Security Camera System Frequently Asked Questions

Your security camera system questions are probably answered here.  That's simply  because I've been asked, and answered, thousands of questions from people looking to buy or upgrade one for their business or home.

If your question isn't covered please let me know & I'll add it in.  If you're asking it then someone else wants to know too!

How much does a security camera system cost?

Might as well get this one out of the way first because I know you want to have a rough idea.

The answer of course is ' it depends ' but I know that isn't very satisfying, so here goes for a rough idea based on what my business offers.  All these prices exclude GST.

Remember you can lease these instead of paying up front.  This can make a much better system more affordable because they start at about $12 a week.

  • $600 for a 4 camera low resolution kit like this one.
  • $1250 for a 4 camera high resolution kit like this one.
  • $2000 - $2300 for a basic 4 camera low resolution analog system installed.
  • $2500 - $2800 for a basic 4 camera high resolution IP system installed.
  • $2800 - $3300 for a basic 4 camera high definition IP system installed.
  • $4800 - $9000 for a Mobotix 4 camera 6 megapixel system installed.
  • $20,000 - $50,000 for a Mobotix 6 megapixel system for a school, warehouse, factory etc

One final thought on price.  Things have come a long way.  As recently as the 90s you'd easily pay $15,000 for a low resolution 4 camera analog system - and you'd have to manually replace a VCR tape every day!

How does a security camera system work?

Big question but in essence there are 2 types - centralised and de-centralized.  They're explained here.

Does it work at night?

Yes and no.

Most cheaper systems use infra red leds in the camera so you get some sort of picture even in pitch black.

The better systems like Mobotix don't use infra red leds in any of their cameras because the resulting image isn't good enough for their exacting standards.  They instead recommend ( and they are right )  that you improve the lighting ( that means white light ) using either fixed or sensor lighting.

Personally I like movement-activated sensor lighting with any security camera system because it has the effect of startling an intruder as well as providing perfect conditions for your camera!  This is inexpensive and helps to get a decent result at night instead of what most CCTV gets.

It's funny you know ... you wouldn't put up with a poor picture of a face during the day, and yet a poor picture is exactly what most cheap led cameras achieve.

My advice is listen to the Germans on this one.

Is there any way to detect intruders if it's impossible to light the area?

Yes with thermographic or thermal imaging cameras ( TICs ).  Mobotix have recently introduced these into some of their cameras and they are awesome!

If you can show me anything else that will detect a person at 200m away in complete darkness - and be within a sensible price range - then let me know.

To put this into context a single TIC used in WA recently in a helicopter to assist in fire fighting cost $1M.  They spent that before they knew about Mobotix.  Now for much much less than that cost they're going to outfit every aircraft and every truck they have with a Mobotix thermal imaging camera!

This is the future of the security camera system world - thermal for early detection and visual for identification.

How far back can I go to search for footage?

It's entirely up to you and it's a great question to think about when you look into getting a security camera system.

Most people seem to want 30 days.  It's not a bad number because it means you don't have to panic if you're away over a long weekend or even kid's school holidays and you can't get to it until you get back - at least you know it'll still be there.

At the other end of the scale is a commercial client of ours who needed to keep continuous recordings for 2 years because of their client ( a bank ).  

Whatever you want it can be achieved by adding more storage which in the scheme of things is relatively inexpensive.

Mobotix is the best system in the world for recording to network attached storage ( NAS ) - basically a box full of hard drives with a little computer looking after it.  You just connect it to your network and tell the cameras to send their recordings there & retrieve any searches from there.

An even cheaper way with Mobotix cameras is to simply put a larger micro SD card in the camera.  It's 4 Gb by default but I've tested 64Gb Sandisk cards with good results and I'm told there's no reason why 128 Gb or even 256 Gb cards wouldn't work too.  By that time though you're getting close to NAS pricing so that may well be a better bet.

Why do I feel funny about putting them on my home?

I've come across some people whose initial gut reaction to cameras on their house isn't positive.  The most common expression is "I don't want to feel like I'm living in Fort Knox".  Funny how that place sticks in the vocabulary.

I guess if you go back 20 - 30 years that's probably how people felt when burglar alarms on homes first appeared.

Go back even further and people were probably horrified at putting  a lock on their front door!

It's your home, your family and of course your call.

Regardless of what you do however, there will still be burglaries and home invasions every week in your city.  One of our clients had 8 in 18 months in the most upmarket suburb in New Zealand's biggest city Auckland.

There will also be times when you're away from the house when it'd really handy to be able to see what's going on.  Now technology has made that as easy as looking at an App on your smartphone, so  I suspect cameras on homes will soon become was commonplace as a front door lock.





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