How Far Can Security Cameras See?

How far can security cameras see?

There are those that regard security cameras as the unblinking eye of their home security system; however, the visibility of these devices is limited by line of sight and by the dimensions that they can capture with enough clarity to produce useful information. Effective placement of surveillance equipment should account for effective distance that your camera can see, but how do we define distance.

What factors determine how far security cameras can see?

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors which can affect your camera’s effective range of view include possible obstructions and light. Regarding physical obstructions, you would be unlikely to mount a camera aimed at your driveway behind a tree that blocks most of your view, but variables, such as a large truck parking between your camera and your front door, can rob you of your intended vantage point. It is important to place the camera high enough that common ground traffic is unlikely to interfere. Without additional information, the current height recommendation is 9 feet for outdoor cameras. The quality of images captured by your security camera depends, in part, on lighting, as you would not expect videos captured at night to be as vibrant and clear as those captured during the day. Having a video camera that supports infrared night vision can serve to optimize recordings regardless of the time of day. One factor that should be consistently observed day or night is avoiding glare and direct light sources, such as the sun, streetlights, or excessive reflections from various surfaces; otherwise, light itself may work against you and inhibit your visibility.

Video Resolution

Video resolution is one important factor which greatly determines the quality of the data received from your cameras. When you ask how far a camera can see, you’re not trying to judge based on the maximum distance you can capture an object. A security camera can capture a bird in the sky but only show it as a single pixel on the screen. Camera resolution can help bring into focus more fine details, such as a person’s face or a license plate. When you ask how far a camera can see, you’re not trying to judge based on the maximum distance you can capture an object. A security camera can capture a bird in the sky but only show it as a single pixel on the screen. Camera resolution can help bring into focus more fine details, such as a person’s face or a license plate. The current generation of security cameras have High-Definition (HD) images that can be effectively captured and transmitted in real-time. Full HD is defined as having 1920 x 1080 pixels. Depending on the size of the lens and the field of view, this will often capture fine details on people and objects within about 20 feet and a moderate amount of detail on the landscape for up to 48 feet.

Size of Lens

The size of lens and field of view will impact how a camera is able to focus.

  • A larger lens can increase the clarity of objects at a further distance away; however, this is not common for a home security camera that is intended to monitor activity over your entire property front. This may be appropriate for something where a narrow field of view is perfectly fine, such as capturing a corridor where the only thing in the peripheral are walls.

  • For an outdoor camera, a wider field of view is probably more desirable. Although commercially available security camera lenses can reach and exceed 12 mm, the average home may be best served by a fixed lens around 3.0 mm to 3.6 mm. This can offer the level of detail described above along with a 117° field of view.

How to place a monitor at a distance

Greater visibility at a higher distance would be beneficial when watching a gate at the end of a very long driveway or monitoring a detached shed containing expensive tools. There are several solutions available for using home security cameras to monitor far away segments of property. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Though typically reserved for business applications, cameras with a varifocal lens allow you to adjust the lens manually to change the focal length, changing the field of view. This means that you can adjust the camera to zoom on a more specific area without losing clarity.

  2. Zoom and tilt are functions available on select models of security cameras which trade field of view for the ability to rotate when needed. This can be helpful for monitoring faraway segments of a property. With this feature, you can adjust the camera angle to focus on specific areas and get a better view.

  3. For wireless security cameras, you may be able to extend the Wi-Fi signal range using a wireless range extender. This can help ensure that you get a strong signal even if the camera is located further from your home.

  4. If you have a large property that you want to monitor, you may need to install multiple cameras in strategic locations to ensure full coverage. This can be particularly useful if you want to monitor different areas of the property simultaneously.

It's important to ensure that the security cameras you use are designed for outdoor use and are weather-resistant. Additionally, it's important to consider the placement of the cameras and ensure that they are installed in a location that provides a clear view of the area you want to monitor.

Which cameras are the best options for me and my property?

To select the right equipment, and to discuss optimal placement of your security system, consider speaking with a professional that can identify your specific equipment and monitoring needs. Contact us today to get started with a Brinks Home™ Security Consultant.

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