Why Camera does not equal Camera

Cameras overviewing parking lot on light standards

Not to worry, this is not going to be a math lesson. Picking a surveillance camera for a property can be confusing and difficult. There are hundreds of specifications that are different between cameras and yet two cameras that are seemingly similar in capabilities, have a significant price difference?

Most surveillance cameras specifications list a variety of features, such as megapixel count, nightvision and environmental ratings. All these features are important and can make all the difference to picking the right camera.

So, where does the difference come in?

Some manufacturers manufacture with more budget-conscious materials and in turn are able to sell the camera for lower than the competitor. These savings, however, also tend to affect the quality and features that may be similar to the higher-end cameras, but just not as fleshed out or easy to use. As an example, many of the products in the lower-end category experience issues early on. The software can be difficult to use and incompatible with most other software. Another example is that lower-cost cameras oftentimes come with silica gel near the components. This is because the water ingress ratings do not hold up to what they’re labeled to be, creating potential for a leak.

The other major differentiator is the actual image portion of the camera. Putting two manufacturers’ cameras that both have the same megapixel count side-by-side, will result in different image qualities. Key here are the chips that are used to create this image. As an example, Bosch uses exclusive Sony chips to create their images. The result? A crystal clear image, every time. By contrast, other manufacturers may use low-cost chips that have the same specifications, but cannot produce the same image quality.

Camera Reliability

When it comes to security, reliability is crucial. The scenario is quite similar to driving a car You do not want to break down while you are driving somewhere. The same goes for a camera, you do not want it to fail when there is an incident. As illustrated above, lower-cost cameras often have shortcuts taken when it comes to certification and manufacturing. Reliability issues can stem from early failures of the devices, or from environmental factors, such as heat, cold or water ingress. We have seen failures as early as 3 months after installation. While there is some warranty coverage available, it can be cost-prohibitive to replace the camera under warranty as outlined below.

Additionally, if the camera sustains damage due to environmental factors, the warranty generally excludes these damages under the coverage. Despite the issues stemming from a manufacturing issue, such as water entering the camera, it can be extremely difficult to replace under warranty. With higher-end manufacturers, their products are held to a higher standard. Many of them will actually outline their MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures), which indicates the average product lifespan. With an average MTBF or 10+ years, our preferred CCTV manufacturers are leading the pack on reliability.

Camera Warranties and Service

Lastly, there are common items, such as support and warranty that suffer with the savings. Many manufacturers support their customers quite well, but for some, it is simply not a priority. This part can apply to OEM manufacturers, as they tend to be smaller companies and sometimes do not have the inside knowledge on the device that they relabeled. The result can be a struggle of the reseller being able to support the product.

Warranties are a similar scenario. Some products carry as little as a one-year warranty, while Axis, as an example offers 5-year warranties. The caveat here is also how the warranty is provided. Some manufacturers request the cameras be shipped back to them. In some cases, the shipping can cost more than the actual camera. Higher-end manufacturers on the other hand provide advanced replacements and cover shipping for a certain period. Offerings like this show the manufacturers’ confidence in their products.

How we can help

Our team can assist with picking the right camera for your application and budget. While we work with most manufacturers for video surveillance cameras, we will outline the pro’s and con’s of the options we provide. This allows you to make an informed decision every time.

Through our preferred manufacturers, we also provide demo products. With a demo product, you can test drive the device, prior to committing to a purchase. Most of our demos can be several weeks long, allowing for a longer-term test and a close-up review of the device itself. Get in touch today and let us help you with your next video surveillance project.