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When it comes to reliable building security, investing in preventative measures is one of the most effective lines of defense. This idea is supported by academic studies, with the UNC Department of Criminal Justice finding that as many as 50% of would-be burglars are deterred from potential break-ins by the presence of a visible security camera. 

A well-integrated and professionally monitored video system can improve incident response times, in turn, helping businesses implement robust security procedures to enhance overall efficiency. 

However, choosing the right security camera for your business can be complex. From panoramic 360-degree cameras to pan-tilt-zoom security cameras, there are several camera types to consider. The most popular styles of video security systems fall into two main categories: dome vs. bullet camera.

To help determine which surveillance cameras will be ideal for your business, here is a comprehensive guide to the dome camera vs. bullet, covering their pros, cons and use cases for each camera style.

What are dome-style security cameras?

As the name suggests, these cameras have a dome-shaped transparent casing that the camera unit sits inside. This protective design makes them suitable for indoor and outdoor use, which is why they often come equipped with infrared LEDs and night-vision technology. However, if displayed outdoors, the dome security camera casing needs to be cleaned regularly to ensure the best possible image quality. 

What are bullet-style security cameras?

Bullet security cameras also get their name from their distinct cylindrical shape, with most models featuring a housing attached to a manually adjustable wall mount. Perhaps the most recognizable style of security camera, they’re often used as both a visual deterrent and a means for recording and viewing live video feeds.

The basic differences: Bullet vs. dome cameras 

The main difference between dome and bullet cameras is their visibility, coverage, and installation. Dome cameras are discreet, offering wide coverage and challenging to discern direction, ideal for internal or sensitive environments. Bullet cameras are more visible, acting as a deterrent, with a longer range suitable for external perimeter monitoring. 

Here’s the differences between both cameras further broken down:

Discreteness and design

Dome camera systems benefit from a discreet design compared to bullet cameras, featuring low-profile shells that often aren’t immediately recognizable as part of a business’s security system. Whereas, bullet cameras are recognizable by their cylindrical shape, making them more visible, acting as a deterrent.

Camera range

When weighing the bullet vs. dome camera pros and cons, the primary benefit of the bullet camera system is the camera range. Similar to pan tilt zoom, or PTZ security cameras, bullet IP cameras tend to have more optical zoom capability and are therefore able to record footage from a long-range distance. 

Ease of installation

Another pro in the bullet vs. dome camera debate is that bullet cameras are also much easier to install than dome systems, requiring only a wall mount to be attached to the desired surface. However, as their position is adjustable via a manual hinge, they can be prone to vandalism. 

Field of view

Dome security cameras also possess a wide field of view and a high degree of flexibility, allowing security teams to adjust the position of the lens remotely. Due to its shape, it is difficult for potential intruders to tell which direction the camera is facing.

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  • Enhanced imaging quality with sharp details

  • Low-light sensitivity and adaptive IR

  • Weather and impact rated

  • Indoor and outdoor dome and bullet models

Dome vs. bullet security cameras: Use cases 

When faced with the choice between bullet vs. dome cameras, it can be helpful to take a closer look at their ideal use cases.

Perimeter protection

For situations that require monitoring a large open space, such as the perimeter of a commercial building, large parking lots or a property’s garden, bullet-style cameras will usually be the more practical choice.

While both dome or bullet cameras can be mounted outside and are both functional in low light situations, the long-range capabilities of a bullet camera will be best suited as a low light security camera. If your organization or business is in need of an extreme temperature security camera that can withstand harsh elements of the outdoors, both camera types can come with this capability.

Building access

Instances that call for a camera to monitor a building’s surrounding access points will usually benefit more from dome cameras. Dome security cameras offer a more expansive field of view, ideal for monitoring wide open spaces. 

Commercial property interiors

Generally speaking, dome and bullet cameras are both suited to commercial building interiors, but the specifics of the property may benefit one system over the other.

For example, a dome camera would be well suited to viewing the large aisles and crowded areas found in retail stores, as these models present a wide viewing angle and are capable of tracking a moving target. 

Alternatively, a bullet camera would do a better job of monitoring specific areas in which the target is more likely to remain stationary, such as loading docks, private walkways or displays that hold high-ticket items.

Commercial property exteriors

Unlike the interior of a commercial property, it’s likely that business owners will benefit from the visible deterrent aspect of a bullet camera vs. a dome camera when installing a business security camera system to protect the exterior of their property.

As one of the key differences between dome and bullet cameras, bullet models are usually preferred for parking lots, gates and exterior doors. The narrower field of vision can provide clearer images of vehicles and individuals coming and going from the property. 

Dome or bullet camera: Which is easier to install?

One of the primary considerations when it comes to dome vs. bullet cameras is how easy they may be to install.

Of course, in some situations, the benefits of the camera itself will outweigh the difficulty of installing the device. Still, individuals or businesses may be deterred by a costly or potentially troublesome installation process. 

Both bullet and dome camera systems can be attached to both walls and ceilings. That being said, dome cameras will almost always be more discreet than a bullet model. However, they can be slightly more challenging to install. Similar to other fixed IP cameras, their mountings are fixed in place, meaning the entire device must be removed and reinstalled in a new position to change the overall field of view. 

Bullet models offer easier installation compared to dome cameras. Because they’re typically mounted to the side of walls, adjusting their positioning is much more straightforward.

Security experts consider easy installation a big benefit when deploying security camera systems, and it is a big plus that a bullet camera’s field of view can be manually changed with ease without frequently removing and reinstalling the camera.

Dome cameras vs. bullet cameras: Which is better?

While neither bullet nor dome cameras are overtly better or worse than the other, there are situations in which one device style will be noticeably more effective. Choosing which variety best suits your needs can help you ask important questions about their use. 

Are the cameras intended to cover a long or a wide area? Bullet models are better suited to long-range applications, while dome cameras cover vast fields of view. 

Are there any environmental hazards to consider? Bullet or dome cameras can be installed outdoors. Bullet model camera types are more affected by things like spider webs and bird nests which may disrupt the viewing angle, but the clear casing on a dome camera will need frequent cleaning to ensure optimal image quality. 

Will the cameras need to be moved? Dome-style cameras are more appropriate for installations in which the camera is permanent; bullet devices are much easier to adjust.

Is a visual deterrent beneficial? Bullet-style models are much more noticeable, allowing these systems to double up as a visual deterrent to potential intruders. 

Final thoughts

When tightening up your business’s physical security measures, the bullet camera vs. dome camera decision is important to your return on investment. Make sure to comb through the finer details of the installation and the pros and cons of the dome camera vs. bullet camera to determine which camera is the best option for your business.

As a general rule, bullet camera models are best for capturing long-range footage and the camera lens itself acts as a visual deterrent, though their narrow angle of view makes them less effective in confined or smaller spaces. On the other hand, dome cameras are ideal for wide areas like offices and commercial interiors, though once installed, they can be more challenging to adjust. If you’re still spending time weighing up the dome vs. bullet camera debate, remember that no matter which option you choose, selecting a trusted provider with reliable products and professional management software ensures you get the most out of your video security. 

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