Security camera mounted on a pole

Do I Need a Varifocal Lens Security Camera?

Most surveillance camera systems these days are going to use fixed lens cameras, but you may have come across several varifocal lens cameras and are wondering if they might be the right choice for your system. At the most basic level, a varifocal lens will zoom in and out while a fixed lens camera won’t. This means that you can adjust the lens on a varifocal so that it will focus on a small area in great detail or zoom out so it will view a larger area. We are going to go over some of the advantages that a varifocal camera will have over a fixed lens camera.

Varifocal lenses are measured by their focal length Most varifocal security cameras will have a focal length of 2.7mm-12mm (4x zoom), but they can go up to 4.5mm-135mm (30x zoom). The longer the focal length, the more you can zoom in and see details. On the other end, a smaller focal length means that you will have a wider field of view (FOV).

Varifocal vs Digital Zoom

Most fixed lens IP security cameras these days are going to have a digital zoom so you may be wondering why you would need a varifocal lens. The reason is that a varifocal zoom isn’t going to lose picture quality as the camera zooms in while a digital zoom will. Digital zoom basically zooms in on the pixels of the image, making them larger until the picture is blurry. This is the same result you would get if you open a picture on your computer and zoom in. The farther you zoom in the more pixelated or blurry the image will become.


Mounting Locations

A varifocal lens is a great solution when you don’t have a good mounting position near your desired focal point. With a fixed lens camera you would need to get creative with where you are going to mount the camera or settle for the focal point being off in the distance. With a varifocal however, you can mount the camera further away at a more desirable mounting spot and zoom in. This will allow you to view the desired area without losing any detail. Another benefit of the varifocal is that it can prevent having to reinstall cameras. What we mean by this is that many times people will mount a fixed lens camera, only to realize later that they want to change the angle of view. They would then have to unmount it and reinstall it either closer or further to get the FOV that they desire. This involves having to rerun the cable and drill new holes. If you have a varifocal camera you could just zoom in or out to achieve the desired FOV, saving time and money.


Monitor Important Areas

When you zoom in a varifocal camera, you will narrow the field of view. This may not sound great but it can be used as an advantage. You can use a varifocal camera to monitor smaller, more important areas in great detail. A good example of this would be entrance points to and from the property. You can have the camera zoomed in to just cover those entrances so you can get clear details on who is coming and going. With a fixed lens camera you can monitor those areas too, but unless the camera is very close to the area you won’t be able to see as much detail.


Identify at a Distance

One very obvious benefit of a varifocal security camera is its use in identifying people or objects at a distance. Let's say you have it mounted on the back of your house and zoomed out so it can see the whole back yard. This is the FOV you want the camera recording the majority of the time, but lately there has been a suspicious individual looking over the fence every day. You can zoom in closer to the fence line so you can identify them in much greater detail if a crime were to happen. After a few days they are no longer doing it so you simply return the camera to its original FOV.


What We Offer

As you can see, there are many benefits to including a varifocal security camera in your system. At Montavue we offer a variety of high quality varifocal lens cameras, including pan-tilt-zoom cameras. Unlike much of our competition, all of our varifocal cameras are motorized. This means that you can simply adjust the zoom from your NVR, computer, or even remotely from your phone or other devices. With non-motorized varifocals, you have to make the adjustments at the camera by turning a series of knobs to adjust the zoom and focus, which takes away from the convenience of the camera. In addition, we offer 4K @ 30FPS varifocal lens cameras with a FOV up to 112°. Click on the links to see our full line of varifocal and PTZ security cameras. Don’t hesitate to call or message us if you have any questions or concerns about these cameras. At Montavue we are serious about security and are here to help you get the best system for your needs.