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Understanding CCTV and Security Camera Terminology

Posted by Sam Weiss on 2/24/2014
In a world where protecting your assets is becoming more important than ever, a growing number of people are considering security cameras and CCTV systems to watch over their homes and businesses. Like many technologies, however, the range of security camera options and functionality can be more than a little bit daunting. How do you choose which system is right for your particular needs? The answer is simple; you learn as much as you can, in order to make an informed and educated decision. As you shop for security cameras and CCTV equipment from retailers like UnlimitedCellular.com, you will encounter a laundry list of esoteric terminology among the product descriptions and performance specifications. A few of these terms, and their definitions, are as follows:

CMOS and CCD: These are the two primary image sensor types available. CMOS stands for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor, while CCD is the abbreviation for Charge Coupled Device. Both represent the way that a security camera converts light into an electronic signal. While both imagers are adequate for security purposes, CCD systems produce higher resolution images with less noise (static), and generally cost less. They are especially advantageous if you are going to use the unit in areas with a lower amount of light.

Lux and Lumen: When measuring illumination, lux is the standard used. Basically, lux is equal to one lumen per square meter, with a lumen being the measure of the total amount of visible light that is emitted by any given source. While that may seem complicated, just remember this: The lower the lux number, the better a camera can see in total darkness.

Signal to Noise Ratio: Abbreviated as either S/N or SNR, the signal to noise ratio defines the amount of proper signal to the amount of static or unwanted electronic interference. The higher the S/N ratio, the clearer the image is likely to be.

Number of Frames Per Second: For streaming security video cameras, the number of frames per second, or FPS, determines how many still images that are captured by the camera each second. In situations where there is a solid light source, you can conceivably capture up to 20 FPS, but for lower light settings, a lower FPS allows more light to be captured per frame.

Camera Resolution: This term refers to the number of the smallest video elements or pixels that are used to make up a video image. Analog cameras measure resolution in television lines, or TVL, while digital cameras measure in pixels, either by dimensions (example: 640x480) or in total pixels (example: 2.2 megapixels). The higher the numbers, the more clarity in the image.
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