Cutting out the bad advice
One of the biggest issues with CCTV is not the lack of information out there but the amount of wrong information that can be found. One of the biggest sellers of CCTV equipment in the UK was the now defunct Maplins stores. Maplins had a trusted name and a store could be found in most towns. They pushed the Swann range of CCTV equipment highlighting the capabilities of that brand of CCTV products. The store reps would give demonstrations on the CCTV systems where people would only be a couple of meters away from the camera. We have had complaints that many of the Swann CCTV equipment purchased didn't live up to what people saw in store or what they were told. So why is that? Are Swann CCTV systems poor quality? Or did people install the systems incorrectly? Well no, the most probable explanation is that the products were mis-sold.
When a person went into a store and were given a demo of a Swann system the picture quality was very good. People would see an image of themselves quite clearly, and could even make out the finer details of what they were wearing. So when they buy this system and take it home and install it they find that the pictures weren't as good as what they saw in store. Firstly, one of the main reasons for this was that the demo or video footage that these people saw didn't reflect its use in a real world example. The distance between the person and the camera would only have been a couple of meters. Once installed on a building the camera could be 4-5 meters from the ground and facing an area that could be around 10 meters away. As the point of focus was further away the detail on the footage was far less than what people saw in the stores.
Secondly the lighting conditions would be different. In store there would be plenty of lighting to illuminate the area giving the camera the perfect environment for capturing great CCTV footage. In the real world the lighting conditions would be less than optimal, sometimes it could be overcast and sometimes it could be sunny. There could even be instances where it is really bright but the camera is facing an area where there is a shadow. In which case the area outside the shadow would be bright but without WDR the area in the shadow would appear darker than what it would actually be to the human eye.
The last two examples are looking at comparisons in store and in the real world, but what about other claims? Poor picture quality at night? Some of the people we have spoken to believed that they would have full colour vision at night because of the IR nightvision in the cameras. This is not true on any IR CCTV camera, although low lux cameras would still pick up colour for longer they would revert to a black and white picture when the IR's turned on. We've also been told that on some of the Swann cameras the IR distance is not very good. To be honest, the IR distance claims from many manufacturers can differ immensely as they really depend on environmental factors. Cameras facing an open area will suffer immensely as there is nothing for the IR's to bounce off.
Lastly, and quite recently, we had someone call up to ask for advice on a Swann system that had stopped working. They had someone else install the cameras and upgrade the hard drive within the recorder. As it turns out the person who installed the equipment replaced the hard drive with a standard PC hard drive. The issue here is that standard hard drives will fail a lot quicker as they are not engineered for the constant writing to the disk. Unfortunately the customer in this instance was mis-sold the information and even though he saved money in the short term the issue left a bitter taste in his mouth so he decided to upgrade the recorder rather than just the hard drive.
We are not defending the Swann products that were sold by Maplins, nor are we suggesting their products were not fit for purpose. We are merely suggesting that the majority of the complaints that we have received were because they were sold under the pretence that they would record and reproduce the quality that was seen in their stores. We fully believe that when investing in a product such as CCTV there needs to be sound advice so that the customer knows what to expect. As such, we check each order to make sure all cameras are compatible and occasionally we may call our customers to make sure that the products they are purchasing will be fit for their intended purpose and even recommend alternatives if we think another item is better suited.