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Physical security threats have been increasing over the past few years, and in this age of technology, protecting data is a leading security concern. With the average cost of a data breach in the United States averaging $9.44 million, according to the 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM, it’s vital for businesses to not take security shortcuts. 

Thankfully, there are many physical security measures you can employ to keep your organization (and your data) secure. One of the most effective ways to do this is to install security cameras, perhaps models or types inspired by the latest commercial security camera trends. But with all of the options available, how do you pick the right security cameras to suit your business?

One way to narrow down your choices is to understand the two types of lenses in security cameras: varifocal and fixed lenses. 

What are varifocal cameras?

A varifocal lens is a security camera lens with an adjustable focal length, angle of view and level of zoom. This type of lens is often used in facilities like airports, hospitals, government offices and warehouses. 

Varifocal lenses allow you to find the perfect field of view, so you can cover as much ground as you need with your camera. Varifocal lens security cameras offer a to-and-from range, which can usually cover around 2.7 and 12mm. Some can even cover long-distance surveillance like license plate recognition, covering around 4.5 to 60mm.

There are various varifocal lens security cameras available: varifocal IP cameras, varifocal bullet cameras and motorized varifocal lenses. 

Understanding varifocal lens

With varifocal lens cameras, you can zoom in and out on objects and subjects that are close or far away. This zoom feature gives you flexibility on how you want to guard and secure a perimeter.

However, there is one major drawback you should be aware of with a varifocal lens camera. The more you increase the focal length and magnify an area, the narrower your view angle. This can be resolved by simply asking your security installer to place your varifocal cameras to cover every ground. 

Varifocal camera advantages and considerations

As well as knowing what a varifocal security camera is and how it works, you also need to know whether this type of camera is appropriate for your business or home security system. Here are some varifocal camera advantages and considerations:

Varifocal lenses have greater flexibility

Not every business will know which areas on their commercial premises are the most important to cover when it comes to video security.

In this case, getting a varifocal security camera is your best option. As you can easily adjust the focal length and level of zoom with a varifocal camera, you can also decide afterward what area you want to monitor. Moreover, the process of adjusting your field of view setting is straightforward.

If you want a video system with zoom capability, however, a PTZ dome camera may be a better fit than a varifocal lens camera. This security camera looks similar to a varifocal dome camera, with the ability to pan, tilt and zoom. A PTZ dome camera or mini dome camera allows you to adjust the focal length and comes with a 360-degree view, so you have a complete picture over any given area. 

High-quality images and videos with motorized lenses

Most static security cameras use digital zoom, which reduces the quality of an image or video when enlarged. Digital zoom uses fewer pixels to give you a closer view of objects or particular areas, which can be problematic, especially if you need to see clear details of these objects or areas. 

With varifocal cameras, image and video quality is preserved, even if you adjust the depth of field. For example, a fully zoomed-in 4MP HD camera will provide the same image quality, regardless of whether it’s zoomed-in or not. 

Easy installation process

If your establishment has fixed IP cameras, reinstalling them can be costly and time-consuming, especially if you need to relocate or renovate a certain facility area. When you relocate this type of security camera, you need to completely remove it from its original place. If your camera is wired, this means that you need to install new security camera wiring in your location. 

With varifocal IP cameras or varifocal fixed IP cameras, the installation process is straightforward and connects via ethernet, with less wiring needed than with analog vs digital cameras.

Ideal if you need to monitor large areas

A varifocal lens camera is a great solution if you need to monitor large outdoor areas or large indoor areas. Supply chain companies or any organizations that need to track various moving parts in their facilities often benefit from using these cameras, as they give a close shot of an object, person or vehicle. 

What is a fixed lens security camera?

As the name implies, a fixed lens camera comes with a pre-configured lens that gives you a fixed field of view. A fixed lens camera usually comes with only a few moving parts, making its installation easy and quick. However, when it comes to reinstallation, fixed cameras require a lot of work. Unlike varifocal lenses that can be adjusted easily even after installation, this type of camera should be physically removed and reinstalled to get the correct field of view. 

Apart from its simplicity, fixed lens cameras are also affordable, which makes them popular for small businesses and adding additional security to larger systems. Fixed lens security cameras are also an excellent tool for general protection in a wide variety of applications. 

Why should you use a fixed lens camera?

Like varifocal security cameras, fixed lenses are a great addition to your physical security strategy. But when should you use fixed view cameras over varifocal cameras?

You have a strict budget

If you don’t have a large budget for physical security equipment, fixed view lens cameras are a good option. While there are many factors that can affect the price of your physical security equipment, fixed lens cameras are generally more affordable than varifocal lens cameras when it comes to unit per cost. Installation fees also depend on a variety of factors, but since fixed cameras don’t have a lot of moving parts, they tend to have lower cost. 

You are fixed on the field of view you want to monitor

If you know the specific areas you want to cover, fixed view models are a great choice. This makes it an ideal option for small businesses and small spaces that don’t need to cover a complicated field of view. For instance, a small retail store that only needs to monitor areas like the register, storage room and entrances or exits can benefit from using this type of security camera.

You require easy installation and maintenance

Fixed lens security cameras don’t typically come with many moving parts, making installation very straightforward. Additionally, once the bullet or dome camera is manually set in place by a security installer, you don’t have to worry about making any adjustments to the viewing angle. This relative simplicity is why many smaller facilities and businesses opt for a fixed lens camera as their indoor and outdoor security cameras.

Varifocal lens camera vs fixed lens security camera: Which should you choose?

Having commercial security cameras in place can help deter intruders and protect you and your business from physical threats. Security cameras are a critical player in physical security, and investing in the right equipment can go a long way. Now that you know the differences between varifocal security cameras and fixed lens security cameras, you can decide which is best for your organization.

Have questions? We can help

Our video security experts can help you implement the right security system for your business.