The Ultimate CCTV Security Surveillance Buying Guide in Australia


Setting up office or home surveillance systems brings an added layer of protection. But with a myriad of options available in the market, how do you choose the right one for you? This ultimate video surveillance guide by Spy Monkey Surveillance covers everything you need to know about buying DIY video security systems in Australia.

What Is A Surveillance System?

Security surveillance systems consist of security cameras and a recorder. The cameras capture and record footage of particular areas for future reference in case of an unforeseen event. You can choose between IP, analogue and wireless systems based on your specific needs. Surveillance systems have become popular choices for homes and businesses because of their ability to deter intruders and capture suspicious activities.

IP Surveillance System Vs Analogue Surveillance System

What Is An IP Surveillance System?

IP or Internet Protocol systems consist of cameras that are connected to a Network Video Recorder (NVR) through an Internet network. These IP network cameras have the ability to record and compress video data before it reaches the NVR where it is stored and accessed for playback when needed.

Most modern IP systems use Power over Ethernet (PoE), a security system innovation that supplies both power and data from the NVR to the camera through a single cable. This plug-and-play functionality means that setting up a video security system is possible for nearly anyone.

IP security camera systems or IP Kits have quickly become the most popular choice because they deliver high-res videos and images while enabling remote accessibility to live cameras via smartphones, computers or tablets.


  • Straight-forward to set up
  • High resolution images and videos produce excellent detail
  • Ability to easily access video footage remotely via a smart device
  • Fewer wires and cables
  • Good security with encrypted data
  • Camera firmware can easily be updated
  • Advanced features like motion detection, face detection, tripwire technology, email & Push notifications, digital zoom, and image enhancement technology
  • Ability to cover a much wider area – up to 3 times more than analogue cameras


  • High resolution video needs adequate hard drive storage capacity
  • Higher setup costs in comparison to analogue cameras and systems

What Is An Analogue Surveillance System?

Camera's from Analogue security systems transmit and record video data in an analogue format before it is transmitted over coaxial cable to a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). The DVR converts this analogue data into a digital format before compressing and storing it on a hard drive for future playback. Some of the more modern DVR's can be connected to the Internet for live monitoring and playback over a network.


  • Lower cost in comparison to IP systems especially if many cameras are needed
  • Setup is straightforward
  • Consumes less bandwidth than IP camera systems
  • Technological improvements allow for high-resolution analogue cameras up to 5 megapixels


  • A coaxial cable and power cable are required for each camera in comparison to IP cameras requiring a single PoE cable
  • Image quality and frame rates are lower and may appear blurry or grainy for high motion areas
  • Less coverage so more cameras will be needed to cover the same area in comparison to IP camera
  • Lack of encryption opens up the system to potential hacking from outside

What Is A Wireless Surveillance System?

A wireless security system is similar to an IP system. The only difference is that the cameras are connected to the NVR through Wi-Fi or a wireless network. But you will still need wired power for each camera.

Wired Vs Wireless – What Is Better For You?

Going wired or wireless will depend entirely on your preferences, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of both:

Pros Of A Wireless System
  • Easy to install since there is no need to run cables between the cameras and recorder, which makes it convenient for DIYers
  • Easier to relocate, making it ideal for renters or even in situations requiring a temporary setup
  • Easier to conceal because of the smaller size and lack of wires
  • Extremely user friendly
Cons Of A Wireless System
  • Cameras still need a power source to run
  • Potential loss of WiFi signal from interference, such as poor weather
  • Concealed cameras may be subject to legal regulations depending on the state or territory you live in
  • Susceptible to hacking which could put your property at risk. Strong passwords and encryptions are absolute musts to reduce your risks
  • Cameras need to be within WiFi range or repeaters may need to be added to improve signal

So what are the pros and cons of a wired system?

Pros Of A Wired System
  • Tend to cost less
  • More reliable and less susceptible to interference from wireless signals
  • Ability to support many cameras at once

Cons Of A Wired System
  • Takes longer to install running multiple cables
  • More of a permanent solution for properties as it cannot be relocated easily

Breaking Down Various Camera Styles

Bullet Vs Dome Vs Turret

The three main types of camera styles are – bullet, dome and turret. There are pros and cons to each of these based on your specific security needs.

Why Choose Bullet Cameras?

Bullet cameras stand out, which makes them a good visual deterrent. They can be fitted with bigger lenses because of their shape – giving them longer viewing ranges and coverage than other security cameras. This long range comes in handy for outdoor areas. Bullet cameras are particularly great for mounting to walls.

Many bullet cameras are weatherproof and come with infrared night vision with a range of at least 30 metres for night recording. They can easily be reoriented to monitor new areas and are an excellent option for both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Why Choose Dome Cameras?

By design, dome cameras are more discreet in appearance. These cameras come with a dome housing case to protect the camera and conceal its viewing direction. Dome cameras are less susceptible to tampering and many come with IK10 ratings. This ensures superior protection against high-impact vandalism. 

Dome cameras are great for indoor spaces where they can be easily mounted to ceilings. They can also be used outdoors as many come with IP67 ratings for complete weather protection. Dome cameras are great if you want a more discreet option, and want to hide the viewing direction of the lens.

Why Choose Turret Cameras?

Turret cameras are aesthetically pleasing, which makes them a popular choice. They resemble ball and socket joints – giving them immense directional flexibility. Turret cameras are low maintenance and easy to clean – avoiding the accumulation of cobwebs that cause problems for dome cameras over time.

The downside of turret cameras is that they are susceptible to vandalism and tampering. They are ideal for people who want easy-to-install cameras that blend in well with home and office aesthetics.

What Is A PTZ Camera?

A pan–tilt–zoom camera (PTZ camera) offers a tremendous amount of flexibility through total zoom and movement control, allowing you to cover more area with fewer devices.

With PTZ cameras, you can set up patrols through auto roaming where an intrusion is detected and tracked automatically until the intruder is out of range. They offer infrared night time ranges of up to 150 or even 300 metres, along with a range of smart detection features. They typically cost more because of their advanced features, but are well worth it for protecting vital business and commercial spaces and infrastructure, such as airports, train stations and metro lines, sports stadiums, hospitals, bridges and campuses.

Auto-Tracking with a PTZ camera from Uniview.

What Is A Varifocal Camera?

Varifocal lens cameras allow for focal length changes to enable optical zoom. This is an important feature for situations where you need close-up details like facial or number plate identification. These cameras can either be manual or motorised.

Security Surveillance Recorders

Differences between DVRs and NVRs

Network video recorders (NVRs) and Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are available in different recording resolution sizes and support different camera systems. Both are used to record footage from security cameras but differ in the camera types used.

Video data in a DVR system is processed at the recorder, whereas data is processed at the camera in an NVR system. Since both systems manage video data differently, they use different cameras. DVR systems must be wired and are compatible with analogue cameras, while NVR systems can be both wired or wireless and are compatible with IP cameras and wireless cameras.

Simply put, DVRs support analogue cameras, while NVRs support IP cameras.

Both NVRs and DVRs typically come in 4, 8, 16 and 32 channel configurations. Each channel supports a single camera, so a 4-channel system has the capacity to support up to 4 cameras and so on. The 16-channel recorders tend to be most popular because you can start with fewer cameras and then scale up to add more cameras to your security system when necessary.

Cables For Security Surveillance Systems

There are different cables for different situations, but for most security surveillance systems you only need to learn about two types – one for IP systems and the other for analogue systems.

Cables For IP Systems

For IP surveillance systems that use NVRs, you will simply need a Cat5e cable (or a Cat6 cable for extremely fast data speeds). This is also known as a network cable and is the same blue cable used to connect to computer networks. A Cat5e cable can support data speeds up to 1000 Mbps, while a Cat6 cable can support speeds up to 1 Gbps. For most applications, a Cat5e cable will be enough. For very high resolution video systems, that support 8MP or 4K cameras, a Cat6 cable is the better option to handle the increased bandwidth.

The maximum transmission range for Cat5e and Cat6 cables is around 67 metres and 91 metres respectively. For further distances, you will need a PoE signal extender to boost power and data transmission.

If your IP camera supports Power over Ethernet (PoE), then you will find set up as simple as plugging one end into the camera and the other into the NVR. This single cable powers the camera and transmits video data to the NVR.

All Spy Monkey IP cameras support PoE for easy user installation. You can also purchase pre-made Cat5e network cables with the correct RJ11 fitting that plugs into your NVR and camera.

Cables For Analogue Systems

For analogue systems using DVRs, you will need an RG59 (or RG6) Siamese coaxial cable. This cable has both power and video built into it and can transmit in high-definition video. The power cable can easily be split off from the coax if the power supply is far from the camera. The BNC connector plugs into your Video Input on your DVR and the DC fittings plug into your power supply.

The cable allows for a video transmission distance of up to 457 metres, but you are limited by maximum power supply distance of approximately 76 metres. This means that you need to have a nearby power source for the camera if you want to install it further away.

Here you can purchase pre-terminated Siamese RG59 coax cable with both BNC and DC power fittings that plug into your DVR and camera.

Understanding Resolution and Megapixels                 

High Resolution Images And Videos

Higher resolution videos and images make it easier to detect suspicious activity and recognise finer details such as number plates or faces.

An image is comprised of grids of pixels. With more pixels, images are clearer. As an example, a common 1080p Full HD resolution consists of 1080 pixels in height and 1920 pixels in width. Multiplying the two together gives you a total of 2,073,600 pixels. This is a 2 megapixel or 2- million-pixel camera. IP cameras have the capacity to record in different resolutions – from 0.5MP (DVD quality) to 5MP (super HD) to 8MP (4k ultra HD) to 12 MP.

As a general rule, higher resolution and better image quality cameras tend to be more expensive. A 4 or 5 megapixel camera resolution is usually ideal for most security surveillance and provides you with crisp, clear videos and images. Keep in mind that higher resolution footage requires more hard drive storage space.

At the end of the day, you want to make sure that suspicious actions are easily identifiable whether in day light or low-light conditions, or when you need to zoom in for close-up playback.

Video Storage

Surveillance camera footage can be stored via in-built or external storage options depending on the system you purchase. These options will help you better understand how surveillance footage can be stored to help you make the best decision for your needs.

Surveillance Hard Drives

Surveillance hard drives have been designed for higher workloads, especially given the 24/7 demands of security camera recordings. These hard drives enable you to store video on site and can read or write data faster than regular desktop hard drives while consuming less power and offering more reliability. Some can even support data from up to 64 cameras at a time. They are designed to be easy to install in your NVR or DVR.

Spy Monkey recommends the Seagate Skyhawk Surveillance Drive and the Western Digital Purple Surveillance Drive for their performance, reliability and storage capacity.

Internet-Based Cloud Storage

Some surveillance cameras provide Internet-enabled cloud storage solutions, which could reduce any burden on the system by taking heavy files offsite. But in order to access this type of storage, you must choose a compatible surveillance system. Some systems offer compatible cloud services or can be configured with external cloud services.

Memory Card Storage

Some cameras offer on-board memory card storage for footage. However, this is more ideal as a backup storage option if your cameras get disconnected from the recorder. This is because storage capacity of the card is limited. An advantage of using memory cards is that they can easily be removed and transferred to another viewing device when needed. 

Best Security System Features

Take a look at some of the top features you should ideally have when choosing a security surveillance system for your needs:

Night Vision

With most intrusions occurring at night, you'll naturally want a camera that clearly captures movements and activity around your property in pitch darkness. Look for cameras with infrared LEDs for clear night vision. Most offer an infrared range of up to 30 metres.

Remote Access – Smartphone, Tablet Or PC

You will want to view your property in real-time no matter where you are; so remote access via a mobile app or web browser is all important. Different security surveillance companies have different software and apps to enable remote access.

Smart Detections

Large investments in research and development by leading surveillance companies have enabled the development of ultra smart security cameras. Advanced detection technology in cameras makes it easier to capture critical events as they happen. With most of these detections, you’ll be able to set up real-time alerts via SMS, email or push notifications. Some smart detections and features include:

  • Tripwire or line crossing detection
  • Face Detection
  • Motion Detection
  • Intrusion detection
  • Auto Tracking (PTZ cameras)
  • Object Removal
  • People Counting
  • Defocus Detection
  • Heat Map
  • Audio Detection

This is an example of Line-Crossing detection by Uniview. The user can custom draw a line which the camera can monitor for intrusions. This is excellent for use in home or business surveillance. 

Certain cameras from other manufacturers, such as Dahua and Hikvision, are often equipped with similar technology.

Face detection
is an excellent tool for business and transport-industry surveillance.

People Counting
is a useful analytics tool for businesses. The camera can identify how many people enter and how many exit. You can review the results by specific time periods on a graph. Suitable for stores or places with high traffic.


Consider choosing a system with extra channels so you can add more cameras in the future, instead of having to buy a whole new system.

Power Over Ethernet (PoE)

If you prefer DIY systems, then you’ll want an IP surveillance system that uses Power over Ethernet. PoE uses a single cable to connect your camera and NVR – providing both power and data at the same time. With PoE, you’ll need only one cable, saving you both money and time in the setup process. This feature is not available for analogue systems.

Getting Started With Security Surveillance

When it comes to buying a surveillance camera system you can purchase cameras, cables and recording devices separately or you can choose to buy pre-assembled kits. But whatever you choose, you should consider these factors to ensure your surveillance system best fits your needs:

  • Consider the type of camera and style that works best for your property
  • Identify the number of cameras you need based on your property size and entry points
  • Outdoor cameras should ideally be both weather-resistant and/or vandal-proof
  • Establish your storage requirements – whether on a memory card, a hard drive or the cloud
  • Ensure you have the right cables based on your security system
  • Establish the light conditions in and around your home or office. Areas with poor or fluctuating lighting need cameras with strong low-light performance
  • Consider any existing camera surveillance setups if you already have analogue or IP cameras. You may be able to use a hybrid NVR to migrate from analogue to IP easily

Determining Your Security Surveillance Budget

Security surveillance cameras can range from $50 to $5,000 depending on the type of camera, features and quality you're looking for in your home or office. Online cameras are certainly available at low-ball prices, but security should never be treated as a compromise. In your research beware of cheap fakes as the internet is littered with them. The truth is that you do get what you pay for, so if you're looking to protect your family, your property or what means most to you, then you need to invest in a good quality product.

— Spy Monkey Surveillance offers the best names in security around the world at the most competitive prices without compromising on quality. All our products are original Australian stock and held in local Australian warehouses with full manufacturer warranty and support; no grey imports. Check out our wide range of high-quality security cameras and surveillance kits.