Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Video surveillance serves as a deterrent to potential criminals and helps you monitor your family home or property. You'll always be one step ahead of thieves and criminals!

We have conducted a large video surveillance test 2021 and want to help you increase your sense of security and find the best surveillance camera for you. We have compared a variety of models and listed the advantages and disadvantages of each. This should give you some clarity and help you decide which video surveillance system to buy.




The most important facts

  • Video surveillance provides a deterrent to criminals and helps to improve one's own sense of security.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between analogue and digital surveillance cameras, whereby there are already many different types of video surveillance systems available today.
  • Data protection plays an important role in any kind of surveillance and should not be neglected. There are a few things to keep in mind and that is why we have summarised the most important things about this topic in this article.

The Best Video Surveillance: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a video surveillance system

Where is video surveillance allowed and where is it prohibited?

Video surveillance of your own property and family home is generally allowed. You can install the surveillance camera as a preventive measure to deter thieves or burglars from breaking in. This means that a decisive interest, such as protecting the property, is necessary to operate video surveillance.

The current legal situation is not precisely defined and there are some things to consider:

  • Surveillance of other people's property is not permitted.
  • Only the state is authorised to monitor public space.
  • Video camera dummies should only be directed at your own property.
  • Developed properties are generally not subject to a reporting obligation, but the consent of the people living there is required.

Videoüberwachung-1

Note that you are only monitoring your property, as monitoring other people's property or the public is strictly prohibited.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Matthew Henry)

What does video surveillance cost?

Camera surveillance is a long-term investment in your own security. The purchase is therefore in the higher price segment.

Prices vary greatly depending on the benefits of the system and also the range of functions.

There are sets that include 4 cameras or single sets. You should therefore ask yourself what problem the video surveillance should solve.

We have provided you with a rough overview of how to buy a high-quality video surveillance system:

Type Price
Video surveillance with 1 mini camera From €50
Video surveillance radio with 1 camera From €60
Video surveillance dome with 1 camera From €150
Video surveillance WLAN set with 4 cameras From €150

Where can I buy video surveillance?

The range of surveillance cameras is very extensive.

Do you prefer local advice or would you like to find out for yourself on the Internet?

You can find offers from the following providers:

  • Amazon
  • Hornbach
  • Conrad
  • Obi

If you go to a DIY or electronics store, you can view the video surveillance system on site. The sales staff will advise you competently and you can ask any questions immediately.

On the internet, it is up to you how much you want to deal with the topic. You can compare the offers very well and read the reviews, because they can be very informative. There are plenty of websites that specialise in video surveillance. Most sites also offer a service that installs the video surveillance when you buy it.

Videoüberwachung-2

The increasing demand for security has caused a boom in video surveillance systems in recent years.
(Image source: unsplash.com /Srh Hrbch)

Where should I put signs and stickers for video surveillance?

The provisions of the DSVGO (Basic Data Protection Regulation) are mandatory. The principle here is:

Surveillance must be made recognisable!

This means that it is up to each individual to decide where to place the sticker or information sign for video surveillance. The important thing here is that those affected are made aware of it.

A video surveillance sign must contain the following information:

  • Purpose of processing
  • Contact details of the data controller
  • Rights of the data subject
  • Contact details of the data protection officer

There is a template on the internet that contains all this information for you to fill in yourself. It is best to find out about the exact legal situation from the supervisory authority in your federal state.

Which cable do I need for my video surveillance?

The individual stations of a network are connected by a network cable. Due to the high video quality, a huge amount of data is generated. Therefore, it is essential that you pay attention to the quality of the network cable. Only with IP video surveillance systems do you not need a cable, as the data is transmitted via radio or WLAN. Note, however, that with wireless or WLAN video surveillance there is a delay, called latency, of about 0.3 - 0.7 seconds.

There are different network cables. They differ in material and performance. The network cables with higher performance can also be used for the performance parameters below.

We have created a table that lists the most common network cables:

Cables Type Operating frequency Application range
CAT 5 UTP 100 MHz 100 BASE-TX and 1000 BASE-T
CAT 6 UTP 250 MHz 10 GBASE-T
CAT 7 S/FTP 600MHz 10 GBASE-T, CCTV, Telephone

There are also subcategories, CAT 5a, CAT 6a and CAT 7a, which achieve higher operating frequencies than the standard model.

Decision: What types of video surveillance are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, a distinction is made between video surveillance without cables and very conventional surveillance cameras with cables. There are many different types. To give you an overview, we have listed the most common types of video surveillance and compared the advantages and disadvantages of each model.

Analogue video surveillance

An analogue camera processes and sends analogue signals to the end device via coaxial cable. End devices can be recorders or televisions, for example. The end device converts the analogue signals into digital signals. This allows the data to be stored on the recorder.

The resolution of conventional analogue cameras is much lower than that of IP video surveillance. You can expect a resolution of 720 x 576 pixels. This means that a conventional analogue video surveillance system is not suitable for monitoring extensive and large areas. In the meantime, however, there are also special analogue surveillance cameras with HD technology.

Advantages
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Inexpensive purchase
  • Real-time transmission
Disadvantages
  • Limited range of functions
  • Data retrieval is location-dependent (recorder, TV, etc.)
  • Old-fashioned

Video surveillance without cables (digital)

Digital surveillance cameras compress analogue signals. These are then transmitted to the storage medium via a network connection. The transmission of this data is done with a so-called IP protocol.

The great advantage of digital video surveillance is the high resolution. Monitoring large areas is therefore no problem and facial recognition and number plate recognition are also possible.

Advantages
  • Permanent access to data possible
  • Usually better video quality
  • Extensive range of functions
  • Easy installation and expandability
Disadvantages
  • High acquisition costs
  • High-quality videos require more storage space
  • Delay in transmission

Specialised video surveillance

Special types of video surveillance are becoming increasingly popular:

  • With wall arm: These cameras are mainly used as a deterrent for potential criminals. They are obviously recognisable and are mostly used as video surveillance in public places such as parking garages and department stores. The permanently mounted surveillance camera shows which area it is directed at and thus which area is being monitored.
  • Minicamera: In rare cases, mini cameras are also used for video surveillance. They can hardly be identified with the naked eye and are often used for covert investigations.
  • PTZ camera: A surveillance camera that can be panned is called a PTZ camera. PTZ is an abbreviation that stands for plan (pan), tilt and zoom. A PTZ video surveillance system can capture and track a person. This function is called autotracking. It is most commonly used in airports or stadiums.
  • Dome camera: This type of video surveillance can be identified by its semicircular housing. In most cases, the glass is darkly tinted so that the camera inside is not visible. This makes it impossible to tell exactly which area is being covered by the surveillance camera. Dome video surveillance is mainly used in supermarkets, department stores and public transport. In addition to the fixed-mounted dome camera, there is now also a speed dome camera. It can be swivelled inside and can be controlled remotely.

Videoüberwachung-3

The darkened glass makes it impossible to see which area the dome camera is currently monitoring.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Paweł Czerwiński)

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate a surveillance camera

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible video surveillance systems.

The criteria you can use to compare surveillance cameras include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what the individual criteria are.

Camera

The camera is the most important component for monitoring your property. There are several things to consider before buying a camera. What resolution is necessary, does my camera need an integrated night vision function, etc.? We have answered these questions for you in detail.

Night vision

An IR LED and a built-in night vision function are essential for high-quality video recording. We strongly recommend that you buy a video surveillance system with night vision, as thieves or burglars usually strike at night.

Resolution

In order to be able to see a person's face well and also the smaller details in the surroundings, your surveillance camera should have at least a high definition resolution.

Viewing angle

The angle of view of the video surveillance basically determines up to what width and height the area being monitored should be captured. As a rule, the larger the viewing angle, the more can be captured. Please inform yourself exactly, otherwise there could be problems during installation, as certain areas could not be covered.

Motion sensor

Video surveillance with a motion sensor is becoming increasingly popular with customers. This makes video surveillance much more efficient, as the video recording only starts when such a movement has been detected. It should be noted that the motion sensor should be set so that birds or cats, for example, do not trigger the recording.

Microphone

Sound recording as possible evidence is not legally permissible. Therefore, you do not really need to pay attention to a built-in microphone.

Memory

Memory is an important criterion in today's world, as the quality of video recordings is increasing more and more, and so is the amount of data.

Storage medium

There are different storage media such as the PC, a memory card or the modern storage on a cloud. In a technically based time like today, storing data on a cloud is especially common. It is important to note that there can be problems uploading data and that security is not always guaranteed. Therefore, one should definitely consider the classic storage media such as the PC or the memory card.

Data transmission

Wired cameras can transmit data to the storage medium securely and without interference.

Digital video surveillance without cables has the disadvantage that it is more susceptible to interference and image failures than a surveillance camera installed with cables. Potential sources of interference in this case would be walls or steel beams. Therefore, you should also pay attention to the structural conditions. On the other hand, digital surveillance systems are more flexible to install and more convenient to operate.

Indoor / Outdoor

Indoor

If the video surveillance takes place indoors, it is sufficient to buy a conventional indoor surveillance camera. It is cheaper than an outdoor camera and therefore does not need to be protected against water or dust.

Outdoor

An outdoor video surveillance system should be protected against water and dust. You can determine the degree of protection of the surveillance camera with the help of the IP value. The first value determines the protection against dust and the second value the protection against water. The camera should have at least an IP65 protection rating. This means that your video surveillance is fully protected against water and dust.

In addition, the camera should withstand possible vandalism. The resistance value ranges from IK00 to IK20, where IK00 means that the surveillance camera cannot withstand much resistance. IK20 here means that the camera can withstand a force of 20 joules.

To make sure that you think of everything when buying a video surveillance system, we have prepared a short informative video that illustrates five important tips when buying surveillance cameras.

Facts worth knowing about video surveillance

What are the pros and cons of video surveillance?

Video surveillance is a very controversial topic. To help you form your own opinion, we have listed some of the advantages and disadvantages of video surveillance.

Advantages
  • Decrease of crime in monitored areas
  • Increase of the feeling of security
  • Improvement of the crime solving rate
  • Deterrence of criminals
Disadvantages
  • Possible civil liberties issues
  • Privacy issues
  • Crime shifts to unmonitored areas
  • Vulnerability to possible hacking

What is the purpose of video surveillance?

When you buy a surveillance camera, the main purpose is to increase security. The classic purposes of video surveillance are as follows:

  • Deterring potential criminals
  • Increasing the rate of crime detection
  • Reduction of vandalism
  • Alerting in certain individual cases

How long is video surveillance stored?

In principle, recorded videos must be deleted immediately unless they are important for investigations for provable reasons.

However, an exact retention period is not specified. According to supervisory authorities, data may be kept for a maximum of 72 hours. In individual cases, the data may even be stored for 10 days.

What smartphone app is available for my video surveillance?

In most cases, there is also a smartphone app for IP video surveillance systems. Depending on the model purchased, you can download an app, whether Android or IOS, and use the video surveillance function. The apps of the models vary greatly here, so it is best to find out for yourself.

Image source: Inta/ 123rf.com

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