There are two different schools of thought when it comes to installing security cameras for surveillance. One is that letting everyone in the area know that they are under surveillance is an effective deterrent. This is why you often see monitors displaying customer activity out in the open in large retail stores. The other school of thought is that the less everyone in the area knows about your security system, the better it is at uncovering improper activities.
The concept of using hidden cameras follows the second school of thought. Whether used by a journalist doing an investigative report or law enforcement during a sting operation, their use is based on the idea that people behave differently when they know they are being filmed versus when they don't know.
It's no different with security cameras. You are more likely to get an accurate representation of activity in an area filmed by hidden cameras than with cameras obviously out in the open.
Hidden cameras are a great response to spikes in crime in a coverage area with their ability to catch unsuspecting perpetrators 'in the act'. They can be used to supplement or replace conventional camera systems that are subject to sabotage or forced shutdowns like stores that are highly prone to robberies. It's also important to note that in spite of best efforts, conventional systems may not be able to capture some activity and the addition of covert cameras may be the only way to fill 'holes' in surveillance coverage.
It may be stating the obvious, but for a hidden camera to be effective, it must be set up in such a way that makes it difficult for anyone to discover it. The most common way to do this is to house a small camera in an object that appears to be something other than a camera. Regular items like clocks, books and pictures are just a few of the many objects that have been used to house hidden cameras.
Hunt Electronics offers some models of covert security cameras worthy of closer examination. They are all well-designed for covert filming and can easily be added to any closed-circuit television system. Each of these units comes with a two-year warranty.
The HTC-3005HS is housed in a unit that looks like a motion detector. It has a 3.7 mm pinhole lens (and can be set up with a 5.5 mm lens) with an incredibly fast shutter speed of 1/100,000th of a second and delivers a sharp picture with 580 TV lines of resolution. The automatic white balance ensures that the picture will not have a 'washed-out' look.
Another option is the HTC-3006HS, which has the appearance of a ceiling mounted smoke detector. This security camera shares many of the same features of the HTC-3005HS: the 1/100,000th second shutter speed, the 3.7mm/5.5mm pinhole lens, and the 580 TV lines. One major difference however, is that the HTC-3006HS has a 45° wide view and is better suited to covert surveillance over a wider area.
The HTC-3800HS looks like a metallic electric plate cover and shares many of the key features of the HTC-3005HS and HTC-3006HS. Like the HTC-3005HS, it does not have a 45° wide view.
While hidden cameras can be an effective part of a superior surveillance system, it is important to recognize that their limitations and that they are not the be all and end all of security cameras. They do not have pan, tilt or zoom capabilities or automatic irises, for example. There are also limits to the places you can install such units. You would not want to install the HTC-3006HS, the model that looks like a smoke detector, for outdoor surveillance.
In spite of their limitations, covert security cameras under the right circumstances, can be an effective option for recording undesired or even illegal activity in a certain area. They should especially be considered when a conventional camera system falls short in surveillance coverage.
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