Surveillance is fast becoming a fact of life for most businesses and many individuals. One of the most complex and easily misunderstood issues involves the choice necessary between hidden cameras and visible security cameras. Which is better? Does either type of camera suffer from any consequences? How difficult are the two systems to manage? What about expense? The choice between a visible or hidden security camera comes down to the purpose of the surveillance system, the nature of the facility being monitored and the time and resources budget of the system’s owner. Answering the question of which is better depends on the answers to those basic questions.
The chief disadvantage to a hidden security camera system is field of view. Hidden cameras are, by their nature, not as versatile as their visible counterparts. They can be easily blocked, intentionally or by accident. They are almost always fixed, meaning they can’t be redirected. Their size also often lowers picture quality to merely adequate.
Hidden cameras do have one major advantage and that is power usage. By their nature, smaller cameras with correspondingly smaller electronics, CCDs and mounts generally use less power than their visible counterparts. This can be significant if the facility being monitored is large or involves complex architecture.
In an instance where the system’s owner doesn’t want those being filmed to know they are under surveillance, hidden cameras are really the only option. From a legal standpoint, filming someone without their knowledge can be tricky. Depending on the nature of the premises and the activities those who are being filmed are engaged in, unauthorized surveillance can lead to potentially distracting or even expensive legal disputes.
In each instance where a hidden security camera suffers a disadvantage, a visible camera has a corresponding advantage. Visible cameras can be mounted on hardware that allows them to redirect their field of vision, making each installation much more versatile. They can be larger, which allows for the use of bigger lenses, larger CCDs and the availability of polarized cupolas, anti-glare shields and mirrors.
A visible security camera system are their own notification surveillance is in progress, which eliminates the potential for a dispute over unauthorized monitoring. They can’t generally be blocked by accident, and picture quality is usually several orders of magnitude better.
There are two major disadvantages to visible camera systems. One is the obvious vulnerability to vandalism or intentional sabotage. Because they must have unobstructed line of sight to their subjects, visible cameras will always be subject to physical attack.
Outdoor cameras are also subject to weather and air quality conditions. If they are protected by non-air-tight or non-water-tight cupolas, outdoor cameras can encounter problems with fog, condensation, heat or cold and flying debris in high winds. Their electronics can also be adversely affected by rapid temperature changes, especially if they have direct line of sight to the sun.
Ultimately, from a cost and advantage standpoint, visible cameras are almost always the better option. Rarely does the need to conceal the fact someone is being monitored outweigh the attendant cost savings, quality advantages and versatility of a visibly mounted camera system.
The major disadvantages of visible cameras can also all be mitigated to one degree or another, depending on budget and planning. As always, it is best to consult a qualified and competent expert when deciding on a surveillance system. For the best surveillance options, contact TC Tech Systems today!