Tag Archives: cctv

Using an iPhone or iPad as a CCTV Camera

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

10 Recommended IP Cameras 2022

Here are our network camera picks for 2022. 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 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 – very useful for easy setup.
  • IR – Infra-Red – some cameras include IR LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) for night vision. Usually the manufacturer will specify the maximum useful range of the IR in meters (though this rating is sometimes overly optimistic).
  • Auto-iris – This allows the lens to automatically adjust its aperture based on light levels. 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. Generally, 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.

All “outdoor” cameras can be used indoors, however they tend to have larger form factors due to their waterproof housings. This isn’t always the case though – many of the cameras listed below are compact and absolutely suitable for both indoor and outdoor usage – we have marked these “indoor/outdoor”.

B&H Photo Video is a good source for buying cameras in the USA. Amazon is another option, however it lists many “grey market” products (e.g. those designed for the Chinese market but sold in the USA against the manufacturer’s rules), which should be avoided due to lack of manufacturer support.

We are not affiliated with any outlet or manufacturer mentioned on this page, and we get no financial incentive for recommending them.

BASIC INDOOR/OUTDOOR BULLET: DAHUA N42BD32

This is a basic, inexpensive outdoor camera with 4 MP resolution, good low-light performance, IR night-vision, and a compact form factor. It has a fixed 2.8mm lens, which produces a wide-angled view covering 102° horizontally. At only $100, this camera is great value and can make an effective addition to any CCTV system.

HIGH-SPEC OUTDOOR BULLET: HIKVISION PCI-B18Z2S

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Offsite Backup of Recorded Camera Footage

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

Dahua IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS Camera Review

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.

IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS

Dahua Technology IPC-HFW2831T-ZAS IP Camera

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Dahua IPC-HDW5831R-ZE IP Camera Review

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.

IPC-HDW5831R-ZE IP Camera

Dahua Technology IPC-HDW5831R-ZE

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AXIS A8105-E Video Door Station Review

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.

Features

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.

AXIS A8105-E Network Video Door Station

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10 Recommended IP Cameras 2021

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.

BASIC OUTDOOR TURRET/DOME: DAHUA TECHNOLOGY N53AJ52

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Setting Up A Home CCTV System

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:

Cameras: we have chosen to use Amcrest IP5M-T1179EW cameras for the following reasons:

  • Physically quite small and unobtrusive.
  • Easy plug-and-play setup (no manual IP/network setup required).
  • High resolution (5 MP), night vision, and good codec support (H.265 and AAC).
  • A built-in microphone – essential for a camera covering an entrance.
  • Great value – under US$70.

IP5M-T1179EW-28MM Camera Continue reading

10 Recommended IP Cameras 2020

Here are our network camera picks for 2020. 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 require a separate power supply. This is very useful for easy installation and ongoing reliability. All the wired Ethernet (i.e. non-WiFi) cameras on this list support PoE, but note that the larger “speed dome” cameras typically require the higher-powered PoE+ standard.
  • 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 – These lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes motorised), in order to adjust the field of view at installation time. 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.

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 potentially foreign-language user interfaces, lack of firmware upgrades, and lack of support from the manufacturer.

BASIC OUTDOOR DOME: DAHUA TECHNOLOGY N44BN52

Dahua Wedge Camera

This compact outdoor Dome camera from Dahua is a good inexpensive ($180) camera for covering an outdoor area. 4 MP resolution and good low-light sensitivity, combined with 20m night vision and a built-in microphone, provide all the basic features necessary to make an effective addition to any CCTV system. And it works in temperatures down to -40° C (–40° F), making it ideal for extreme environments. Continue reading

10 Recommended IP Cameras 2019

Here are our network camera picks for 2019. 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 require a separate power supply. This is very useful for easy installation and ongoing reliability. Note that some cameras require the higher-powered PoE+ standard.
  • 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 – These lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes motorised), in order to adjust the field of view at installation time. 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.

BASIC OUTDOOR DOME: DAHUA TECHNOLOGY N44CG52 / N44CG53

Dahua N44CG52 IP Camera

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