Residential video surveillance questions

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I posted the following message earlier today on the alt.security.alarms newsgroup, but I thought I'd also try posting it here in case anyone here has any info or suggestions:
I would like to find out if there is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to set up a single video surveillance camera to cover the back yard area of a property that I own and have rented out to a tenant. The tenant has a computer and Internet access and would be more than willing to use his computer for this.
Here's what I would like to be able to do if possible:
1) add one video camera on the back wall of the building under the eave;
2) have the camera be always live, but also motion activated so that it only records and saves the recording when there is motion in front of the camera;
3) have the camera record the activities when it is activated by motion and save the recording on my tenant's computer;
4) have the recordings not take up too much space on the tenant's computer -- maybe up to 10 GB at the most -- before re-recording over the old recording; and,
5) have the live camera and recording be accessible remotely via the Internet either by the tenant, or by both the tenant and me;
I don't think the camera would need night vision capability because it will be mounted next to a motion sensing security light that is already in place, so at night, the area will be well-lit by the security light during any motion activity outside.
I have a little bit of ability to set up a separate hosted website if that would help in terms of creating Internet access to what the camera sees, both live and, if possible, what is recorded.
The purpose of all of this is to capture and record any break-ins etc. that take place in the back yard area where the camera is pointed. It will not be meant as an alarm system, but just a way to look back after the fact if there is any foul play and have some video record of what took place and by who.
I started doing a Google search about this, but can't seem to find what I want. I assume that it is a matter of finding the right type of camera and maybe software that goes with it for the computer.
I can explain more if needed and/or answer any questions.
Thanks for any suggestions or ideas.
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Foscam Wireless Camera model FI8910W.
It's color, it'll pan, tilt, zoom, streams, records live video and audio, has night vision, motion detection and uses MJPEG compression just to name a few. It's fairly easy to set up. All you need is a browser and the software which comes with it. You can gain remote access, but will need to use a remote site. It's smartphone viewable via Foscam Pro app which is free. The app allows full control or you can have full control via the computer on the same connection. You can use motion detect recording and record to your phone or you can simply use it on the computer in your prefered folder and set the length of time you want to record.
I currently have 4 of these around my home with two more I'll be adding. I can set one or all to motion detect or set them on a schedule for when I want to record.
Read morea bout it at Foscam or go to Amazon, which will be your cheapest price.
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Yes, Foscam has many other camera options and you can find what you're searching for. Another yes, it can be hooked directly to the computer and/or a router and you're ready to go. The only configuration needed is if you go wireless. If you don't need wireless, plug and play it is which simplifies setup.
Good luck.
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Per Video Man:

How good is facial recognition in nigh-time mode?
--
Pete Cresswell

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"(PeteCresswell)" wrote:

Within 10 feet (and the subject isin't moving fast) then the clarity is pretty good. But some cameras have more infra-red LED's than others.
And some cameras have had their internal IR shield removed (same goes for some IP cameras). You can tell when you have the camera outside on anything other than a totally cloudy day, because the colors are totally washed out (no green at all). Thats how you get good low-light performance. Many "indoor-only" IP web-cams are like that.
The old Sony handi-cam 8-mm cam-corders had the "night-shot" option where the IR filter was switched out-of-the-way to pull the same trick.
But I don't think the OP is looking for a system that can give him facial recognition over a large coverage area. I think he's looking for some evidence that people are in the area when they shouldn't be.
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Per Video Man:

I think I misunderstood him.
From the fooling around I have done so far, it seems to me like facial recognition at night is something that is pretty challenging in an "out-of-the-box" solution.
OTOH, the supplemental IR approach isn't exactly rocket science.
OTOOH, I like the regular motion-triggered floods the best so far:
- They're reasonably priced and work.
- I would expect them to make most intruders go away just by their coming on.
- There's no little circle of "Please Steal Me" lights around the camera.
- If the camera is placed under the floods, seems like there's a pretty good chance of a full face shot during the "WTF?" phase of the intruder's reaction to the lights coming on.
Kind of like the legendary security camera in the nipple of a Rigid Tools calendar photo...
- If the camera is placed under the floods, the brightness of the floods will probably mask the camera - lessening the chance of the intruder stealing it.
- I find the color to be helpful.
--
Pete Cresswell

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On 1/5/2013 7:25 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

The better image sensors and chipsets on higher end cameras make a huge difference.

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(PeteCresswell) wrote:

I don't think you misunderstood me. For me, it would be good if the after-the-fact videos showed who was doing what. If they were able to show faces that could be identified, that would be great.

I do plan on using the video camera with the flood lights, and yes, that would be great if it captured a "WTF" moment like the one you described.

And, I would definitely like color if possible.
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TomR wrote:

Your cost for such a system would increase substantially if face-clarity is a "must-have" feature while monitoring some generic open-area.
If your area includes some feature that would attract or direct the intruder (such as a garage or shed door, window, a car, piece of equipment, stairway, corridor, etc) then you can more ergonomically place a camera to insure that the intruder's face, clothing, body, etc, occupies as much of the image as possible - but by doing that you narrow the field of view of the camera.
There are some motion-triggered outdoor lights (some halogen, some LED, some battery or solar powered LED) that now include their own digital cameras that record stills or short video clips on SD cards. I saw some of these at Costco about a month ago, but they've been available at Costco for a little over a year now.
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Video Man wrote:

Interesting. I never heard of that but I'll have to check that out. I may be able to do a combination of things, but if those types of motion light/camera combos do exist, I may be able to use one at one particular spot.
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On 1/5/2013 5:28 PM, Video Man wrote:

The better surveillance cameras will have an automatic IR cut filter. If the IR is on it moves the filter out of the field of view.

That seems to be where people start out. Then when something happens and you have a crappy image to work with you install better cameras.
There is a nearby neighborhood bar that has good takeout food. I know the guy who owns it. He installed an "all this for $400" (8 cameras, DVR and stickers). I tried to point out that the images that were being recorded were next to useless for any forensics. Sometime later riff-raff broke in and trashed the place. When reviewing the video you could certainly tell it may have been humans that did it.
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Per George:

Every time I see "Security Camera Footage" of some crime or another (as in armed robbery or a break-in) on TV I am amazed at how useless the pictures are for identifying people.
Could it be an artifact of TV? Or are they really that bad?
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On 1/6/2013 10:45 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Its simply a matter of you get what you pay for. A lot of installs are the DIY "all this for $400" or similar equipment with the resulting useless quality you described. You don't need to spend a fortune but you do need to install some decent quality equipment if you want something that is more useful than video that looks like a crayon sketch on wrapping paper.
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Per Steve B:

I like the story (which I take tb urban legend) of the lipstick cam behind one of the nipples on a Rigid Tools calendar.
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Steve B wrote:

All trail/scout-cams use SD memory cards that are inserted into sockets/ports just like conventional hand-held digital cameras. These are the SD cards the size of a postage stamp (not the micro-size SD cards). All trail/scout-cams have a weather-sealed door or hatch behind which you have a few buttons and LCD display to control the camera's functionality as well as access the SD memory card. The door or hatch can be opened without removing the camera from the tree or post (or what-ever you've mounted it to).
The older cameras (some of which are still sold at retail, and will probably be the ones with between 1 and 3 mega-pixel sensors) can only take 2gb or smaller SD modules.
I haven't yet seen any trail-cam that doesn't have a micro-USB port (also located behind the door/hatch) for making a direct connection to a PC. But I've never seen this connection give you any sort of device control - only to allow you to see the internal SD memory as an attached drive/volume for read/write access.
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I have been buying the Micro SD cards for 2 reasons 1) All future technology will be going that way 2) They come with a sleeve that allows you to use them in standard sockets
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Oren wrote:

So it's a regular game-cam, but with the electronic shutter set so that high-brightness areas on the image have the correct exposure and everything else is too dark to see. A very limited market I would think.
I don't see why regular game-cam's couldn't have a mode where they take 2 pictures rapidly - one after the other, with the second (or first) picture set to a faster shutter speed to accomplish the same task (record license plates at night without over-exposure).
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Steve B wrote:

License plates are VERY reflective. They have been for about a decade since they put reflective particles in the white paint. This is to aid in photo-radar and laser-radar.
Every photo of a car that I have that was taken at night by my trail-cam has the license plate pretty much totally washed out in a blaze of white.
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Per Steve B:

For flash visibility, the key is the wavelength of the IR emitters.
For cost reasons (AFIK) most cameras have emitters that give off a red glow - with the theft downside you mention.
I've got a game camera that operates in the higher IR freqs and emits nothing whatsoever when it goes off (still pix only). I got it to seem what was running around in my back yard at night - before I started fooling around with IP cameras.
I think there is till a theft consideration though. But they do sell armored boxes for the things.
--
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Per Steve B:

FWIW, the one I have is a "Reconyx RC60 Covert IR".
The pix aren't what I'd call wonderful, but they do the job.
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