Bullet vs. PTZ vs. Dome: Which Security Camera Is Right for You?
Designing a video security system and trying to choose between a bullet, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ), or dome camera option? We’ve got you covered. Each has a different monitoring purpose and distinguishable housing. Here are the defining characteristics and benefits to help you make the right decision.
- Bullet Cameras earn their name from a distinct, cylindrical shape reminiscent of shell casings. These fixed cameras have longer and wider ranges optimal for exterior monitoring. Often installed outdoors along a perimeter, these cameras are frequently combined with video analytics solutions for intrusion detection. Bullet cameras normally include a sun shield that extends beyond the lens to protect against sun glare and harsh weather. Bullet cameras are also easily visible and act as visual deterrents to dissuade suspects from committing crimes. They can also be easily repositioned by adjusting the mounting bracket or lens.
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- Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras have a motorized platform that can move directionally or omnidirectionally and be controlled remotely or by pre-set tours. Often larger in size and featuring high resolutions, these cameras can pan left or right, tilt up or down, and zoom in or out. PTZ cameras are often mounted outdoors on exterior walls or poles with a wide field of view so they can surveil the entire site. They receive targets, handed off from fixed cameras on the perimeter, and follow the target for threat assessment and suspect identification.
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- Dome cameras are known for their discrete design that blends into their surroundings. They often feature a metal base and polycarbonate plastic covering the camera to safeguard it from vandalism or tampering. They are typically mounted on ceilings in indoor spaces such as office lobbies or retail store aisles and yield wide-area monitoring. Dome cameras can use a smoked or tinted hue in the dome material to obscure the internal lens and make it indiscernible where the lens is pointing for maximum discretion.
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Questions to Consider
To select the best camera for your application, there are several things to consider:
- What does my customer want to achieve? If it’s intrusion detection, consider a bullet camera. Area surveillance can be achieved by dome cameras. Target tracking is best for PTZ cameras. If aesthetics are important, dome cameras may be preferred.
- Which areas need surveillance coverage? Bullet cameras are suited for perimeters and fence lines. Dome cameras are sufficient for outdoor courtyards, entrance gates and large indoor spaces. PTZ cameras are optimal for outdoor corridors, hallways, and large sites requiring 180- or 360 scans of the entire area.
- What range does my customer need to achieve for recognition and detection? Remember, bullet and PTZ cameras have longer ranges than dome cameras. They will be able to classify targets at further distances.
While all of these cameras have distinct functionalities for specific environments, there are scenarios when all three are applicable. In mid-size and large outdoor perimeter installations, customers deploying an end-to-end security solution will deploy bullet, PTZ, and dome cameras. Here’s how these cameras work together.
Say a security operator receives an intrusion alert from a bullet camera on the perimeter fence line. Using a sophisticated video management system, the security operator can remotely control a pan-tilt-zoom camera and use it to zoom in on the suspect to follow their movements. While attempting to identify the suspect and determine the threat level, the operator can also monitor key ingress and egress points of the facility through dome camera feeds to ensure nothing is amiss.
For more resources on camera selection for specific applications and end-to-end solutions, visit our FLIR Raven Site Planning Tool.