I was wondering what should be the first thing worth mentioning when installing a camera and then something crossed my mind. The main thing is to plan the installation before you buy any camera because there are different aspects that might render some cameras useless for your application.
So here are the main aspects you should consider when installing a camera:
1. Think of the reason of your camera system, plan in advance, buy cameras later. Simply avoid the troubles with bad choice. Angelcam recommends everyone to consider the conditions first and purchase suitable cameras afterwards. Once you appear in the last step “Purchase the camera” you can check our page with recommended cameras.
2. Identifying your camera on the network is easy when you purchase a camera from a well established manufacturer. You get a tool which will scan your network and find the cameras. In other cases you can check if your camera wasn’t detected as a network device (cameras with UPnP presentation enabled) and if you can’t find it, the you would have to scan your network with for example angry IP scanner.
- For users who are not using a DHCP server to assign IP addresses automatically in the network, each camera should come with a default IP address which should be specified in the user manual.
3. Always install the camera facing the entrance point (door, windows), having a footage of someone’s back won’t help you with the identification.
- Be careful though, when monitoring windows and doors, you will usually discover that it is not that simple as it might sound. Usually, inside a building it is quite dark while you get a direct beam of light through the windows or when someone opens the door and most cheap cameras don’t handle scenes with high contrast really well.
- The easiest option is to look for cameras which do come with WDR (Wide Dynamic Range, also called HDR). The problem is that cheap cameras only have a software WDR which has extremely limited capabilities, simply put, the picture is post processed which makes some objects slightly more visible. So either check if this function is acceptable for your installation or get a camera with hardware WDR. Every experienced security company should be able to point you in the right direction in their portfolio. Here is an example of the difference in Axis cameras.
- If you still want a cheap camera, there is a solution as well. After you install the camera, go into the image settings and look for for something like exposure settings. You should be able to leave it in automatic mode and select just the area where the window/door is and exclude it. The camera will then correct the exposure settings only to match the light conditions inside the room and when someone enters it, part of the image will be over-exposed but you will see the face instead of just a dark silhouette. Of course it won’t be perfect, you won’t see anything through the window for example.
- You can use the exposure configuration in all other cases to force the camera to match only the light conditions in the important areas.
4. Don’t install the cameras too high, always make sure you are clearly able to see a person’s face, not just the head, again, it won’t help you with the identification.
- When you have selected the position for each camera, measure the horizontal angle of view (you don’t have to cover the whole room, just the important areas. Choose your camera according to your measurements, most cheap cameras come with a lens with a fixed focal length, but you can usually pick from 2-4 specific versions of the same camera, each with a different lens and different view angle. A nice online tool for illustration is here: http://www.theiatechnologies.com/calculator.php
You already know how to install an IP camera, here are some tips related to camera settings:
1. Resolution: for most indoor applications, you don’t need more than a 1 MPx (720p) camera, you don’t need to pursue the highest resolution, look for a good image quality instead (light sensitivity in Lux in color and B/W mode).
- Cameras with higher resolution are usually worse in low light conditions, the same amount of light going through the lens is divided to more pixels. It isn’t the universal truth however, budget cameras with higher resolution tend to use next generation sensors, so keep an eye on the datasheet.
2. Frame rate: if it is possible, use the highest available frame rate, lower the framerate only in case you have some bandwidth/storage limitations, in that case, 15 fps is still enough for security purposes, it won’t limit you when identifying a walking/running person.
3. Flickering is also associated with the frame rate, it is caused by difference in the power line frequency (60 or 50Hz depending on the country you live in) and the frame rate and shutter times. Anti-flicker modes sync these values so the picture is not degraded. Be careful, some cameras come in different versions, so not every camera will be able to sync with your powerline frequency.
4. IR illumination: There are not many configuration options in this case, so when installing the camera with an IR illumination, check if there aren’t any surfaces reflecting the IR light back to the camera.
- Another challenge might arise when a person comes in front of a camera with an IR light on, the face might be overexposed which limits the chance of identifying the person. There isn’t any settings which would help with this, but some more advanced cameras can dynamically reduce the IR light output in the affected cameras making the object in the front more less overexposed.
5. Blurry image at night, in this case the camera is increasing the exposure time too much, making the picture clearer (allowing more light through to the sensor during longer time) but making any movement blurry. Simply decrease the maximum exposure time to 1/15s or so and you shouldn’t get any more blur. Also note that longer exposure time also reduces the framerate (with some exceptions)
6. Streaming settings is usually set to quite a high quality from factory, you just might want to check if the compression is set to h264, that the I-frame (keyframe) frequency is set to roughly 1s (1x the framerate value=usually 30 or 25). If you’re experiencing some issues, it is a good idea to set a maximum bitrate so that the camera doesn’t send too much data, for example at night. For cloud solutions, it is good to keep the maximum around 1500-2000 kbps for a 720p or 1080p camera, for local storage it might be 4000-6000. These are the common values, you need to take into account your connection speed and your storage capacity as well.
7. Connection quality is pretty much connected with the bitrate, most cameras can handle only up to 10 concurrent connections (depending on the stream quality settings), any new connections are refused once this happens. This is however the maximum value, if your stream quality is high, you can observe increased delay, choppy image or even connection loss with as low as 5 connected viewers.
- This issue can be easily managed by using angelcam live streaming app. Angelcam creates only one connection to your camera and all the other viewers do connect to angelcam servers only.
8. Outdoor/indoor cameras, this basic division just distinguishes which cameras can be mounted outside, in cold/hot environment, working in rainy or dusty conditions. The most common standard for such cameras is called IP66. Cameras marked as IP66 can be mounted outside, but it is still a good idea to check the operating temperature of each camera, the differences can be quite dramatic.
- When installing an outdoor camera, don’t forget to protect the cable as well, most connectors in cheap camera are not water resistant. Also, any cables should always face downwards, otherwise you risk the water droplets getting into your camera and damaging it.
- Clearly visible outdoor cameras act as a prevention system, when someone notices that the house is being monitored, he is likely to find another object which is less risky getting into. Having said that, always make yourself familiar with your local laws, in some countries, you’re not allowed to monitor public areas.
All clear, but don’t have a camera yet? Feel free to check our recommended cameras.
I hope this helped, however if you should have any questions, feel free to contact me or our team via our Live chat. We are ready & happy to help!