Advice needed re security camera options

cerebros

Active Member
Hi everyone

Hoping someone can provide some advice or point me in the direction to go for advice on the subject...

TL/DR
I need to look at security camera options to cover my back garden. This will need to also cover the top of my neighbour's conservatory as we (myself and the neighbour) believe, due to a couple of recent incidents, someone may have been climbing up on that during the night.


Background

Incident 1
I live in a mid-terrace house (B in the picture) in a short terrace, friendly with the immediate neighbours either side (A and C). A couple of months back someone broke into one of C's sheds, taking some tools he had in there. He suspects that someone in one of the neighbouring houses (either D or one of the houses backing on to our gardens) is responsible, given how soon the break-in was after some new tools were being stored in there and the fact that there didn't seem to be any signs of an attempted break-in on the sheds either side of the one the thieves got into.

While he has a security light (2), the two sheds furthest from the house are smaller than his main shed and the backs of them all line up. Where his security light is on the wall of his conservatory means his main shed actually blocks the light from it covering part of the garden, including the fronts of the two smaller sheds and some of the right hand side of the garden, so following this break-in (which was reported to the police who gave him a crime number eventually but as far as I know haven't been in touch with him about it since) he had a security camera installed outside his back bedroom window (4), covering most of his back garden (if I remember correctly from what he's shown me of the footage, there's a blind spot still by the smaller sheds but the camera's motion sensor should be picking up anyone climbing over the fence there to get into the garden).


Incident 2
A couple of weeks ago I came downstairs in the morning to find a fluorescent light fitting, plus a couple of the tubes, hinges, bottles and other things had been thrown into my back garden during the night. C had a fluorescent light fitting in his garden as well, plus a brick had been thrown which split one of his fence panels and there was a blob of ice cream on his conservatory roof; we found the tub in the gap between his conservatory and the fence. Neighbour A reported finding beer bottles in his garden, as did the houses E and F.

Looking at what we know for sure, either these things were thrown into the gardens by the people living at D (or someone who got into their garden) or someone came along the gap between houses C and D with all these things, climbed up onto the outdoor toilet roofs and then started throwing things into the gardens of houses A, B, C, E and F but not D.

Given that my neighbours living in C and E are aware of other incidents to do with D over the past year and a bit we lean towards the former explanation, especially as looking over E's fence no sign of any bottles or other things having been thrown in there could be seen.

Unfortunately, C's security camera didn't pick up anything of the incident (it did have a few nice clips of a cobweb blowing in the wind in front of the lens...) so although the police came round to speak to me they've basically said there's nothing they can do.


Incident 3
Just over a week ago a plant pot full of soil was thrown into C's garden. Again, we're not quite sure whether that was from within D's garden or from on top of the outside toilets - C showed me photos he took of a slight scattering of soil on his bathroom windowsill as well as a more substantial amount scattered over his outside toilet roof. It could be that when the pot was thrown it hit the edge of his outside toilet roof causing soil to be thrown out of it onto the roof and windowsill before the pot landed in his garden, although he didn't say if he'd found any soil on the ground by his outside toilet which I would have thought he'd find if that's what had happened.


Thoughts

These incidents have highlighted that the current security lights I and my neighbours have isn't proving much of a deterrent to thieves and anti-social behaviour and C's camera hasn't made much difference. Thinking about this issue has also made me realise that it's possible to gain access to the my back garden nearest the back door without triggering any of the security lights, which would mean anyone trying to break into my house via the kitchen or to try and break into the entryway I share with B could do so unobserved.

I'm therefore wanting to look at security camera options (presumably you can get ones with lights in them) to help cover off the two routes that currently wouldn't trigger the lights, namely up between houses C&D and across the conservatory roof or up the gap between G and the next house along and coming over A's conservatory roof. (I'm not sure how feasible the latter would be as the people who live at G keep themselves to themselves so we don't know if there's anything in their garden to obstruct someone getting up on A's conservatory. I've never seen a security light shining in their garden at night so I don't think they have one)

Ideally I want to avoid any cloud based systems for storing footage - I've got a Synology NAS in the loft with a few TB of space spare so don't see the point of paying for space elsewhere - but I would want to be able to receive notifications of activity being detected, especially if I'm away on holiday.


House Rear.jpg
 

cerebros

Active Member
Two problems here. Eaves height cameras are great to provide a good overview of an area, its the advantage that height brings. The downside is that the angle often precludes facial identification. By installing a camera at a lower height (normally first floor, floor level) you get a great view for capturing faces , but you lose some of your field of view, so its often a balance on what you are trying to achieve. Are you looking to monitor a wider area (short focal length, wide field of view) will resolve facial detail close up or are you looking to monitor a specific area and identify individuals (longer focal length 4mm or 6mm but your angle of view is much narrower). Then what kind of camera do you want, good night vision, good line / area crossing. Do you want the convenience of an NVR or are you happy with manually accessing your cameras?

I know its lots of questions, but the are the sort of things that a good CCTV installer should be asking. Sure you can just go any buy XYZ cameras on Amazon and stick them up, but I hold with the old adage.. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Just my penneth worth.
I don't have problems with answering the questions as long as it helps me make up my mind.

As I said in my last bar one post, I think my priority probably needs to be able to get identifiable images of intruders who get into the garden, with the intent of burgling either the sheds or the house (although the latter is probably much less likely), or who are potentially trying to get into the garden. Otherwise I'm not sure they're of much use and worth spending the money on if something happens and I have to call the police out only to not have anything useful to show them from the camera(s).

Good night vision, whether that's from IR or light assisted, is probably the priority as the theft from my neighbours and the antisocial behaviour have thus far occurred at night.

While I'd probably be leaning away from an NVR due to the cost (as that would start putting costs in the region of the stuff I'm trying to protect in the sheds) I'm not sure feature-wise what I'd be missing using the app for the Argus 2 that RobinDB has suggested, or connecting to Surveillance Station on my NAS. If there's any resources you can point me to that cover that sort of thing that'd be a help.
 
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spile

Active Member
My recommendation would be use a wired Poe solution. I use Amcrest cameras which are rebranded Duaha.
Essential reading...
 
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RobinDB

Active Member
Well at end of day the 2 solutions NVR vs wireless camera is a huge difference in price (trust me I have both, but have been adding to system) .

I still think its worth just trying one argus 2 to start with and see how it looks in situ with the angles and coverage. If you get it online you have 14 days to return if not suitable.
Angled so it looks down the fence line adjacent to back door.
 
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oneman

Active Member
How technical are you, Are OK to build your own system ?

I've got an old PC running Blue Iris software as my NVR attached to 8 x 5mp H.View cameras all running from a POE switch with a Ethernet cable to each camera. Advantage is I have continuous recording to a local device and detection is done by Blue Iris which is probably more tuneable than camera software. You can view it with your phone and send alerts, it hooks into Alexa, etc but it take some knowledge and time to set it up.

There is a reason you will never see professional CCTV company installing WiFi cameras, too unreliable for something like security though they are fine for the hobbyist and easy to install especially if using solar power.

Camera placement, in the eves it pretty useless for catching peoples faces but can cover a wider area, about 3 to 4m is low enough that its looking horizontally rather than vertically down on the top of peoples heads and high enough to avoid casual idiot reaching up and moving them. TBH facial recognisation is going to trick in the dark even with additional lighting unless you are spending hundreds on the camera. But decent camera will at least allow you to identify the person if you know you are looking for somebody specific.

And you will need additional lighting at night time unless you just want to see general movement and forget about reading number plates at 10m or more unless again you are spending hundreds on the camera.

Ultimately what are your aims, CCTV is fine to deter kids and vandals and find where the cat has gone to (my main usage, lol) but by itself its not going to deter somebody who wants to break in.
 
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cerebros

Active Member
My recommendation would be use a wired Poe solution. I use Amcrest cameras which are rebranded Duaha.
Essential reading...
Thanks for that link (just need to find the time to read and digest)
 
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cerebros

Active Member
Well at end of day the 2 solutions NVR vs wireless camera is a huge difference in price (trust me I have both, but have been adding to system) .

I still think its worth just trying one argus 2 to start with and see how it looks in situ with the angles and coverage. If you get it online you have 14 days to return if not suitable.
Angled so it looks down the fence line adjacent to back door.

You may be right. if nothing else, getting one would at least allow me to hand hold the camera to test what I would actually see with a camera looking the other way as well
 
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cerebros

Active Member
How technical are you, Are OK to build your own system ?

I've got an old PC running Blue Iris software as my NVR attached to 8 x 5mp H.View cameras all running from a POE switch with a Ethernet cable to each camera. Advantage is I have continuous recording to a local device and detection is done by Blue Iris which is probably more tuneable than camera software. You can view it with your phone and send alerts, it hooks into Alexa, etc but it take some knowledge and time to set it up.

There is a reason you will never see professional CCTV company installing WiFi cameras, too unreliable for something like security though they are fine for the hobbyist and easy to install especially if using solar power.

Camera placement, in the eves it pretty useless for catching peoples faces but can cover a wider area, about 3 to 4m is low enough that its looking horizontally rather than vertically down on the top of peoples heads and high enough to avoid casual idiot reaching up and moving them. TBH facial recognisation is going to trick in the dark even with additional lighting unless you are spending hundreds on the camera. But decent camera will at least allow you to identify the person if you know you are looking for somebody specific.

And you will need additional lighting at night time unless you just want to see general movement and forget about reading number plates at 10m or more unless again you are spending hundreds on the camera.

Ultimately what are your aims, CCTV is fine to deter kids and vandals and find where the cat has gone to (my main usage, lol) but by itself its not going to deter somebody who wants to break in.

Like I've said, I've got a Synology NAS in the loft that has the option of running Synology's Surveilance Station software. I'd need to get a PoE switch which shouldn't be a massive issue, and there's a hole into the loft in the top line of brickwork that I (badly) filled with expanding foam a few years ago that I could easily put a hole in to run ethernet cable through.

I do have a security light already but it wouldn't trigger if someone does come over via the neighbour's conservatory, which is the main concern as the neighbour's camera doesn't cover off that route (and his security light is on the front of his conservatory and so wouldn't be triggered by someone going across its roof)
 
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cerebros

Active Member
Which synology model ? They do have NVR on some models.
It's the DS414j, and I have installed their Surveillance Station software on it, although obviously without any cameras to connect to it I don't know how well it performs
 
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cerebros

Active Member
Quick update to this. Managed to catch up with my neighbour after remembering that when we'd passed in the street the other day he mentioned his camera had caught someone in his garden.

Unfortunately, not being terribly IT literate, he managed to delete the "good" image and video captured and only save the one I've attached here, which is pretty much useless as his security light on his conservatory is completely blowing out the image. However, he told me that on the video his camera recorded, all you could see was that it was someone wearing a hoody who walked from next to his conservatory towards the end of the garden.

He didn't say whether that person came back towards the house or not and I forgot to ask, so I don't know if they went back the way they came in, which I'm assuming was via the outdoor toilets/conservatory roof from street side or over the fence between his shed and outdoor toilet, rather than over the not terribly useful bit of fence at the bottom of the garden. I'm making that assumption as I'd have thought the camera would have caught the person walking towards the house first if they'd come over the useless bit of fence at the bottom of the garden.

Looking at the image it looks like his camera has a slightly wider view than I remembered so have updated my diagram to reflect this. It definitely doesn't completely cover someone getting up onto the outdoor toilets/conservatory roof from the street side so wouldn't capture someone's face unless they were belly crawling across the conservatory roof.

Looking at how the bit of my garden you can see is lit up, my security light has also been triggered (if only my neighbour's was on only the tops of my sheds would be lit up) but that's pretty normal if someone is walking up and down my neighbour's garden at night.


Based on what I'm seeing in this, would I be right in thinking that when I get cameras put in place I'd be better off either finding some way to dim down my security light or just turning it off altogether if I'm hoping to actually capture footage of any intruders that would make their fences identifiable, or could the blow out of this image be down in part to the fact that my neighbour's camera probably isn't terribly high-end (I think he said it cost him £50) and a better camera might have a sensor with more dynamic range that could cope with the light levels?
 

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RobinDB

Active Member
Security lights are going to blow out the image at night.
Some cameras can do very low light, or still even give a colour image but thats under ideal conditions.

The argus 2 field of view spec is 130 deg but I think its slightly less.

Just looking at what I have off the argus 2 cameras, there was only one trip over the last couple of weeks at night by local cat.

The street does have a little background illumination and I have 2 POE cameras which the flood IR shows up as 2 bright spots, one middle left and right as patch of light on wall. Anything else is reflections from this camera. This photo was at around 2 am, offending cat looked at camera then trotted off to the right.
 

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oneman

Active Member
My garden cam. First pic has a 5w security light on at the top that is on all night. The second pic, the cat has trigger a 10w light below the camera. To naked eye you can't see much in the first pic, second pic I can get a pretty good view of what's going on. As you can see facial recognition would be difficult in both pictures.
HViewGarden.20210326_003922418.23.jpg
HViewGarden.20210326_003923020.24.jpg


Street camera with night time colour. You would be hard pushed to make a facial identification but I can tell when its not one of my neighbours. Number plates can't be read easily and in fact anything reflective is going to cause a problem. The camera supports WDR but the LED street lighting causing a strobing effect so switched off.

Driveway.20210329_055404557.20.jpg
 
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oneman

Active Member
I was thinking of getting some additional IR flood lights to help at night.
I am sure some the more experienced members will have advice but I don't think it will make a huge difference to quality of image.

I guess it depends on what you are trying to achieve. I would hope the lights would deter the casual thief / vandal along with the CCTV sign I have up. And I have an alarm if somebody actually tries to break in. The back camera is there more for monitoring what my cats get up to, the front is there more for couriers these days but I've saved footage of odd looking cars and people, I live in a very quiet cul-de-sac and we don't get visitors just passing through. I have one on the porch which is good enough for facial recognition.
 
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RobinDB

Active Member
I think the additional IR lights will make a hue difference where there are any dark corners.
One has just to look at image with IR lights on camera on and off.
 
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mushii

Distinguished Member
My garden cam. First pic has a 5w security light on at the top that is on all night. The second pic, the cat has trigger a 10w light below the camera. To naked eye you can't see much in the first pic, second pic I can get a pretty good view of what's going on. As you can see facial recognition would be difficult in both pictures. View attachment 1484890View attachment 1484889

Street camera with night time colour. You would be hard pushed to make a facial identification but I can tell when its not one of my neighbours. Number plates can't be read easily and in fact anything reflective is going to cause a problem. The camera supports WDR but the LED street lighting causing a strobing effect so switched off.

View attachment 1484884
Biggest problem here is that light on the garage, its making it hard for the iris to compensate and its hammering the WB. Its also causing the majority of the number plate reflections. Try turning it off and then see what it look at night.
 
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oneman

Active Member
Biggest problem here is that light on the garage, its making it hard for the iris to compensate and its hammering the WB. Its also causing the majority of the number plate reflections. Try turning it off and then see what it look at night.
Thanks for the suggestions.

I've had to switch off WB due to strobing effect from LED street lighting, hopefully that might get fixed in a future firmware update. I know its LED street light because it was only recently 'upgraded' to LED and WB was working OK before that.

I've tried switched off the garage light thinking it was a cause of problems but not much help. My thoughts are the street lights are stronger light sources than my garage light for cars on the road. On my driveway for sure the garage light would be an issues but will it make a difference on the road ?
 
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oneman

Active Member
Thanks for the suggestions.

I've had to switch off WB due to strobing effect from LED street lighting, hopefully that might get fixed in a future firmware update. I know its LED street light because it was only recently 'upgraded' to LED and WB was working OK before that.

I've tried switched off the garage light thinking it was a cause of problems but not much help. My thoughts are the street lights are stronger light sources than my garage light for cars on the road. On my driveway for sure the garage light would be an issues but will it make a difference on the road ?
Actually now I remember why I mentioned number plates. For parked cars not so much of an issue and its not the street light though that did cause the strobing problem.

My hope was that as I at the turning point for the street then I can grab the number plates of cars as they turn. Its fine in day time but at night time the cars own lights makes the number plate too reflective and that is where I hoped WB would help.
 
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RobinDB

Active Member
I think you may still have problems with cars at night, the headlights might was out image and plates as well As the reflections of camera lights.
 
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