When purchasing analog security cameras, there are many options out there. You have cheap equipment that can be purchased from a store that also specializes in household products and food all the way to the security camera experts that focus only on quality security camera products.
With so many years in the industry, I felt it best to create a cheat sheet for newbies, so you make sure to avoid all the fluff that is out there and make sure you are getting the best analog camera for the money.
- Chipset – I am going to keep this one simple. Stick with Sony chipsets. Sony, Sony, Sony. Don’t mess with Sharp chipsets, and if at all possible, stay with 1/3” and avoid 1/4” chipsets like the plague. If the camera you are looking at doesn’t specify a Sony chipset, turn 180 degrees and visit someone else. There are plenty of reputable companies out there offering analog cameras with a Sony chipset. BONUS: Sony Effio chipsets are the latest and greatest-go for these if your budget allows!
- Manufacturer Location – I have looked at, tested and pulled apart THOUSANDS of cameras from manufacturers in China, Taiwan and Korea. If your budget allows, stick with Korean made products. Not only do you tend to get a better warranty, these cameras are usually the most durable. Other popular products that come from Korea include LG and Samsung, both of which are made of the highest quality and very reliable. Next after Korea, I would venture to products from mainland China, but definitely read product reviews on the products you are interested in before committing to anything.
- IR vs Non-IR Cameras – Unless you really just have something against night vision, go with IR (Infrared) cameras. IR cameras allow you to see during the day time and at night time, whereas non-IR cameras just allow you to see when there is a sufficient amount of light. IR cameras are produced as much (if not more) than non-IR cameras and can usually be purchased for the same price as a non-IR camera.
- IR Range (Night Vision) – If you are looking at a night vision camera, the IR range specified is always 40-60% of what is actually shown. I really think the manufacturers test the IR range multiple times and just take the highest distance, rather than the average.
- TVL – TVL (TV Lines) represent the number of horizontal TV Lines an analog camera has. Obviously, the more the better. As of this writing, you should really try to get a camera with 500+ TVL, as these are produced as much (if not more) than 300-400 TVL cameras. The highest you can go is 700 TVL, by the way.
- WDR – WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) cameras adjust light levels when a cameras view gets washed out from viewing a bright area, window facing the East or West, etc. Basically, if you have a camera that is facing the East or West or facing an area with a lot of light coming in, go for the WDR. Otherwise, this feature is not mandatory.
There you have it! You’ve just saved yourself a lot of time, headaches and hassle. Stay tuned, my next cheat sheet will focus on IP Cameras. You don’t want to miss it!