How to choose a long-range outdoor camera?
Source: Prasanth Aby Thomas, Consultant Editor
Most customers already know that protecting outdoor assets often require cameras that can withstand rugged and harsh environments. Unlike cameras installed inside, outdoor cameras are exposed to the elements
. They should be built specifically for outdoor operations or should at least be installed within a casing.
However, what many customers fail to understand is that the distance that a camera can cover is also important when it comes to outdoor installations
. For instance, to protect a farm, the cameras that can cover vast areas are needed, to avoid having to install a large number of cameras at close distances from each other.
But selecting a long-range camera is not as simple as it sounds. Customers should consider at least four factors when doing this.
Factors to know when selecting a long-range outdoor camera
There are primarily four factors that should be taken into account – the image quality of the camera, its ability to capture visuals in various light conditions, zoom range, and ability to transmit data wirelessly over long distances. Here’s a detailed look at each of these requirements:
The standard that should be followed here is at least HD. Some installers may consider a 1080P camera sufficient for most requirements, but this shouldn’t be the criteria for selection. After all, camera technology has evolved so much over the recent years to provide, 4 megapixels, 5 megapixels, and even 4K resolution video. Naturally, the better the resolution of the video, the more the details it can capture.
Factor in the distance the camera has to cover. Also, look at specific functions it should perform like license plate recognition and motion detection. Calculating pixels per foot (PPF) is the best way to find the best image quality for your needs. The formula is:
PPF = camera’s horizontal resolution/its field of view
Capturing high-quality videos during the day is important, but the camera would be useless if it cannot capture usable visuals without the help of artificial lights. In outdoor settings, especially in areas that are far from buildings, lights are not always available. Hence, an excellent night-vision feature is crucial.
The infrared bulbs (IR) around the lens of the camera is what helps the devices capture visuals in the night. Make sure that the camera that you buy has this feature. IR is invisible to the naked eye, but at times, you may come across cameras that have IR bulbs that emit a red glow in the night, just to make it clear people that there is a camera watching you and possibly work as a deterrent against potential offenders.
The optical zoom feature allows the camera to extend its reach as far as possible without compromising on quality. Varifocal lens cameras, which allow users to zoom in and out, are the best option for outdoor long-range operations. The reason for insisting on optical zoom over digital zoom should come as a no-brainer in this era of mobile phone cameras, as the latter loses image quality when zooming.
A camera with a 4x optical zoom may be enough for a lot of purposes but the final decision should depend on how large the area you are trying to cover is. A closely related factor is the pan and tilt feature. To cover wide areas, cameras with pan and tilt feature is necessary.
What’s the use of high-quality visuals if they cannot be transmitted to the customer’s viewing devices or storage devices quickly and without loss of clarity? For many customers, wireless cameras are often the preferred option for outdoor security as they help to avoid costs and hassles of setting up cables over long distances.
But wireless technologies can be tricky if not installed correctly or the device is unreliable. On many occasions, customers complain about poor signal strength and poor connectivity in outdoor wireless cameras. To avoid these problems, a camera with a long Wi-Fi range over dual-band is a great choice.
If you are installing the camera in areas where there is no Wi-Fi network, then consider using a 4G-based transmission feature. These don’t require wires and you wouldn’t have to worry about the range of your Wi-Fi signal.