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  Frequently Asked Questions
Black & White (B/W) or Colour?
The trends are using colour system these days. The colour cameras provides clearer identification than B/W . But, in a low light condition like in 0.1 lux, you may need B/W cameras because they generally require lower illumination.
What parts do I need?
Camera body, lens, mounting bracket, cable, AC Adapter are the basic parts to produce video and many economic mini camera packages come with all of these parts.  You may add a CCTV monitor (if you don't use your own TV), quad splitter or switcher to combine more than one camera, Time Lapse VCR, outdoor housing case and other accessories. Or, you may choose wireless systems to avoid cabling. Network based Web Camera Servers are popular for remote surveillance via the Internet and for convenience in LAN or WAN systems.
How many cameras do I need?
You can use
quad splitter or 4 channel switcher to combine up to 4 cameras into one monitor or TV. Or, many "observation systems" come with all in one package, including quad or switcher built-in monitor and 4 cameras. If you need only 2 or 3 cameras, a switching system should be enough. If you only need one camera,  using a standard TV rather than special monitor will cut expense. You may need a 8 channel switcher or multi-plexer to see more than four cameras on one monitor.
Do I need outdoor camera?
If you want to mount a camera outdoors you will generally need to use
an outdoor housing case, with or without heater and/or blower. The heater and/or blower built-in housing cases generally require separate power supply. Some cameras are made water resistant and don't need separate housing cases. Some of them also have removable sun-visor covers.
Do I need infrared camera to see in total darkness?
Commercial infrared cameras, some of which are also water-resistant for outdoor installation, can see up to 30ft distance in total darkness. If you need to see farther, you may need professional infrared illuminators but they are usually expensive and complicated to install due to its emission of heat. Infrared cameras work as ordinary video camera during daytime. Most colour infrared cameras work as B/W ones at night. Minimum
illumination for most B/W cameras these days is 0.1 lux so you will not necessarily need infrared cameras or illuminators if there is some kind of ambient lighting.
What angle of view do I need for the lens?
Widely used and recommended angle of view of the lens for surveillance purpose is 72o to 78o Narrower will give you clearer pictures. Wide angles like 92o can cover more area but it may not contain the required detail or may be distorted.
Do I need zoom lens?
A manual zoom lens of, for example, 3.5 ~ 8.0mm will allow you to manually adjust angle of view from 3.5mm to 8.0mm. 3.5mm equates to about 90o of diagonal view angle on 1/3 " sensor camera and 8.0mm sees about 38o. Auto zoom lens can be adjusted at the control centre or from your computer.
Do I need DC drive auto iris lens?
A little of auto iris functions are built-in in most of cameras included in most observation systems today. But, when you use professional cameras you may need to separate DC drive auto iris, a motorized device to meet the changes of lighting condition of the sun. Generally, auto iris device is not necessary for indoor application with artificial lightings.
Do I need pinhole lens?
A pinhole lens with a tiny opening can be hidden easily in a wall or ceiling or other objects. Many economically priced  mini cameras have built-in pinhole lens . A pinhole lens for professional camera is very expensive.
What monitoring system do I need: professional monitor or standard TV?
If you use 1 camera, a simple TV (which has
RCA video input) is definitely recommended. Even for more than 1 camera, if you use combiner like quad splitter or switcher, a TV would be fine. But, for special features like slave video output (to be connected to additional monitor), alarm systems or for packaged observation systems, you may need professional CCTV monitors.
What type of monitor do I need: quad screen or single?
Unless it is necessary to see four pictures at the same time on quad split screen,
a switching system which shows the pictures one by one (you can control dwelling time) is recommended for its larger image.
What size of monitor do I need?
12" was the popular size during over the years but these days, 14" for colour and 17" for B/W have become very popular. Or, 4" LCD monitor to place on the desk is another choice.
What video transmission is required: wireless, coaxial or multiple wire (DIN)?
Wireless systems can be convenient to avoid cabling works, but can be affected by high voltage power lines nearby, unseen razor waves, huge machines like lathe, metal walls etc. Some wireless systems transmit locally up to 300ft and others up to 700ft. Coaxial cable is conventional in this field and proper for professional cameras. It goes up to 450ft without losing the picture quality. Multiple wires like DIN carries not only video but also audio and power. It can be extended up to 250ft. For remote surveillance, you should consider web cameras.
Is a power outlet located close to the camera?
Or, should the power be supplied from the monitoring place?

For professional cameras, the
power source is better located close to the camera. You may use 12VDC AC adapter if the camera is installed indoors and if the power outlet is within 5ft. If a professional camera is installed outdoors or the power outlet is located far away, you should use 24VAC AC Adapter. For DIN cables, which come with pre-packaged observation systems or mini camera package, the power source can be close to the monitoring site, but the distance from the power source to the camera should be less than 250ft.
Do I need video amplifier?
When you need to send the video image more than 250ft on mini
DIN or RCA cable, or 450ft on coaxial cable, you will need to use video amplifier.  You may also need a video amplifier when you want to connect one camera to 2 monitors.
Do I need time & date generator?
Many observation systems
have built-in time & date generator. But, most mini cameras don't have them and you need one if you want the time & date shown on the monitor. Time Lapse VCR usually has built-in time/date generator.
Do I need motion detection? alarms?
In many cases, the motion sensors are possible to connect to existing CCTV systems however they are difficult to sight correctly. However, in digital video recording systems, where the motion detectable area can be assigned with software using a computer monitor, motion detection is simple and easy.
Do I need Pan, Tilt and/or Zoom control?
Pan, tilt and Zoom functionality is required in special circumstances and is generally expensive. There are however some systems with built in  PTZ which is easy to install, maintain and control.
Do I need to record the pictures?
On conventional Time Lapse VCR or DVR (Digital Video Recorder)?

Time Lapse VCR, even though inconvenient to review the recorded pictures, is surely economical than DVR (Digital Video Recorder). DVR is getting more and more popular for its convenience and picture quality. (Standard home VCRs are not good to run 24 hours a day and some are only for play, not being able to record.)
Do I need computer based observation system?
With a video capture card which converts analog signals to digital ones, you can connect any CCTV video camera to the computer if it has enough capacity to handle the video files. The more common method is to use
web cameras which run fast over the Internet or Intranet (LAN or WAN) with small file sizes. Many so-called "PC cameras" uses C-MOS chip instead of CCD chip and also requires separate software.