Guide to CCTV Camera Choices: Bullet vs Dome vs PTZ

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If you are considering a home CCTV security system then you will be faced with the choice between several different types of camera; bullet cameras, dome cameras and PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) cameras.

Each camera comes with its own benefits and limitations making selection an important factor in getting the best security system for your home.

In this guide, we will talk you through the differences between all three types of CCTV camera and explain the features of each one including key factors to consider such as

  • Camera location
  • Camera visibility
  • Field of view

We’ll also cover additional choices such as night vision, colour and installation.

The guide is designed as a reference for anyone considering a home CCTV security system and should be relatively easy to follow. However, if you would like to discuss your requirements in more detail then our trained security professionals are on hand to go through a custom quote with you.

Bullet Camera vs. Dome Camera vs. PTZ Cameras

Bullet cameras, dome cameras, and PTZ CCTV cameras can each be installed in both residential and commercial premises. They support similar functions such as remote viewing, waterproof design for external use and can include features such as motion detection and infra-red night vision.

However, each camera choice has their own unique differences including design, size, mounting locations and field of focus.

Let’s cover the definitions, features and main benefits of each.

Bullet Camera

Definition

A bullet camera is a type of CCTV surveillance device that, as its name suggest, is shaped like a bullet. Generally between 2-8 inches in length, these cameras can be quite small and are sometimes known as lipstick cameras.

They can have a fixed or variable focus lens and are designed to be installed with the field of view focused on a specific and fixed location.

Most bullet cameras have a field of view of between 70o and 100o.


Bullet cameras are the most common type of CCTV camera and their shape has become synonymous with surveillance security systems. Image via Pexels.

Size and Visibility

Depending on the model you choose, bullet cameras are the most obvious and visible choice of CCTV camera. They act as a powerful deterrent to discourage vandals and thieves but are more vulnerable than dome cameras to tampering or vandalism.

It is therefore recommended that bullet cameras are mounted at a high level and out of reach; a height of 9’ or more is usually sufficient to prevent this kind of attack.

Bullet cameras range in size from around 2 inches (‘lipstick’ cameras) to around 8 inches in length.

Common Installation Locations

Bullet cameras are most commonly used as an external security camera. They are usually weatherproof and can offer a fixed view of specific locations such as points of entry and perimeter security.

They are commonly mounted on perimeter fences, walls and on the exterior of a property.

Main Benefits

The main benefits of bullet cameras are that they are generally cheaper than other options such as dome cameras and PTZ cameras.

Bullet cameras are easy to install, simple to operate and offer a visible deterrent to would-be intruders of your property.

Bullet cameras offer a fixed field of view and it is immediately apparent to any potential criminals as to what is under surveillance. This is particularly useful if you have a very specific area of your property that you wish to keep under surveillance such as entrance points or an external building like a garage or home-office.

Bullet cameras can be fitted with infra-red night vision with in-built LEDs to provide adequate low-light surveillance up to 100ft (approx.).

Dome Camera

Definition

Also named for their shape, dome cameras are usually vertically mounted onto ceilings (internally or externally in porchways etc) or under the soffits and eaves of a property. However, they can also be horizontally fitted.

They can include a vandal proof security dome to protect the camera from being tampered with or vandalised.

Most dome cameras have a field of view of between 70o and 100o.


Dome cameras can be mounted internally or externally, vertically or horizontally. Image via Flickr.

Size and Visibility

Generally speaking, dome cameras are less obvious than both PTZ and bullet cameras and are often chosen specifically for the fact that they are less obtrusive. However, this can make them less effective at being a visible deterrent.

The size of dome camera can vary depending on the model you choose but are generally around 4 inches in diameter.

Common Installation Locations

With their sleek and less obtrusive profiles, dome cameras offer more of an aesthetic appeal than their bullet camera counterparts. They are therefore more popular to use in internal settings and can be fitted onto ceilings.

However, vandal proof models are also popular for external use and can be fitted to the underside of soffits and eaves as well as in porches.

Main Benefits

Dome cameras offer a more discreet way to keep your premises under surveillance as they have a lower profile.

Although the field of view cannot be changed (see PTZ cameras), it is not apparent in which direction the camera is facing which can make it harder for intruders to ‘bypass’.

They can be supplied and installed with vandal resistant covers.

Dome cameras can also be fitted with infra-red night vision with in-built LEDs to provide adequate low-light surveillance up to 100ft (approx.).

PTZ Camera

Definition

PTZ cameras are a type of dome camera that is able to be remotely controlled by an operator. PTZ stands for Pan, Tilt, Zoom and it is these three functions that can be adjusted:

  • Pan – Left and Right
  • Tilt – Up and Down
  • Zoom – In and Out

PTZ cameras typically have a field of view of 360o (pan) up to 180o (tilt).

Size and Visibility

PTZ cameras are usually around 8 inches in diameter and are therefore a very visible means of surveillance which can act as a deterrent to would-be intruders.


PTZ cameras can be used in a wide variety of locations both internally and externally. Image via Niall Green, Wikimedia Commons.

Common Installation Locations

To maximise their field of view, PTZ cameras are also usually placed at a high level to afford the best angles; they are therefore also beyond the reach of vandals.

As they can keep a large area under surveillance, PTZ cameras are well suited for larger areas.

Offering maximum flexibility, they can be adapted for many different applications of use including the surveillance of both external and internal areas.

Main Benefits

The main benefit of PTZ cameras is one of flexibility and control as they can offer 360-degree views of the area they are installed within. In addition, the tilt and zoom features offer greater field of focus and enhanced clarity.

Most PTZ cameras capture images in super high resolution.

Being larger than dome cameras and most bullet cameras, they are a more visible means of deterring potential intruders to your property.

PTZ cameras can also be fitted with infra-red night vision with in-built LEDs to provide adequate low-light surveillance. They are typically more powerful than their dome or bullet counterparts and can provide more long-range night vision of up to 200ft (approx.).

At A Glance: Bullet Camera vs. Dome Camera vs. PTZ Cameras

 

Bullet Cameras

Dome Cameras

PTZ Cameras

Cost

Low to High-Range

Mid-Range

Mid to High-Range

Size

2-8”

4”

8”

Field of View

70o to 100o

70o to 100o

360o (pan), up to 180o (tilt)

Internal/External

Mostly external

Mostly internal

Mostly external

Night Vision

Approx. 100ft

Approx. 100ft

Approx. 200ft

Choosing a Home CCTV Security System

Getting the design of your home surveillance system right is important, whether you are looking to achieve a visible deterrent or to offer peace of mind and protection. We understand that the choices can be overwhelming which is why Connect 4 CCTV provide a full consultation service with trained security professionals so you can be assured of the best solution for your individual needs.

We are happy to discuss any and all elements of your home security and surveillance ambitions from choice of camera and design to professional installation and ongoing support.

To speak to one of Connect 4 CCTV’s professional security team today, contact us on 0344 324 6020.

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