One Eye, Four Bodies

When starting your research into security cameras, you may have noticed that cameras come in different shapes. Everyone knows that cameras come with a lens, maybe a microphone, some computing stuff, and wires. But the housing for all this useful material can vary depending on the body styling of the camera. Most commercial security cameras on the market come in four different body stylings: dome, turret, bullet, and fisheye. Each of these stylings offer a unique set of strengths and benefits that are contextual based on the camera’s purpose. Today’s article will discuss these body stylings and their individual characteristics.

Dome, Turret, Bullet, & Fisheye Cameras

A HCC3250R-IR-Z Vandal Dome Camera from ENS Security.

The HCC3250R-IR-Z Vandal Dome Camera from ENS Security.

Dome Camera

A dome camera (also called a vandal dome camera) is a camera that is housed within a protective plastic or glass dome that shields it from dust, liquids, and well…vandals! Most of these cameras come with a IK and IP rating, which denotes how effective the camera is at resisting these elements. An IK rating measures impact resistance and IP rating measures resistance against dust and liquids. These cameras are notoriously difficult to tamper with if you do not have proper tools to do so. Dome cameras are also inconspicuous, and are effective indoors or outdoors thanks to their weatherproofed domes. In terms of design, dome cameras also obscure the direction the camera is pointed in, making it difficult for trespassers or other sleuths to bypass its gaze.

Dome cameras have lenses that can be fixed, meaning they cannot change their focal length. Alternatively, they can have motorized-zoom or varifocal lenses that can mechanically zoom in/out of a picture. Fixed lens cameras are generally cheaper, while varifocal lenses, though more practical in certain situations, are more expensive.

The downsides to the dome camera ironically stem from its greatest asset – the dome itself. Dome cameras are prone to condensation, leaks, dirt, and reflections that can tamper with the quality of camera footage. In this way, dome cameras often need more maintenance than other types of cameras on this list.

A SCC52T6/28-Q Turret Camera from ENS Security.

The SCC52T6/28-Q Turret Camera from ENS Security.

Turret Cameras

Turret cameras, sometimes called “eyeball cameras”, are highly flexible and easy to install cameras. They are mainly benefitted by their ball-and-socket design that allows for easy positioning. They share the same semi-spherical, compact design as the vandal dome cameras, allowing for subtle and nondescript placement where you need it. However, without the relative protection of a dome, turret cameras are more vulnerable to tampering and weather elements.

Although, the lack of a shell isn’t necessarily a complete disadvantage. Remember that domed cameras can suffer from reflections and other physical phenomenon that obstruct or distort the camera’s footage. Turret cameras don’t have that problem, and thus forego protection for better, more consistent visual quality.

An EM-IPCE2B100-X10-LH-AI Bullet Camera from ENS Security.

The EM-IPCE2B100-X10-LH-AI Bullet Camera from ENS Security.

Bullet Cameras

Bullet cameras are the classic, rectangular bodied units that you might immediately think of when you picture a security camera. Protracted, boxy, and usually jutting out of a wall somewhere, bullet cameras are far more visible than their peers. However, this high-visibility factor may work to the bullet cameras favor. After all, an analysis of 44 studies reviewing security camera’s effectiveness on crime showed that even just the presence of a surveillance unit reduced crime by about 50%. Also, because bullet cameras can be placed basically anywhere on a sheer, vertical surface, this makes them far more flexible in terms of placement than a dome or turret camera. This can also make them more secure by placing them out of the way of potential vandals.

Bullet cameras owe their name to their long and slender shape, which offers more housing for larger lenses. These bigger, wider lenses provide more detail over longer distances, making the bullet camera more ideal for outdoor scenarios. These lenses are also more effective at gathering light in dark situations, also making the bullet camera great for low-light placements such as parking lots or garages. Finally, due to their protective shells and sturdier nature, bullet cameras typically have a high IP rating (which means they are highly resistant to dust and water, remember?) and can withstand the elements better than say, a turret camera.

An SCCSF5M Fisheye Camera from ENS Security.

The SCCSF5M Fisheye Camera from ENS Security.

Fisheye Camera

Lastly, we have the fisheye camera. These camera bodies are flat, round, and wide, due to their panoramic functionality that is designed to capture an incredibly expansive 180 degree to 360 degree viewing range. Fisheye cameras, as the name implies, records footage that is initially warped and distorted. This is because the camera lens is recording at an atypical viewing range that, while useful, requires further computerized de-warping to make the footage accurate.

These specialized cameras are incredibly useful because even a singular unit can survey wide breadths of horizontal areas, negating the need for multiple cameras that might cover the same reach. Because of their ultra-wide viewing range, if placed effectively on a ceiling or wall, fisheye cameras can also avoid the blindspots caused by the less dynamic viewing angles of other camera bodies. Also, singular fisheye footage can be broken up and viewed on a multiplexed monitor, allowing multiple angles to be viewed, enhanced, and edited at one time.

A sample of multiplexed fisheye camera footage. The original footage is in the center and the individualized camera angles are surrounding.

Because of these unique features, fisheye cameras are useful in expansive indoor or outdoor areas with obstacles that might block its view. Fisheye cameras can also be fitted with weatherproofing features that can make them more durable for outdoor settings.

Camera Body Chart Summary

Here is a useful chart summarizing the unique features for the security camera body types we’ve just described.

Chart describing the types of security cameras.

About the Author: Aaron Avila

Aaron J. Avila is a digital designer, social media marketer, and security professional with ENS Security.

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