While working in law enforcement and consulting, I have viewed hundreds of hours of video from surveillance security systems. The idea of having these systems is to record video to help identify a suspect, vehicle, or other evidence that was in or removed from the crime scene. These systems all work to some extent, but many of them have issues with equipment or setup.
The largest problems are quality of the picture, placement of cameras, and lighting.
Low cost surveillance systems usually have low resolution cameras that output low quality video. Crime television productions today show crime scene investigators using software to enhance pixelated or snowy video resulting in perfect pictures. That is pure fiction. You can’t add something that is not there. To get quality video you need to use the highest resolution camera and lens that you can afford.
Wireless systems are easier to install, however keep in mind that even the best wireless transmitter can have interference and leave you with less then quality video. When using them, stay as close to the receiver as possible. There are systems that offer a combination of wired and wireless camera options.
Most people place their cameras high, out of arms reach, so the camera isn’t stolen or vandalized. The result is poorer quality video that is harder to use for identification. Cameras need to be placed as close as possible to the object being captured with the best light source as possible. It is hard to make an identification of a suspect when the camera is 20 feet from where the suspect is standing and with the sunlight behind him. It is even harder to read a license plate of a car from a fixed lens camera 20 feet above a car.
Even though it is possible to enhance dark pictures to a point, unlike TV shows, you can’t bend the angle and read the plate if the image is not there. In low light areas, night cameras systems have infrared LEDs for light source. Although invisible to the human eye, the more infrared LEDs, the more infrared light for better quality video from the camera.
To enhance a surveillance video system, or for stand alone use in outdoor situations, a motion sensor hidden Camera LED Security light with DVR is a good choice. It is an answer to getting better video to help make identification easier. While it looks like a normal LED security light with motion sensor, a hidden camera records AVI video to a DVR. Normal street value is under $200.00 for this all inclusive unit. The included DVR records on a SD card that can be removed and viewed on a computer. No external recording device is needed.
As an example: This weatherproof 88 LED Spot Light Color Hidden Camera with built-in DVR is perfect for outdoor applications. It uses a 2.0 mega pixel color digital camera to capture time and date stamped video.
When motion is detected at night the powerful 88 LED spotlight automatically turns on. In many cases, a suspect will look directly at the unit when the light comes on and will have his face captured in the 10 second AVI video shot captured from the built in camera. Each trigger of the unit motion sensor results in another date and time stamped 10 second AVI recording. The Camera DVR has a slot for an external micro SD card up to 32 GB (not included). With an 8GB micro SD card (included) it will hold roughly 5 hours of video footage. The captured video can be transfered to a computer storage device, or when the SD card is full, the unit will record over previous recordings.
AVI video is not compressed, so the video is the highest quality possible from the camera. When recorded to a AVI digital video recorder (DVR) there is no loss of video quality.
Other hidden cameras are available with and without DVRs that can be used in areas closer to eye level to identify suspects and vehicles.
When searching for a video system, keep in mind that hidden cameras can enhance your system dramatically.