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Once upon a time, security cameras were rare. They were used and operated by government agencies, and you usually found them at important places, generally in a CCTV network. But with the advances in video recording and transmitting technology, security cameras are very commonplace now. You see them in malls, shops, offices, and homes everywhere.
But being readily available isn’t the only good thing about security cameras nowadays. Security cameras now are much cheaper, better, and easier to use and install than their predecessors. It is one of the reasons why they have become an essential element of property security.
Whether you plan on hiring a security company to install cameras at your place, or you want to do it yourself, you will have to make a choice – Dome vs. Bullet camera. There are a few other types as well, but most of the security cameras you see will fall into one of those types. You may choose to go with a combination of both, but either way, you have to understand the differences between them and whether or not one camera type is better than the other.
Dome Camera and Bullet Camera
Before jumping into the difference, let’s take a closer look at both camera types.
Dome cameras resemble an upside-down dome, or sideways dome if you have installed it on a wall instead of a ceiling. They are also called a vandal dome camera, or a turret style camera. The vandal-dome name comes for its vandal-proof dome design. Due to its structure and robust, transparent housing, a dome camera is relatively hard to physically tamper with. It’s also called a turret style camera because the dome is free to move around in any direction.
These cameras are a newer design compared to the bullet cameras, which have been in use for a long time. Some of the very first dome cameras came around in the 90s from Japan. Their primary uses were in public places, especially in heights, where the public had easy access to them. But nowadays, they are also used indoors in restaurants, office buildings, and homes because they are aesthetically pleasing and can blend in with the décor.
Bullet cameras can trace their lineage back to the earliest surveillance and CCTV cameras. They are called “bullet” cameras because of their cylindrical shape that is typically associated with a bullet. Some manufacturers differentiate bullet cameras from box cameras, but generally, cylindrical security cameras are called bullet cameras.
Before computer cameras, bullet cameras were also called lipstick cameras. Nowadays, this name is associated with small, cylindrical computer cameras.
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Dome vs. Bullet Camera
It should be understood that when it comes to the primary camera features, like resolution, the field of view, memory, and infrared, there isn’t that much difference between dome and bullet cameras. You can find the same specs in a bullet and a dome camera. The significant difference between these two security camera types is in their housing.
Dome cameras usually come in two different types of bodies. The most common is the transparent dome covering the camera’s frame. The camera inside can be moved around and pointed in the relevant direction, but the glass housing is fixed. The glass dome has to be removed to reach the camera inside,
In the second type of dome camera frame, the camera is part of the dome. The camera itself is spheroid (a complete sphere with a flat section for the camera lens) in shape, and it’s called the “ball” body. The ball body moves around in plastic casing (also called the cowling). This movement is similar to that of a ball-socket joint. When the dome camera is mounted, you can move the ball to point in the right direction. In this type, it’s easy to change the orientation of the camera, unlike in the glass-dome cameras.
A bullet camera comes in a cylindrical body, with the lens on one end and a mounting fixture on the other. That tubular body is connected to the mounting bracket. The bracket allows the bullet camera to be tilted (moved up or down) and panned (moved from side to side). Pointing a bullet camera in the right direction is effortless. The tilting and panning mechanism are locked in place after adjusting the camera’s orientation. This is done to prevent any miscreant or vandal moving it up or down from the ground by using a stick.
Mounting or installing a bullet camera is comparatively easier than attaching a dome camera. Whether you are installing it on a wall or hanging down from a ceiling, you just have to affix the mounting plate to the surface.
Fore dome cameras, especially the ones where the dome isn’t linked to the housing of the camera (usually the glass dome ones), installation takes a bit more work. You have to disassemble half the camera to install it. And once it’s fixed, changing its orientation is a lot harder than it is with a bullet camera.
A lot of people prefer bullet cameras for some locations while dome cameras for others. Like dome cameras are usually preferred for indoors. And it’s not that they are not adequately weatherproof. Both dome and bullet cameras typically come with an IP 65 or IP 66 weatherproofing rating.
The most common reason for installing dome cameras is that they are less visible and more aesthetically pleasing than bullet cameras. Dome cameras don’t stand out much. And they can be considered part of the décor.
Bullet cameras are usually preferred for outside locations. You will find them above the main doors, in the back yard, outside malls and office buildings, and even on the streets. Most government-controlled CCTV cameras out in the open are bullet cameras.
Bullet cameras are apparent. When you want intruders or people to know that your property is protected by cameras, choosing a bullet camera is wiser. This usually discourages vandals and thieves from attempting to break into your property. Dome cameras tend to be a bit more invisible. This is why they are such a good option for indoors. They don’t seem obviously intrusive, and people don’t always feel like they are being watched.
Zoom and Field of View
Bullet cameras, thanks to their design, are able to accommodate a larger camera lens, compared to dome cameras. This is why bullet cameras, in general, have a better physical zoom. Because of their size, dome cameras don’t have very large-sized cameras. So the zoom they offer might not be on par with bullet cameras. But this difference is shrinking day by day, thanks to rapid advances in camera technology.
Bullet cameras usually have optical zoom, compared to digital, which means the camera lens physically moves forward or backward when zooming in and out. This allows you to retain the full resolution of the camera when you are zooming in. This is a stark contrast to digital zoom, where you start seeing pixilated feed, or the quality of the feed going down when you zoom in too much.
In terms of field of view, dome and bullet cameras don’t have much of a difference. The field of view can be defined as the camera’s visibility, or how much a camera can see. It depends upon a number of factors, like the focal length of the lens, camera’s sensors, zoom, and even the mounting height. This is one of the reasons why it’s recommended that the camera is installed at a high place. Better height lets a camera cover more area. But on the flip side, you lose the quality of the feed and focus.
Whether you choose a bullet or a dome camera, understanding its field of view is vital. If the camera’s focus is too narrow to cover your whole yard, it’s useless for you. But it’s also crucial that the camera doesn’t take too much in. If your camera is covering your yard as well as the complete yard of your next-door neighbor, they might consider it an invasion of their privacy.
Before selecting a camera, you have to understand the area that the camera will cover. This will allow you to identify the right spots to install the cameras.
This is a significant difference between the two different types of cameras. Even if they aren’t entirely impervious to vandalism, vandal dome cameras tend to fare much better against acts of vandalism compared to bullet cameras. Their dome is explicitly designed to withstand a few whacks from sticks, or people throwing stones at it.
Another example of how dome cameras are relatively safer against vandalism is the lasso tactic. This means that person standing directly beneath a bullet camera can throw a lasso up and pull the bullet camera down using nothing but brute strength. On the other hand, a noose won’t even be able to get a grip on a dome camera. This particular feature problem is relatively easy to fix, though. You simply have to place a small shade on top of the bullet camera.
Though all security cameras, whether they are bullet or dome, can be panned or tilted manually, a particular type of security cameras can pan, tilt and zoom automatically, or following a remote command. This type of camera is called PTZ or a Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera.
Most common PTZ cameras resemble a dome camera from a distance, but if you come closer, you will see that the housing is a bit different to accommodate constant movement. Some PTZ cameras come in the shape of bullet cameras as well. Nowadays, most PTZ cameras can be operated and controlled using your phone.
Many manufacturers classify PTZ cameras as a separate security camera type, just like a dome or a bullet camera. PTZ cameras are especially preferred where you need continuous surveillance. These cameras can be directed towards a specific area using a controller (cell phone), or they can be put on a schedule(like panning from left to write every five minutes). This allows for a more thorough sweep or coverage of a large area that otherwise would have required multiple stationary cameras.
In other features, there are almost no differences between a bullet and a dome camera. Both cameras nowadays come with the IR feature for crisp, precise video feed in the dark. Both have sensors to shut down the IR feature if a light is turned on. This feature is especially helpful when vandals try to disarm a security camera by merely pointing a flashlight towards it.
Both bullet and dome cameras now come with high-resolution lenses. How far the camera can see, and how good the quality of the feed is may vary from camera to camera, but a bullet or dome housing doesn’t influence it.
We hope that by now you have sufficient information about both camera types that you can make an informed decision about which camera type to choose. Typically, you won’t be installing a single security camera in or around your house. And many security camera sets come with a combination of both dome and bullet cameras. This is usually cost-effective because you don’t need to pay extra for a weather-proof dome camera that will be installed indoors.
Instead of being bogged down by the dome vs. bullet camera debate, the first thing you should do is identify the areas that you will need to cover and spots where you would install the security cameras. If you are unsure about it, you can contact a security company, or do a little research on how to plan your security camera installation.
When you have that pinned down, then you can decide between different camera types. At this stage, you can factor in the cost as well, and whether you want a couple of standalone cameras or a whole set including the NVR (Network Video Recorder).
The most important thing is to understand the importance of security cameras in the first place. Correctly installed, both dome and bullet cameras will provide your house with the same measure of safety.