Is this a good surveillance system?
July 11, 2012 11:41 PM   Subscribe

Is this a good deal for a surveillance system?

I've been asked by a friend to help him choose and install a surveillance system for his small business. My initial impulse was to set it up a wired system using a computer with zoneminder, where we'd purchase a video capture card and four cameras.

Then I came across a ready made system that seems pretty decent.

I'm really inexperienced in this area, and not sure what to make of the product. It fits my friend's budget (~$500), and looks easy to set up.

His primary purpose is to have a video record of the store so if something goes missing he can review the footage.

Are we better off buying the components separately and going with a linux system with zoneminder, or does this look legitimately worthy?
posted by spacediver to Technology (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
After doing some research for my own purchase, I found that a good surveillance system is 90% about camera's resolution and quality.

480 TV lines as shown on your link for the camera will not do the job. You would not be able to clearly see person's face nor determine plate number when cars are moving.

I've had Swann System similar to your link. It was useless almost 100% of the time when I really needed it...

After my experience, I recommend buying good original SONY CCD high res. cameras from ebay. It doesn't have to be Sony made... Just search Sony CCD high res from ebay. Buy it from reputable dealers. The record system is really up to you. I would almost say it doesn't matter what you get for recording. I would find one with some sort of smartphone remote system to be future proof...(most of them are now days)... Big hard drive and long recording time is not really necessary... unless you forsee checking things 3 month after it happens...unlikely for most small stores.

I would go with more than 4 channel... may be 8 to 16 channel is better... I got 16 channel ones even if I only had 8 cameras.. yet... in few month.. I keep seeing blind spots.. and the 16 channel is all full now...

Home built computer system is o.k... I had it but too cumbersome for worker or for anyone other than the person who built and maintain the system.. I recommend just a stand alone system-it usually works fine...

Once again... Ebay seems to be very good place for this... There are some passionate people who are into surveillance systems with good explanation for what they are selling and what they aren't selling.... I was a newbe not long ago... but you learn pretty quick when you spend $1000 worth of junky cameras and realize I got it wrong.

Oh.. make sure your recording system support high res images....
posted by curiousleo at 12:21 AM on July 12, 2012

One major problem with video surveillance is the amount of light.

Something that will illuminate the area + surveil defeats the purpose of discretion, but there's the preventative aspect that should be considered.
posted by porpoise at 12:37 AM on July 12, 2012

thanks to the both of you - great advice.
posted by spacediver at 12:53 AM on July 12, 2012

Costco online has a good selection. This one was on sale for $480 recently at It has twice as many cameras and better resolution, for $30 more than your example. The illumination at night is done with infrared LEDs, which shouldn't tip off most intruders.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:45 AM on July 12, 2012

thanks weapons-grade, that does indeed look like a much better deal.

I also found this useful guide to camera resolutions.
posted by spacediver at 10:06 AM on July 12, 2012

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