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Bullet vs. Dome vs. PTZ: Which Camera Should You Choose?

“What are the differences between bullet, dome, and PTZ cameras? Which one to choose? Are dome cameras only limited to indoor use? ” Anyone new to surveillance cameras would ask such questions. When it comes to choosing a security camera, there are several options. Three of the most popular types include bullet, dome, and PTZ cameras, each of which has its monitoring purpose and distinguishable housing. Understanding their benefits and limitations can be extremely helpful in guiding you to choose the most appropriate camera for your home and business. In this blog, we’ll examine each type of camera and compare their differences. 

What’s a Bullet Camera?


Bullet cameras are long and cylindrical in shape, and they are typically used for outdoor surveillance. These cameras are typically mounted on a wall or ceiling, and they can be used to monitor a specific area or location with a fixed or variable focal length. Additionally, due to their distinguishable appearances, bullet cameras are also easily visible and act as effective visual deterrents to burglars and thieves. With a mounting bracket attached to the camera body, they can be easily installed and repositioned. Besides, many models are designed to be weatherproof and vandal-resistant. 

However, they are not ideal for monitoring a large area as they have a limited field of view. Despite this limitation, there are many applications for bullet cameras. They can be used to monitor entrances, parking lots, and other areas where security is a concern. Moreover, these cameras can also be used to monitor employees, customers, etc. in a business setting.



What’s a Dome Camera?


Dome cameras are well-known for their low-profile design and are commonly used in indoor settings, such as retail stores and offices. They offer a wider field of view than bullet cameras, which means they can cover a larger area with just one camera. Furthermore, the domed shape of these cameras makes them more discreet and less noticeable than other types of cameras, which can be useful in settings where you don’t want the cameras to be too obvious or intrusive, such as retail stores, offices, and hallways. Evidence has it that dome cameras are particularly useful in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic, as they can provide a wide angle of view and help deter theft and other criminal activity. 

Somehow, such cameras usually have limited flexibility as most dome cameras usually have fixed lenses, meaning that their field of view cannot be adjusted. Because dome cameras are typically mounted on walls or ceilings, they can be harder to install. 



What’s a PTZ Camera?


PTZ cameras, also known as pan-tilt-zoom cameras, are a type of security camera that is capable of moving horizontally and vertically and zooming in and out. They are typically used in applications that require a 180°-360° view and 24/7 all-around surveillance. Compared with the traditional IP cameras that have a stationary lens, they can cover larger areas because they can move and zoom in and out, which makes them ideal for monitoring large spaces such as parking lots, airports, and stadiums. In addition, many PTZ cameras have intelligent tracking capabilities, which means they can automatically follow and zoom in on moving objects or people. This can be useful in situations where you need to closely monitor a specific area or person.

One potential downside is that the PTZ cameras can only monitor one area at a time, so you’ll need to set up multiple cameras to cover a large area effectively. Compared with bullet and dome cameras, they also require more maintenance and upkeep over time. 



Main Differences between Bullet, Dome, and PTZ Cameras


Even though these cameras sometimes offer similar features, like remote viewing, motion detection, human detection, waterproof housing, etc., they continue to differ in terms of field of view, night vision, camera visibility, installation, ease of maintenance, budget and cost, monitoring purposes, etc. 

Field of View

PTZ cameras offer the most flexibility in terms of coverage, as they can support 360° pan and 0-90° tilt, and 20~40x optical zoom. Thereby, they can cover a significantly larger area, ideal for monitoring large spaces or areas that require detailed surveillance. However, the field of vision of bullet and dome cameras is approximately 80 degrees in general, which means more cameras will be needed to cover the same amount of area. 

Night Vision

Although most bullet, dome, and PTZ surveillance cameras have infrared LEDs, their night vision capabilities would vary. The IR range of a camera refers to its ability to capture clear images in low-light conditions. PTZ cameras generally have the best IR range (up to 200m IR range), followed by bullet cameras (30-40m) and then dome cameras (18-20m). With their ability to move and zoom in and out, PTZ cameras can capture clear images in low-light conditions, providing greater visibility and detail than other types of cameras. However, most bullet and dome cameras provide at least 0.1 lux of low-light sensitivity, and some can even support better than 0.03 lux, to provide high-quality night vision for 24/7 monitoring. 

Camera Visibility

Dome cameras are often considered the most aesthetically pleasing, as they blend in with their surroundings. Generally speaking, bullet cameras are more noticeable and obvious to passers-by so it’s best to keep the camera out of reach. PTZ cameras may be more imposing due to their size and moving parts.

Installation

Bullet cameras are typically the easiest to install, as they can be mounted with a bracket and handle while dome cameras require more complex installation. First, you need to unscrew the camera from its base, mount the camera base to the ceiling, and then screw the camera back. Moreover, provided that PTZ cameras usually come with a motorized zoom lens which allows you to adjust the focal length remotely via software, the manual zoom lens is often seen in bullet and dome cameras. Therefore, individuals with limited hand dexterity may find it challenging to adjust manual varifocal lenses correctly. This limitation can affect the overall user experience and make it difficult for them to achieve the desired focus settings. 



Ease of Maintenance

Bullet cameras are often easier to maintain, as they have fewer moving parts. PTZ cameras may require more maintenance due to their complexity. On the other hand, dome cameras often feature a metal base and polycarbonate housing to protect the camera from vandalism or tampering. Moreover, since these cameras are often designed for indoor use, away from harsh weather conditions, they require minimum maintenance and repair. 

Budget and Cost

Bullet cameras are often the most affordable, while PTZ cameras can be the most expensive as they require more advanced mechanics to operate. Dome cameras typically fall somewhere in between.

Monitoring Purposes

Bullet cameras are a popular choice for outdoor surveillance, as they are weather-resistant and can be easily mounted on walls or ceilings, monitoring outdoor courtyards, entrance gates, etc. Dome cameras, on the other hand, are ideal for indoor use, as they are discreet and can be installed in a variety of locations. They offer a wider field of view than bullet cameras and can often be adjusted to cover different angles. PTZ cameras are the most versatile option of the three, and they are often used in large-scale surveillance applications, such as casinos or warehouses, where a single camera can cover a large area. 



Security Camera Recommendations

5MP IR IP Camera with Motorized Lens

With a wide array of advanced features, this 5MP IR IP camera provides the best possible image quality with vivid color reproduction. 

Key features:

• 5MP ultra HD with enhanced clarity and sharpness

• Excellent night vision in low-light conditions (18m/60ft IR range)

• Smart human detection ensures you’re always alerted

• 2.8-12nm motorized lens zooms in on distant objects without losing detail

• IP66 waterproof rating for outdoor deployment

8MP PoE Bullet IR IP Camera with 6-22nm Varifocal Lens

A high-quality, professional-grade surveillance camera that delivers exceptional image clarity and superior performance for round-the-clock surveillance.

Key features:

• 8MP super HD images to capture sharp videos

• Infrared LEDs provide night vision of up to 30m/100ft

• 6-22nm varifocal lens allows you to adjust the focal length manually

• Support both DC12V and PoE power for flexible installation

• H.265 video compression saves around 50% of bandwidth

5MP IR PoE+ Speed Dome IP Camera

A cutting-edge surveillance solution that combines exceptional image clarity and advanced pan, tilt, and zoom versatility.

Key features:

• 5MP HD ensures every detail is visible even when zoomed in

• Continuous 360° pan, 1° tilt above horizon, 20x optical zoom

• Provide clear night vision of up to 200m/656ft for 24/7 surveillance

• Heavy-duty aluminum housings (IP66), IK10 vandal resistant, –35°C to 55°C

• Alert you whenever a person enters its detection zone

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