Security Camera Buying Guide

Security cameras are an important part of any home security system. They used to be used mostly by very rich or famous people, but in recent years security cameras have evolved and are now better and more affordable than ever. A wireless security camera is like a webcam, but it can be placed anywhere in the home and connects to both the local wireless network and the Internet. With this type of camera, you can monitor your home from a computer, smartphone or tablet, whether you are around the corner or in another country.

Wireless security cameras can be used for all kinds of purposes. Typical uses include monitoring children, watching a sleeping child in the house, monitoring pets while at work, or even just checking to see if someone is at the door. They can also alert the user if they detect motion, such as the presence in the house of someone who should not be there. Cameras vary in their capabilities, so you need to choose the one that offers the best image for your needs.

Types of Security Cameras

Most Security Cameras fall into two main categories: Indoor and outdoor cameras. Although they both perform the same function they can see what is going on in a certain area and have similar functions, there are also specific differences. The main difference between indoor and outdoor cameras is the type of environment they are designed for.

An outdoor camera should be waterproof and weatherproof. It is usually made of more rugged components or may be housed in a weatherproof cover. Indoor cameras, on the other hand, do not have to deal with harsh weather conditions and are usually lighter than their outdoor counterparts. Within these categories, there are also a variety of cameras with different functions.

Indoor Security Cameras

Indoor security cameras are designed to monitor the interior of your home. Indoor cameras have a wide range of features, from simple, no-frills surveillance cameras to more detailed, higher-end cameras with advanced features. Some of these features include:

  • Wide-angle lenses, designed to capture larger areas.
  • Microphones that allow you to listen to the area your camera is covering.
  • Motion-activated cameras that trigger recording when motion is detected.
  • HD-resolution for clear pictures.
  • Infrared night vision
  • Remote viewing via an app or tablet, so you can check footage throughout the day.
  • Notifications when motion is detected.

Depending on what you need your camera for, you can also find indoor security cameras that offer special features better suited to your particular needs.

Nanny Cam

Nanny cam is a surveillance camera designed to keep an eye on a nanny in your absence. Unlike other indoor security cameras, nanny cams are usually hidden or placed in an inconspicuous location so that parents can get an idea of how the babysitter or nanny is behaving when they don’t think anyone is watching. Nanny cams can be hidden in everyday objects such as a clock or a teddy bear.

Pet Cameras

Many pet owners wonder what their pets are up to during the day. Pet cameras, which have become very popular in recent years, allow pet owners to check on their pets throughout the day. Many also have pet-specific features, such as the ability to dispense treats.

Baby Monitors

A baby monitor is placed next to the child’s crib or sleeping area and allows parents or caregivers to monitor the child during the night or while they sleep. These types of cameras have a wide range of features, depending on your budget and needs. Some baby monitors can monitor the temperature in the room, play white noise or lullabies, or connect to special monitors that monitor the infant’s breathing or movement patterns.

Outdoor Security Cameras

Outdoor security cameras tend to be more expensive than indoor security cameras, mainly because of the weather-resistant materials needed to withstand the elements and fluctuating temperatures.

Just like indoor security cameras, outdoor security cameras come with a wide range of features, depending on your needs and budget. These include:

  • Motion-activated cameras that start recording as soon as they sense motion.
  • Continuous recording cameras that record continuously.
  • Wide-angle lenses for a wider coverage area.
  • Infrared LED night vision.
  • HD resolution for clearer images.
  • Microphones that let you hear and talk to people on the premises.
  • Advanced features like Vivint’s Smart Deter, which detects lurkers and plays an alert sound to let them
  • know they’ve been spotted.
  • Remote monitoring via an app on a smartphone or tablet.

Outdoor security cameras can be further divided by location, including:

Doorbell Cameras

Doorbell cameras are also called porch cameras and are integrated with the front doorbell. Some have motion sensors that detect visitors at the front door or entryway, so you can see who is on your porch whether they ring the bell or not. Most doorbell cameras also have a two-way talk feature, so you can talk to the visitor and open the door without actually opening it.

Floodlight Camera

A floodlight camera combines the security functions of motion lighting and surveillance cameras. When motion is detected, the floodlight shines a bright light on the location and the camera starts recording. This not only provides a better image for recording, but can also deter potential intruders.

Preferred Technology

After determining the needs of your business, you will need to consider the type of technology you will need for your security camera. You can choose from the following options:

Network IP

With this technology, the cameras can be easily integrated into the corporate network. Thus, it can be controlled from a computer or other device that works over the Internet, even from a remote location. You can easily store the recordings on your company’s server.


It is another popular technology that uses wireless cameras. This uses digital signals to connect to a DVR (digital video recorder). The reception of audio and video through a wireless camera is excellent. Moreover, other wireless devices do not interfere with the reception at all.


This is an old method of security camera installation, which is very inexpensive. However, it requires time to install the cables and wires and uses standard security cameras.

Features and Specs to Consider


The higher the video resolution of a camera, the more details can be seen. Most of today’s cameras offer high-definition (HD) video (1080p or 2 megapixels). Super HD (1440p/4 megapixels or 2K) and Ultra HD (8 megapixels or 4K) are becoming more popular because they provide sharper and clearer images. Full HD is sufficient for most people, but if you want to zoom in closer on a person’s face or license plate, go for Super or Ultra HD and an 8x or 12x digital zoom lens.

Night Vision

Outdoor security cameras should have night vision capability with a good range. Cameras don’t see as far at night as they do during the day, and night vision range varies from about 30 feet to 300 feet. Look for a camera with night vision that has a range of at least 50 feet. Color night vision is also available on some higher-end cameras.


Shooting outdoors is difficult because glare and shadows mar an otherwise clear image. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and removes most glare and shadows from outdoor shots, making them look more realistic than ever before.

Battery Life

Choose a security camera that has a longer battery life because it is portable. Place the camera in a low-traffic area to avoid constantly triggering its motion detection. It doesn’t work all day, so make a schedule for when you use the camera, such as at night. Continuous recording will drain the battery in a short time, which may affect image quality.


When it comes to smart security cameras, a user-friendly app is important to stream footage live, control the camera remotely, and receive timely notifications. Make sure your app has good ratings in the iOS or Android store, depending on the brand of your mobile device.


CCTV systems have built-in security features that allow you to enable two-factor authentication to protect against attacks like hacking. Every time you log in to the system, it sends a verification code to your smart device via phone call, SMS or email, so it can confirm that it’s you trying to gain access and not an unauthorized person.


Cameras should have speakers and a microphone so you can talk to the person the camera is pointed at through the mobile app, a process called two-way audio. Today, most smart security cameras have two-way audio, but analog cameras most likely only have microphones.

Motion Activation

A camera should start recording as soon as motion is detected and store the footage in a location that is accessible for a specified period of time. This is sometimes referred to as event-based recording.

Field of view

The field of view of a camera indicates how much of an area it can see and record. Many wireless cameras offer a very large field of view sometimes up to 180°. Cameras with a narrower field of view are best for tighter areas where you want to see more detail and don’t necessarily need the wide field of view.

The field of view depends largely on the focal length of the camera lens, and many bullet and dome cameras specify the focal length of the lens in their specifications instead of degrees. A common fixed focal length is 2.8 mm, which corresponds to a horizontal field of view of 90°. With some cameras, you can zoom in to get a narrower field of view.

Digital Zoom

Creates the impression of magnification by cropping the area outside the zoomed area and enlarging or interpolating the pixels in the focus area, which can result in blurring and loss of detail.

Optical Zoom

Motorized remote lens adjustment allows zooming in and out without compromising image quality. With a varifocal lens, you can also zoom without sacrificing image quality, but the framing is set on the camera itself beforehand.

Storage and Connections

Whether you’re recording footage continuously or just occasional clips triggered by motion, you need a place to store all that data securely. Remember that the location you choose will also affect how your cameras are connected to the power grid and your network.


Wireless cameras connect to your network via Wi-Fi, and most have some sort of cloud storage option. Some cameras give you free access to your footage for a set period of time – 24 hours, for example – while others won’t let you see a single movement until you pay for an optional storage plan. You should consider these ongoing costs when choosing products.

Note that many “wireless” cameras still require a power cord, although there are a growing number of 100% wireless versions that run on rechargeable batteries. These are very handy if you need to place a camera in a location where a power outlet is not available. One disadvantage of battery-powered cameras is that they don’t offer the instant live view that wired cameras do.

Memory Cards

Some surveillance cameras record images on the same removable memory cards used by regular digital cameras. This is a cost-effective option, but you must remember to regularly replace full cards with empty ones.

Hard Drives

This can be the drive built into your computer or an external drive that comes with a security system. These are called digital video recorders or network video recorders – DVRs or NVRs, respectively. With this approach, you no longer need to change the recording media, but the capacity of the drive you use is still limited. These systems usually require a wired connection between your cameras and your capture device.

Light Conditions

The lighting conditions in the area where you want to install the surveillance camera must be taken into account. If you do not take this factor into account, it will affect the selection of the camera. You don’t want the camera to take poor quality pictures and videos. Lighting conditions play a big role in the quality of the images captured. You can use color surveillance cameras in an area where the lighting conditions are good. An infrared camera works best in low or no light conditions.

Record to a Standalone Security Video Recorder

The division of labor was the basic principle for the success of the industrial revolution. The same principle is now applied to computing devices, where dedicated devices take on specific tasks and perform them reliably. It is time and cost efficient to use a dedicated recorder to store important security footage and provide easy video playback. To meet this need for HD security cameras over coaxial cable and IP cameras, a DVR and NVR were developed.


There are two types of standalone video recorders for surveillance cameras:


A digital video recorder takes an analog video signal and encodes it digitally to store it on a hard drive in the device. Previously, DVRs were specifically for security cameras that transmitted a signal over a BNC cable such as coaxial cable or over a network cable with balun connectors. Since 2013, DVRs are not only suitable for traditional CCTV cameras with analog resolution, but also for HD security cameras that send video over coaxial cable. Each year, new DVR models have supported higher video resolution over coaxial cable than the year before. Currently, DVRs can support up to 4K video over coaxial cable.


A network video recorder is used to record video streams over a network, i.e. data sent from an IP camera over a network cable. An NVR is only suitable for use with network-based cameras and does not accept analog or HD security cameras over coaxial cable. It is a common misconception that an NVR camera system requires an Internet connection to transmit the signal from the IP camera to the NVR.


It’s no secret that Internet of Things, or IoT, devices aren’t always up to par when it comes to security breaches. Major tech companies like Ring and Nest have both had their fair share of privacy issues, from people spying on other people through their Ring cameras to hidden microphones in the Nest Secure security system, which Nest has since discontinued. That said, privacy can look a few different ways:

Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication can certainly help prevent unauthorized access to accounts by requiring us to enter a passcode in addition to our regular username and password to access our camera accounts. Extra points if the app is compatible with fingerprint or facial recognition, which falls into the category of multi-factor authentication.


The camera should encrypt your recordings using AES-256 bit, the industry standard for encryption used by the US military.

History of Breaches

To be on the safe side, do a quick Google search and see if the company has been affected by security breaches in the past. Unfortunately, this is all too common and a risk for any Internet-connected device, from smart security cameras to smart lights and locks.

Pricing and Budgeting

Proper budgeting is the name of the game for any purchase that requires a certain amount of planning. Estimate your expenses before you purchase a surveillance camera system. Find out the type of cameras you need by reading product descriptions and video samples of the cameras you like.

Generally, the higher the camera resolution and the more advanced the settings, the more expensive the camera will be. You don’t need a 12MP or 8MP camera with a 32-channel NVR if all you want to do is check on your dog in the backyard. A 4-channel NVR with a couple of 2K IP cameras will do just fine. Competent security can be cost-effective, especially when buying a security camera system.


These security cameras connect to your home Wi-Fi network to send alerts, footage and live video to your smartphone so you can monitor activities while you are out and about. A home security camera is a video recording device that captures footage of your home and property that you can view on a smartphone, tablet or computer from anywhere that has an Internet connection. Most home security cameras are motion-activated and record when they detect motion, as well as send an alert.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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