Surveillance system recommendations
June 9, 2007 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a surveillance system with 6-8 cameras and a DVR that is internet ready? This is for a small business, so we want to keep the cost around $1500 or less. One concern is that employees could turn it off so it would be important to have it password protected. Thanks in advance
posted by Raichle to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You'd want to have the DVR and main unit in a locked place, not just passworded -- the surest way to turn a piece of equipment off is to unplug it from the wall!
posted by SpecialK at 2:44 PM on June 9, 2007

I am currently implementing video surveillance system using IP cameras at our office. While my solution is in an entirely different price range (500-1200 per camera etc), you need to think about using any recorded footage from a legal perspective. From sitting through numerous security cam solutions providers this is one they really drive home.

True security camera packages have proprietary watermarking so that they can stand up in court. You need to be able to prove that no alterations have been made to an image or video. Of course if you just want to check on employees then you may not need such assurances.
posted by ronmexico at 3:11 PM on June 9, 2007

I work in the support department for one of the largest manufacturers of CCTV products in the world. I also assist in product design for DVR's.

The previous points are spot-on.

1. If this is a small end system, it should be locked away in a room or cabinet where there is no access to pull it's power. I cannot stress enough that wherever you put it, make sure that there is adequate ventilation and cooling for it. If you lock it in an unventilated closet or cabinet, the hard drives in the DVR will cook.

2. It definitely depends on what your application is. The proprietary watermark is done on the DVR itself, not the cameras. You also need to decide if you want to have cameras that have movement control, so you can move it and zoom in and out, etc. This is called a PTZ camera (Pan, Tilt, Zoom). These are generally a little more expensive.

3. Most entry level DVR's these days are internet ready, either via an installable application or via a web based client. The application will generally give you far more control over the system. Web clients are generally limited to live video and possibly camera control. Playback of recorded video is not something you will normally get.

4. With specifying cameras, there are several things you will want to consider. This again varies by application. Most cameras can use a variety of different lenses. Think of where you want to mount your cameras. You will want to know as much as you can about what you want that camera to view; how wide you want the shot, how tall, how far away are the objects you will want to be seeing. These will all be important questions when you pick the cameras you want.

5. The 2 most important things to remember when you are specifying a DVR is:

How long do I need to keep recorded video for?

What kind of video quality and speed do I need?

This is a balancing act, because most DVRs will allow you increase the quality of the video, but you will be sacrificing the amount of video you can store.

What we conceive as video quality is broken up into 2 things. Frame rate and recording resolution. Think of recording resolution like you would the resolution of your computer's desktop, or an avi file you download off the internet. The higher the resolution, the more detailed the image will be. The 3 most common you will find are:

CIF - 320x240
2CIF - 640x240
4CIF - 640x480

The higher the better, but the more hard drive space it will eat up.

The other factor is frame rate. Think of it like this: When you are watching TV, you are seeing about 30 frames per second. That is perfectly smooth video, nothing is missing. You can get between 1 and 30 frames per second on most DVR's. Think of 1 frame per second like watching a slide show that changes once per second. If real-time video isn't a requirement for you then I'd think something like 5 frames per second per camera would work out well for you. Places like airports and casinos have government regulations to have real-time video, but most small business users don't really need that level of detail.

Wow I've packed in a lot into this post. I'll stop now. If you have questions or want some product recommendations feel free to e-mail me. It's in the profile.
posted by Industrial PhD at 5:36 PM on June 9, 2007 [5 favorites]

Start here. They have monochrome 640x 280 30 fps for USD 290.00. monochrome 1024x768 CCD 30.0 fps USD 695.00 (mounted on a swivel?)
640x480 Colour CCD 30.0 fps USD 260.00, 640x480 CCD 60.0 fps USD 350.00. Lots of cameras here (all above were firewire).
posted by acro at 7:30 PM on June 9, 2007

Those were all fixed lens, here is a zoom firewire camera: DMK 21AF04-Z DMK 21AF04-Z 640x480 CCD 60.0 fps USD 820.00 (Monochrome and colour are the same price).
posted by acro at 7:33 PM on June 9, 2007

Heres a wireless zoom camera at newegg. Looks nice: $500.
posted by acro at 9:51 PM on June 9, 2007

If you have analog (4) video sources, consider this purpose made 'USB DVR Box' Newegg has it for $85
posted by acro at 10:01 PM on June 9, 2007

These by Axis are overpriced, but seem to be one grade above the logitech cameras.
posted by acro at 11:06 PM on June 9, 2007

PC World article that I came across tonight.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:07 PM on June 9, 2007

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