In today’s society, no business is safe from criminal activities. Security precautions are every business’ concern. Having a commercial security cameras for businesses deployed on your premises working 24/7 will not only safeguard your properties but also provide confidence to your employees and your clients. However, building your business surveillance camera system is more complex than most people think. Hardware alone could get very overwhelming.

The most common mistake businesses make on security cameras is that they assume all commercial security cameras for businesses are very similar to each other and it does not matter what they choose. This is simply not true. Sometimes business owners just picked whatever option was available from the store shelf. When a criminal event happens, they then notice that the security camera does not have enough resolution to capture a clear image of the criminal, or the cameras did not have enough coverage, so there is a crucial information loss.

The differences between security cameras go beyond resolution and coverage factors. You cannot just choose the highest resolution cameras with 360-degree coverage and call it a day either. There are many downsides to doing that and may bring you more frustration. You also cannot just deploy some fake cameras to save a buck and think they can scare away criminals. This article will walk you through all different types of commercial security cameras for businesses. It will cover how they function, who would need them, and their pros and cons.


How do they work?

Both digital video recorders (DVR) and network video recorders (NVR) are video recording systems for business surveillance cameras. Their function is to record video footage and then transmit the data from the cameras to a storage unit so that you can play it back later. The key difference between DVR and NVR systems is how they communicate with the cameras and transmit video data.

DVR Systems

First, let’s talk about DVR. For this system, it connects to analog cameras, which do not have video processing capability. They can only transmit the raw video feed to the recorder via coaxial cables. The recorder will convert these raw data into digital format and store it for future access.

It is worth mentioning that the coaxial cables in the DVR system do not provide power. Therefore, you need one additional cable to power each analog camera. Standard coaxial cable does not support audio transmission either. Even if there are solutions to include audio, there are usually limited ports on the recorder. Therefore, DVR systems only support a limited number of cameras. You can learn more about DVR system from What Is A Surveillance DVR.

NVR Systems

For the NVR system, IP (Internet Protocol) cameras record digital videos directly. Therefore, you only need ethernet cables to connect the recorder and the cameras. Some NVR system can even support Wi-Fi to transmit video footage data from cameras to the recorder wirelessly. That means your storage unit can be off site or even in the cloud storage for secure and convenient access. 

Since IP cameras record digital images, there are many prominent features available for them. First, IP cameras have the PoE option, which means one ethernet cable can power the security camera and transmit data at the same time. You can learn more about PoE at Power over Ethernet: Is it better? IP cameras can also have built-in storage, or it can wireless connect to a cloud system. IP cameras can also encrypt data before transmission, providing you additional protection against cyber-attacks. These features are not available for analog systems.

There are also differences between analog and digital camera resolution. Analog vs. Digital Image Resolution article will explain it in more details.

Who should use NVR or DVR?

Every business surveillance camera system requires either NVR or DVR system as their central access to manage all their cameras and footage. However, how to choose between the two options? Based on the descriptions of the NVR and DVR system, it is easy to conclude that the NVR system is more advanced than the DVR system from a technological aspect. But it does not mean DVR systems don’t have advantages or use cases. Analog cameras in the DVR system have fewer restrictions. As long as the recorder has all the physical ports, you can mix and match cameras from different brands. Unlike IP digital cameras, having ethernet ports does not mean you can just use them with any recorder. You have to make sure the bandwidth and communication protocol match between the cameras and the recorder before you connect them together.

If we put camera cost factor aside, are there more use cases for the DVR system? The answer is yes. If your business facility uses an old building or warehouse, there could be coaxial cables already built into the walls. Replacing these cables with ethernet could be take much longer time. In those cases, a DVR system is the better choice.

If you don’t have particular obsession with older technology, the NVR system is best used in commercial security cameras for businesses. It provides you with higher video quality with audio, supports more cameras than DVRs and even provides better security and safer storage. Overall, NVR is a future-proof solution for any business of any size. You can use it for a small restaurant with a few cameras. You can also use many cameras in massive condo building communities.

Pros and Cons

Nevertheless, there are some cons we have not mentioned earlier for DVR. First, analog transmitting cables usually suffer from very significant loss over distance. The maximum distance for analog camera coaxial cables is about 100 meters or 300 feet. If the cable distance is too long, the stored video image will look distorted. The video quality and frame rates are already low for analog cameras. You certainly don’t want your images to look distorted as well.

Another con is that DVR does not support a wireless solution. As we mentioned earlier, the DVR system requires separate cables for audio, video, and power. It is already difficult to deploy wired solutions for analog cameras in general. Compared to the NVR, not having the wireless option is certainly a disadvantage for DVR. Furthermore, these is no network access for DVR system either. You can only access your security footage when you are with the physical recorder. For NVR system, you have the option to review your security footage remotely through a computer or a mobile phone.

Due to the low quality of analog cameras, there are fewer security applications for DVR systems. Applications like identifying faces and license plates recognition are not applicable to DVR systems. If you need these functions, you will have to choose an NVR system with IP cameras.

An NVR system with IP cameras fixes all the problems of DVR systems. On top of that, the NVR system brings many cool features and flexibilities to commercial security cameras for businesses. We will discuss more different types of commercial security cameras for businesses that take advantage of the flexibility of the NVR system in other sections.

Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras

How do they work?

In a nutshell, PTZ cameras have mechanical parts that allow them to pan left to right, tilt up and down, and zoom in and out of a scene. Users can set them to track motion-triggered activity or schedule them to point at different positions at certain times. There are both optical zoom and digital zoom options. Physically moving the distance between two or more lenses with different focal points is the optical zoom. When you digitally enlarge an image to focus on a specific object, it is the digital zoom. The zoom quality depends on the quality of the camera lenses.

There is also software enabled PTZ cameras, which are usually referenced as “ePTZ”. ePTZ cameras are wide angle cameras that cannot physically move once mounted. However, through software, users can focus on a specific corner of the entire scene, so virtually it looks like it is zooming in on an object, or it is changing its positions.

This type of cameras usually has a coverage range as wide as 360-degree view. Users can remotely control which direction the camera is pointing. The opposite of PTZ cameras is fixed cameras or non-PTZ cameras. Once the installation completes, you cannot remotely change the direction of the cameras.

Different Types of PTZ Cameras

You need to be aware that there are a few different types of PTZ cameras. Sometimes they don’t make practical differences, but sometimes they do. For example, there are indoor PTZ cameras and outdoor PTZ cameras. Outdoor PTZ cameras are more resilient to rain, wind, snow and huge temperature changes. You don’t want to place indoor security cameras outside. Another distinctive of outdoor PTZ cameras is the power source. You would not want a power cable to expose to the outdoor environment. Therefore, outdoor PTZ cameras will have built-in batteries or even a solar panel, so that power source will never be a concern. Also, outdoor PTZ cameras prefer wireless access to the network, so there is no internet cable either.

For indoor environment, it is fine to have exposed power and internet cables. Of course, for indoor applications, you can also consider wireless option. That feature is not as critical as outdoor environment. You can learn more about the differences between outdoor and indoor commercial security cameras for businesses.

Who should use PTZ cameras?

Based on the unique pan, tilt, and zoom features of PTZ, the use case can be very flexible. If your business requires a large field of view, automated motion tracking or time-based scan, occasional zoom, PTZ cameras are the best solution.

For example, for places like warehouse, supermarkets, and condos, you need commercial security cameras for businesses to detect intruders. With proper software, PTZ cameras can detect and track a person if they are trespassing. On the other hand, an intruder can easily go out of the covering range of a non-PTZ camera. With PTZ cameras, you will never have that concern so long as the intruders don’t go through walls.

To identify the intruder or properties the intruder stole, the zoom function can come in handy as well. Especially for instances where the intruder is far away from the camera or if you want to zoom in on their car’s license plate.

Overall, PTZ cameras are great all-round cameras that cover the basics. In fact, in some cases it might even be overkill for smaller businesses to deploy these cameras. Either way, for a business surveillance camera system, it is always better to have coverage overlap and additional features you may not need all the time. Once accidents happen, it is better to have coverage of the intruder from multiple angles rather than one. In conclusion, PTZ cameras are applicable to most business and most use cases.

Pros and Cons

To summarize all the pros we mentioned earlier, PTZ cameras have a large field of view, it can track motions, it allows time-based scans or remote camera control, and zoom capabilities. They are suitable for most businesses. However, there are some disadvantages of PTZ cameras you should be aware of.

First, PTZ cameras can physically rotate to cover larger areas. However, the issue is that it cannot cover all that area at the same time. For instance, you need to turn around to see what is happening behind you. Sometimes that rotating time is critical. If the object you are trying to track is moving too fast, like a car, it is very possible that your camera is unable to move quickly enough to record everything. Therefore, it creates surveillance blind spots.

Different PTZ camera hardware and software have different sensitivity to object tracking as well. Often times, it takes a moment for the software to realize there is a human in the frame, and it will take another moment to send a command to start tracking. This sensitivity delay from hardware and software limitation could make the blind spot issue worse.

Lastly, PTZ cameras have all these physical moving parts built in. It makes them more expensive than fixed cameras. Likewise, some parts may get rusty or clogged over time, causing some PTZ cameras to malfunction. Outdoor cameras usually suffer from this issue due to the weather condition. The more external or internal factors your camera faces, the higher the risk of malfunction and the lower the lifespan. Regardless of the camera type, without proper care and maintenance, even the best, outdoor rated cameras will succumb to nature.

Licence plate recognition (LPR) cameras

How do they work?

As mentioned earlier, licence plate recognition is one of the advanced features for some NVR systems. Essentially, you can use commercial security cameras for businesses with infrared lighting and special data processing software to identify the licence plate automatically. Users don’t need to review their footage frame by frame and then zoom in to find the license plate numbers. For example, it would be awfully tedious and inefficient for a security guard to manually check every incoming license plate in an underground condo parking lot. A single LPR system would complete this job automatically and in a fraction of the time.

LPR cameras usually have lower resolution than typical commercial security cameras for businesses, since LPRs only needs to record licence plates. The camera hardware needs to support an optical character recognition (OCR) technology, allowing the software to read and recognize letters and numbers from an image. In addition, LPR cameras have infrared illuminators on them, which allow the cameras to capture high-quality images from metal surfaces in both daylight and dark environments. Another benefit of using infrared is that they are not visible, nor harmful to the human eyes. To learn more about the infrared technology, you can read How Do Infrared Security Cameras Work?

Other Benefits of LPRs

As an added benefit, LPRs are not as distracting and intrusive as speeding cameras, due to the lack of a strong flash when taking license plate photos. Once the LPR cameras take a photo or a short video of your license plate, the camera will transmit the information to a central control server to process and store data, which is a rather complex process. This article will not cover the software aspect of LPR cameras. We will only focus on the hardware.

LPR cameras are typically fixed-cameras. So long as the mounting position is correct, there should not be any need to pan, tilt or zoom. You also don’t need too many of LPR cameras at one location either. Remember that they are only used to capture license plates, so one for every vehicle entry point will suffice.

Who should use LPR cameras?

You may think that only highway or toll road entrances and exits need LPR cameras and there are business use cases. That is simply not true. There is an increasing demand for LPR cameras for security and resource management reasons. For security purposes, being able to recognize a license plate is a useful feature. However, the LPR applications can go beyond that. Imagine you are the property manager of a condo wanting to limit external vehicle parking. With LPR cameras, you can keep a database of allowed license plates. If your security camera does not recognize the license plate, it can prevent the gate from opening and denying entry. Similarly, in a warehouse facility, if there is a suspicious truck with an unknown license plate goes through the entrance, you can stop it from entering your warehouse.

Another example could be timed parking lots at shopping centres. If the system recognizes that a license plate has not been scanned on exit for a certain period of time, parking tickets can be issued. Businesses like hotels or resorts can create a VIP list for their guests. Places like schools and hospitals could have a list of suspicious license plates. Although, more popular among condo and warehouse operators, there are many implementations of LPR systems for non-security purposes. If you see this feature is useful to your business, you can certainly create your own use cases.

Pros and Cons

LPR cameras have so many advantages. First, they have a simpler installation process than other types of commercial security cameras for businesses. They do not require high resolution as regular security cameras. Plus, on the software side, it provides so many customizations for individual businesses. Automation is where the LPR camera system shines the most. It removes the tedious human work of manually extracting license plates. The software system handles everything automatically from capturing and processing to sorting and analyzing. As long as you pre-program the software correctly, there is no need for human participation. On top of that, the LPR system require much less storage space to store license plate numbers and license plates images. You can easily export this information or make changes if you want.

Potential Challenges

On the other hand, some of these advantages come with certain challenges, which would translate to disadvantages. First, when it comes to installation, the process is simpler, but you still need to make sure the height and angle of the cameras are proper to your facility. Different LPR camera models have different working range. If the vehicle is outside of that range, the extracted license plate number will not be reliable.

Speaking of reliability of LPR cameras, their success rate is never 100% for any manufacturers. As you can image, license plates could have mud or snow on them, which could badly affect the accuracy of the recognition results. Plus, the camera’s resolution is low. If the image is not clear, or the car is moving too fast, the results could also be unreliable.

When it comes to software setup, you need to rely on people with professional knowledge and experience. Otherwise, setting up the software could be very challenging. Again, we are not covering the software aspects in this article, but you need to be aware of all the importance of software in an LPR system.

Night vision security cameras

How do they work?

It doesn’t take a lot to explain what night vision security cameras are, but the real question is that how scommercial security cameras for businesses are able to see in the dark? How good are the qualities of night vision cameras? What factors to consider when choosing night vision cameras? In this section, we will answer all these questions.

For digital cameras with night vision function, they have infrared illuminators built in. This infrared light is not visible to the human eyes. However, the infrared light remains visible to security camera internal sensors when capturing objects in low-light conditions. Although, one thing you need to be aware of is that this infrared system can only capture black and white images in the dark. These days, many digital cameras come with night vision feature. Besides the infrared LEDs, they also have an infrared filter. If the ambient light is strong enough, the night vision function will be off. When it is dark and the cameras receives more infrared light, the night vision will turn on.

For analog cameras, they rely on intensification technology to deliver a colored footage. That means this type of security camera will have an image intensifier tube built in to amplify the existing light condition for the camera sensors. You can imagine this intensifier as the internal flash for the security camera. The clarity and resolution from these analog devices are much better than digital cameras, because they use optical viewing. Also, due to the high light sensitivity of these intensifier tubes, these security cameras also need to have an infrared filter. Overexposed footage will be useless for any security purposes.

Who should use night vision cameras?

Nowadays, commercial security cameras for businesses usually come with night vision function built in. This especially true for digital IP cameras, where night vision is a simple feature to implement by security camera manufacturers. Night vision is a must for businesses like warehouses, condos, highways, where you want to monitor outdoor security 24/7, 365 days a year. Likewise, having night vision security cameras is beneficial for condos, shopping malls, or hotels where underground parking or underground storage space often have poor lighting conditions.

Earlier we explained the difference between night vision feature in analog and digital cameras. In most cases, digital cameras are adequate for majority commercial use cases. Images from digital cameras are clear enough for most business, even if they produce lower quality low-light images than analog systems. As a matter of fact, military applications are usually where they require the higher quality night vision provided by analog systems. Plus, the intensifier tubes in analog systems have a much shorter lifecycle because they can easily burn out.

Pros and Cons

It is great that you can use security cameras to monitor your property 24/7 without worrying about the light condition. These technologies were not very accessible to business 20 or 30 years ago. Naturally, the major downside of the night vision camera is that they cannot record footage in full color. The recording is usually black and white or just green. Nevertheless, the security cameras today can capture clear images of human face or identify license plates in the dark. In most cases, you can use your night vision footage with full confidence.

Bullet vs dome

How do they work?

Previously, we categorized all the security cameras by their functions. However, you can also categorize them by their build shape. Bullet and dome cameras are the most common shapes for security cameras. With dome security cameras having circular, hemispherical shapes, while bullet cameras are cylindrical in shape.

For bullet vs dome, their shape does not affect certain features. For example, both shapes can be waterproof, have indoor or outdoor uses and even have night vision capabilities. Conversely, some functions are unique to certain shapes. For instance, PTZ cameras are usually dome shaped, whereas bullet cameras normally cannot change direction remotely. On the other hand, most LPR cameras are in bullet shape. Plus, due to their shape, bullet cameras have better viewing range.

Who Should Use Bullet or Dome cameras?

Due to bullet cameras having longer ranges, the ideal use cases for bullet cameras are large and open areas. Think of warehouses, parking lots, farms, or highways. For effective coverage, only a few bullet cameras are required to cover your property. In contrast, dome cameras are the better option if you have an office or a store with more turns and corners. Plus, dome cameras have the added benefit of remote PTZ functions. With dome cameras, you can easily change the viewing angle remotely, or even track moving objects. So, when choosing between dome and bullet, be sure to take into consideration how much you will need to move the viewing angle.

Pros and Cons

The main benefit of a dome camera is that have they have a hard shield over the actual camera portion, so it is difficult to see where the camera is pointing from the outside. Plus, dome cameras are more resistant to harsh weather conditions or vandalism because the shield protects the lenses. Where To Place Vandal Proof Surveillance Cameras article will explain more about it. In comparison, intruders can easily knock off or manually reposition a bullet camera. It is also possible the joints of bullets camera could become loose overtime requiring adjustment or manual repositioning.

Another difference is that dome cameras can easily blend in with the surroundings due to the dark shield and the more compact build. A well-placed dome camera can be difficult to spot or even notice. By contrast, bullet cameras are usually bulkier and easily recognizable.

Obviously, it is not fair to conclude that bulky design is bad for security cameras. Incidentally, it gives bullet cameras some great advantages like its range. Due to the bullet cameras’ unique shape, it allows them to have bigger lenses and longer optical zoom. Thanks to the bulk, bullet cameras typically have much higher resolution and image quality than dome cameras. At the end of the day, camera shape does not determine whether it is better than the other. Every business is different and will prioritize different features. Instead, allow your use case, environment, flexibility and image quality to determine whether to go with bullet cameras or dome cameras.

Fake cameras

How do they work?

Fake or dummy security cameras are self-explanatory. Non-functioning cameras, that are cheap, and made to look like the real thing. They are found in all shapes and sizes; dome or bullet shaped and may even have wires in the back to give the illusion of data or power connection. The idea behind fake cameras is to make potential burglars think there is a real camera recording, but at a fraction of the cost.

Who Should Use Fake Cameras?

If you truly care about safety and security, you should not be using fake cameras. Fake cameras are like fake designer bags. They may look like the real thing, but ultimately lack any real value. In fact, even a basic surveillance setup will have infinitely more value than relying on useless pieces of plastic. Ask yourself this, are the savings you get from fake cameras, worth the potential loss you receive if someone does steal or break into your business? What proof or information will you have from non-existent footage. In fact, you might not even know your business has been broken into until it is way too late without proper business surveillance cameras.

If you continue to insist on fake cameras, we recommend it only as a supplement or a tool. If you have a working surveillance system, you can use reverse psychology and place dummy cameras in odd places to confuse opportunistic criminals. Overall, you need to be very cautious when you consider using fake cameras. Be sure to have working security cameras to monitor all your property before even thinking about fake cameras. And even then, it could simply be a waste of money. Anything worth losing should be secured by proper security cameras installed by professional technicians.

Pros and Cons

Ironically, there are actually “decent” pros for using fake cameras. First, their installation process is simple. There is no mounting required for fake cameras. It can be as easy as peeling the sticker and placing it on the ceiling. You don’t need to worry about power, data cables, wireless connections, fancy software, or storage for them. Nevertheless, these “pros” do not make up for all the cons fake cameras come with.

Relying on a fake security system exposes your business to criminal events. These days, experienced criminals might be able to identify fake cameras. Or worse, they may not even care if there are real security cameras. At least when you have real cameras, they can capture the criminal event, know when the incident happened, and you know what they stole. You will always have more information on hand to react to the situation.

Fake cameras may cost less at first but will backfire the moment a burglary happens. Your business loss could be worth more than deploying a real security system. To businesses, there is also damage to their reputation. Your employees and your clients could lose confidence in your leadership and decision-making skills. The article Why Are Fake Security Cameras Less Effective and Why Using Dummy Security Cameras As A Deterrent Does Not Work will show you why fake camera system is not a practical option.


Securing your business requires lots of thought and should not be taken lightly. Having an advanced security system provides you, your employees and clients safety and confidence in the premises. However, sometimes it can be overwhelming to research all different types of security systems and hardware. That is where we come in: Panopticon offers the best security camera consultation in Ontario. We guarantee professional guidance to assist you in creating a security system that is unique to your business or property. We are here to answer any specific questions you may have. Book your consultation appointment today at 647-706-8650