Security Cameras in Australia – Buyers Guide

Last Updated on January 15, 2022

With so much information out there it's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the choices available. To make things easier on yourself, I've put together a guide with everything that you should take into consideration before buying a security camera system.
We don't get incentives from camera manufacturers, so we tell it as it is.

by Bryce Whitty

Bryce is a registered Security Advisor who started ProtectFind to help people get the right security system for their goals.

1

Security Camera Grades

Most people would go to one of the big hardware or electronic stores and grab whatever is there. But what most people don't know is that these aren't usually the best options.

The best way to make sense of the different brands is to divide them into grades— So we have Consumer, Pro-sumer (which is a professional consumer) and Professional.
Security Camera Brands Price Rankings

Description of Each:

  • Consumer - Consumer-grade security cameras are the ones that you can find at the big hardware or electronic stores. They are good at determining whether someone is there but lack the video quality to identify who it is unless they are really close. They also have a lot of shortcomings both in features and quality, to meet that lower consumer price point. They are most commonly used as home security cameras.
  • Prosumer - Prosumer-grade security cameras are where the cameras start to get very capable. They are capable of useful visuals to see that not only someone committed a crime, but identify who did it. These cameras are typically used in homes or small businesses and are much more reliable than consumer-grade cameras.
  • Professional - Professional-grade security cameras is where identification and reliability are paramount, and the cost is a little bit less so—making them a good option for medium to large businesses. They won't necessarily be higher resolution cameras, but made for better reliability and handle different situations better, like low or strong light behind the target. Professional-grade cameras are also more likely to use intelligent analytics like counting people, recording license plates into a database, and detecting people's faces. That sort of thing.

If you are renting, you probably don't have much choice other than going with the portable Consumer-level cameras.

Landlords generally won't let you run any cables in the walls, and you probably don't want to invest in wiring up a property that isn't yours. Plus, you can take portable cameras with you when you move out.

However, if you are a homeowner or a small business, I highly recommend starting at the hardwired Prosumer security cameras. You can tailor the specifications for your specific situation, they have better build quality which will last you years and years, and you don't have connectivity and battery problems.
For me to recommend a particular brand, their cameras have to do the following:

  • It must be able to see facial details at a reasonable distance
  • It must be reliable and require minimal maintenance, so no having to reboot and reconnect.
  • It must have a good chance at lasting more than five years, ideally ten.
  • And must send you alerts that someone is on your property in real-time and do what it can to minimise false alerts.


My Recommended Brands


These are the brands that I consider to be good. I'm happy to recommend one of these to a non-technical person who just wants them to work and not think about them.

Security Cameras Recommended Brands

You will notice the absence of consumer-level brands. There aren't really any I feel comfortable recommending.

Prosumer and Professional level cameras cost more than the consumer-grade stuff you can find in most electronics stores, but it is worth it to avoid the common problems.

Further Reading: Security Camera Brands with Country of Origin

2

Power and Connectivity

One of the big decisions you need to make is how will you power the camera and record the footage.

For all security cameras, you need to have a way to power them. And unless it's recording locally to a MicroSD card, you need some connectivity to get the footage out, whether thats to a hard drive on a Network Video Recorder or up into the cloud.


Wireless Battery D.I.Y Cameras

DIY security cameras (sometimes known as wire free cameras), use a battery for their power and a wireless network to send the recordings back to the base station.

Pros:
- Easy to setup

Cons:
- Needs recharging
- WiFi can be unstable
- Can miss events

D.I.Y. Camera

Wireless Network with Wired Power

Some cameras will use a wireless network but still require a wire as a power source.

Pros:
- Good in locations with power but no internet (like a shed)

Cons:
- Still needs wired power
- WiFi can be unstable

Security Camera Wireless with Power

Wired Analog Camera (BNC)

Some cameras use an older analog coaxial cable and a separate power cable connected to a power supply.

Pros:
- Good if analog wiring already exists

Cons:
- Antiquated
- Needs cable runs back to DVR for each camera

Coax Security Camera

Wired Ethernet Camera

Some use a wired ethernet network cable and send power down the same cable. This is known as Power-over-Ethernet or "PoE".

Pros:
- Flexible
- Stable
- Uses less cable than analog

Cons:
- More Expensive

Power over Ethernet Security Camera


Wireless or Hardwired Cameras?


Both wired and wireless have their use cases, but I always recommend going hardwired Power-over-Ethernet wherever possible. It's more reliable, flexible and future-proofed.

Wire free cameras like you see at electronic or hardware stores benefit from not needing to install any wiring. But there are many downsides. I have written about it extensively in our article:
11 Reasons to Avoid Wireless Battery Cameras.

You need to recharge them, which is inconvenient, they can have a lot of reliability issues, and they are easily disabled with a device you can buy for ten dollars on eBay.

Even if you don't have reliability issues with your particular model, they can often miss events due to their lack of continuous recording.

Let me explain that for a little bit: The way Battery powered cameras work is they enter a low-power state to preserve power, then "wake up" when they detect motion. Once "awake", they run their A.I. algorithms to determine whether what they saw was a human or not.

Sometimes, the event happens so quickly that the cameras don't start recording fast enough, missing an essential part of the event or missing it entirely.

Since they only record when they detect something, if they never detect something in the first place, you can miss events entirely. No setup is 100% reliable with its detection, which is why you want continuous recording.

With a fully wired system with a hard drive, you can continuously record with no battery concerns.

In my opinion, continuous recording is a must, and you can't get that on wireless battery cameras. So always go wired if you can.

If your property is a large farm, that changes things a bit as you may need to do a combination of point-to-point wireless and hardwired. We have an article about that here: Farm Security Cameras.

3

How Far Do You Want to See?

Understanding the distance to what you want to observe is an important getting the result you want.

I often see people sharing their camera footage on Facebook and asking "if anyone recognises this person...". In most cases, you can't even determine if the criminal is male or female. This is because they have the wrong camera for that location.

The two most important things to identify someone is the Resolution and the camera Lens Focal Length.

Resolution:


The resolution is measured in megapixels. You have probably heard of megapixels from digital photography, and it's mostly the same in security cameras.

Generally, the more megapixels you have, the more detail it captures at the current distance in the daytime.

Camera Resolution Comparison Chart

Real World Example: 4MP vs 8MP Camera Digital Zoom

In the video below, we have a 4MP (2K) camera and a 8MP (4K) camera. 
We first digitally zoom in on the license plate at recorded at 4MP, and again using the 8MP footage which shows greater clarity.


Lens Focal Length:


We also have the lens' focal length. A cameras focal length tells us the angle of view, how much of the scene will be captured, and how magnified it will be. A cameras focal length is represented in millimetres.

Real World Example: 2.7mm vs 12mm Focal Length

I have a 4-megapixel varifocal camera. Varifocal means it can change its focal length with little motors inside it, similar to how you would turn the knob on a pair of binoculars.

The video below will start with what my backyard looks like at 2.7 millimetres, which is about 114 degrees field of view. Take note of how much of the shrubs and fence you can see. This is the most common focal length you will find on most cameras, especially the consumer ones from the big hardware and electronic stores.

Then it shows what 12 millimetres of focal length looks like at 47 degrees. We haven't gained extra megapixels; the lens just "got us closer" like a telescope. Howver, it is at the cost of having a lesser field of view. You can't see the shrubs anymore.


The graphic below demonstrates what is happening in the video from a top down perspective:

114 degrees field of view from a 4MP varifocal security camera
47 degrees field of view from a 4MP varifocal security camera

The wider field-of-view you go, the closer a person has to be to the camera to be identified. The thinner you go, the further away you could identify someone.

This graphic below represents the relationship between the most common focal lengths and their field-of-views.

Field of View and Distance Infographic


Real World Use:

A commonly available 2.8 millimetre, 114-degree camera might be good in a corner as a "general overview" camera.

A 6 to 12 millimetre lens might be good up the thin side of a house or looking at a specific target, like your car parked out on the street.

Security camera on car plate


So to rehash, higher megapixels allow you to see clearer at the current distance, focal lengths allow you to magnify it and "get closer".

When buying, you can specify what focal length you are after and choose the right camera.

Further reading: The relationship between lenses, fields-of-view and zooms

4

Important Camera Features

Here are some of the important features to look for:


Night Vision:


These days, most security cameras have night vision, and the typical style is that black-and-white image using infrared. We also now have "Colour Night vision", which has come onto the scene in the last few years.

The benefit of colour night vision is it provides more visual detail, which helps with identification. For example, in the pictures below, the car looks grey in black-and-white night vision, and I am wearing all white. However, the colour night vision reveals that the car is blue and my hoodie is red.

Black and White Nightvision
Colour Night Vision

Obviously, details like this would be beneficial when describing someone to the police.

However, the catch with colour night vision is it needs a fair bit of light to work.
It will not work in total darkness. I actually had to set up an extra light to create this example footage because my street isn't bright enough for colour night vision to work. So they are best for properties that are either well-lit by street lights or have good external lighting that is always on.

Further Reading: Security Camera Night Vision


Camera A.I.

In my opinion, human recognition artificial intelligence is essential on security cameras these days. Human recognition A.I where the software runs complex algorithms to determine whether what it is seeing is human or not.

Previously, security cameras would only trigger when there is "enough movement" to possibly be a human. But the problem is there is often lots of movement in a scene. The trees will sway, shadows will move, and animals will travel through your property.

If you are alerted to all these false positives, you will start ignoring warnings. And when something bad does actually happen, you will likely ignore that too.

Artificial Intelligence minimises these false positives and only alerts you when it is pretty sure that it is seeing a human. On most brands, this is known as "Human and Vehicle Detection".

Example of "Human and Vehicle Detection"

Security Camera AI Human Detection


Other A.I. features that can work in conjunction with Human detection, such as "Tripwire" detection. In some camera software, you can draw a line on the scene, and if anyone crosses it, the cameras trigger.


Example of "Tripwire Detection"

Example of CCTV Tripwire Detection

I personally use Tripwire Detection on the front of my house, where my property line starts.

I don't care about the cars passing my house on the street or people walking down the footpath. But I do care the moment someone steps onto my property, and I am alerted to it when that happens.

Similar to Tripwire Detection is Intrusion Detection. Intrusion Detection looks for someone within a certain area, regardless of where they entered (my front lawn for example).

I also believe that real-time notifications from the A.I. are essential. Because it allows you to do something about the event while it is happening, rather than just review it on the footage later. I wouldn't suggest you go outside and confront a person on your property, but make sure doors are locked, turn on the lights, yell out a bit, so the intruder knows someone is home.

5

How Much Do You Want To Spend?

One of the big issues with buying security cameras is people don't actually know how much to spend.

How much is too little? How much is too much?

If you have seen consumer-level, home security cameras in electronic or hardware stores, you will likely see setups around the $700 to $1000 range. This sounds like a great deal initially, but the price starts to add up when you factor in the subscription fees.

Consumer Camera Subscriptions Start to Add Up:

What surprises a lot of people, unfortunately after they bought them, is some security cameras require subscription fees.

While you don't have to pay the subscriptions on the consumer-grade cameras, you often miss out on its best features, like A.I. human detection.

One leading consumer brand has subscription fees of $14.99 per month if you have two or more cameras, and the yearly cost is $180.

If you own it for five years, which you would hope to get out of it, the total annual subscription fees paid is a whopping nine hundred dollars.

That is on top of the $1000 you have already shelled out.

Popular Wireless/Battery Consumer-Grade Camera Subscription Cost Over Time:

No. of Cameras

Monthly Cost

Yearly Cost

5 Year Ownership

1

$4.49

$53.88

$269.40

2 to 5

$14.99

$179.88

$899.40

No. of Cameras

1

Monthly Cost

$4.49

Yearly Cost

$53.88

5 Year Ownership

$269.40

No. of Cameras

2 to 5

Monthly Cost

$14.99

Yearly Cost

$179.88

5 Year Ownership

$899.40

That is often the price gap between getting a consumer-grade setup and a prosumer one. The prosumer grade camera will be far more reliable and capable without ongoing subscription fees.

There is a quote from a 19th century poet which still applies today:

John Ruskin, 19th Century English Poet


It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little.
When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all.
When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do."

- John Ruskin, 19th century English poet

Invest a bit more now, so you have better visuals on more reliable cameras that last longer.


Typical Price Ranges - How Much a Security Camera System Costs in Australia:


Here are some price ranges in AUD based on a typical four-camera kit you might see installed in residential properties. With a Network Video Recorder, fully installed, in Australia:


2 Cameras

4 Cameras

8 Cameras

4 MP


$1200 - $2000 


6 MP

$1200 - $1700 

$1600 - $2400

$3100 - $5000

8 MP (4K)

$1700 - $2300 

$2400 - $3700 

$4200 - $5400


4MP

2 Cameras

-

4 Cameras

$1200 - $2000

5 Year Ownership

-


6MP

2 Cameras

$1200 - $1700 

4 Cameras

$1600 - $2400

5 Year Ownership

$3100 - $5000


8MP (4K)

2 Cameras

$1700 - $2300 

4 Cameras

$2400 - $3700 

5 Year Ownership

$4200 - $5400

On double story houses or houses with flat roofs, you can generally expect to add $200-300 on top of the price, as those installs are a bit more challenging.

In commercial and industrial installs, working height and extra materials like electrical conduits will also add to the cost.

6

How Many Cameras Should You Get?

Well, it depends.

For homes, two to six cameras are common. For businesses, it can be any amount. Some businesses are crack-in-the-wall cafes with only a handful of tables, while others are massive warehouses that employ hundreds of people. Although, about 16 to 64 cameras is a typical amount for businesses.

It also depends on the shape of your property. For example, if the front of your home or business is relatively flat, you might be able to get away with only two. However, if it has little "in and out" alcoves, you might want extra cameras to see into those areas.

Knowing where to install security cameras determines how many you will need.

Where to Install Security Cameras on a Home

The common areas you would put a camera on a residential property would be:

  1. Backyard
  2. Side of the House
  3. Other side of the House
  4. Front Yard
  5. One side of Driveway
  6. Other side of Driveway

And possibly a camera with a tight field of view to watch your car parked on the street or a front gate

Outdoor Home Security Camera Field of View


Where to Install Security Cameras at a Business


The common areas on a commercial property might be:

  1. A General overview in the corners
  2. Up Aisle 1
  3. Up Aisle 2
  4. The Front Door
  5. Product Displays
  6. Over the Reception/Tills
  7. Over the 2nd Till
Security Camera Layout for Business

Having a decent idea of how many cameras you'll need or eventually want will save you a lot of money in the long run. It is better to have a video recorder with extra ports that you expand upon late than replacing the entire unit if you want to add more.

7

How Long Do You Want To Record For?

Choosing the cameras is only part of the puzzle. You also need a place to store the footage. When looking at wired setups with local storage, you will start seeing words like "1 T.B", which is 1 Terabyte or roughly 1000 Gigabytes.

But like the pricing, how many terabytes is too little? how much video storage is too much?

We have created this chart to give you a rough idea of the space on a video recorder required for a four-camera setup.

4 Cameras

Storage

1080P

4MP

6MP

8MP (4K)

2TB

44 Days

22 Days

17 Days

11 Days

4TB

88 Days

44 Days

35 Days

22 Days

6TB

133 Days

66 Days

53 Days

33 Days

8TB

178 Days

88 Days

71 Days

44 Days


2TB

1080P

44 Days

4MP

22 Days

6MP

17 Days

8MP (4K)

11 Days


4TB

1080P

88 Days

4MP

44 Days

6MP

35 Days

8MP (4K)

22 Days


6TB

1080P

133 Days

4MP

66 Days

6MP

53 Days

8MP (4K)

33 Days


8TB

1080P

178 Days

4MP

88 Days

6MP

71 Days

8MP (4K)

44 Days

The top header row is the resolution you will be recording in.

More resolution means more data; more data means it takes up more hard drive storage space, which reduces the number of days you can record.

Down the left hand side are the typical hard drive storage sizes, so you join them together and can see that for four 8-megapixel cameras with 2 Terabytes of storage will get you around 11 days of continuous recording.

Here are the numbers for a 6 camera kit, and an eight-camera kit.

6 Cameras

STORAGE

1080P

4MP

6MP

8MP (4K)

2TB

28 Days

14 Days

11 Days

7 Days

4TB

59 Days

29 Days

23 Days

14 Days

6TB

88 Days

43 Days

43 Days

22 Days

8TB

119 Days

59 Days

47 Days

29 Days

2TB

1080P

28 Days

4MP

14 Days

6MP

11 Days

8MP (4K)

7 Days

4TB

1080P

59 Days

4MP

29 Days

6MP

23 Days

8MP (4K)

14 Days


6TB

1080P

88 Days

4MP

66 Days

6MP

43 Days

8MP (4K)

22 Days


8TB

1080P

119 Days

4MP

59 Days

6MP

47 Days

8MP (4K)

29 Days

8 Cameras

STORAGE

1080P

4MP

6MP

8MP (4K)

2TB

22 Days

11 Days

8 Days

5 Days

4TB

44 Days

22 Days

17 Days

11 Days

6TB

66 Days

33 Days

26 Days

16 Days

8TB

89 Days

44 Days

35 Days

22 Days

2TB

1080P

22 Days

4MP

11 Days

6MP

8 Days

8MP (4K)

5 Days

4TB

1080P

44 Days

4MP

22 Days

6MP

17 Days

8MP (4K)

11 Days

6TB

1080P

66 Days

4MP

33 Days

6MP

26 Days

8MP (4K)

16 Days

8TB

1080P

89 Days

4MP

44 Days

6MP

35 Days

8MP (4K)

22 Days

Note: The recording settings you use will change these numbers such as the frame rate (FPS) used, but we went wth some common settings: 15FPS, H.265, and knowing that a 4TB drive only has 3.7TB of usable space.

8

The Final Important Thing is the Installation

The cost of having reliable, wired, prosumer-and-above cameras are that you need a security installer to install them for you.

Many people don't know that installing your own permanent data cabling in Australia is actually illegal.

It has to be done by a registered cabler. And setting up security equipment must also be done by someone holding a security installer license. If you don't, your insurance provider might not cover you in the event of a break-in. So don't give them the opportunity to deny you a payout.

While a security installer might sound like someone crawling through the roof, running cables, and attaching cameras, so much more goes into it.

Positioning is everything with security cameras. An amazing camera placed poorly won't be helpful.

For example, a camera set too far back on the eave will be blinded by its own infrared light.

Camera Mounted Too Far Back
A camera mounted too far back on the eave will be blinded by IR

Camera Mounted Too Far Back on Eave

Camera Too High
A camera mounted too high can be defeated by a baseball cap.

Security Camera Mounted Too High Shows Obscures Face

Driveway Camera on Only 1 Side
A driveway camera on just one side might never see any faces.

Driveway Camera on the Wrong Side Obscures Faces

These are all considerations a qualified security installer will take into account and suggest the right solution.

A Qualified and licensed security installer has done the training, done the police checks, and hold cabler and security installer licenses for CCTV.

9

What’s Next?

Hopefully, that clears up some of your questions about security cameras. If you still have any additional questions, you can email us here, and I'll be happy to answer them.

Or you can join our Facebook group and I'll be happy to answer any questions there.

Subscribe and Learn More

Get our top articles delivered straight to your inbox each week

Get our top articles delivered straight to your inbox each week

>