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What is CCTV camera and How it Works-All you Need to Know

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What is CCTV camera and How it Works

CCTV is also known as closed circuit television and more commonly as video surveillance. The term “closed-circuit” means that the footage from these cameras is broadcasted to a limited number of monitors only, unlike our regular “TV”.

In today’s world, we are well aware of this term and see CCTVs almost everywhere. A CCTV camera is the equipment that allows you to monitor anything you wish for. They are mainly used to protect properties or valuable equipment from thieves, intruders, and criminals.

Let’s now understand what is a CCTV system. CCTV system refers to everything that is required for CCTV installation and usage. It includes cameras, wiring, video footage storage equipment, access control, monitors, and other system management.

CCTV systems have been around for a while now, and are upgrading every now and then. This is making catching them more effective in providing safety and catching criminals and intruders. Before getting a CCTV system for your house, it is important to understand what is CCTV camera and how it works.

What is CCTV?

CCTV was first developed in 1942 by German scientists to monitor the launch of their V2 rockets. Later on, it was also used by American scientists during the testing of the atomic bombs.

CCTV as mentioned earlier stands for closed-circuit television and is used for surveillance and security purposes.

Types of CCTV cameras

CCTV cameras are designed to capture footage for security purposes, especially in vulnerable or high-crime places inside or outside any location. There is a variety of cameras that can be found in the market.

  • Dome CCTV Cameras
  • PTZ Pan Tilt & Zoom Cameras
  • Bullet CCTV Cameras
  • C-Mount CCTV Cameras
  • Network/IP CCTV Cameras
  • Wireless CCTV Cameras

Let’s take a deeper look at these types for better understanding.

Dome CCTV Cameras

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Simply put, dome-shaped CCTV cameras are those that feature a dome-shaped housing. These cameras can function in situations with little or no light. They give a thorough perspective of the area and are designed to withstand all elements, inside as well as outside.

PTZ Pan, Tilt & Zoom Cameras

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PTZ stands for Pan, Tilt & Zoom. Pan means “rotate”, tilt means to move the lens up and down and Zoom means zoom in or out. This means that PTZ is a controllable camera and has the ability to move on 3 different axes. These cameras are the ideal choice for live monitoring.

Bullet CCTV Cameras

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Bullet CCTV cameras have a cylindrical shape and have the ability to monitor long distances. They are the most common types of indoor and outdoor security cameras. They can be easily mounted to walls or ceilings because they mostly use a tri-axis type of mount. Most of the time, they are quite small.

C-Mount CCTV Cameras

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C-Mount CCTV cameras are the ones that come with a detachable lens, allowing you to change them for different applications. This means that they can be used for long distances like beyond 40 ft by using a special lens. They are effective for indoor use and come in bulky size which makes them quite noticeable as well.

Network/IP CCTV Cameras

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Network/IP CCTV cameras work wirelessly and have the ability to share live footage. They send and receive the digital footage over the local area network (LAN) or internet. They connect to a network using Wi-Fi or Power over Ethernet (PoE) or ethernet cable.

Wireless CCTV Cameras

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Wireless CCTV cameras minimize the installation process as there is no wiring. They are simple to install and operate over Wi-Fi. The recording and images are transmitted via the internet.

How does CCTV work?

CCTV cameras don’t work alone. They work as a system, meaning they work in coordination with other

CCTV System

We have established a good idea about CCTV cameras. Now, let’s take a look at the complete system consisting of different components that contribute to the effective working of the security and surveillance systems.

A complete CCTV system consists of the following equipment:

  • CCTV Cameras (analog or digital), are equipped with a lens with an image sensor.
  • RJ45 or RJ59 cables
  • Video Recorder – Digital video recorder (DVR) or Network video recorder (NVR)
  • One or more monitors

In order to understand the working of CCTV cameras, it is important to understand the working of the individual components that make up the CCTV system. But before that let’s take a quick overview of the overall working of the system.

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  1. CCTV cameras record the footage and images using the image sensors.
  2. This data is transmitted to digital video recorders either through wired connectivity or a network. This data is transmitted as well as stored for later use.
  3. The data from the video recorders is transmitted to the monitoring systems which could be LCD or your mobile phone.

CCTV Categories

We have discussed the various types of CCTV cameras present in the market, now let’s take a look at the different CCTV systems. There are five CCTV systems namely; digital, analog, simple, grip-powered, and recording CCTV cameras.

Digital CCTV

A digital CCTV system also referred to as an IP system, uses the latest technology of CCTV connectivity. It is a bit more costly than other types but it’s all worth it in the end. The major difference between the digital and analog CCTV systems is the recorder, the analog system uses DVR and the digital system uses a network video recorder, NVR. The NVR allows this CCTV system to transmit footage and images wirelessly through Wi-Fi or LAN.

Analog CCTV

This is the traditional CCTV system. It uses a digital video recorder DVR. The data is transmitted to DVR from CCTV cameras using wired connectivity methods. It is received, stored, and compressed on the hard drive by the DVR. This allows us to play the recordings later as well.

Simple CCTV

A simple CCTV system consists of a camera and a monitor only. More cameras can be connected to the system using a coax cable. The camera is powered by a monitor.

Grid Powered CCTV

If you don’t like or wish to power your CCTV from the monitor, you can opt for grid powered CCTV system. The power of both the monitor and the CCTV will come from the grid.

Recording CCTV

Recording CCTV is a simple CCTV camera with the additional feature of recording and viewing later using the DVR or NVR. You can save the footage on hard drives for future access.

RJ49 or RJ59 Cables

Cables are simply the wires that connect the different equipment with one another for a proper setup. They are used to connect CCTV cameras, monitors, and recorders. CCTV systems use two types of cables depending on the type of camera. RJ45 or RJ59 cables are used for the CCTV systems. RJ59 along with BNC connectors are used to connect the camera to monitor, power connectors, etc. RJ45 cables like cat 5e or cat 6 cables are more commonly used in CCTV camera setup.

Video Recorder

CCTV cameras without recorders are only useful if there is a designated person like a security guard to monitor them all the time. However, continuous monitoring is rarely possible and it is also important and smart to save the recordings of the camera for later use. For this purpose, we use video recorders. There are two types of recorders in the market; digital video recorder (DVR) and network video recorder (NVR). Both these recorders have the same application, the only difference is their mode of connectivity.


Monitors are the output of the CCTV cameras. The recordings from the CCTV camera are sent to recorders and then to the monitors. You can have more than one monitor. Monitors are not only screens but they come with some additional advantages as well. For instance, they alert the staff in case of emergencies like power failure, motion detections, etc.

Applications of CCTV cameras

CCTV cameras are mainly used for security and surveillance purposes. They have a number of applications including;

Crime Prevention

CCTV system is one of the effective crime prevention systems. It can deter potential criminals. In fact, in recent studies, it has been found that in combination with other crime-deterring methods, CCTV cameras have proved to be the most effective system. They record everything in their range and this footage is one of the strongest pieces of evidence in case of any criminal activity. This is the most common application among users. They place CCTV cameras at their offices, supermarkets, houses, and places housing valuable equipment.

Disaster Management

CCTV cameras allow effective disaster management. They allow the rescue teams to locate people or animals stuck in a disastrous situation.

Traffic Management

You no longer see traffic wardens standing on each corner of busy roads, this is because they have been taken over by the electrical traffic management systems. CCTV cameras are an important component of these systems. Smart CCTV cameras along with certain sensors have the ability to detect any violations of the law on the road. They are also very helpful in case of accidents.

Industrial CCTV Monitoring

Industrial monitoring is another application of CCTV systems. Industrial processes can get quite intense and take place in dangerous conditions. This makes monitoring the industries an important task as well. They have high temperatures with complex and tough machinery and are prone to accidents if not monitored properly.

Kids & elderly care

No one has the time to be around kids or elderly people all the time. But they can’t be left all alone on their own. CCTV cameras have proved to be an effective monitoring system for babies and elderly people. There are special cameras with night vision that allow you to have a continuous caring eye on your loved ones.

Retail protection and intelligence

CCTV cameras have been used for retail stores and markets to protect them from criminal activity most commonly theft. Recently, they have also been used to gather data about customer behavior and response to certain things. This allows the seller to have a better idea of its customer’s requirements and choices.

What is CCTV camera and How it Works-FAQs

What are the 7 components of CCTV?
The 7 components of CCTV cameras include cameras, lenses, mountings, cables, power supply, and power cables, switching & synchronizers, monitors, and recorders.

How is CCTV recorded?
The light stream through the camera lens is captured by an aperture that is open at the front of the device. A digital chip installed within the camera captures the light stream and converts it into a continuous stream of images. The camera captures the signal that will be transferred wirelessly or over cables.

Does CCTV work without Internet?
Yes, CCTV cameras can work without the internet as well. The internet connection is required only when the footage is required to be accessed remotely.

What is the benefit of CCTV cameras?
By monitoring, transmitting, and recording images, CCTV can aid in the prevention of property and personal crimes. To make sure you never miss a crucial moment, security cameras may record continuously. You can even keep an eye on your company while on the go with a contemporary CCTV system.

Can we connect CCTV to mobile?
Yes, some systems are compatible with either iOS or Android operating systems allowing you to connect CCTV to mobile.

Can we hear voices on CCTV?
Yes, there are some cameras that feature microphones and record your audio.

Can CCTV record in the dark?
Yes, some CCTV cameras come with infrared and night vision technology which allows them to record in the dark.

Do I need CCTV at home?
Yes, having CCTV in homes makes them safer and more secure comparatively.

Are CCTV cameras good or bad?
CCTV cameras are good and are highly recommended to ensure safer and more secure environments. They have a number of advantages like crime prevention, medical management, etc.

What is NVR or DVR?
Both NVR and DVR are video recorders used in CCTV systems. The videos from the cameras are transmitted to the video recorders, where they are stored for future use. DVR stands for digital video recorder and NVR stands for the network video recorder.

What is CCTV camera and How it Works-Conclusion?

This was in-depth information about what is CCTV camera and how it works. After reading this article, you will clearly understand the CCTV cameras and their complete system and working. CCTV cameras are getting more popular day by day. They are now used not only for security purposes but also for monitoring the activities of their loved ones.

The most important thing while using a CCTV camera system is that one should not invade anyone’s privacy and ensure that CCTV cameras don’t cover off-limit locations like bathrooms, bedrooms, or your neighbor’s property.

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