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The Most Common Mistakes Made With Security Cameras - part 2

They cripple property safety.

Mistake #2 – 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.

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 as most cameras can be set to record in colour at night.  All that is needed to record in colour is the proper setup of the outdoor lighting and the camera settings to be changed.  

(Caution:  Avoid doorbell cameras and security cameras where the colour setting can not be permanently set to record in colour.

Having a camera automatically adjust for the lighting with no override control makes recording in colour much more complicated.

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. But the truth 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 #3 – Choosing The Lowest Cost Cameras

What you will risk versus what you will save no longer makes sense.

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 Amazon.ca shows ‘outdoor security camera’ prices range from $69 - $400.

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 as well.  This makes the total value of items on the average Canadian property over $1 Million.

By buying the cheapest cameras you may save $340 per camera.  

However, if you buy the wrong camera, it could expose your property to thousands of dollars of property crime, along with very high emotional costs.

Buying a cheap camera is similar to finding a property insurance policy that will only charge $69 for their policy, but less than 1% of all insurance claims will ever be covered.  

If another insurer wants $340 for their policy but that policy covers 90% of all insurance claims which is a better deal?  

In this example, clearly the $69 policy is not a very good deal.  

Using the right cameras it is possible to keep your property safe with a 90% or higher success rate.

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.  

See the Introduction - The Conflict of Interest Problem for more clarity on how online retailers and sales representatives get quickly boxed in a corner due to most buyers focus on price if you haven't already.

Mistake #4 – Choosing Cameras Based on Good Reviews

Controverial for sure.  Let me explain, and I hope this statement will start to make more sense than it first appears.

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 are almost always commenting 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 doing all these things, most camera owners can rarely stop crime from happening on their property.

In the next section I'll cover a simple quick way that is often free where you can ensure you are getting the best camera.

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.  The reviews deliver no clear proof the property owner will become any more secure.  All of these reviews could simply be based on happy the buyers were with the price, not how well the camera worked when a criminal targeted their home.

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 Saying you can view footage on your phone and talk to someone at the door for $15 per month means well but it delivers no proof a homeowner is any safer if a real criminal targets their home.

Mistake #5 – Installing Cameras Yourself

Lighting requirements, the suspects speed, the angles of approach, and more, make installing security camera’s a fairly high risk project.

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, and know when to use them, to know how to setup the shot, to know the lingo and more.  

Yet despite expecting a photographer to know all of these things, it is often believed that anyone can throw a cheap security camera up and everything will be ‘good enough’.

The difference between a bride and a likely crime victim is that the bride knows right away how the photographs turned out.  If the photographer did a poor job their reputation may be ruined.  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.

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

Mistake #6 – Using Cameras That Are BANNED Across The World

Two Chinese companies have been exposed as state sponsored agencies. Enough spying options were found that agencies in the USA and England have banned them from any further government contracts.

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

When I spoke with dozens of homeowners a question they always wanted to know was could a company be spying on them when they setup security cameras?  

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

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

These cameras do work well!  Their technology and prices changed the entire industry.  These were the 1st (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 at stores like Amazon, 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 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.  

Summary - The Top Security Camera Mistakes

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

Many people ask us 'Is this _____ camera the best?' I'll cover in the the next page how to get a clear answer if that camera is the best.

I also cover free and simple steps that help eliminate a lot of the failure points people experience with security cameras.

The Most Important Things Security Cameras Owners Need To Do