CCTV is a collection of video cameras used for video surveillance.
It is different from broadcast television
as all the equipment is directly connected together with cables or wireless transmitters that can not be received by standard
television aerials or equipment.
The transmission of the video signals are only intended to be accessible by the
equipment on its dedicated closed circuit.
CCTV is generally used in areas where there is an increased need for security,
such as banks, airports and town centres. CCTV was initially developed as a means to increase security for banks but over
time it has developed into a cost effective means of general surveillance and home security.
A basic CCTV system
comprises of the following;
Camera, lens and power supply.
device, VCR or a digital video recorder.
available in colour, monochrome or cameras that have the ability to switch between colour and monochrome (day/night cameras).
The cameras that switch between colour and monochrome are intended for environments of low lighting at various times. There
are 2 reasons for using a camera that can switch between colour and monochrome; monochrome cameras are much more sensitive
to low lighting environments, and monochrome cameras can also be used with Infra red lighting. When there is adequate available
light there is the added advantage of using a colour camera for recording colour information, for example the colour of a
car or a person’s clothing.
The primary function of a camera is to convert light into a video signal; all
cameras require an optical lens to focus the light onto an image sensor located directly behind the lens inside the camera.
There are two types of image sensor available, a camera with a CMOS ( Complementary
Metal- Oxide Semiconductor)
image sensor chip and the other more common type that uses a CCD ( Charge Coupled Device) imaging sensor chip. The majority of CCTV cameras and
Video Camcorders use a CCD imaging sensor, whereas CMOS imaging sensors are more commonly used in webcams, budget home security
cameras and digital photography cameras. CCD cameras are capable of creating a much clearer and higher resolution image.
cameras require a power supply; these are usually 12 volts DC, 24 volts AC or 240 volts AC.
mentioned in the section on cameras, all cameras require an optical lens. The job of the lens is to limit and focus light
onto the image sensor of the camera. A lens can also automatically control the amount of light that reaches the imaging sensor,
these lenses are referred to as Auto Iris (AI) lenses and are generally used outdoors where the light changes constantly during
the day, at night and also in varying weather conditions.
It is also the job of the lens to control the depth of field
of the image, either for a wide angle image or a narrow angle image depending on the distance of the object in question from
the camera. Where movable cameras are used a zoom lens is usually fitted to allow varying points of a monitored area to be
viewed. Zoom lenses are usually controlled by the CCTV operator.
recording device receives and stores the images from the camera, previously time lapsed VCR’s and video multiplexers
were generally used in CCTV systems, but due to developments in technology digital video recorders are now more commonly used.
lapse VCR’s allow camera images to be recorded for varying lengths of time on a single 3 hour video tape, from lengths
of 3 hours to over 960 hours. The problem with time lapse video recorders is that the longer they are set to record for the
less video information they can record per second, similar to taking a photograph from 25 every second to one photograph every
4 seconds for example.
Digital video recorders use computer hard drives to store the recorded information and can however
record for much longer depending on the size of the hard drive and the CODEC (see glossary below) being used. A DVR combines
and enhances the recording capabilities of a time lapse VCR and a multiplexer.
When there is a requirement for recoding more than one camera and video switcher can
be used, the cameras are connected into the switcher and the switcher will automatically switch the image being fed to the
monitor and the video. The disadvantage of using a switcher is that if there is an incident it is possible that the camera
image will change causing the incident to be missed.
multiplexer is a device that takes multiple video images and lays them onto a VHS tape; it uses the properties of the PAL
signal (see glossary below) to record as many images from multiple cameras every second as possible. The video information
recorded is limited by the amount of cameras on the system and the length of time the VCR is set to record for.
A stand alone DVR is designed specifically for CCTV systems. It uses computer hard drives
to store video information and an embedded operating system to control the functions of the DVR; this type of recording device
is most commonly used with current CCTV systems. Digital video recorders have various settings to enable more video information
to be recorded at the required times using technology such as video motion detection, this means that the images from the
cameras are only recorded when the information of the image changes, for example a person walking in front of the camera.
previously mentioned, DVRs have a multiplexer built in which enables the user to view multiple images on the screen at any
given time by segregating the screen image.
Many DVRs can also be connected to a network or a modem to allow remote
Operate much in the way as stand
alone DVRs, but use video capture cards and additional software to carry out the operations of the DVR, these types of DVR
can easily be upgraded to accept additional cameras by adding more capture cards. As with the stand alone DVR’s, PC
based recorders can also be connected to the internet for remote access to the DVR.
Are designed for IP CCTV cameras over WAN or LAN computer networks where each camera has its
own unique IP address.
There are two main types of monitor;
the analogue monitor referred to as a CRT ( Cathode Ray
Tube) and the digital monitor which is the commonly used PC monitor known as the TFT
( Thin Film Transistor)
There are advantages and disadvantages for both monitors, A TFT monitor is less space consuming than
a CRT monitor. A CRT monitor will display a better image of low and medium resolution cameras than a TFT monitor. For high
resolution cameras, a TFT monitor can be more cost effective than using a high resolution CRT monitor.
are usually specifically designed for CCTV systems and come fitted with a composite video input BNC (Bayonet Nut Coupling)
plug. CCTV monitors are also designed for long term use compared to standard TVs and cater for higher screen resolutions.
Developed in the late 1940’s as a miniature version of the Type C connector, Bayonet Neil-Concelman (sometimes
erroneously called a British Naval Connector or Bayonet Nut Connector). A connector widely used in the CCTV industry,
usually for coaxial cable. Easy to install and reliable with little video signal loss. A rotating ring outside the tube locks
the cable to any female connector.
All cameras require a degree
of lighting to be able to pick up an image, monochrome cameras generally work well in darker environments than colour cameras.
Infrared lighting can also be used with monochrome cameras.
There are various types or infrared lighting available,
standard bulbs or LED ( Light Emitting Diode) types.
Infra red lighting can illuminate areas at different frequencies, although
invisible to the naked eye, CCTV cameras can see the light emitted. Depending on the frequency range that the IR lamp operates,
depends on how visible the lamp glow is to the naked eye. Note however, not all cameras are sensitive enough to pick up all
frequencies of infra red.
Is the practice of using video
cameras in locations that are not made obvious to the persons being monitored in the specific camera coverage area. There
are no laws in the UK which permit the use of covert CCTV, but it is recommended that there is reasonable cause for the purpose
of covert surveillance and that its primary objectives are clearly noted, only used for the purposes of preventing crime and
are not used for longer than intended. Areas where covert CCTV equipment is misused for sexual gratification falls under sections
67 and 68, Part 1, Chapter 42 of the sexual offences act 2003.
Is the means of accessing CCTV images over a computer network or standard telephone networks. Software is used on the
local PC that allows access to the digital video recorder.
The video signal is known as the moving
image information signal produced from a video camera, In the UK we use a video signal standard called PAL (Phase Alternate
Line) this is a colour or monochrome video signal that comprises of 25 images or frames per second. The PAL video signal is
common to most UK TV’s and video recorders. A new breed of CCTV cameras referred to as IP CCTV Cameras (Internet Protocol
Closed Circuit TeleVision) uses a data signal which comprises of a series of computer readable still images. These cameras
are generally connected directly to a computer or a computer network and are accessed by software to enable the live viewing,
recording and playback of the video images. One format for this moving video data is called MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts
Is the means of getting the video
signal from the camera to the recording or monitoring device. The transmission can be carried over wires or over the airwaves
via radio transmission.
The most commonly used cable for wired transmission is RG59 coaxial cable.
cable is being used more commonly as video is able to travel further along twisted pair cables than standard coax.
Other forms of video transmission include fibre optic cables, microwave transmission and licence free radio transmission.
Refers to the number of definable parts of the horizontal image
produced by a camera, recorded by the video or digital video recorder and displayed on the monitor.
manufacturers refer to this as TVL (TeleVision Lines).
The TVL of the analogue PAL video information is closely
compared to the pixels of a digital image.
VHS (Video Home System) recorders are capable of recording 300 lines
of a monochrome image or 240 lines of a colour image; SVHS (Super Video Home System) is capable of recording 400 lines of
monochrome image and 340 lines of a colour image.
The recording device should be the deciding factor when choosing
the resolution of a camera as a 520 TVL camera being recorded on a VHS recorder will only record 240 lines out of the available
Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) have the advantage of being able to convert the analogue PAL signal into
a digital signal at various resolutions, the downside is, that the higher the resolution of the image recorded, the larger
the file size of that digital image. The conversion of the analogue PAL signal to a digital image is done using a CODEC (COmpressor-DECompressor).
A CODEC is used to convert an analogue video signal to a digital
video signal either using hardware or software. Codec's play an important role in digital video recorders; they are not
only used to convert the analogue signal to a digital signal but to also produce the best quality video information at the
smallest file size. This makes a big difference to the amount of video that can be recorded on a DVRs hard drive.
There are many standards of CODEC, those used for video compression that you may come across are MPEG-2, MPEG-4, JPEG 2000,
AVI and H.264, H.264 is the latest codec being introduced into the CCTV market, deriving from video conferencing equipment.