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Sunday, September 24 2017 @ 10:43 AM CDT
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Cameras Overview

Previous: Site Considerations - Next: Camera Types


The cameras you use for your live wildlife streaming will be chosen for any of many reasons. You may already have one that works for you, or you may simply purchase as inexpensive one as you can find. On the other hand, you may opt for something fancy and designed to weather extended use in harsh environments. Whatever you choose, you should choose it from a base of knowledge that it will function in the live streaming environment, rather than just purchase it and hope for the best.

Here I'll let you in on some potential problems and why cameras that work fine for taking your holiday videos or in an industrial security application simply won't work for live internet streaming video of any kind, let alone that of the harsh environments found in true wildlife situations.

We’ve used all manner of cameras for our live viewing but they break down into 4 broad categories:

  • Industrial composite video "raw" board cameras
  • Pre-packaged composite video
  • Industrial IP-based
  • Consumer (which breaks down to:)
    • Web cams
    • Video recorder/cameras

Of these, we have mostly the industrial composite video cameras at this time because they are the easiest to set up at sites where power and internet are up to a mile away by cable from the camera site. We use a single coaxial cable to carry power to the camera and microphone, and bring back the video and audio signal to the encoder computer. We’ve deployed these in many nest sites as well as underwater.

The good quality cameras (about $150 each and up) have excellent light dynamic range and low-light ability and have lasted many seasons with no problem. They are small, typically about 1.5” square and 1/2” deep. They don’t require a lot of power, and they provide good enough resolution that today’s stream quality is only dependent upon the network bandwidth available, not the quality of the camera.

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