Security Camera Video Recording Maximum Distance
August 21, 2023

Security Camera Video Recording Maximum Distance

“How far can my surveillance camera see?”

This is one of the most common questions people ask when installing a new security camera system. And it’s a valid question since it’s one of the crucial specifications to check if your camera has to see and record at the necessary distance. 

Generally speaking, a typical security camera can clearly see and record in a range between 10 to 70ft, depending on specifications such as lens size, resolution, and sensor type. However, there are camera types that can see distances over 1,000 feet. 

The maximum recording distance of a security camera is determined by various specifications and parameters. Some cameras have a narrower field of view (FOV) but longer reach, while others have extremely wide-angle FOV but can only record clearly at close range. 

Focal length is the distance between the center of the lens and its focus, and it’s the most important factor when determining how far a camera can see clearly. It’s usually a trade-off between the field of view and viewing distance. The wider the FOV, the more you can see, but fewer the details because the viewing distance shortens as the FOV expands, and vice-versa. 

For example, cameras come with different lens sizes and types, and if your camera has a fixed lens, its focal length depends on the lens size, and the larger the lens, the more distance it can cover, but at a narrower FOV. Fisheye cameras, for example, have a 180° FOV, but they can record recognizable faces and license plates that are only 12 feet away. 

However, modern IP cameras feature a varifocal lens — a lens with variable focal length — which can be adjusted for a narrower or wider FOV at the expense of greater or shorter distances. Unfortunately, in the case of dome and bullet IP cams, the varifocal adaptability is used for installation only, and it stays the same until readjusted manually. 

This is great, as it allows you to choose the most appropriate viewing distance in a CCTV camera, and more expensive models can view up to 100 feet. The third option is the PTZ cameras, which have a motorized varifocal lens. This means that the lens can change its size and focal length via remote control while the camera is recording, allowing you to capture all the necessary details. 

The downside to these cameras is that they’re expensive and quite bulky. But the best thing about them is their viewing distance. These cameras can make out facial details and license plates up to 300 feet from the camera or identify a person’s outline at up to 1,500 feet, depending on the model. 


Resolution is another very important factor:

What’s the use of installing a far-reaching camera if you can’t make out the details? Well, before considering how far your camera can see, you should consider how well it can see within its recording distance. Put simply, the higher the resolution, the clearer the image. 

Luckily, the price of high-definition cameras has gone down, and you can buy POE cameras with HD recording, which would allow you to recognize faces and license plates if necessary. For example, an 8MP camera has fantastic capabilities. Since the lens on typical IP cameras isn’t motorized, you’re left with digital zoom, and resolutions this high make zooming smoother and images clearer. 

Besides PTZ cameras, which are quite pricey, you can rely on 8MP or 4K cameras with varifocal lenses. That way, you can manually set the viewing distance and use the digital zoom feature on occasions at which more distance is necessary. Additionally, by installing the cameras close to their respective monitoring spots, you can easily recognize faces and license plates, even at greater distances.