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Bullet vs. Dome Cameras: Which is Right for You?

Security cameras are a staple in home security, but it's not always easy to choose which one is right for you. When it comes to security cameras, there are two main types: bullet and dome. There are subtle but important differences between the two, in their shape, range, and installation. Both have their pros and cons, which is why it's important to understand the difference before you make a purchase. In this guide, we break down everything you need to know about bullet vs. dome cameras so that you can make an informed decision about what's right for your property type and size.

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What is a bullet camera

Also sometimes called a lipstick camera, this is a type of surveillance camera that has the shape of a rifle bullet shell or lipstick case. They come in a variety of sizes, with the smaller ones having the diameter of a cigar. Infrared bullet cameras tend to be larger due to their IR LEDs.

Most of them use a tri-axis type of mount, which makes them easy to mount on ceilings or walls and they typically have a larger lens, which means they can provide more detail over more distance.

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Pros of a bullet camera

Some of the common benefits of choosing a bullet camera are:

  • It's easy to install. Bullet cameras have a mounting handle attached to the body of the camera, which makes it easier to install, plus, they often have flexible positioning, meaning you can install it and then easily move into position.
  • It can house larger lenses. If you're securing a large area, you can choose a camera with a telephoto lens, if the area is smaller, mini bullet cameras with a wide-angle lens can provide a wide viewing angle.
  • Most are weatherproof and water-resistant, they're capable of monitoring no matter what the weather conditions are. There are also bullet cameras available with temperature gauges and heaters so they can operate even in extreme weather.
  • They offer high resolution. Although resolution varies depending on the make and model of the camera, most have a fairly high resolution and there are plenty of options that offer even greater detail.
  • Most bullet cameras are equipped with IR LEDs to offer continued surveillance into the night.
  • Enhanced license plate recognition. LPR requires specific software, but IR bullet cameras can enhance the software's ability to effectively detect license plates.
  • They're easy to spot: bullet cameras are far easier to distinguish, which makes them highly effective at deterring criminals.
bullet camera pros

Cons of a bullet camera

Before choosing a bullet camera though, there are a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Because they're easy to spot, they are also more susceptible to being vandalized or repositioned.
  • It's easy to avoid and doesn't blend into its surroundings easily.
  • The main cable is susceptible to damage, so it may be necessary to add additional brackets to hide it.
  • Birds may build nests on the camera
  • It has no auto-rotate feature
  • If you're using an IR camera, it cannot be placed near reflective surfaces.
  • If you're using a wireless bullet camera, you may have transmission problems.
bullet camera cons

What is a dome camera

Dome security cameras are those that have a dome-shaped, transparent protective casing. Which is how they get their name. They have a discrete design which is typically preferred by places like hotels, retail stores, and restaurants. They're also highly versatile.

Although their installation is not difficult, it's also not as easy as installing a bullet camera and they are usually installed on a ceiling. It's also more difficult to adjust them.

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Pros of a dome camera

  • Many dome cameras are vandal resistant. Once these are installed, they are difficult to tamper with and can only be dismantled with special tools.
  • It has a sleek design and doesn't require additional lens attachments.
  • Outdoor dome cameras are also weatherproof and water-resistant, so it continues to monitor despite the weather. Plus, some are also integrated with temperature gauges and heaters, so the camera continues to monitor activity in extreme weather.
  • Most dome cameras also have a high resolution, though it varies depending on the make and model.
  • The shape of the dome encasing the camera allows monitoring at wider angles, the lens has the flexibility to move.
  • Many dome cameras also come equipped with IR LEDs, allowing the camera to continue monitoring at night, and a progressive CMOS sensor. This allows the camera to have a range of around 30 meters indoors and outdoors, with little to no light.
  • Because of the dome encasing, it's difficult to determine which area the lens is monitoring at a distance, making it more difficult to avoid being caught on camera and making the camera an effective crime deterrent.
dome camera pros

Cons of a dome camera

Just like with bullet cameras, there are some drawbacks associated with dome cameras. It's important to be aware of these before making a decision:

  • IR is sensitive to reflective surfaces, and with an IR dome camera, this means that you may see white halos on the footage, because of the camera catching the reflection of the dome encasing.
  • The dome can get dirty, and the mark then shows up on the footage. This can lessen its ability to record clear footage at night because the IR lights up the smidge.
  • It's much harder to reposition. This is a plus when it comes to unwanted tampering with your security camera, but it also makes it harder if you want to reposition the camera.
dome camera cons

The differences between dome and bullet cameras are subtle and relatively minor, however, it's important to understand them when selecting your security cameras. In general, bullet cameras are the way to go if you want a perception of overt security. If you'd prefer something more subtle that still allows you to monitor the area, you may prefer a dome camera. You could also choose a mix of both dome and bullet cameras, making the most of each of their advantages and overcoming their respective drawbacks.

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