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How do I choose between B/W or Color Camera?

Until recently B/W cameras accounted for the majority of the CCTV market. Their combination of high quality and low cost made the obvious choice for system’s use. They offer high resolution between 400 to 700 lines, and low light sensitivity of .02 lux or better. They are also automatically IR sensitive for use with supplemental or existing sources of IR lighting. They are priced lower than color cameras but their cost savings do not stop there. The support equipment used with B/W cameras cost considerably less also. For example a B/W multiplexer costs less than a color version. The same cost comparison could be made for B/W vs. color quad splitters and monitors. Generally speaking you can put together a high quality B/W CCTV system that will remain trouble free for years to come at a fair price.

Color equipment has recently made tremendous advances. The cameras now range from a moderate 420-line resolution with 1 lux of sensitivity, to 680 lines of resolution with .01 lux of sensitivity. Many color cameras are classified as day/night allowing them to give you good color pictures by day, and then switching to a high quality B/W picture at night. Color cameras can now be IR sensitive, a feature that was unheard of not too long ago. In addition, DSP (digital signal processing) has made color cameras easy to use while taking many of the controls (and decisions) away from the installer. On the price side color cameras have been coming down in cost along with their associated support equipment like multiplexers, quad splitters and monitors. Items like DVRs and VCR’s don’t care if a camera is color or B/W so the cost of these items remains constant. A color system today will only cost about 10% more than a similar B/W, but to many people it is well worth it to see color images, like they see on their home TV sets. Just remember that color is less forgiving than B/W. A marginal installation that displayed a great B/W picture may not stand up to a color signal. Incorrect cable, connectors splitters and power are just some of the items to watch out for when going color.