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CCTV Essentials: Lenses explained

This CCTV lenses article has been really popular on their website, so I am told by ifsecglobal. It’s heartening to hear that these ‘CCTV Essentials’ articles are proving useful to CCTV buyers and installers.

This one gives simple descriptions (please let me know if you don’t think they are) of camera jargon. I hope these will help you sift through the advertisements and salesmen’s bull…er…dust. Let’s keep this polite. The main subjects are:

  1. Lens fittings – will C-mount lenses fit CS?
  2. Setting up lenses – making adjustments
  3. Auto-iris – busting the jargon
  4. F-stops (‘speed’) – what is ‘fast’?
  5. ‘Ramping’ – why long zooms don’t stay ‘fast’
  6. Contrast – cheap is cheap for a reason!
  7. Field-of-view – focal lengths & sizes.
  8. Varifocals – how different from zooms?
  9. Zoom tracking – why setup zooms carefully

You can find the full article on their website.

http://www.ifsecglobal.com/cctv-camera-lenses-explained. Enjoy. Let’s face it, your lenses are absolutely essential for you to get good images. They need to be the right ones, the right quality, properly set-up. This sounds obvious but, believe me, in the real world these are so often the weak link in the chain. Don’t let yours let you down.

Until next time; stay focussed.

Photo credit: Creative Commons attribution: Yutaka Seki.

CCTV Essentials: Guide to CCTV Technologies

Static camera imageClose on the heels of the second installment of ‘CCTV Essentials’ articles, here is my next brief piece for www.ifsecglobal.com.

This one gives simple descriptions (please let me know if you don’t think they are) of camera jargon. I hope these will help you sift through the advertisements and salesmen’s bull…er…dust. Let’s keep this polite. The main subjects are:

  1. CCD or CMOS – what are the pros & cons of each?
  2. Video standards – why megapixels might not be the advantage you were sold
  3. Image refresh rates – be careful you get as many pictures as you need
  4. High definition (HD) – there are a few choices to make

You can find the full article on their website. http://www.ifsecglobal.com/guide-cctv-technologies. Enjoy. More to come.

Until next time; stay focussed.

CCTV Essentials: Setting your Requirements

Digikin CCTV test target
Here is another of the articles I was commissioned to write explaining ‘CCTV essentials’ for the widely read www.ifsecglobal.com.

This piece describes how to get the image details that will achieve your CCTV’s purpose. The principal categories used in worldwide standards are briefly listed here in descending order of detail available from your images. ‘Identification’ needs close-ups. Wide-angle ‘monitoring’ certainly won’t achieve the same, regardless of the techno-fantasies you see in TV dramas!

1. Identification – of an unknown person.
2. Recognition
– of a previously seen person.
3. Observation
– of activity, clothing, etc.
4. Detection – of whether any person is in the scene.
5. Monitoring (and control) – movement of people over a wide area.

You can find the full article on their website. http://www.ifsecglobal.com/cctv-guide-setting-objectives-requirements. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Until next time; stay focused.

CCTV Essentials: 3 parts of a system

CCTV system transmission optionsThose lovely people at UBM have commissioned me to write a series of six short articles explaining ‘CCTV essentials’ for their widely read www.ifsecglobal.com. The audience is not overly technical so the aim is to make the message easily understood by a wide range of people.

The outline of this first piece is that CCTV systems can be broken down into three basic parts:

1. ‘Take pictures’ with a video camera,
2. Send the pictures to their destinations,
3. Manage the pictures that arrive there.

I hope you agree that taking this subject in three small ‘bites’ makes any size of CCTV system easier to digest.

Ifsec Global tell me the first one has been very popular according to the traffic on their website! http://www.ifsecglobal.com/3-key-elements-cctv-system Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Until next time; stay focused.

Battlefield: The (test) Gear of Wars

CCTV Image magazine coverOnly you gamers will get those references in this title, I guess. Just lately I was honoured to be the guy on the cover of CCTV Image magazine! This issue was fresh off the presses for IFSEC 2012. My regular article for the ‘Talking Shop’ column this time illustrates the test gear that a good technical CCTV consultant takes into battle to fight his client’s campaign.

  • Oscilloscopes: bench & portable
  • Light (illuminance) meter
  • Video test pattern generator
  • Thermometer
  • Sound level meter
  • Camera: photo & video
  • Swiss Army knife!
  • and lots more besides…

Why? CCTV is a technical business and clients want a consultant who can make sure their CCTV suppliers are doing their job properly. In more than 15 years as an independent consultant I’ve seen so much substandard installation and maintenance work. Clients who are not CCTV specialists are so often hoodwinked by their suppliers into thinking everything is ok when it is simply shoddy. The old saying is so true: “you don’t know what you don’t know”. That’s why you need to hire someone who does! That’s this guy in the hard hat who brings his ‘weapons’ to your battlefield and makes sure you win. There are not many consultants who can actually do this. The ones who can are the ones I like to spend time with, putting the CCTV world to rights one project at a time. Don’t be shy about giving us a call. We speak Geek but we take pride in translating it into English for you if you’re a normal human!

Until next time; stay focused.

P.S. As well as CCTV my pixel projects involve photography and using computers to tweak them. You gamers will maybe recognise the inspiration from the Battlefield 3 poster. It might not be obvious but the guy in the image is me. Lots of planning, dressing up, studio lights, and Photoshop to create the final effect. Got new ideas for posters? Give me a call!

Finalist for Security Consultant of the Year!

Security Excellence Awards 2011 logoSecurity Consultant of the Year 2011. How would that have sounded? To some, rather impressive. To others, something of a show-off.

Still, it’s academic now because I didn’t win at last night’s Security Excellence Awards at London’s Hilton on Park Lane. Brace yourselves though. They allow me to crow about being a finalist from now until the 2012 event!

Last night’s winners? CornerStone. Unfortunately, even in my official capacity as a director of the Association of Security Consultants I know next to nothing about them. Nonetheless, hearty congratulations.

Turning quickly to regular blogging business, I’m gobsmacked at how long it is since my last post! Please accept my apologies. Lots has been keeping me from creating new posts. Some of it has been nice CCTV projects. Some of it has been my verbose contributions to many CCTV discussions on Linkedin. Hard to resist when the world needs to be put to rights!

Until next time; stay focused.

Sketchup 3D CCTV courses

Sketch in CCTV brochure

The Sketchup training course flyer for the IFSEC exhibition

With the IFSEC exhibition taking place this week in Birmingham I’ll be spreading the word about our forthcoming training courses in the use of Google’s free Sketchup 3D modeling software. We’re concentrating on its use for the design of CCTV and security systems.

Alongside this, ‘3-dimensional design in CCTV & security’ is a new group I’ve just established on the Linkedin social networking website. It is intended to provide a forum for ideas to progress the science & art.

This is a direct link to click. Here are the two documents that occupy either side of the flyer that I’m using to spread news by good old word of mouth:

* Why & who use Sketchup for CCTV design (pdf 207KB)

* Training course promo leaflet (created entirely as an image in Sketchup!) (pdf 1.6MB)

CCTV tweets are now migrating solely to @CCTVgeek, so those kind enough to previously follow me on @simondlambert should redirect their ‘follows’ and I’ll reciprocate.

This is an exciting campaign to spread the word! Your feedback and ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Until next time; stay focused.

Are your cameras too high?

CCTV steep angles guide

Back in 1992, when I was in CCTV sales, I spent one afternoon working out how many pixels would be needed in a camera’s field-of-view to identify a person or read a vehicle number plate. Why? Because I wanted the customer receiving my sales proposal to understand the issues involved. As a consequence of that I hoped that they’d realise my competitors had undermined their own cases by not being so diligent and getting the design wrong.

The Rotakin standard didn’t become public until two years later. So they might have been chewing their pencil over the same issues that very afternoon! No, I’m not claiming guru status here, but I am recalling that I’ve always thought proper design is vital. The Rotakin CCTV test-target did help sales people meet, or fail to meet, their customers’ requirements, measurably, clearly, in a black & white decision (geeky pun intended).

One thing it didn’t do (no criticism meant here as Rotakin’s purpose was more narrow) was give guidance on the steepness of viewing angle when trying to identify people. I think this is fundamentally important, so I’ve created a series of computer generated graphics to illustrate the effects of high angled views. The result is the self-explanatory one-page PDF document that you can download here. It recently appeared in CCTV Image magazine as a cut-out-and-keep feature. I want you to use it freely to illustrate this factor to your customers, colleagues or suppliers.

Until next time; stay focused.

I beg your forgiveness.

CCTV Image magazineA couple of my articles that have just been published in CCTV Image magazine promise further information at Lambert & Associates website.

Ok, my metaphorical pants were down when the online issue hit the web today: a tad earlier than it figured in my plan for this week!

The cut-out-and-keep page illustrating camera views from steep angles will be available here in a couple of days.

Also, details of our forthcoming courses teaching Google’s Sketchup 3D software and its use in CCTV design will be announced. In the meantime, get in touch if you’re keen to know more about this.

Until then; stay focused.

Normal Service has been resumed!

Computers cannot be trusted. Anyone who uses one knows that. As the old quip goes: if Bill Gates was in hospital in intensive care he would sure hope the life support machine wasn’t running Windows ME. Those crashes and reboots wouldn’t do much for his wellbeing!

What has this to do with the Independent CCTV Consultant blog being frozen for so long? Computers. They’re magic. Upgrade your WordPress from v2 to v3 and find yourself mysteriously locked out of your own admin page! Then, in between running the CCTV consultancy business, spend hours and hours reading solutions in online forums from other ‘sufferers’ of this hurdle. If you’ve suffered the “you do not have sufficient permissions to access this page” you might like to check the following, which turned out to be where my upgrade had corrupted a key file on the WordPress server.

Look in your root WordPress directory and find the wp-config.php file. You can open it in your web authoring application, e.g. Dreamweaver. In there you will find a line such as $table_prefix  = ‘Your_wp_’;

Now log into your MySQL datadase using, say, phpMyAdmin and browse the table called user_meta and check that the appropriate keys reflect your table_prefix string (above).  If they don’t you can have the same lock-out that I did. Why? Mine was your_wp rather than Your_wp! That tiny discrepancy was all it took to wreak havoc. A quick edit in the wp-config.php file and all was well again.

As a consequence of the hours and hours spent hunting for this tiny problem, I’ve learned a lot about what goes on under the bonnet (or hood if you’re Stateside), and now I can write this post! Credit goes to the clever fellow who wrote this post from which the image was sourced.

Until next time; stay focused.