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The Most Common Mistakes Made With Security Cameras

These six mistakes create invisible flaws that only get exposed AFTER a crime is attempted.

  1. 1.   Recording in greyscale at night (black and white)
  2. 2.   The wrong lighting or location ruins even the best cameras
  3. 3.   Buying cameras That Are BANNED across the world
  4. 4.   How ratings are misleading as most reviewers have never stopped a crime.
  5. 5.   Assuming the lowest priced camera is 'good enough'.
  6. 6.    The Most Critical Element With Security Cameras is also the most overlooked

Mistake #1 – Recording in greyscale at night

Greyscale images and video are almost worthless to the police, the courts, and the public when it comes to property crime. Do NOT use it.

Security cameras are normally set to record in greyscale at nighttime.

Properly identifying suspect vehicles or people using greyscale video is close to impossible.

Truck was involved in a property crime but it can't be identified because the image is greyscale.

Truck involved in property crime Oct 12, 2022.  It is impossible to tell the vehicle colour, which in turn leads to reasonable doubt in a court room.

When recording in colour all doubt can be quickly removed.  

The impact colour has in getting the police or the public to help, is so much better it is beyond comparison.

This truck was also caught on video on the same night a 30 minute drive away. It is impossible to confirm if they are the same truck.  This wastes police resources.

Another property crime 30 minutes away from the first truck also on Oct 12, 2022.  Is this the same vehicle? It is impossible to tell.  This leads to wasted policing resources and an easy criminal escape.

Living with greyscale is not necessary in 2023.  Good security cameras can be set to always record in colour at night.

(Caution:  Avoid doorbell cameras and security cameras where the colour setting can not be permanently set to record in colour.  Letting someone say 'Oh this camera can automatically adjust for the lighting' is an unreliable and more complicated solution that should not be used.  You never want the camera to automatically adjust.  For example, if it is night and a motion light comes on, the camera needs to have the light come on long enough for the camera to now think it is daytime, otherwise it will record in black and white.  Most of the motion sensors on outdoor lights will not turn on and stay on long enough for a colour recording to take place with the automatic setting.)

The police won’t turn down any evidence, neither will they normally criticize the problems with greyscale images. The unfortunate truth with greyscale is that unless an arrest happens immediately, the video will not be very helpful for their investigation.

The burden of proof in the justice system for property crimes is so high, a greyscale image will have little to no impact on a day in court.

Mistake #2 – Putting a camera in the wrong spot or using the wrong lighting.

The wrong location or the wrong lighting will ruin the results of the best cameras.  Getting the location and lighting right make many lesser quality cameras work very well.

Think of when you hire a photographer for something important like a wedding.

Would a bride want to hire a photographer with no previous experience on her wedding day?  The answer for most people is clearly no.

The risk of the photos not turning out isn't worth saving the money.

We expect a photographer to come and do the job of a wedding just right.  We expect them to have training, be up on techniques, know how to do the lighting, to bring the right lenses, to know how to setup the shot, and more.  

If the photographer does a poor job at a wedding their reputation can be ruined.

The difference between a bride and a crime victim is that the bride knows right away how the photographs turned out.   A poor camera installation may not cost someone until several years later. If the video doesn't turn out the installers reputation is rarely questioned.

Yet despite expecting a photographer to be professional, it is often believed that anyone can throw a cheap security camera up and it will be ‘good enough’.

Learning how to install security cameras to capture moving suspects under all sorts of lighting conditions and angles is closer to complex than it is simple.

Lighting mistakes are by far the biggest mistakes.  

Cameras are of no help when it is dark, unless you figure out the lighting.

If you have security cameras already installed, test every camera in a worst-case scenario.

Test each camera when it is dark, with a much faster approach than normal, can confirm if the cameras will work as expected.

Mistake #3 – Using Cameras That Are BANNED Across The World

Two Chinese companies have been exposed as state sponsored agencies. Enough permanently available spying options were found that departments in the USA and England have banned these manufacturers from any further government contracts. Now Amazon and other online retailers resell them under different brands and the high ratings are faked.

Why using cameras from banned companies may be a bad idea.  

When I speak with most homeowners a question they always want to know about any solution, is if a company could be spying on them from their security cameras.  

If you’d rather not have foreign agents being able to crack into your security system than these cameras are not the best choice.

The cameras from these companies became banned mostly because of security holes that could almost always allow spying on the camera owner.

These cameras do work well!  Their advances in technology and lowest prices changed the entire industry.  These were also the biggest (Hikvision) and 3rd (Dahua) biggest manufacturers in the world for a few years.

These Chinese companies also relabel and rebrand their cameras under several different names, especially on Amazon.

THis article from Sep 2022 covers how IPVM uncovered two Chinese camera manufacturers were state sponsored agencies.

If you see cheap, highly rated cameras from China, available for sale online, it’s highly likely those cameras are rebranded versions from these banned companies. That means there will be security backdoors to that camera you may never know about.

Another way you can tell if the manufacturer is a possible re-brand is when there is no manual or documentation for how to use the systems mobile camera app.  

Another clue is when when the technical documentation will read like a Chinese document translated into English with poor proofreading.  

Mistake #4 – Ratings can be very misleading as most reviewers have never actually stopped a crime.

Most reviews are based on how the app feels, with no actual proof the cameras were ever effective.

The sample review highlights how many people have reviewed the camera and how well it is rated.   Security camera ratings are misleading as the reviewer as there is no proof the reviewer is any more secure.

This camera has 10,557 reviews and a 4.5 star rating.  Wow!  It's a problem though, that if even if these reviews aren't faked, their is still no proof the property owner will be any more secure with a highly rated camera to provide a review.

All of these reviews could simply be based on how happy the buyers were with the price, or how well the camera worked when they tested it.  

It's like reviewers being able to rate a recipe just by how it looks without having ever eaten it!

The sample post has comments on what camera commenters liked.   Security camera reviews are misleading as the commenter has no proof the camera has made them any more secure.

Figure 5 Shows someone saying 'You can view footage on your phone and talk to someone at the door for $15 per month'

This person means well but has no proof this camera will be helpful to keep anyone's home safe.  

It's like a reviewer being able to rate a recipe just by how low cost the ingredients are and how easy it is to make without having ever eaten it!

When people ask 'What camera is the best?'  its natural for camera owners to jump in and express what they feel are the best cameras.

We see these questions and answers come up all the time.  

The people that give reviews and opinions almost always comment based on what feels good, looks good, or what is cheap.

The people who give bad reviews base them on poor service, higher prices than competitors, and contracts.

Our data shows both the good and bad reviews have a terrible connection to having a security system that actually works to stop crime.  

Millions of home owners all feel great about what they own, they all checked the reviews, and they all got a good deal.

Despite all the great reviews, over 90% of security camera footage of a crime has no clear footage of the suspect and the crime!  In the end, the reviews mean next to nothing when it comes to home safety.  

In this guide I'll cover a simple free failsafe way to ensure you are getting the best camera for the type of home you have and where you need good footage to be recorded.

Mistake #5 – Assuming the lowest priced camera is 'good enough'.

The difference in price between a high priced camera and the cheapest camera is very little, maybe 10-50% in most cases.  

The difference in home safety is enormous, and is often over 500% in improvement.  It's too easy to be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to the value of what is being protected.

Prices of cameras have collapsed over the last 15 years.  Today there isn't a lot of difference in price between industry leading cameras and a terrible camera.

A search on for an outdoor security camera brings up prices from $69 - $400.  These are the most expensive type of camera.

CBC reported in March 2022 that the average price of a home in Canada is now $816,720.  The value of the contents on the property are often several hundred thousand dollars on top of that.  This makes the total value of items on the average Canadian property well over $1 Million.

Now that almost all security cameras are under $400 the risk of buying what is cheapest may expose you to far more risk than you want to deal with.  

This can even be true when dealing with someone in person.  

Most security cameras sales representatives get quickly boxed in a corner to offer the lowest camera price.  They've learned from experience that when they don't give the absolute cheapest camera, the buyer is quick to choose another cheaper supplier.

This race to the bottom, trying to compete with Costco in price, might win a customer, but it costs the homeowner dearly as they are left with more risk exposure when a crime is attempted if the camera isn't any good.

Less than 10% of the footage of a crime is useful when needing to identify in color the clothes the suspect is wearing and the crime they were involved in.  Proper cameras can change the quality and bring the effectiveness of the footage to over 90%.

Summary - The Most Common Security Camera Mistakes

Mistakes made with security cameras compound people's frustrations with property crime.  

At the end of this guide I'll cover Mistake #6 - The Most Critical Element With Security Cameras.

There are three things every security camera should always have, covered next.

Three Most Important Things - Security Cameras