What Is The Average Viewing Angle Of Security Cameras?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I often watch my camera to see what is happening around my house when I’m not there. From time to time I run into an issue where something happens just outside of my security cameras viewing angle. It leaves me with linger questions like, “did that garbage bin hit the car parked on the street” or, “did the dog walker regain his balance or fall on his face?” These deep questions led me to wonder “What is the average viewing angle of security cameras?”

Now, I’m sure you are wondering what is the average viewing angle of security cameras? The average viewing angle of most security cameras is between 45 – 115 degrees with indoor cameras coming in on the lower end of the range. Blink XT has a viewing angle of 130 degrees. This range is for a security camera in a fixed position, and doesn’t factor in the entire range of a camera that has pan, tilt, and zoom. For example, the Wansview Wireless pan/ tilt/ zoom security has a viewing angle of “only” 65 degrees. However, this camera can view (with pan) 350 degrees horizontally, and 76 degrees vertically (with tilt). Below are 10 examples of viewing ranges for the highest rated cameras currently listed (minimum 100 reviews) on Amazon:

  • YI Home Camera: 111 degrees
  • Zosi CCTV systems: between 40 – 90 degrees
  • Blink XT: 110 degrees
  • Zmodo Wireless Security Camera System: 81 degrees
  • Wyze Cam: 110 degrees
  • Wansview: 65 – 75 degrees
  • Uokoo: 120 degrees
  • Tenvis: 180 degrees
  • Ring Spotlight Cam: 140 degrees
  • Arlo pro 2: 130 degrees

Of the 10 listed, over half have pan/ tilt/ zoom functionality, which can increase the rage to 350 degrees horizontally.

What does the average viewing angle mean?

Wikipedia defines the viewing angle as the “maximum angle at which a display can be viewed with acceptable visual performance. In the case of security cameras, we can say the viewing angle is the angle the lens can see without and obstructions or distortions.  

Now that we know the average angle, lets try and put it into perspective. Take a piece of paper and lay it flat on a desk. You should only be able to see half of the paper. The papers viewing angle would be 180 degrees. If you lift one side of the paper to form the letter “L”, then the paper would be at 90 degrees. Finally, if you take that same paper and crumple it up into a ball, the papers viewing angle, for this example anyway, would  be 360 degrees. If we assume the paper is an eye that doesn’t need an enclosure or housing, it should be able to see all things in the immediate area. To compare, the viewing angle of the human eye is 114 degrees. 

What affects the viewing angle?

The most common factors in determining what affects the viewing angle of a security camera is the camera enclosure, the lens location, and the functionality of the camera.

Camera enclosures

When I compared the enclosures of the examples above, I noticed that the larger the enclosure the smaller the camera angle, with a few exceptions. For example, the Arlo Pro 2 is the smallest of the ten cameras listed, has the second largest viewing angle of the ten cameras (Ring Spotlight Cam is the first). Alternatively, the Zosi CCTV systems had a viewing range between 40 and 90 degrees and has a larger enclosure profile than many of the others listed. While this is a small sample, I think this accurately represents security cameras.

The one outlier is the Ring Spotlight Cam, this camera has the largest body of the ten security cameras and also has the highest viewing angle. I believe that the size of the enclosure has mare to do with the additional features, and not the camera. The Ring Spotlight Cam has the ability to provide two way audio, an emergency siren, spotlight, and two battery slots. All of these features must be housed onboard the camera, thus making the enclosure larger than many others. 

Lens location

The lens location of the ten examples is either flush with the enclosure or set back from the enclosure. The lens setting is important  for the viewing angle because it allows or restricts what the camera can and cannot see. The cameras with lens that are flush with the camera had a wider viewing angle than cameras that were set back. Although very subtle, the depth set back has a drastic part in the viewing angle of the camera. Let’s look at some examples.

The cameras with the two widest viewing angles (Arlo Pro 2, Ring Spotlight Cam) have lens locations that are almost flush with there enclosures. If you take a very close look, you can barely tell that the Arlo Pro 2 is set just a tiny bit further back than the Ring Cam. This very tiny difference results in the Ring Cam providing a 10 degree advantage or the Arlo Pro. 

The Zosi CCTV systems, however, are not flush with their enclosures. The enclosures on these products have a small lip that helps to reduce the viewing angle of these cameras. 

Camera functionality 

The camera functionality also plays a significant part in the viewing range of the camera. If the camera is going to remain in a fixed position, then the viewing range tends to be wider. However, If the camera has the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom, then the fixed viewing range is going to by very narrow. Examples of this are the Arlo Pro, and the Wansview Wireless camera. 

The Arlo pro, which has a viewing angle of 130 degrees, is designed to remain in a fixed position once it is attached to the base. In contrast, the Wansview Wireless camera has a very narrow viewing angle (between 65 – 75 depending on the model), but can increase its viewing range with the pan and tilt features. With pan and tilt enabled, the camera has a horizontal viewing angle of 350 degrees, and a vertical viewing angle of 76 degrees

Viewing range by common types

Bullet cameras

Bullet cameras, which are called bullet cameras because of their size (2 to 3 inches long), and shape (bullet casing), have a viewing angle range of 22 to 110 degrees. This range can very dramatically by product lines of a single manufacturer. Also, this viewing range may take into account pan/ tilt/ zoom features enabled on higher end models. One way to increase the viewing angle of these cameras is to zoom out, but be aware the amount of zoom you use will have an impact on the clarity of objects in range. You may need multiple cameras in a single location in order to achieve the depth and width you need to achieve expected results. 

Dome cameras

Dome cameras are similar to bullet cameras in that the viewing range can very greatly and some higher end models have pan/ tilt/ and zoom and standard features. The average rang of a dome camera is between 60 and 81 degrees. As with other cameras, if the camera is designed to pan, tilt, or zoom, the fixed viewing angle will be much narrower than a dome camera that is designed to be fixed to a certain position. There are a few dome cameras that provide a full 360 degree panoramic viewing angle. You can find these cameras at the very high end of product lines with a price tag to match this unique feature.

Hidden cameras

Hidden cameras, cameras that are designed to blend in with its environment, have a surprisingly wide viewing range of 90 – 150 degrees. Usually, hidden cameras are placed in non-assuming, commonly found home and office products. Hidden cameras can be placed in objects as small as USB chargers, alarm clocks, and smoke detectors. Many of these newer “spy cameras” have motion detection and infrared sensors to view and record at night. Before purchasing a hidden camera, check with local, state, and federal laws to ensure what you purchase is considered legal.

Conclusion

As we see from this post, the most important aspect of a security camera can very greatly based on a number of factors. These factors include: camera type, enclosure type, lens location, and camera features. Before selecting a security camera, make sure you know where you place to place your camera, and the angles needed to capture the whole picture. You should be able to find a camera that allows you to capture the angles you need, as well as provide the features you are looking for to bolster your home or office security.

And remember, you can’t record what you can’t see.

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