What is a CCTV Camera? Complete Guide

CCTV stands for closed-circuit television. Germans first developed and used CCTV technology to monitor V2 rocket launches. Later, the Americans followed and used it to monitor the testing of the atomic bomb.

The broadcasts from CCTVs are transmitted to a limited number of monitors, as opposed to regular television broadcasts, which are open to the public. A CCTV system helps amp up security by giving real-time footage to monitors.

But what is a CCTV camera? Here’s everything you need to know.

what is a cctv camera

What Is a Closed-Circuit Security Camera?

A CCTV security camera can help secure your business and personal spaces through round-the-clock supervision. Many cameras today also have motion sensors, which help detect irregular movements around the premises under monitoring.

On the other hand, a closed-circuit television system includes not just the cameras but also wiring, video footage storage, monitors, access control, and general system management.

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How Does It Work?

what is a cctv camera

A CCTV system, also known as video surveillance, utilizes video cameras and transmits the video to a limited number of monitors. CCTVs may employ point-to-point (P2P), point-to-multipoint (P2MP), or mesh wired or wireless links.

If we break down the main components of a CCTV system, there are three: the camera, monitor, and video management software.

The installed surveillance system may vary depending on the security system being utilized. The coverage depends on the number of cameras being used and the size of the covered area.

Components of Closed Circuit Television System


When you are thinking of installing cameras, you generally have two options: analog cameras and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras

With CCTV technology advancements, people prefer IP cameras because of their high compatibility with other devices.

Types of CCTV systems 

There are two basic types of CCTV systems: Network Video Recorder (NVR) and Digital Video Recorder (DVR).

Digital Video Recorder (DVR) systems are more popular among consumers due to their cost-efficiency. However, Network Video Recorder (NVR) systems are a better option when it comes to compatibility and integration with security cameras.

A combination of an NVR system and IP cameras is recommended to enhance the transmission’s resolution and acquire a flexible wireless surveillance system.

Selecting the Right Monitor

A good monitor screen will help in viewing the video transmissions. You need to prioritize a high-resolution monitor for clarity. Selecting a monitor depends on the recording software and security camera selected. If you have a 4K resolution camera, a screen with a high definition will be required. However, if you have a camera with a lower resolution, you can settle for an average screen.

Once you have decided on the type of monitors you need, it’s time to determine the number of screens needed. It’s a good idea to start with three to five screens, but generally, the size of the premises dictates the number you’ll need. You can easily add or remove monitors according to your requirements.

Understanding Video Management Software 

Video Management Software controls NVR and DVR systems. Business-grade VMS provides better security solutions and monitoring than basic ones. It can record and extract critical information from recordings.

Figuring Out Supporting Technology

Once the VMS has been finalized, you need to assess the required supporting CCTV technology. The selected surveillance systems determine the kind of wiring, routers, and power supplies you need to install. 

Analog cameras need coaxial cables and an additional power cable to connect to the DVR. In contrast, NVR security systems connect to the IP cameras through Power over Ethernet (PoE) through one cable. Wireless options available in the market are more convenient since they do not need wires but require a router.

What is CCTV Monitoring?

CCTV monitoring works by picking up a sequence of images transmitted as a signal to a recording device and a display device. This comes as video footage on a screen or monitor.

CCTV security cameras need a power supply through a power box or adapter to work. IP cameras are powered through PoE technology using special cables. A battery-operated and solar-powered option is also available.

What Are CCTV Surveillance Cameras?

CCTV surveillance cameras differ from ordinary cameras. They come in different types depending on their functionality and purpose. Some are dome, bullet, c-mount, day-night, and PTZ cameras.

Different manufacturing technologies, such as Dark Fighter Technology and ANPR/LPR technology, are utilized. These technologies have upgraded features like face detection, motion sensors, high-definition imaging, and high information storage.

what is a cctv camera

Purpose of CCTV

Crime Management

CCTV cameras can help deter crimes and enable law enforcement to identify and deter criminals. Businesses can use CCTV security cameras to monitor on-site and in-house activities. Employees can be monitored and held accountable in the event of any mishaps.

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Disaster Management

CCTV security cameras can help prevent disasters by identifying problem areas beforehand. Emergency services can effectively track and monitor disaster-stricken areas. Video surveillance can help teams reach potentially dangerous places.

Neighborhood Monitoring

Neighborhoods and communities can install CCTV cameras to monitor traffic conditions, identify suspicious events or people, and gather data about the community.

Quality Control

Businesses and corporations can use CCTV cameras for quality control and assurance. Production and consumption can be monitored through video surveillance. Employees’ performance can also be assessed and evaluated through a camera and other security systems.

Medical Diagnosis

CCTV cameras can utilize special software to assess and detect facial muscles, helping doctors make accurate diagnoses.

Retail Intelligence

Retailers and distributors use surveillance cameras to identify buying trends and enhance marketing strategies. Retailers can pinpoint which products are in high demand and which aisles have the highest footfall. 

How Does the Process Work?

CCTV security cameras function by continuously capturing images or recording video footage of the designated area they are aimed at, ensuring comprehensive surveillance coverage.

Once captured, these images or video recordings are transmitted to designated video recorders. This transmission can occur either through a physical cable connection or wirelessly via a designated interface, depending on the setup and configuration of the CCTV system.

Upon reaching the device, the captured data undergoes scanning and analysis. Automated alerts may be generated if the scanning process identifies any predefined criteria or triggers, such as motion detection or unusual behavior.

Finally, the transmitted information, including live footage or recorded data, is displayed on monitors connected to the recording device.

A modern video surveillance system offer remote access capabilities, enabling users to view the footage from connected smartphones or computers, even when not physically present at the monitoring location.

Important Terms Regarding CCTV Systems

Video Encoders

Video encoders allow the migration of some analog CCTV systems to network systems, helping people use modern features with old hardware. The software utilizes a wired connection and digitizes the video signals, which are then sent to a wired or wireless IP connection.

Image Sensors

Image sensors convert light waves to electronic signals. Sensors have varying pixels, which convert the exposed light waves to electrons.

There are two most popular types of sensors: CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductors) and CCD (charged-coupled device). CMOS is more cost-effective and uses many pixels at once, while CCDs are more costly and have higher power consumption.

Image Scanners

CMOS and CCDs use interlaced scanning, which can be either interlaced or progressive. Analog cameras only use interlaced scanning. CCD applications commonly use interlaced scanning. The interlaced recordings are viewed on an interlaced monitor.


DVRs connect the internal components of the CCTV system. They are usually connected with analog cameras, and every security camera has to be connected directly to recorders. DCR systems process the footage themselves.

Meanwhile, NVR systems encode and process the image at the initial security camera level and stream it to the recorders. This is then used for remote monitoring and storage. NVR systems use IP cameras that connect to the same network.

Network CCTV systems enable remote monitoring and do not require network cabling. Once you install a network CCTV system, the surveillance process becomes automated. Analog surveillance systems are much cheaper and easier to install.

Criticisms Towards CCTV Systems

A study has shown that surveillance has been hampered by ineffective security system configurations, poor-quality recordings, outdated equipment, a lack of communication between stakeholders, blotchy security policies, and operators who are not aware of the system.

The most common criticism has been “breach of privacy.” Many employees and customers have complained that they feel their privacy is being invaded by being constantly monitored.


Are CCTV cameras capable of recording audio?

Some CCTV cameras have built-in microphones or support external audio recording devices, allowing them to capture audio and video footage. However, using audio recording features may be subject to legal regulations and privacy considerations.

Are there any privacy concerns associated with CCTV cameras?

While CCTV cameras are valuable for security purposes, they also raise privacy concerns related to collecting and using personal information and the potential for unauthorized observation.

It’s essential to adhere to privacy regulations and ethical guidelines when deploying CCTV systems to protect individuals’ privacy rights.

The Future of CCTV

With the emergence of new CCTV technology, we should expect an amalgamation of these technological advances with CCTV systems. Features like face detection, motion sensing, linked cameras, intelligent hardware, drones, and body cameras will boost the existing surveillance system. Centralized CCTV systems are already in use in many countries.

The new CCTV system could see the complete dissolution of a wired surveillance system, providing clearer images and sound and faster data encryption. The future also holds fewer operators needed to monitor CCTV systems.

Keep an eye on your premises 24/7 and deter intruders effectively. Contact us today for a free consultation and secure your peace of mind!

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