SECURITY CAMERA BUYER’S GUIDE
Whether you’re protecting your home, monitoring a hunting spot, or preventing crimes at your place of work, there’s no substitute for seeing the truth with your own eyes.
That’s where security cameras come in.
With a quality security camera, you don’t have to rely on hearsay or suspicion: you’ll be able to see the truth with your own eyes.
What is a Security Camera Anyway?
People use the phrase security cameras to describe everything from hidden spy cameras to anti-theft “decorations” designed to keep would-be shoplifters honest. But in the simplest terms, a security camera is a video recorder that watches over an area.
If you’re looking for a Nanny Cam or other hidden camera, you probably want our Hidden Spy Camera Buyer’s Guide. That’s not to say that a security is always obvious — some of our most popular security cameras blend perfectly into their surroundings — but the idea is to conduct long-term surveillance, in or out of doors..
(Note: one exception to this is utility surveillance cameras like our Waterproof Endoscope Camera. While these can function as a security or spy camera in a pinch, their main use is investigating hard-to-reach areas like drain pipes, inside walls, etc. )
Why Do You Need A Security Camera?
Now, you might be thinking: I’m not a bank or a retail shop: what do I need a security camera for? Fair enough. So here’s a better question: don’t you have a right to know what’s happening on your property?
Maybe you’re a farmer, keeping an eye out for pests like feral pigs, or a business owner who wants to know who’s coming and going after hours. Perhaps you’re a hunter who’s trying to establish where game can be found. Maybe you just want to know who’s trying to open your door when you’re not home.
Whatever your reasons, you have a right to know what’s going on. The right security camera makes sure that you do.
Choosing The Best Security Camera
Here’s a secret: there isn’t really a best security camera: but there are plenty of bad ones. Online marketplaces are full of dirt-cheap offerings that promise the world and deliver nothing. We don’t carry those.
In the world of spy gear, there are three basic tiers of product:
- Professional Grade, sometimes called Law Enforcement Grade
- Consumer Grade
We don’t sell any junk. When you buy a security camera from The Spy Store, you’re getting something that’s been tested and used by people who live and breathe this stuff: our security cameras are built to last, and deliver great image quality. Finding the right security camera is going to come down to what your needs are.
What Features Do You Need?
Your security camera needs to be able to do everything you ask it to. A trail camera to spot game doesn’t need the features of a home security camera, and vice versa.
- Image Resolution
What kind of image resolution are you going to need? A higher resolution means crisper, clearer images: but also larger file sizes. If you’re trying to make out specific details like faces, license plates, things like that, you probably want HD resolution: 720p, 1080p, and up. But if you’re just trying to spot when dingos are coming on to your property, a lower resolution should be more than sufficient.
Some models offer adjustable resolution to fit your needs. These really are the best of both worlds, as you can use them for different applications, tweak for visibility in different weather conditions, or just mess with settings until you’ve found the perfect mix of clarity and efficiency for your needs.
- See In the Dark
Whether it’s wild animals or would-be criminals, a lot of the activity you’ll want to catch will happen when it’s dark out. If that’s a concern, infrared night vision lets your security cameras capture events in full detail: even when a conventional camera wouldn’t catch anything.
- Motion Detection
A motion-activated camera only records when something enters its field of view. This saves you the trouble of scrolling through hours of uneventful footage, and possibly missing something critical. It also preserves battery power and storage space, leading to some truly impressive standby times.
Advanced models might have Passive Infrared (or PIR) sensor technology: based off of heat signatures, instead of just motion. That means that a plastic bag caught up in the wind won’t activate your security camera: but a person trying to sneak in always will.
How large of an area are you going to want to cover? Our 1080p 3G Hunting Trail Camera comes comes in both 100° and 52° angle lenses: there’s no price difference, it’s just what’s going to work for you. So it pays to think about where you want to install the trail camera.
Security cameras like our Motion-Activated Floodlight Security Camera can set zones of exclusion, letting you mark a territory to ignore — say, a busy sidewalk — while still covering important areas like your driveway. This ensures that the motion detection only activates when there’s something important to see: keeping false alarms to a minimum.
- Placement & Durability
Where do you need surveillance? If you’re looking to secure the front (or back) of your house, a floodlight camera (like this one) not only provides motion-activated illumination, but also effectively conceals your security camera. On the other hand, if you’re looking to capture wildlife activity in a forested area, a trail camera (such as this one) will be better suited to your needs.
Either way, you’ll want to think about a wired power source vs. some kind of battery. And anything installed outside needs to be able to withstand the elements. Weatherproof products are typically ranked with an International Protection Rating, or IP Rating, telling you exactly how resistant the device is to particles and liquids.
You can find a more detailed breakdown here, but the idea is pretty simple: the first number is for protection against particles (like dust), and the second is for protection against liquids (like water). Take, for example, the Scouting Trail Camera, It’s rated IP54: meaning that harmful dust deposits shouldn’t get in, and it should remain waterproof as long as it’s not subjected to a jet stream.
If you’re serious about keeping your investment safe, you can always pick up a protective case for your trail camera, adding an extra layer of protection against the elements, as well as theft or tampering .
Some security cameras include a mobile app: letting you view remotely, sending you push notifications when motion is detected, and so on. If you just need an overview of activity, then regularly checking the footage is probably fine. But if you’re trying to catch potential thieves in the act, then every moment counts: you’ll want to be able to stream remotely, over WiFi or a 3G network.
Some security cameras feature audio monitoring, even allowing you to broadcast over the app. Informing a would-be burglar that they’re on camera and authorities are being notified can stop an incident before it ever gets underway.
Alternatively, it lets you inform a delivery person that it’s okay to leave the package by the door, as you’ll be home to pick it up soon.
Making The Right Choice For YOU
So what’s the best security camera? There’s no one right answer: it comes down to your needs and budget. What’s best for your situation might be totally unsuited for someone else’s, and vice versa. So make sure you get a device that meets your needs.
And if you’re ever stuck, unsure, or just want to bounce your ideas off of someone, our staff is always available to help you with your decision. We’re passionate about this stuff: it’s important to us that you get the right tools for the job. Feel free to contact us: we’ll help you find the best security camera solution for your needs.