How Far Can a Security Camera See (4-Factor Guide)

A common question when installing a security camera people ask is how far can a security camera see, this is because you may want to catch video from a great distance or want to make sure the resolution is up to par with similar models.

I decided to write this simple 4-factor guide article which will talk about the specifics of camera resolutions and how far they can see.

In general, how far a security camera can see will depend on 4 factors which include: 1. Its focal length, 2. Its Camera Resolution, 3. The location where it’s set up, and 4. Its camera quality.

I will go into more detail in our article below.

What Far Range a Security Camera can see?

two security camera in a pole

When installing a security camera there is a certain distance that you would like to cover within the range of sight of the CCTV camera. This distance is what would determine where you would position the CCTV camera without leaving any blind spots.

When talking about how far can a home security camera see, the distance is usually between 0-70 feet and this also depends on the sensor, lens, and camera resolution being used by the CCTV camera.

Other security cameras can cover a distance of up to 700 feet and that is why there are certain 4-factor guidelines that we need to consider these factors include Focal length, resolution, location, and quality of the security camera systems.

Below I will explain all of these factors so you can have a complete understanding of the workings of camera systems before purchasing one.

4-factor Guide when choosing a security camera

These factors are as follows:

  1. Focal Length: The focal length of a CCTV camera is the specific distance between the center of a curved mirror or lens and its focus. It is one of the most important factors to be considered if you would like to determine the distance you want your security camera to be able to cover.

    The focal length of a camera is measured in millimeters and if a camera system has a smaller focal length, then the camera will have a wild field view but if your camera has a larger focal length then that would narrow down the field view of the security camera and objects will appear bigger and closer to the security camera.

    The focal length of a security camera can also be classified into two parts namely the variable focal length and the fixed focal length.
  • Variable Focal Length: A security camera with variable focal length is a type of camera that can be adjusted for a narrow or wider field by turning a screw or in some cases remotely if the camera has a motor that controls it. (1)
  • Fixed Focal Length: A CCTV camera with a fixed focal length has a fixed distance from the sensor of the camera and the angle from which it can be viewed is constant which means there is no way of changing it after purchase. The only way to increase the focal length is to equip it with fixed lenses like 2.8mm, 3mm, 6mm, 9mm or other lenses with different measurements. However, you should keep in mind that the higher the lens the narrower the field of view becomes.

outdoor wired security camera

  1. Camera Resolution: The second factor worth considering is the resolution of the camera system. A camera system should be able to map out the details of the objects it is seeing otherwise it is utterly useless.

    When trying to figure out how far a security camera can see, you should also consider the quality of the images your camera captures and records. Cameras with good resolutions like 2MP, 4MP, 5MP or 4K are now very affordable which means you can get cameras that will give you very clear and vivid details of the surrounding. If you want to calculate the total number of pixels within an image you have to multiply the number of pixels in the vertical with the total number of pixels in the horizontal.

    The higher the camera resolution the better and clearer the objects appear because there will be more pixels in the image. For example, 4MP is the equivalent of 4 million pixels and 8MP is the equivalent of 8 million pixels.
  2. Location: This factor is an obvious factor to consider because where you put your security camera will be where its focus lies and that can also affect how far the security camera will be able to see. Let’s say you put your security camera in a place where there are obstructions like trees, walls, concrete floors, or bricks. These obstructions could hinder the signal of a camera in the case of wireless cameras and that would also affect the quality of the videos and images captured by the camera thereby influencing how far the camera can see. The best way to avoid all obstructions and make sure your camera is up to its peak performance is to place it in a place where there will be no interference. (2)
  3. Quality: The quality of a security camera is a must when we want to determine How far a home security camera system can see. Just like other electronic devices have different brands and different qualities which set them apart from each other, security camera systems also have different brands and different types.

    When purchasing cameras, I always advise people to go for the top-quality brands because even though they might have the same field of view their quality might differ. The top security camera brands have a large customer base and could be depended upon in terms of durability, reliability, and quality. These top brands might be more expensive but they are of course better than the various unknown brands.

outdoor securitycamera

What to do if you want to monitor places at a distance with a security camera?

To monitor places at a distance with security cameras there are a few things that you must do and these things include:

  • The use of security cameras with very high-resolution because this will boost the ability of the security cameras to produce usable images and videos from a long distance. An example of such camera resolution is 5MP or 4MP resolutions.
  • You can also purchase cameras that have variable focal lengths because they will give you a wider field of view and they also can zoom to identify visible details from far away without degrading the quality of the image.
  • You should choose security camera systems from big brands to prevent problems or disputes in case there is any sort of problem with the system.
  • You can use “pan, tilt, zoom {PTZ} cameras” that have a powerful zoom.
  • You should also make sure that the security cameras you purchased are capable of seeing far enough with clear and vivid details and night. If not then you should find cameras with night vision.
  • You should consider the use of high-resolution professional security cameras like a camera which was manufactured by Avigilon and has a resolution of 29MP.

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial about how far a security camera can see. The importance of this article explains why you must understand the range and distance of a security camera before finally acquiring one.

Above mentioned are the most important details that you should pay attention to during purchase. Other smaller factors also include night vision capabilities, the field of view, or distance. Knowing these options will enable you to make the right choice about the type of security system you should purchase, although like I mentioned before the best choice is to go for a big brand with a good reputation.

Please do check below other learning and product guides, make sure to bookmark them, in case you need them later. Until our next article!






References
(1) motor – https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/motor.htm
(2) bricks – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/brick-buildings

About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gJohn Fox has worked as a security consultant for over 20 years. During his time in the industry, he's learned about what it takes to ensure your home and family are always safe.

With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it with others to help them figure out how to make the right choices for their businesses and families.

John writes tips and guides to prevent crimes, as well as product recommendations, and tips for what to do in case of an emergency and how to protect yourself at all times.