sometimes we see DVR units described like this: “16ch DVR 480/120fps” which means that DVR displays video in real time but can capture total of 120fps on all channels. That also means that in this case DVR can record real time, but only on 4 channels (120fps/30fps=4 channels).

On the other hand every Real Time Recording DVR features Real Time Display. So when looking for Real Time DVR we need to make sure that it is real time dsplay and real time recording.

Another little dirty trick is recording resolution when describing maximum Frames per Second for DVR unit. Most of DVR units on the market advertised as real time can display and record picture real time but only in CIF resolution 320×240. CIF resolution is considered low or standard resolution and it equals 240TVL. So recording at this resolution will significantly lower picture quality. If we have 480 or 540 or even 700TVL CCTV Cameras, but our DVR records in CIF resolution, than there is really no difference between using i.e. 700TVL Camera vs. 340TVL Camera. We can’t use full potential of high resolution security cameras if we record with CIF resolution. Unfortunately most of the CCTV Video Recorders is able to record full motion video only in CIF resolution. Usually we can change the recording resolution to D1 640×480, but it will automatically reduce recording FPS. On average DVR able to record real time in CIF resolution can only record 7.5FPS with D1 Resolution. So if we really need real time recording DVR we should make sure that “Real Time” applies to Recording with D1 resolution.

Now, after I explained all about real time recording, time to ask a question: Do I really need Real Time DVR?

The answer is “No” in 95% cases. Industry standard for surveillance video is around 5fps. It is sufficient for all residential and most of commercial CCTV installations. The only time we may need Real Time recording is when we need to capture fast moving objects with the details. Examples are: cashier both, casinos tables, jewelry store etc. For all other application Real Time recording is absolutely not necessary. It is not only costing much more to get appropriate DVR, but also real time recording dramatically reduces recoding time. When we set our DVR to record 7.5fps on every channel we can fit 4 times more data (recording time) than when we set DVR to real time recording. So instead of getting only 1 week of recording we can get 4 weeks with lower fps setting using same size hard drive. Many people would say, that recording with lower than real time resolution makes video choppy, but we need to remember that this is surveillance video, not a movie. With 7.5 or even 5fps we are still capturing all the important details and can provide sufficient video evidence for law enforcement agencies.
So before selecting Digital Video Recorder for your new project, consider if real time D1 recording unit is really a necessary choice.

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Surveillance CCTV System vs Security Camera System

There is a big difference between Surveillance Video Camera System and Security Camera System. It all comes to the way you use your CCTV System. Surveillance System is the one you would see in the Large Stores, Shopping Malls, Casinos, Airports, Sport Venues etc. Anywhere there is a security guard watching cameras in real time. Use of Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras (PTZ Cameras) could be very beneficial for Surveillance System. Security guard controlling PTZ Cameras can really pull up all the details he or she needs to properly judge the situation and prevent things like shop lifting, property damage, robberies, etc. In other words, Surveillance System is used to act on the spot rather then after the fact. There are few major differences in design of Surveillance System and Security Camera System. One, and probably the most important difference is that with Surveillance System we can actually use less cameras and have less detailed view of the area than with Security Camera System. Since we will usually act on the spot, there is no need for positive identification on the video footage. There is no need for close up facial shot or license plate camera. Simply, when security guard sees something is not right he can approach suspect and request identification or hold the person for law enforcement to arrive. Same thing applies to identification of vehicle. Surveillance System should also feature real-time display.
With Security Camera System it is much different. Since there is noone there to act on the spot, video footage will be used to try to identify the person, car etc. Thus there is a need for much more detailed picture. Cameras located in very specific areas should be focused on obtaining as much details as possible. Example here would be cameras located in elevators, at the exits and entrances, focused on capturing faces of people or vehicle license plates. The more detailed picture the easier it is later to use video footage as evidence in court. Please remember that not all cameras in Security Systems need to get every detail. If we catch the person’s face at the entrance, than the rest of the cameras is used only to track person’s movement and activity. Same thing applies to vehicle. If we capture vehicle’s license plate at the gate, and than on the wide angle camera of the parking lot we see this car hitting other parked car, that picture does not need to show tags. As long as we can track this car from the moment it enters the parking lot to the moment it hits other vehicle, this is all we need. Important is to have time stamp on every camera picture and if using more than one DVR, time on all DVR units must be synchronized. Real time display is not really important in this case, since there is nobody there to watch it live.
Since there is a difference between Security and Surveillance CCTV System, it is important to consider it when designing it. Camera locations, Camera Lenses and PTZ option along with Real Time Display DVR are the most important factors to consider.

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More and more popular Infrared Night Vision CCTV Cameras.

In this article I would like to talk a little bit about use of infrared (IR) night vision cameras on Surveillance Systems. Let’s discuss some advantages and disadvantages of IR cameras. Today we see a lot of them almost everywhere. Infrared cameras became choice of store and restaurant owners, we see them in most of small and medium size retail locations and they are very popular in residential surveillance. Why? The answer is simple. Infrared cameras do not cost more than day and night cameras. Very often they are less expensive. So if for the same price you can get night vision on your CCTV cameras, why not? So my question is, why we don’t see infrared cameras at large retail stores, banks, manufacturing plants, casinos etc.? We rarely see night vision cameras in any high end installations. Here is why. Infrared cameras do produce black and white picture in 0 Lux conditions. Thanks to infrared illuminators on night vision cameras, they do not need any source of light to produce picture. But here is a catch. Infrared LEDs have limited life span. On average they will burn out after 3-4 years. Which means that camera needs to be replaced after that time. Other disadvantage is a picture quality. Entry level infrared cameras do not come with auto-change lens or IR filter. That means that camera uses same lens and same filter (or no filter) at day time and at night. Since infrared beam makes camera work at night time, infrared beam will also affect day time picture quality. We do not see it, but infrared light is present at day time too and it is not from IR illuminator on the camera. Pretty much any source of light including Sun produces infrared beam invisible to human eye. IR security camera without filter will be affected by it and that’s why day time picture on infrared cameras is often over exposed. Advantage of infrared night vision CCTV camera is ability to produce picture with absolutely no light. And it is a great feature. But picture is black and white and often lower quality than day time picture. So my advice is, use IR cameras when there is no other option, but if you are store owner etc. use day and night cameras instead, just leave some lights on at night. You may ask, what about electric bill? Remember IR cameras use on average 6-15 Watts of electricity. Much more than Day&Night CCTV Cameras. So instead of using IR camera just put 15W CFL light bulb and leave it on for the night. It will serve as a deterrent and in case of any incident your video evidence will have much better quality. What about outdoor? We strongly recommend using motion activated light if you can’t afford to leave lights on for all night. Motion activated light will act as a deterrent and with use of day and night cameras, your video recording will have better quality and what’s even more important, color picture.

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A little about “Costco CCTV Systems”

CCTV Systems have became very popular in recent years. To prove it, today we can go to almost every big box store like Costco, BJ’s, Walmart etc. and get simple CCTV System right there. In this article I will compare those big box store surveillance systems to products used by professional CCTV installers.
First of all before buying any CCTV Systems we should ask ourselves, how much do wee want to invest in it. It is like with buying a car, there are cars for 10,000USD and cars for several million dollars. Every car can be driven and takes you from point A to point B so why difference in price? Most of us know answer to this question. Not too many knows the answer when it comes to Security Cameras and whole CCTV systems. Like with the cars, price of CCTV Camera and System vary depending on type and features. So before we purchase any Surveillance equipment, we need to know how we are going to use it. Do we need outdoor or indoor only cameras? Do we need zoom lens or wide angle? What do we expect from the DVR unit? How much video footage we want to store? What features of the DVR are important to us? etc.
Next important question is about quality. With CCTV products is like with the cars. Up to some point the more we pay the better quality we can expect. This is usually true, but only until some point. Above that point, quality remains pretty much the same but we are starting to pay more for specific brands. There are some worldwide known brands like Pelco, Bosch, Axis etc. We do have to pay much more for brand name products, not because they are better but simply because those companies invest a lot in advertising (catalogs, ads in the magazines, expos), also their products are usually available only through qualified distributors charging premium price for their services. In exchange, from those companies we can often expect better tech support, they organize free seminars for installers etc. In example brand name camera with exactly the same specs as generic product can cost up to 10 times more. So we need to ask ourselves, do we want to pay extra for the brand?
Also try to avoid those installers or online stores offering some products which you can’t find anywhere else. They will mask original manufacturer part number under their own part number and since you can’t compare it (find it) anywhere else, you can’t determine right price for the product. We know of at least few online store selling some products under their own model number and charging premium price. It is simple, if you can’t find specific product on any other site to compare prices, avoid it.
Going back to “Costco Camera Systems”, they are definitely cheap and easy to install. And theses are really the only pros. They are at the level where the more you pay the better quality you can expect. Many of big box store CCTV Systems are built around discontinued products. We often see cameras with CMOS sensors that were abandoned years ago due to poor low light performance. Also camera resolution in those systems is usually below current standards. I’ve seen many systems with cameras featuring resolutions as low as 350TVL, when standard low today is at 420-480TVL with high resolution cameras featuring 700TVL. And did I mention plastic lenses? A lot of those systems are not designed to be expandable. Professional CCTV cameras use BNC connection as a industry standard, while CCTV system from big box store may very often use some non-standard connections making it virtually impossible to i.e. buy longer cable or use any other camera.
Speaking about the cables, they are never RG59 coax used by professionals. Cheap system means cheap cable containing low copper conductors. And the good quality cable in surveillance system is one of the most important factors in picture quality. Let’s do not forget about power supply. Quality power supply is grounded, fused and will last for years. Do not expect it from cheap power adapter included with “Costco CCTV System”. Same thing applies to cameras. Too often we are being called to service those type of systems. Not only the quality is terrible, but those systems don’t last very long. Why professional installers don’t want to use them? Answer is simple. We want something dependable and something that will be helpful providing right evidence, surveillance and security, not a toy. If we have to go on service call every few weeks, it ends up costing much more than Professional CCTV System with professional cameras and DVR and the quality is nowhere close. So please do your research before investing in security system.

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Pros and Cons of Infrared Vandal Resistant Dome CCTV Cameras

Dome CCTV Cameras with Night Vision and Vandal-Resistant Housing. They are perfect for indoor and outdoor use. Big advantage of dome cameras is housing itself. It is hard to tell where exactly camera is pointing. Intruder can’t just approach camera “from behind” like in case of bullet cameras. Slick dome design makes them also more elegant and less offensive than bullet or box cameras. Dome cameras are perfect solution for retail environment, office, hotels, casinos, restaurant etc. Dome housing also protects camera from tempering. No other type of camera is as well protected from vandalism as dome cameras. With 3 and 4 Axis bracket, dome cameras can be mounted on the ceiling and on the wall, although we do not recommend mounting dome cameras on the wall in outdoor setting. We recommend using specifically designed wall mounts, which will protect camera from elements and make adjustment easier. Dome cameras are designed so there is a room for connection to main cable inside the housing. No wires are exposed, making installation less vulnerable for any damage. Dome Infrared Cameras are designed for short range night vision, usually no more than 80ft. They can be equipped with variable focal length lens which allows setting desired field of view (wide angle to close up). Disadvantages of dome infrared cameras include: possible sun glare and slight distortion of picture caused by dome shape, limited angle for adjustment due to infrared plate inside the housing, in outdoor application dome is more exposed to elements and requires cleaning more often than in case of bullet or box cameras. Please consider all advantages and disadvantages before selecting camera.

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Less Known advantages and disadvantages of Bullet CCTV Cameras

Bullet type CCTV Cameras are probably the most commonly used cameras out there. They are the most affordable CCTV Cameras and most universal. They are very popular in most typical CCTV applications. Bullet cameras are designed to be easily deployed in almost every environment. They can be mounted virtually anywhere. Indoor, Outdoor, on the wall, ceiling etc. Most of bullet cameras are equipped with infrared night vision allowing camera to see at night even with absolutely no light. Night vision on bullet cameras is usually described by IR range and it can be rated anywhere from 15-300ft and even farther. Camera mount allows getting desired shot regardless on how or where camera is mounted. Adjusting the camera is very easy and requires no experience. Bullet cameras are usually equipped with fixed lens. Some of more advanced models feature variable focal length lens which allows setting desired field of view (wide angle to close up). Usually Bullet Cameras with Vari-Focal Lens have external zoom and focus adjustment (knobs). Bullet CCTV cameras have flat front lens so there is no picture distortion and sun visor to protect from sun glare and elements. Disadvantages of bullet cameras include: it is clear where camera is pointing, so it can be approached from “behind”, they are more “offensive” and less elegant in indoor environment than i.e. dome cameras, cable is usually exposed making it vulnerable for damage (doesn’t apply to bullet cameras with cable management bracket), if connection to main cable cannot be made behind the wall or above ceiling bullet cameras often require an additional junction box to hide connection with main cable (connection cannot be hidden inside housing like with most of dome or box cameras). Even temper resistant bullet cameras are more vulnerable to damage than dome cameras. Bullet cameras should not be mounted directly on metal roofs, walls etc. Please consider all advantages and disadvantages before selecting camera.

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Advantages of Home CCTV Systems

It’s not unusual these days to find CCTV systems in stores, restaurants and manufacturing facilities, but is there any real advantage to installing a CCTV security system in your home? Ask your home insurance agent that question, and the answer you get will be a resounding yes. Home CCTV systems can be an important addition to your home security, and most insurers recognize their benefits to the point of reducing your insurance premiums when you install a home security system with CCTV capabilities.

Better Security with Home CCTV Systems

Most CCTV security systems work two ways – they transmit and record at the same time. This offers a double benefit in terms of security. On the one hand, you can actually watch what is going on in areas of your home that are monitored by a CCTV camera while it’s happening. This is handiest if your home is set up for monitoring with a security firm that offers home security monitoring, but it’s also handy if you just want to keep an eye on things – keeping an eye on your napping baby, for example.

The other benefit of home security video through a CCTV system is the ability to view the recording after the fact. Imagine, for example, that a thief breaks into your home while you’re out. Your video recording can be instrumental in helping the police identify the thief, and serves as evidence in the event of a trial.

A video surveillance camera also makes it easier for you to observe parts of your property that are not in easy view of your home. A CCTV camera mounted over the front door allows you to see anyone approaching the house, or to check who’s at the door without opening it. A camera gives you a better view of entire area than a fish-eye peephole, and can be set to scan the entire area periodically.

There are many different types of home CCTV systems available, including those designed for installation outdoors and those designed for covert installation. Some of your other options include PC-based home CCTV cameras, which can be integrated into your home security system through your computer, and stand-alone DVR CCTV systems, which can be plugged directly into your television set with a standard cable.

CCTV systems are far less expensive than most people imagine. Technology advances have made them cheaper to manufacture and put the basic CCTV camera and surveillance system well in range for most homeowners. If you’re considering improving the security for your home, contact a local CCTV security specialist to learn more about CCTV systems and installation for your home.

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Tips for Buying CCTV Systems

CCTV systems are a valuable addition to any home security system. Choosing the right system for your home, however, can be tricky if, like most people, you don’t know much about the technology. It doesn’t have to be complicated, though. Just keep in mind the basics of CCTV systems and figure out which kind of security camera and monitor system is right for your home or business. This basic overview of CCTV systems will help you choose the right pieces to put together a great system.


Let’s start with the least important but most obvious factor first – looks. The CCTV camera with many systems is quite obvious and easy to see. If you’re buying a security system for your store or business, this may be an advantage – it does have a deterrent effect. Likewise, an obvious CCTV camera mounted outside your front door will make it clear to a would-be burglar that their exploits may be filmed for posterity. If, on the other hand, you want to be able to conceal your surveillance, there are many systems that feature sleek, small cameras that are easy to conceal, or that fit right into your décor.

Black and White or Color?

Color is not always your best choice for a surveillance camera. The majority of CCTV systems that film outdoors are black and white systems, sometimes with low light or infrared settings to capture images after dark. A color CCTV camera is more expensive, but will give you better detail and definition for indoor surveillance.

Wired or Wireless?

Wired CCTV systems are more expensive and harder to set up than a basic wireless security system. Unless you’re a skilled home handyman or use a contractor to install your system, you’ll have cables and wires running along walls and floors. Basic wireless systems are less expensive, but the coverage can be spottier and the pictures are often poor quality. The technology improves every day, though, so keep your eyes open for improvements that may make wireless CCTV systems much more desirable.


The higher the resolution of the security camera, the better the picture quality will be. Unlike digital cameras, which measure resolution in megapixels, CCTV cameras measure resolution in lines, usually abbreviated as TVLs for TV lines. A basic security camera will offer 380 to 420 TVLs. Better quality CCTV systems include cameras that offer up to 570 TVLs.

Choosing among the many CCTV systems available depends on knowing what you need and how you’ll use the system. Talk with an authorized dealer to find out more about available CCTV systems that will fit your needs.

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CCTV Systems Improve Security

Can a CCTV security system increase your profits? CCTV systems, closed circuit television cameras with monitors, can allow you to monitor your property and help head off problems, but it can also help stop entitled employees from siphoning off your profits into their friends’ drinks.

If you own a bar or tavern, you don’t need an industry survey to tell you that you lose as much as 35% of your possible profit due to “shrinkage” –the euphemism for what you lose in productivity thanks to employee theft, poor work habits and pure incompetence. Bar owners, for example, are often at the mercy of bartenders who pour free drinks for friends, over pour drinks for favorite customers or make a drink for the hot blond with Grey Goose instead of Smirnoff. It may not seem like much to the bartender, but when it happens shift after shift, it can take a healthy bite out of your weekly profits.

You may, however, be surprised to find out that poor work habits can account for a bite nearly as big as theft does. Most employees guilty of “wastage” don’t really mean to cost you money, and they’d be surprised to realize how costly their little mistakes can be over time. Many bar owners are startled to learn, after purchasing a CCTV surveillance system, just how much of their potential profits end up poured down the drain as “mistakes” or when a pitcher placed under a tap for filling overflows because the bartender is distracted.

Cameras mounted where they can record the goings on behind the bar can help you pinpoint incidents of waste and outright theft so that you can deal with them through better training or through disciplinary actions. That alone can increase your profits by a surprising margin. Even more importantly, a video surveillance system at the door can help establish facts when you’re facing legal questions, such as proving that IDs are being checked at the door appropriately, or that a patron was drunk before entering your business. For even more security in cases that might endanger your license, you can combine a CCTV camera with a DVR to record the ID itself.

Why let nearly a quarter of your profits slip away in “complimentary” drinks, pocketed tickets and spilled beers? Check out the range of CCTV systems available for your bar, tavern or nightclub to see how cameras and monitors can help you keep more of the profits to which your business is entitled.

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Frequently Asked Questions About CCTV Systems

CCTV systems are a familiar sight in retail spaces. Businesses use them to monitor customers and employees in order to prevent shoplifting and theft. Many businesses also place CCTV cameras at their entrances and overlooking their parking lots to allow surveillance and protect their employees, customers and premises. Over the past few years, though, CCTV cameras have become more popular as home security systems, especially in homes with young children. If you’ve been considering a security camera for your home but want more facts to help you with your decision, these answers to frequently asked questions can help.

What is CCTV?

CCTV stands for closed circuit television. A CCTV system includes cameras, monitors and a recording device such as a DVR, VCR or a PC hard drive. Its purpose is to monitor and record activities to provide security for people and property.

Why Use CCTV?

In a business, a CCTV camera is a visible deterrent against theft and vandalism because it’s a clear indicator that the premises are monitored and recorded. At home, a CCTV security system can help monitor your property, indoors and out, including letting you keep an eye on a sleeping baby, or monitor your home from a distance. In case of a break-in or other problem, recordings made by your closed circuit system can provide the information and identification that law enforcement needs to apprehend and prosecute the thief.

What Are the Main Features of a CCTV Surveillance System?

A CCTV system has three main functions: surveillance, recording and playback. a surveillance camera allows you to watch an area remotely via a feed from a CCTV camera. Generally, the footage from the camera is recorded to media to be stored in case it is needed later. In addition, a CCTV system includes one or more monitors on which the footage – live or recorded – can be viewed.

How Do I Choose the Right CCTV System?

Your choice of systems depends on your budget and your needs. If you just want to be able to see who’s at your front door and in your back yard, you won’t need more than a camera at each entrance which can be accessed via your PC. A system such as that would be relatively simple and inexpensive. If you want more extensive monitoring, longer storage or more access, you’ll need a more complex and more expensive system.

Generally, it’s to your benefit to have your security system professionally installed, but many installation professionals will happily install CCTV systems bought through a discount dealer, which can save you considerably. If a CCTV security system sounds right to you, contact a dealer of security systems to learn more.

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