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How to choose the best outdoor security camera

How to choose the best outdoor security camera
From monitoring residential properties to securing national borders or city surveillance, choosing an outdoor security camera for these security applications require careful consideration. Here are the top security camera features to consider, to guide you to choose the right camera for your needs.
From monitoring residential properties to securing national borders or city surveillance, choosing an outdoor security camera for these security applications require careful consideration. Here are the top security camera features to consider, to guide you to choose the right camera for your needs.

Should I choose the cheapest outdoor security camera option?

Most people start by researching “cheap outdoor CCTV cameras” online. More often than not, results suggesting dummy or fake cameras pop up. This is not recommended for several reasons: One, professional criminals easily distinguish real from fake cameras. Two, legit outdoor security cameras are now widely available and reasonably priced. Investing in a fake CCTV camera is a risky and hardly worthwhile decision.

Average prices for outdoor security cameras

Depending on your needs, outdoor security cameras can be found for urnder US$50 going all the way up to hundreds of dollars per camera. Looking to boost your home security? The price for a basic smart home outdoor camera on Amazon from brands like Wyze or Reolink (compatible with Alexa or Google Home) is around $40 to $50. A Ring outdoor security camera runs around US$100 or $200 for a model with built-in lighting.
Cameras for professional use from brands like Hikvision or Dahua average between $100 and $350 depending on the specifications. There are of course even more expensive models that offer more advanced capabilities.

How to choose the best outdoor security camera

When choosing your outdoor security camera, check if it has the following features:

Outdoor CCTV requirements checklist:

  1. Camera resolution
  2. Night vision (color, infrared)
  3. Weather/vandal-proof
  4. Motion detection
  5. Field of View
  6. Zoom lens
  7. Audio and 2-way communication
  8. Power
  9. Data connectivity

Camera resolution

An obvious point to look for outdoor video security installations is camera resolution. The higher the quality, the better it will capture details. This would prove critical if the videos are needed for forensic evidence. If you would like to preview the image quality and visualize how the image will actually look (e.g., clear or blurry and at what distance), you can use one of the online IP camera calculators we collected for you. 

Night vision

Different technologies enable cameras to see in the dark. Broadly speaking, users should decide if they are content with black and white images at night or want to have a camera that can produce color images even at night. Read more on how to choose the best night vision security camera for your needs.


Outdoor cameras are exposed to the elements. Rain, snow, dust, heat or anything else depending on where you live could damage them. We advise checking the rating Ingress protection rating (IP rating) of your outdoor camera. IP rating codes consist of two primary components: solid particle protection (first number, 0-6) and liquid ingress protection (second number, 0-9). The higher the number, the more protected the device. You can find more information in IP Ratings Explained.

Motion detection

A camera with motion detection capability can detect movement in its field of vision, making it unnecessary to constantly monitor the video feed, saving on manpower, power and storage space as recording is only triggered by motion. The downside is that moving objects, lights from passing cars, branches moving in the wind or animals might be cause for false alarms. Click here to read more about the various kinds of motion detection technology.

Field of view (180 to 360 degrees)

Large outdoor spaces require the widest possible point of view for adequate security coverage. Depending on the area, a fisheye lens or single/multi-lens panoramic camera might be the best choice for wide areas. Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras can be installed to “pan” across the whole area and zooming into objects of interest. Can’t decide? click for 7 reasons to choose fisheye lens over multi-sensor security cameras

Zoom lens - yes/no

Outdoor home security cameras do not have zoom lens, but rather have apps that offer digital zoom. Ring cameras, for instance, offer up to 8x digital zoom. But this would not work for camera systems that need to monitor long distances such as for border control, harbor/port monitoring, city surveillance, forest fire monitoring or large parking lots, etc. Some of the leading lens models can have up to 80x zoom capabilities.
Users should keep in mind thought that zooming in on objects reduces the field of view, thus affecting the image resolution. Read more about this in this earlier article on tradeoff between image resolution and field of view penned by Theia Technologies.


Not all cameras offer audio but this feature could prove valuable. Audio can work two-way, meaning it can pick up what’s happening outside as well as help the owner communicate with people outside through speakers.


Security cameras require power to work so making sure that the connection infrastructure is weather and vandal-resistant should be a priority. Depending on your system, you can choose between wired, battery-powered or solar-powered cameras. Power wiring can be complicated and expensive, especially for larger-scale outdoor camera projects. If power requirements can be kept at a minimum, you can opt to rely on solar or battery power, or use PoE cameras which do not require a separate power supply.

Data Connectivity

Should you choose wired or wireless cameras? Depends on the type of project involved. For simpler installations like outdoor home security or small areas, wireless cameras that rely on Wi-Fi can be easily installed. However, for large-scale projects like city surveillance projects, dedicated transmitters are necessary. Click on the link to read more about choosing the right type of wireless systems for city surveillance.

These are some of the most essential factors to consider when choosing an outdoor security camera. Apart from this, there are other features that you can look at, like facial recognition which helps you identify people, options to integrate with third-party devices for home automation, and remote viewing capacity that should allow you to access the videos on your mobile or other devices connected to the internet.
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