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Is More Always Better? Navigating resolution, cost and features of construction cameras

Choosing the right construction camera for your project is a matter of striking the ideal balance between your goals, your budget and the available technology.

Invariably, the first conversation you will have with most camera salespeople is about resolution – meaning, what megapixel density do you need? This isn’t a simple discussion, since there are so many choices out there, ranging from 2MP to 30+MP.

Most companies, not surprisingly, will recommend that you go big. Meaning: buy the highest resolution camera you can possibly afford. At TrueLook, we start by looking at what you want your construction cameras to do and the features that will support your goals. Higher resolution cameras have pros AND cons to consider.

Fixed or PTZ? Let’s zoom in and look

The first choice you need to consider isn’t pixels at all. It’s between a fixed camera or a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) panoramic camera.

Fixed cameras are best when the whole construction project is on a single lot. They provide up to a 120-degree field of view, which can capture the entire project from a fixed point, such as a pole or adjacent building.

The PTZ camera is best used when you need to document multiple buildings or capture panoramic views of an entire city block. They’re also essential if the access point to hang the camera is far from the project.

Click to view fullsize. Can You Tell The Difference?

To keep things as simple as possible we have a portfolio of 4 high-quality cameras:

  • 5MP fixed camera
  • 12MP fixed camera
  • 20MP fixed camera
  • 1080p robotic PTZ camera with true optical zooming

By staying close to the latest camera and video technology and listening intently to our customers’ needs, we’ve determined that these 3 options provide excellent image results while balancing the file size and transmission rates.

Unlike most cameras on the market, which are simple digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) devices designed to boost pixel count, we use true IP network cameras. This gives our cameras the advantage of providing live-streaming video and the capability to refresh images on demand.

Your priorities should drive your preferences

What you need to accomplish with your images is the driving factor behind the camera you choose.

Job monitoring with simple time-lapse capability is the top choice for most construction companies. This means that job site cameras are keeping an eye on things so project managers can sit at their desks and look at multiple jobs all over the region or even the country. Others can view single projects without having to leave their offices.

Investors and owners like to check on progress, too. To satisfy this need, we have a project dashboard with an easy-to-use tiled interface, allowing project managers to click on any given project to bring it full screen.

For site monitoring, our most popular camera is the 12mp fixed option. It delivers a high-resolution image that provides virtual PTZ capabilities, giving you the flexibility to move around the image. You can sit at your computer and control the view remotely, just as you would move your eyes to survey the job site.

The second most common priority for construction companies and owners relates to marketing. Here, generating excitement around the project is key. The main choice for this purpose is high-resolution, time-lapse images. Developers and marketers also love the slide show feature and use it to create buzz in lobbies, offices and conference rooms.

Time-lapse images also document the course of a project. They can be shared with potential tenants and industry publications to gain advance publicity for a new structure. For large format prints of panorama views, our PTZ camera can create 50 MP images up to 350 degrees.

Next on the list is accountability, safety and security. Our camera software comes with a calendar feature, showing images from specific dates and times, giving you the ability to document what happened when. One builder reports that he saved $20,000 on a project after TrueLook cameras documented false claims made by his subcontractors.

Another contractor prevented costly delays when he zoomed in and noticed the wrong size pipe for the job had arrived on the site. Calling the supplier right away saved real frustration and trouble.

The TrueLook 5MP camera has motion-activated video recording for 24-hour security monitoring at your jobsite. It delivers high-definition 720p resolution recordings and can be accessed from anywhere, anytime, giving you flexibility and peace of mind.