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San Diego CCTV Glossary

Glossary provided by Tech-Army.org

Alarm Input - An input connection to a VCR or DVR that triggers the unit to start recording. Analog System - Security VCRs, switchers, quads, and multiplexors are all analog devices. Most cameras used in CCTV applications are analog. Any CCTV system that consists of analog devices are considered analog systems.

Angle of View - This refers to the range in degrees that a camera can be focused on without distorting the image. When focusing close up, you can generally see a wide angle of view. If the focus is distant, the angle of view is smaller or narrower.

Aperture - The opening of a lens which controls the amount of light let into the camera. The size of the aperture is controlled by the iris adjustment. By increasing the f stop number (f1.4, f1.8, f2.8, etc.) less light is permitted to pass into the camera.

Audio - Some cameras have the capability to capture audio (sound) in addition to video. To record sound, your recording device needs to support audio input.

Auto Electronic Shutter (AES) - The ability of the camera to compensate for moderate light changes in indoor applications without the use of auto iris lenses.

Auto Gain Control (AGC) - An electronic circuit used by which the gain of a signal is automatically adjusted as a function of its input or other specified parameter.

Auto Iris Control - A lens in which the aperture automatically opens or closes to maintain proper light levels on the faceplate of the camera pickup device.

Auto White Balance - A feature on color cameras that constantly monitors the light and adjusts its color tones to maintain white areas.

Back Light Compensation - A feature which electronically compensates for high background lighting to give detail which would normally be silhouetted or shadowed.

CCTV - Closed-circuit television. Another term for a surveillance system.

Charge-coupled Device (CCD) - Technology which uses a shift register combined with photo-diodes to create an imaging device. The size of the CCD chip is normally 1/4", 1/3" or 1/2". As a rule of thumb, the larger the size, the higher the quality of the image produced. However some of the higher density 1/4" and 1/3" CCD chips can now produce as good an image as many of the 1/3" or 1/2" chips.

CMOS - Complementary metal oxide semiconductor. This widely used type of semiconductor is the predecessor to CCD imaging devices.

Compression - Refers to taking an incoming signal or image, which can be analog or digital, and compressing the data so it can be stored or transmitted faster and using less resources. There are many different algorithms and techniques that are used to compress data.

Covert - A covert application refers to a situation where you don't want the subject to know that they are being watched or recorded. Also known as hidden cameras or nanny-cams.

Day / Night Camera - Day / Night cameras include an especially sensitive CCD chip that allows a good image to be captured in very low ambient lighting. Do not confuse these cameras with "Night Vision" or "Infrared" cameras which include LEDs to see in complete darkness.

Digital System - CCTV systems are just coming into the digital age. Most security cameras are still analog. Where digital technology is really making ground is with digital video recorders (DVRs). Any CCTV system that includes a DVR is considered a digital system, as all recorded images are stored digitally.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR) - A digital video recorder is basically a computer that converts the incoming (analog) signal from the cameras to a digital signal, which it compresses and stores. The DVR replaces the function of a switcher, quad, or multiplexor and a VCR. There are many advantages of digital video recorders over their analog counterparts.

Duplex - A duplex device can transmit data into and out of the electronic device at the same time. For example, a full duplex multiplexer can continue capturing and recording images even while a different image is being displayed.

Frames per Second (fps) - In digital video applications, refers to the number of video images that can be captured, displayed, or recorded in a second. Also referred to as the frame rate or refresh rate.

Housing - Special covering or container to protect a camera from extreme temperatures or weather conditions.

Iris - The iris (on some lenses) controls how much light is allowed to pass into the camera lens.

JPEG (or JPG) - This is a standard way of compressing images which works particularily well for photographic and video images.

Lens - The lens of the camera determines the angle of view and the focus of the captured image. There are many different lens options.

Lux - Refers to the amount of light required for a camera to capture a good image. The lower the Lux rating, the better the image in low light conditions. Complete darkness is considered to be 0 Lux.

Motion Detection - Refers to the feature in some VCRs and DVRs to record only if something in the image moves or changes. This feature saves a lot of space on the tape or hard drive.

MPEG (or MPG) - This is a standard way of compressing streaming audio and video files.

Multiplexer - An analog device that can accept a number of camera inputs and display them on a single monitor and/or recording device. Multixplexers are used to transmit multiple cameras over the same transmission medium.

Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) - PTZ allows adjustment of the camera position. Pan is side-to-side, tilt is up-and-down, and zoom of the camera using a remote controller.

Quad - An analog device used to display 4 cameras simultaneously on a single monitor.

Remote Viewing - The ability to view camera feeds from a remote location. Information is transmitted a network or Internet connection.

Resolution - Refers to how much detail can be captured on a camera or displayed on a monitor. The higher the resolution, the more detail that can be captured in a picture. The monitors and recording devices should generally be able to handle at least as much resolution as the cameras can capture.

Signal to Noise Ratio - This value represents how much signal noise the camera can tolerate and still provide a high quality picture. The higher the number the better.

Switch - A switch will take multiple camera inputs and will show them on the monitor one at a time. Unlike a quad it will not display them all at once, instead it sequences through them showing one camera at a time.

Time-Lapse VCR - A VCR that can be set to slow down its recording rate in order to extend the length of time that can be recorded on a standard tape up to as much as 960 hours. This is possible by recording one frame at time at set time intervals. Most units have an alarm input signal so it can be automatically switched to real time mode in case of an alarm.

Varifocal Lens - A camera lens in which the focus is not fixed, it can be manually or automatically adjusted.

Video Input - A connection in a video controller or recording device that you can plug a camera into. The more video inputs (also called camera inputs) available, the more cameras that can be connected to the device.

Weatherproof - A device that is weatherproof can be installed outside and stand up to harsh weather conditions and temperatures.

Glossary provided by Tech-Army.org



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