Here are our camera picks for 2018. They are listed in no particular order (they are quite varied in terms of cost and feature set, which makes them difficult to rank as a “top 10″ list), however they are all cameras that, due to their impressive features, we recommend to our customers for use with our SecuritySpy CCTV software for the Mac.
Some abbreviations used below are as follows:
MP – Megapixels – the number of millions of pixels in the image sensor. The higher this number, the more detailed the image, but resolution isn’t everything: the optical quality of the lens system is also extremely important.
PoE – Power-over-Ethernet – when using a PoE switch, the camera draws power over the ethernet cable and therefore doesn’t need a separate power supply. This is very useful for easy installation and ongoing reliability.
IR – Infra-Red – some cameras include Infra-Red LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) for night vision. Usually the manufacturer will specify the maximum useful range of the IR in meters.
P-Iris / DC-Iris – These features allow the camera lens to automatically adjust its aperture size, based on the amount of incoming light. P-Iris is more sophisticated and will give better results than than DC-Iris, but both are far better than a Fixed-Iris lens, especially for outdoor applications.
Varifocal – most lenses have a fixed focal length, whereas varifocal lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes motorised), to adjust the field of view. A focal length of 2.8mm is very wide-angle; 4mm is standard; 8mm is moderately telephoto.
PTZ – Pan, Tilt, Zoom – motorised remote control of the camera’s horizontal and vertical angle, and focal length.
Reolink is a relatively new manufacturer in the CCTV space with a small range of cameras, but their products are all well-designed, well-specified and extremely well-priced. The RLC-410 is a waterproof 4 MP bullet-type camera with 30m IR night-vision, PoE support, and (unusually for an outdoor bullet) a built-in microphone that can deliver high-quality AAC-encoded audio. It is impressively small and discreet, and retails at $65, which is great value.
Hikvision is a big name in the IP camera industry, offering a wide range of cameras that cover the whole spectrum from small home-use cameras to professional high-resolution industrial models.
The DS-2CD2432F-IW is an inexpensive ($130) compact camera suitable for indoor use, with an impressive feature set. The 3 MP sensor offers higher resolution than many competing products from other manufacturers (Hikvision themselves also produce a DS-2CD2412F-IW model with a lower 1.2 MP resolution, but the price difference is not large, so we we would recommend going for this 3 MP model). It has both WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, and can be powered either by PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) or by a 12v power adapter, making it easy to install in any network environment. The sensitivity of 0.07 Lux, combined with built-in infrared (IR) illumination, allows it to function well in low-light situations, and it has a built-in microphone and speaker for two-way audio.
For any organisation still using analog cameras, SecuritySpy offers an easy upgrade path to a digital solution, allowing you to keep your analog cameras while gradually moving to a system based on megapixel IP cameras.
The Raven Hotel was in exactly this situation, and used SecuritySpy as their video surveillance solution. Below is their experience of SecuritySpy, in their own words.
Trio Iguaçu is a talented group of musicians, playing a delightful blend of tango and bossa nova music. We set up a recording session with them in order to produce promotional videos for the trio, as well as to demonstrate the power and flexibility of our CaptureSync multi-camera video recording software.
CaptureSync is software for the Mac that records video and audio from multiple cameras simultaneously, with all feeds synchronised together and saved to a single QuickTime Movie file. CaptureSync is perfect for recording interviews, scientific experiments, psychological research, musical performances, market research, lectures and presentations.
The setup consisted of one main camera to capture the whole group, as well as three auxiliary cameras to provide close-up views of each musician. These close-up views are useful for analysing playing technique or for editing in Final Cut Pro in order to produce an edited movie that switches between multiple camera angles.
As the quality of the group view was the most important, we used a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera with a 35mm lens. This camera provides high-quality 1920×1080 resolution 30fps video via HDMI, which can be recorded by CaptureSync using Blackmagic HDMI input hardware. As we were using a Mac Pro computer, we used the PCI version of their Intensity product, which is part of a range that also includes Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 HDMI-input devices.
In a now-famous experiment initiated by the Washington Post, world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell performed undercover in a busy metro station. Using a priceless Stradivarius violin, Bell performed music that he normally plays in front of large concert audiences around the world. The result? Hardly anyone paid much attention to the violinist, or tossed many coins into the open violin case by his feet. The experiment provides a fascinating insight into the importance of context in our experiences of the events around us.
The performance was recorded, but only by a single low-quality camera. What if we wanted to record the experiment properly, from multiple angles, in order to analyse every aspect of the event and people’s reactions? This is the kind of task that CaptureSync is perfect for, and the setup of this hypothetical recording is detailed below.
Firstly we will consider the layout of the space, and where the best camera angles will be:
This tutorial will show you how to add live video from SecuritySpy to your own web page. This does involve editing the HTML of your web page, but it’s relatively simple. Our favourite tool for this is TextMate.
Firstly, you must set up SecuritySpy for remote monitoring, so that it can be accessed over the internet. Next, create a special user account in SecuritySpy that has permission only to view the camera that you want to use. Finally, determine the camera number for the camera in question – this is shown in the Camera Info window (highlighted in red below). If you don’t see this column, click the header bar where you see the column names, and a menu will pop up that allows you to add it.
Three methods for embedding the video feed into a web page are outlined below. In the examples shown, the address of the SecuritySpy system is “demo.viewcam.me”, the port is 8000, and the camera number is 1.
Authentication is supplied via an auth parameter, which is the the Base64 representation of the string user:pass (i.e. the username and password, separated by a colon). Use an online Base64 encoder to generate this value: simply enter your user:pass string, click the Encode button, and copy and paste the result.
If you want to specify a particular size for the image, add width and height parameters, for example the URL in Method 1 would become something like this:
SecuritySpy is our flagship video surveillance software product for Mac OS X, and as of version 3.2, SecuritySpy supports the ONVIF protocol. Here are the answers to some common questions, and information about this new feature.
What is ONVIF?
ONVIF is an open industry standard for IP-based video surveillance products. In the past, SecuritySpy would have to be pre-programmed with profiles for each camera it supports, containing information about the supported streaming formats, audio capabilities, communication ports, resolutions, frame rates, Pan/Tilt/Zoom features etc. This is inconvenient and time-consuming for us as developers, and also bad for customers because there is an inevitable delay between a new camera coming on the market and an update to SecuritySpy to officially support it.
With ONVIF, all this information can be obtained from the camera automatically. Therefore, any new ONVIF-compliant camera hitting the market can be immediately used with SecuritySpy using the ONVIF setting built into the software.
The latest version of SecuritySpy supports new streaming formats which significantly enhance compatibility with new and existing network cameras. The following information about these formats will be useful when making purchasing decisions and setting up video surveillance systems based upon SecuritySpy.
Network Streaming Protocols
There are two main protocols used for carrying video and audio data over IP networks: HTTP and RTSP. Using these protocols, it is possible to transmit video and audio in various compression formats (JPEG, MPEG-4, H.264, AAC etc.).