CCTV camera options advice needed

morphix

Standard Member
Hi all,

I'm looking to setup a CCTV camera for evidence gathering purposes in a specific legal dispute with neighbours who live in a flat/apartment below.

I'm perplexed by the bewildering amount of products on the market, and all the different technology available...

However I do have some quite specific requirements (or rather limitations I should say) which may help narrow things down... which are as follows:

1. I can only record indoors from the kitchen windowsill (for legal and practical reasons).
2. Because of the above, something small, compact and discrete is needed.
3. It needs to have very clear, sharp image quality.
4. Needs to be able to make out faces and car reg plates 20-30 feet away.
5. It needs to to film at night-time filming to a distance of maybe 20-30 feet in darkness.
6. I don't want to spend more than £150 / $250.
7. Ideally something networked which I can monitor on my PC with Zoneminder.
8. Zoom, Pan & Tilt would be distinct advantages, but would not essential.
9. Images must have time and date stamp, or camera must be Zoneminder compatible.

The first camera I have considered which ticked most of the boxes was the Foscam FI8918W however it looks like it has a poor censor and image quality. From what I've seen on demos wouldn't be good evidence purposes at the distance I'm recording.

From what I've read, this is a common problem with budget wifi CMOS cameras, and CCD is the way to go for sharp images. However CCD cameras are usually more bulky and expensive.

I've been wondering whether I need a CCTV camera at all, and perhaps a more creative approach might be better... for example, I have an ITX (very small) PC I could hook up with a USB camera to take timed shots.. that potentially opens up possibilities like webcams or perhaps even a small conventional digital still camera/pocket camcorder hooked up to USB port.

If I choose the CCD camera option, then I'm thinking there's two ways I can go about networking this... either getting an IP network camera with ethernet port and using a dedicated router nearby... or, using a CCD camera with composite out, and using a wifi video sender to send the signal to either a capture card in my PC, and/or to a dedicated HDD DVR recorder (I already have both these in place, so no extra cost there).

I'd welcome any observations or advice, recommendations on specific cameras etc!

Thanks,

Paul
 

eyepete

Novice Member
The main issue with what you need to do here is your budget...and I suspect that is one of reasons for no responses from others as yet :)

For what you need your CCTV to deliver £150 is probably very tight. Not only that but recording from behind glass is also a problem as you won't be able to use any cameas with IR night vision - as the IR LEDs will simply reflect back into the lens at night time rendering the images/video quite useless.

However, if you have good security lighting outside you might be able to get away with a camera that has good quality video resolution but no night vision.

That said, for what you are looking to do, I'd consider a proper outdoor camera (IP or otherwise).

Pete
 

morphix

Standard Member
Thanks for the reply Pete.. I suspected as much about the comments you make concerning the IR and glass...but surprised that my budget will be a problem.

Mounting outdoors is not really an option for me for several reasons.. firstly I can't legally do it as I live in a flat which is rented and even if I owned, I'd need permission from the local authority to mount anything on the building outside.. secondly, the area where I live is a hotspot for druggies and anti-social behaviour and I fear that even if I did manage to get a camera mounted outside, it would either get vandalised or result in my windows getting broken! Yes it's that bad! My immediate next door neighbour is well into drugs/dealing and probably wouldn't take kindly to being filmed.. We've also had 5 arson incidents in the space of a few years.

I initially considered mounting in the loft and having the lens sticking out discretely from the timber that sits between the roof and the building wall you probably wouldn't even be able to notice it from outside.. in theory it sounded ideal solution, but when I got up into the loft I soon realised it wasn't practically possible to work in such a confined space in the eves of the loft, mores the pity.

So that leaves me with windowsill mounting and keeping the window open a little to film a night. The lightening is very poor outside my flat and I can't really mount an external floodlight for the same reasons as the camera mounting.
 

eyepete

Novice Member
Thanks for the reply Pete.. I suspected as much about the comments you make concerning the IR and glass...but surprised that my budget will be a problem.

Mounting outdoors is not really an option for me for several reasons.. firstly I can't legally do it as I live in a flat which is rented and even if I owned, I'd need permission from the local authority to mount anything on the building outside.. secondly, the area where I live is a hotspot for druggies and anti-social behaviour and I fear that even if I did manage to get a camera mounted outside, it would either get vandalised or result in my windows getting broken! Yes it's that bad! My immediate next door neighbour is well into drugs/dealing and probably wouldn't take kindly to being filmed.. We've also had 5 arson incidents in the space of a few years.

I initially considered mounting in the loft and having the lens sticking out discretely from the timber that sits between the roof and the building wall you probably wouldn't even be able to notice it from outside.. in theory it sounded ideal solution, but when I got up into the loft I soon realised it wasn't practically possible to work in such a confined space in the eves of the loft, mores the pity.

So that leaves me with windowsill mounting and keeping the window open a little to film a night. The lightening is very poor outside my flat and I can't really mount an external floodlight for the same reasons as the camera mounting.

I better understand your position so thanks for that.

That said, I do think you'll have a hard time trying to get the best from any IP camera regardless of budget because the main problems you have are:

1) The indoor placement of the camera means you can't take advantage of any IR night vision - though you 'may' be able to get away with installing an IR lamp outside maybe and someone gettting an IR based camera to work with that (?)

2) You'll compromise the motion sensing capabilities of a camera, again because things like PIR sensors won't work behind the glass. And even if you use standard motion detection you'll have a hard time fine tuning it without getting loads of false positive recordings as things like rain drops etc will keep setting the sensor off.

As I said, I do appreciate your predicament and hope someone may be able to suggest a way around or other solution for you.

Pete
 

morphix

Standard Member
Thanks zimcos for the camera suggestions.. I will check them out. I might be able to be a bit more flexible on budget and stretch to £200.. but I really wouldn't want to spend much more. I have a feeling this can be done very cheaply without using a specialised CCTV camera if I could find the right camera... I'm thinking something like a pocket camcorder which can be run 24.7 without burning out! It's so confusing though with so many cameras on the market...and I guess at the end of the day conventional cameras are just not designed to be run continuously even if you could find one that runs off the mains.. eventually it would probably burn out and may be false economy...if I have to keep replacing. I just noticed a site that sells professional cameras reasonably cheap (this one looks ideal Mini Box Camera)..
 

herbs

Novice Member
I haven't used them or seen how well these work but the nite devil claims low light performance and seem to be on ebay for under £200
 

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