IP cameras can be classified as fixed or PTZ. They can further be categorized as indoor, indoor/outdoor, or outdoor only. In this article we will cover in brief the various housing options available on IP cameras.
Fixed cameras are the ideal for those wanting to monitor a specific area and also intend to have the camera, and the direction it’s pointing, clearly visible. Once the camera is focused on a location, it’s set to view only that area. Most fixed cameras support interchangeable lenses and housings for various environments. A fixed IP camera comes with either fixed or varifocal lens; but once mounted has a fixed field of view (normal/telephoto/wide-angle).
Fixed Dome Camera
Fixed dome cameras are often small and discreet, with a fixed camera installed inside dome housing. The camera can be pointed in any direction and then set in place to target a specific area. Fixed domes provide unobtrusive surveillance, and the housing helps to conceal the direction at which the camera is aimed. These cameras are quite often tamper resistant. A fixed dome camera can rarely accommodate varying lens options, as the choice of lens is limited by the space inside the dome. Hence, a varifocal lens is often used in these cameras to enable the camera’s field of view to be adjusted.
Unlike fixed cameras, PTZ cameras allow the user to control pan, tilt, and zoom functions in order to monitor wider areas and zero on specific individuals, objects, or activity. In a retail setting, for instance, surveillance operators can control a PTZ camera to follow a suspect person. PTZ cameras do not have a full 360-degree continuous pan due to a mechanical stop. This means that these cameras cannot follow a person walking in a continuous circle around the camera.
PTZ Dome Camera
The PTZ dome cameras design enable the lens head of the camera to move in a 360-degree, continuous pan, allow a tilt of usually 180 degrees and support continuous “guard tour” operation. Guard tour functionality enables a single PTZ dome camera to automatically move between presets in order to cover large areas that would typically require multiple fixed cameras. PTZ Domes also utilize an auto-flip feature which allows the cameras to rotate automatically when something passes directly below it, ensuing that the object or person remains upright on the viewing screen. PTZ dome cameras are ideal for use in discreet installations due to their design and mounting – it’s difficult to see the camera’s viewing angle as the housing most often has a smoked lens cover.
Housings made of metal provide better vandal protection as against those made of plastic. The type of housing or camera is another factor to be considered. A regular fixed camera that protrudes from a wall or ceiling is more open to attack than a discretely designed fixed dome or PTZ dome camera. The smooth, rounded covering of the dome casing makes it difficult to block the camera’s view by dropping an opaque cover over the camera. Hence, the more a housing or camera blends into an environment; the better is the protection against vandalism. The lens cover can also either be vandal-resistant or non-vandal resistant.
The way cameras and housings are mounted is also important. A fixed camera or a PTZ dome camera that is mounted on the surface of a ceiling are more vulnerable to attacks than such cameras that are mounted flush to a ceiling or wall, where only the transparent part of the camera or housing is visible as there are no cables sticking out; that can be tampered with. Also, if cabling is done on the outside; a metal paneling should be provided to protect cables from attacks.