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Video Security Equipment Glossary (Part One)
Sep 01, 2017

Video Security Equipment Glossary (Part One)

The odds are pretty darn high that if you’re new to the security camera industry, you’ve had a metric ton of acronyms and phrases thrown at you that you’ve been left reeling with a migraine the size of the Grand Canyon. “WDR? IR? BLC? DVR? POE? What does it all mean?!” When you start shopping around for security equipment, regardless of whether it’s for your place or your employer’s, you have to get the lay of the land before you reach for your wallet. How else are you going to know if a camera is right for you if you don’t know what it does?

Don’t worry, I’ve been there and my monolithic headache is your gain. I’ve thrown together this video security equipment glossary to help you turn those hieroglyphics into a readable primer so you can start making informed decisions about your security needs. This is by no means an exhaustive list so keep your eyes open for new updates in the coming weeks and feel free to let me know of any terms / acronyms you want to know more about in the comments below!


· Access Control : Type of perimeter security measure which requires a keycard or fob with expressed permissions to allow permission beyond specific access points (card readers / keypads) in a building or compound.

· AGC : Automatic Gain Control (AGC) is a type of technique found in many electronic devices that compensates the video signal when it falls below or exceeds a specific value.

· ANPR : Automatic Number Plate Recognition. See license plate recognition (LPR).

· Anti-Passback : Feature included in many access control systems that prevents a card from being misused. For every use at an entry reader, there must be a corresponding use at an exit reader. An anti-passback alert is triggered when a card is consecutively used at an entrance reader without an exit occurring between them.

· Anti-Tailgating : Tailgating is in reference to a person that “tailgates” a vehicle or person after they have swiped their card or fob at an entrance reader. The tailgating alert is triggered when a card or fob is swiped at an exit reader without a corresponding entrance scan occurring earlier in the day.

· Aperture : The opening on a camera lens that throttles the amount of light allowed to reach the sensor chip which can be controlled manually or automatically depending on the type of lens.

· Auto-Iris Lens : Type of lens whose aperture automatically adjusts to the amount of ambient lighting to ensure proper exposure in your video feeds so the video is not washed out or too dark.

· AWB : Setting on a variety of security cameras which automatically corrects the color balance on your video feed to ensure that it is not affected by the type of ambient lighting, i.e. fluorescent, incandescent, natural, etc.


· Balun : Type of electrical converter that allows a balanced signal, which is normally sent over coaxial cable, to be transmitted over a twisted pair cable, also known as category 5 or Cat5.

· Bullet Camera : A style of security camera where the internal components are housed in a cylindrical enclosure that looks like a bullet.

· BLC : Backlight compensation is a feature on many security cameras which compensates for strong background lighting, which would normally drown out features in the foreground, and makes details in the forgeround visible.

· BNC : Is a type of quick connect / disconnect adapter that is frequently used on coaxial cable. Comes in RG59 & RG6 variants.

· Box Camera : A type of CCTV camera that utilizes a rectangular form factor to house the internal components. Box cameras are one of the oldest types of security cameras and most of them do not come with lenses.


· C-Mount : A type of lens mount used on many security cameras that is typically 1″ in diameter with 32 threads per inch. C-mount lenses can be used on CS-mount cameras with an adapter.

· Cat5e : Category 5 cable is twisted pair cabling used for transmitted information at broadband speeds over an ethernet network. Cat5 cable can be used to transmit data, video, or phone signals.

· CCD : Charge-coupled Device is a sensor chip used in CCTV cameras which converts the electrical signal generated from the intensity of light into a digital signal to be transmitted by the camera to your video recorder. There are three types; frame-transfer, full-frame, and interline.

· CCTV : Closed circuit television utilizes video security cameras to capture and transmit video feeds to a central location on a specific number of monitors.

· CMOS : Complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) is a type of image sensor chip used in security cameras that is known to produce less signal loss and degradation in video quality from intense light sources than other image sensors.

· CMS : Central management software is used to manage multiple security camera systems from a central location regardless of their geographic distances.

· Coaxial Cable : A type of cable that is used to transmit signals over relatively short distances (~700 ft.) with minimal loss in quality. Coaxial cable can be identified by its copper core surrounded by an insulation layer wrapped in a copper shield and coated in a plastic jacket.

· Codec : Program that is capable of coding or decoding a digital data signal for transfer, storage, or playback. Certain recording devices require specific codecs to allow their video files to be played back.

· CS-Mount : An industry standard lens mount that has a 1″ diameter with 32 threads per inch and is typically used for formats 1/2″ and down. A CS-mount lens cannot be used with a C-mount camera.


· Day / Night : Refers to a feature that comes on many security cameras which allows the camera to see in low-light and zero-light environments without the use of infrared illumination by utilizing an infrared filter operated by a motor(True Day/Night) or by digitally altering the colors on the video feeds (Electronic Day/Night).

· Digital Zoom : The ability to zoom in on a specific area of a video feed through a video recorder’s software. This function is typically featured only on network IP cameras as they capture video footage at a significantly higher resolution than analog security cameras.

· DNR : Digital noise reduction is a standard feature on most CCTV cameras that performs a variety of functions. DNR decreases the amount of noise (static) present in your video feeds and thereby produces a clearer quality image as well as helping your video recorder accurately determine what is actual motion in the camera’s field of view and what is noise. This allows your motion detection recording to only trigger on true action and not static in your video feed.

· Dome Camera : A type of camera that is known for its dome-like shape and one of the most commonly used security camera types. Their sleek, inconspicuous profile makes dome cameras an ideal camera for discrete video surveillance.

· DVR : Digital video recorders capture and store video feeds produced by analog security cameras onto a hard drive. DVRs come in two types, standalone units similar to your cable box and PC-based towers that are specifically built computers with a DVR card to convert the video signal into data to be stored on a hard drive.