Closed circuit TV systems have been available for many years, they have also undergone some almost miraculous transformations in recent years. What used to be very expensive, cumbersome and hard to configure systems are now very reasonable, easy to configure , and easy to maintain, and they provide much more versatility and usefulness than just a few years ago.
When choosing system components the first decision you need to make is what are you using it for. The primary uses for CCTV systems are surveillance, traffic control, theft, shoplifting, employee theft, and/or robbery deterrence, and identification. Surveillance and traffic control probably do not require color cameras, black & white may actually provide better resolution. However theft, shoplifting and/or robbery deterrence and identification may require color cameras, if there is an arrest and prosecution a court will require color to make positive identification, on a black & white recording a red sweatshirt would appear to be grey.
Next you need to decide what exactly do you want to see, how far away is it, what are the lighting conditions, is it indoor or outdoor, how wide a viewing angle is desired? The answers to these questions will help you choose the correct kind of camera and lens combination, the correct mounting or enclosure, even what kind of cabling needs to be provided.Deciding how you will view, record and store the information is next on the list.
The choices for viewing include a central monitoring point, multiple monitors, single monitors that can show multiple images, on your computer via the Internet, how about on a smart phone from anywhere in the world. Recording and storing information can range from a time lapse recorder, your computer, or a DVR recorder. If you use a time lapse recorder, you need to be aware of the limitations on what is recorded and when, and you may need more equipment, such as a switcher and/or multiplexer. Storage of video tapes can also be a challenge. With a DVR recorder, all you need to decide is how long to you want to save events at one time, the longer time frame you want to save, the bigger hard drive you need. Events or time periods that need to be saved can be downloaded to a computer which is very economical and easy to manage. A DVR, unlike the time lapse recorder will record continuously from all camera's, they also incorporate the switcher and multiplexer functions into one unit. Years ago DVR recorders in San Francisco, CA were very expensive, today they are very reasonable, and will continue to go down in cost and provide more advanced features.
When you are ready to spec your system contact your local CCTV expert in San Francisco, CA for the latest information and a competitive quote, these professionals are in the business, they have access to all of the new products, they know how they work, and what works in any given situation.
A couple of words of caution; Some businesses will display a fake camera in their place of business with the idea that this will deter shoplifting, robbery or employee theft. This practice should be discouraged, it has been successfully argued that the presence of a "dummy" camera can provide patrons or employees with a false sense of security that is not there. This false sense of security has led to injury.
Buying your security system as an all in one set from a "big box store" can save some money, however you will almost surely end up with equipment that is inferior and not specified correctly for you needs, and when you need service or adjustment, you may not be able to get service.