Security cameras can be a great way to protect your home or business and crucially – give you back your peace of mind. However, these devices don’t come cheap. You don’t want to buy one only to find that it's poor quality or doesn't suit your needs. So, it's important to do your research, shop the market and know exactly what you're looking for. Here are just 6 of the essential features of security cameras to look out for:

Night vision

If you're buying a surveillance camera to protect your home or business against burglary, vandalism or theft, you're going to need it to have night vision. These kinds of crimes tend to take place under the cover of darkness, so if your camera is not able to see in the dark, it's simply not fit for purpose. Another useful feature is low light viewing, ensuring your camera can cope even when there are street lights or garden lamps emitting dim light.

The last thing you want is an outdoor camera that can’t adjust to changing light levels, that can only provide you with a clear picture in either broad daylight or the blackest night. When investigating low-level light and night vision, look for the lux rating of the camera (the lower the better for night vision) or speak to your camera supplier about it.

Burglar Forcing Entry


You won't realise how much of a fantastic feature motion-detection is in a camera until you start using one. It really is a time-saver, as well as saving power and battery and making recording more efficient. To illustrate this, consider a camera that is recording constantly. It remains powered every second it’s on, which can drain its battery or bump up your energy bills, and when it comes to viewing the footage you will have to trawl through hours and hours of blank footage where nothing happens in order to get to the good stuff.

The alternative, motion-activated recording cameras, only switch on when movement is detected. This means a fraction of the power is used, and you save yourself hours of staring at the same motionless scene when reviewing footage. It essentially puts together a highlights package for you, only filming when something is happening. With motion-activated spy cameras, it is very important to look at the sensitivity of its detection sensors and whether they can be adjusted.

If they're too sensitive, the camera will switch on and record a neighbourhood cat or a breeze moving leaves in a tree. If not sensitive enough, you may not get any footage at all – which could be disastrous if your home is targeted by burglars.

Real-time alerts

Surveillance cameras nowadays are very clever, and can even send you alerts via email or SMS when motion is detected and the camera begins recording. This means you will be alerted if a burglary attempt is in progress or something else is happening, as it happens. You receive an instant alert on your phone, tablet or laptop, enabling you to check the camera feed immediately and alert the police if needed. This feature is handy for your peace of mind, as you know you can leave the premises to go on holiday and will be alerted if anything happens, and it could even be a real life-saver.

Secure Wi-Fi connection

The fewer wires you have to deal with when installing your new security camera, the better. However, you can go one step further than this and get a Wi-Fi surveillance camera with no wires to worry about. These cameras have lots of benefits, including being cheaper than other types and really simple to set up without the need for any specialist technical knowledge.

Password Protected Padlock

However, the main benefit of having one is that it means you can access a live feed and all footage from your camera right from any internet-enabled device. So, you can check in on the feed on your smartphone while you're on the bus or review footage on your laptop on your lunch break –it's completely up to you. As well as convenience, this also provides peace of mind, as you can check in on what’s going on from absolutely anywhere in the world provided it has an internet connection.

One thing to bear in mind is that Wi-Fi connected devices of any kind need to be made secure. Without the right protections in place, your cameras could be vulnerable to hackers or others with malicious intent. Remember – if you can access the footage via a Wi-Fi connection, so can someone else. If you're unsure what you need to do, a specialist in surveillance cameras such as the team from Online Spy Shop can offer you some expert advice on keeping your network and camera as secure as possible.

Picture quality

It sounds obvious, but so many people buy the cheapest camera on the market without even thinking about picture quality. It’s unfortunately only when something happens that they realise how poor picture quality is on their device compared to others on the market. For example, what if the police need to identify faces on your footage after a break-in, or you need to use the footage as evidence of another kind? As with most things, you do get what you pay for, so it's always worth spending more to get a camera with slightly higher specifications.

Weather resistance

This is another no-brainer, but home and business owners still end up replacing weather-damaged cameras far more often than they should. You need to look for outdoor use surveillance cameras, those which are designed to withstand all that the great British weather can throw at it and still perform exceptionally. Many manufacturers will offer guarantees of weather resistance if the product is marketed as an outdoor-use camera. These are most definitely the ones to look for.