A Few Lines Missing

Cheap is good right?

Well, when it comes to CCTV cameras and security related products, it can be.  But generally, buyer beware when looking at the specs offered by companies that seem to be offering “high resolution” at a low resolution price.  Sometime you may not be getting what you think you are getting.

And how would you know?

Most casual CCTV buyers do not use a resolution chart with standard CCTV test monitors when setting up their systems.  Most security and CCTV dealers and installers for that matter don’t bother either.  The import houses in the united states know this, and often will change the spec sheets to reflect whatever is needed to sell their product to an unsuspecting buyer.  In an exchange with another distributor, I was told:

We evaluated XXXX-Cameras every quarter going back 3 quarters as we speak. We ordered them months apart for a reason. “Just in case” one shipment was wrong, but 3 shipments being wrong spec? Not likely. We analyzed all samples using a Pelco monitor, and across three different resolution charts. It sounds pathetic Jason, but it is absolute fact, XXXX-Cameras intentionally orders 380tvl, Demands China insert 550tvl and higher specification documentation in the camera boxes. Their cost basis much lower than any honest seller, and its even worse than that. If you sell 540tvl, they’ll advertise 550tvl, sometimes 570tvl, even though the owner knows its crappy 380 stuff. Its this bad Jason, I called them out on it, the guy chuckled and simply says “everyone does it, get over it”

He goes on to explain how using this method the disreputable importer can reap incredible profits based on the “cheap” pricing for those supposedly “high resolution” cameras.  They just want to move numbers.  And usually you won’t even know.


Again, its unlikely you have a test chart on hand when you receive your camera, and the other part is the limitation of DVRs to fully utilize the resolutions that are now available from the good manufacturers.  Security Digital Video Recorders generally have not yet reached the point where they offer as high a resolution recording as the cameras can provide.  A machine that offers 704×480 recording resolution scans out at 360 lines roughly, not even close to the 380 line standard resolution model when tested with a CRT as an analog system.

Though a higher resolution will give the DVR better compression points, the differences are hardly noticeable.  Soon however, a greater number of HDMI recorders will be available as processor speeds increase, and those who upgrade to the new DVR technology using their “old” 480 + Line cameras will find they have been duped.

Knowing which manufacturer is likely to be the most accurate in their camera specs is a good way to protect you, and talking with your distributor, or seller also can be very helpful.  In my experience, I have found nearly ALL manufacturers exaggerate a little on their camera specs, but their is one which stands out in my view as the most accurate to date;  KT&C, which never seems to overstate its camera specs..

In the end, a good relationship with your seller will find them looking out for you long term interests, and they will be able to guide you to what IS a true spec and which products to avoid, and how to get all the lines you’ve paid for.

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