There are many types of CCTV camera, some more specialised than others. But the choice for many will be between two of the most common types of camera: dome or bullet.
Choosing the right camera for your CCTV system can be the difference between a system that represents value for money and satisfies your security requirements, and one that just doesn’t work for you. If you install a camera that is entirely the wrong fit for your application, it can even impact your obligations under data protection laws.
It is critical to choose the right camera to respond to your specific security circumstances, justify your expenditure and bring you that peace-of-mind that a CCTV system can offer.
With over 20 years experience in designing, specifying, installing and maintaining CCTV systems in homes, residences and businesses, Amthal can help you make the choice between dome cameras and bullet cameras to make sure you’re getting the best out of your CCTV system.
Here, our team of specialist qualified technicians highlight the main differences between dome and bullet surveillance cameras, and how to choose based on your application. We will cover:
- What is a dome camera?
- What is a bullet camera?
- Dome vs bullet: a side-by-side comparison
- How to decide between dome and bullet cameras based on your priorities
- And finally: why choose when you can have both?
What is a dome camera?
You know that little device you might notice off in the corner of a restaurant or hotel lobby, that has a semi-spheric clear perspex shell? That’s a dome security camera.
Dome cameras are one of the more discreet camera options, and most frequently used in applications where they want to maintain a certain atmosphere or aesthetic – restaurants and hotels, but also spas and high-end retail. It’s also good for applications where people might not expect to see a security camera, or where a larger camera might feel out-of-place or obtrusive, such as a church or historic building.
Its name reflects its shape, with its clear, protective dome. This design isn’t simply a gimmick, though – it makes it more difficult to determine which direction the camera is facing, especially from a distance, and also makes it hardy against vandalism attempts. Being adaptable to mounting on either the wall or the ceiling, a dome camera can be further protected from tampering by positioning it outside of easy reach.
A dome camera is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and its weatherproof housing adds to its credentials as a good option for outdoor surveillance. Most models tend to have night vision capabilities too.
The biggest benefit of a dome camera is its wide field of vision, offered by its rotating lens. This is ideal if you aim to cover a wide expanse of space, for example, a long hotel lobby, or a broad row of checkouts.
What is a bullet camera?
A bullet camera is probably the type of camera that most of us think of immediately when we picture a CCTV system. It is cylindrical in form (again, hence the name), and is mounted to either a wall or ceiling. It’s often spotted around suburban housing or small business parks. It is sometimes referred to informally as a lipstick camera.
Like a dome camera, a bullet camera is also suitable for indoor or outdoor use, has night vision capabilities and is weatherproof thanks to its protective casing. Features such as the casing extending overtop of the lens can protect the camera from bad weather conditions, such as dirt or snow.
Where a bullet camera differentiates is in its conspicuous design; it offers that very obvious visual deterrent where you want would-be thieves or vandals to know that they are under surveillance. This type of visual warning itself can be a deterrent for criminal activity, or can help your visitors, staff or occupants to feel safe and secure.
A bullet camera offers a long range of vision, making it great for applications like lengthy driveways. While it doesn’t tend to be as easily to position as a dome camera, it is fairly easy to adjust its field of view once installed, and are also available with PTZ functionality.
Another boon for the bullet camera is their easy installation. Coming pre-attached to its mounting arm, it’s usually just a case of screwing the camera mount into position, especially with wireless models.
Dome vs bullet: a side-by-side comparison
We’ve gathered all the credentials of bullet cameras and dome cameras and arranged them in this quick-reference side-by-side comparison.
|Bullet cameras||Dome camera|
|Mounting||Wall or ceiling|
|Price||Tends to be similar, also models scale up or down for both|
|Aesthetic||Visually conspicuous – good as a visual deterrent||More subtle – good for environments where aesthetic or atmosphere is key|
|Range/field of vision||Long range of vision
Some models have PTZ functionality for easy repositioning
Static view easy to manually reposition when installed
|Wide field of vision
Easy to adjust view on live footage, to focus in on areas of interest
Some models can offer good range length too
Can be mounted out of reach
Can be mounted out-of-reach
Dome design prohibits unauthorised repositioning
How to decide between dome and bullet cameras based on your priorities
To further choose between a dome and bullet camera, a good place to start is to look at your biggest priority when it comes to your security system.
We know that both bullet and dome cameras can offer indoor or outdoor coverage (and both can be weatherproof), both can offer night vision, and they tend to be much of a muchness when it comes to price.
Here’s some of the most common priorities, then, when it comes to determining whether dome or bullet cameras will be best for your CCTV system:
- Shape of your space
The most obvious differentiator when it comes to choosing a CCTV camera is the shape of the space you’re looking to cover.
If it’s a long area you’re trying to monitor, such as a corridor, a driveway or an alleyway, then a bullet camera might offer you the best coverage for your needs. If your space is more of a wide expanse, a dome camera might perform better. This could be applicable for a shop floor, an open plan café or a courtyard.
If you’re not sure which applies, or if you’ve got a tricky space, some models can offer the best of both worlds. For example, there are many models of dome camera that offer just as good a range as a bullet camera.
If maintaining a warm and welcoming atmosphere or a stylish aesthetic is your biggest priority after securing your space, then a dome camera offers a more subtle hardware to blend into its surroundings more effectively.
If sending a message about security coverage is more important to you than maintaining a particular look, then a bullet camera offers more conspicuous hardware that lets people know you’re watching. That being said, there are more and more bullet cameras that feature very sleek design, so don’t discount them if aesthetics are important to you, especially if you’re working in a modern space.
Conspicuous hardware can also be a positive thing in a space where you want people to feel safe and secure in the knowledge that you have robust security systems, for example, in the entrance of a retirement village.
- Other security coverage
Perhaps a busy shop floor with a physical security presence doesn’t require the conspicuous eye of a bullet camera. Meanwhile, a quiet corner at the back of a small warehouse facility could use an added reminder of a bullet camera to would-be criminals that they’re not going unobserved.
Both bullet cameras and dome cameras come in robust, hardy models. A dome camera can offer that bit of extra assurance where you feel that your cameras might be at higher risk of vandalism or tampering, such as the common space of a mixed occupancy block of flats, or a public space. You should remember that a bullet cam could be manually repositioned if it’s going to be mounted within easy reach.
- Installation time
If quick installation is your absolute highest priority, for example, if you want as little downtime as possible, then perhaps a bullet camera is your best option. This is particularly true if you don’t have a strong preference on some of the other points, such as aesthetics.
Why choose when you can have both?
While we’ve highlighted the differences between bullet and dome cameras, it remains true that there are many different models on the market that offer even more strengths depending on what you’re searching for. What’s more, some spaces need the best of what dome cameras and bullet cameras can each offer. Sometimes it’s not a straightforward either/or choice.
If this is the case for your application, there are a few things you can consider. First, there are dome cameras which offer a very competitive length of vision, and bullet cameras with PTZ capabilities. There might be a particular model of one or the other that satisfies some of the conflicting priorities you have for your security cameras.
Secondly, a CCTV system can be made up of multiple cameras, and not all of these cameras have to be the same type. For example, in a small, independent restaurant, you could use:
- a bullet camera to cover the space in front of your restaurant (subject to data protection policies)
- a dome camera in the main dining area, to remain more inconspicuous, and blend in with the stylish aesthetic, while offering to survey the broad expanse
- a bullet camera pointing down a long hallway leading to the kitchen or other function rooms
- another bullet camera facing down the side alley towards the bins or storage areas, just to remind would-be criminals in quieter areas of your property that they are being watched
If you feel your space is one of these more complex propositions for a CCTV system, speaking with an expert can help come up with the right model of dome or bullet cameras to meet your needs, or the right use of both types of camera in one application.
Hopefully this blog gives you a good idea of whether a dome camera or a bullet camera would work best for your particular CCTV application.
Of course, not all applications offer a straightforward solution. We’re always happy to talk to you about your specific requirements when it comes to CCTV cameras and can help with the initial design phases to ensure cameras installed are quick (reducing downtime) and don’t interfere with your surrounding environments.
Contact our expert team of qualified technicians and we can help you answer the question of ‘dome vs bullet’ once and for all! Call us today on 0800 093 7818, email us via email@example.com or use the form below to get in touch.