With the right app, an iPhone or iPad can make an effective security camera that provides standard RTSP video/audio feeds. This is especially useful for older iOS devices that would otherwise be unused, making for an easy and inexpensive way to add an extra camera to your video surveillance system built around our macOS NVR software SecuritySpy.
In order for an iOS device to be used for video surveillance, it should be powered all the time and set to never sleep. Such a device should never be used for a critical CCTV purpose, since things like power outages or app/devices crashes may require manual intervention to put right. This can be mitigated somewhat with Apple’s Guided Access or Single App features.
The following apps have been tested and confirmed to work well with SecuritySpy for H.264 RTSP streaming, delivering high-quality and efficient video/audio streams to SecuritySpy. Continue reading →
SecuritySpy, our fully-featured video surveillance solution for the Mac, offers a built-in web server that you can use to access your CCTV system from the Internet. For ease of setup, SecuritySpy allows you to choose your own free domain name in the form name.viewcam.me, which is used to access your system. SecuritySpy will automatically keep this domain updated with your current public IP address whenever it changes (this is called DDNS), and it will automatically generate and renew a free SSL certificate for secure HTTPS access.
However, some users may want to use their own domain name instead of the viewcam.me name provided. One way to do this would be to purchase a static IP address from your ISP, to which you point your domain, and then purchase and install your own SSL certificate for SecuritySpy. The downside to doing this is the cost, setup, and the fact that you will have to manually renew your certificate whenever it expires.
There is a better solution that allows you to use your own domain but that does not require a static IP address, incurs no ongoing costs, and offers automatic renewal – here’s how to set this up: Continue reading →
Our macOS CCTV software SecuritySpy saves all recordings to a local drive. By default, the Mac’s internal drive is used, but you can specify any other drive(s) you want to use for this purpose, for example an external drive connected by USB or Thunderbolt or a NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive on the local network.
Modern drives are very reliable, and for most users the small chance of data loss due to drive failure may not be too concerning. However, this could be more of a concern for more critical commercial applications, plus there is also the possibility than an intruder could damage or steal the drive.
To minimise the chance of data loss, there are a few basic steps that users can take, for example by using only high-quality drives from reputable manufacturers, securing drives with anti-theft devices, or using multi-disk RAID disk setups that provide fault-tolerance.
One further method to prevent data loss is to set up automatic offsite backup for the most important captured footage, so that this can be retrieved if the primary storage drive is compromised. There are a few ways to do this: Continue reading →
The IP camera market is replete with bullet-style cameras, with Dahua Technology being one of the major manufacturers of cameras of this type. Basic Dahua bullet cameras are well-designed, inexpensive, and generally provide good quality video, however it doesn’t cost too much more to get a model like this one, which has some key features that allow it to perform much better than basic models.
Dahua Technology have such an extensive range of IP cameras that it can be difficult to choose between them, especially between models that are superficially similar. Generally, Dahua cameras work very well with our macOS CCTV software SecuritySpy, and this particular model, the IPC-HDW5831R-ZE, looks like it could be something special.
This is an “eyeball” type camera, which is a form factor with some significant advantages: they are generally compact in size, easy to swivel and rotate to the correct position, and, unlike dome cameras, there is no curved perspex dome in front of the lens to reduce quality.
Video doorbells are becoming increasingly popular, and have the potential to make a useful addition to any CCTV system. Our macOS CCTV software SecuritySpy works with many different video doorbells, but choosing one to use can be difficult, as they vary significantly in terms of feature set, quality, reliability and cost. In addition, many video doorbells (e.g. Ring, Nest, Eufy) are designed as closed cloud-based systems that lock you into a subscription, and specifically don’t work with NVR (Network Video Recorder) software such as SecuritySpy.
The Axis A8105-E doorbell offers a good all-round feature set, including 2 MP resolution, Power-over-Ethernet, two-way audio, compact design, and multiple input/output ports to connect accessories such as chimes and door openers. A 1.56mm lens provides an outstandingly wide 180º horizontal field of view and the ability to capture people very close to the camera.
Here are our network camera picks for 2021. 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 – Megapixel resolution – the number of millions of pixels in the image sensor. The higher the resolution, 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 so doesn’t require a separate power supply.
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 (collectively called “auto-iris”) allow the camera lens to automatically adjust its aperture 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 – These lenses allow you to adjust the field of view at installation time. A focal length of 2.8mm is wide-angle; 4mm is medium; 8mm is moderately telephoto (a bit “zoomed in”). This is not the same as true “zoom” lenses: varifocal lenses are designed to be set once at install time, whereas zoom lenses are designed to be operated continually.
PTZ – Pan/Tilt/Zoom – motorised remote control of the camera’s horizontal and vertical angle and focal length.
For purchasing IP cameras, we recommend B&H Photo Video – they are a reliable, established outlet. Amazon is another option, however there are many “grey market” cameras sold on Amazon (e.g. cameras designed for the Chinese market only, but sold into the US against the manufacturer’s rules), which should be avoided due to lack of support from the manufacturer.
We are not affiliated with any outlet or manufacturer mentioned on this page, and we get no financial incentive for recommending them.
The simplest setup for a LAN (Local Area Network) that includes network cameras is to have a central Ethernet switch with all devices, including the cameras, connected to it. This works well for small networks, but there are some problems with this setup that become especially important on larger networks:
IP cameras generate constant traffic, which can slow down the LAN.
Having cameras on the main LAN, with Internet access, can be a security risk.
Larger PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) switches are expensive, have significant power consumption, and often contain noisy fans.
The solution to these problems is to segregate the IP cameras onto their own LAN. In contrast, this solution has the following advantages:
Camera traffic is completely separate and does not impact the normal LAN.
Cameras do not have Internet access, removing the risk of them sending sensitive information over the Internet or being hacked.
You can use a PoE switch that is no larger than you need it to be. Smaller PoE switches are less expensive, use less power, and are quieter.
Setting this up does require a bit of knowledge of IP addressing, so if you are not familiar with this topic, we would advise you to research how IP addresses work on local networks before proceeding. An example setup is as follows:
[UPDATE 30 JUNE 2021: This functionality is now built into SecuritySpy – see NTP Time Server Installation. We are leaving this post in place in case it is useful to anyone, but we can no longer provide any assistance or updates to the below instructions or scripts.]
When implementing a CCTV system (e.g. one based around our macOS CCTV software SecuritySpy) it is important for all cameras to maintain the correct time for the purposes of drawing accurate timestamps onto their video streams. Not only will this help you review recorded footage, but if there is an incident that needs to be reported to the police, it will help them with their investigation. You may even be asked to verify or demonstrate to the police that your cameras are set to the correct time.
For this purpose, you should always give your cameras a valid NTP server address (NTP stands for Network Time Protocol). The cameras will contact the NTP server at regular intervals to set their clocks (you should also set your cameras with accurate daylight savings time settings, so that any such adjustments are applied automatically during the summer months).
For this purpose, we recommend using one of the time servers that Apple provides for free, which are time.apple.com, time.euro.apple.com and time.asia.apple.com. Continue reading →
In this blog post, we will go through the process of setting up a video surveillance system for your home, based around our macOS CCTV software SecuritySpy. When setting up a home CCTV system, cost is an important consideration, but we also want to choose high-quality hardware that is easy to install and set up. To this end, our example system will comprise the following components: