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How Do You Use a Video Camera as a Security Camera?

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/13/2010

If you have an old video camera, which you don’t put to much use, you could turn it into a surveillance camera. How do you use a video camera as a security camera to obtain superb-quality video footage? Follow these quick and easy tips.

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    Now, why would you want to use a video camera as a security camera when you can easily install an inexpensive surveillance video camera?

    The first reason could be that you would have spent quite a fortune on your video camera which is most probably of the analog variety or a first generation mini DV. Since you have switched to a digital or HD camera, you don’t want your earlier investment to go to waste and want to put it to good use as a security camera.

    Secondly, the latest security camera can’t challenge the superior optics and low-light performance of dedicated video cameras. You may want to capture superior surveillance video which would make a big difference when you put it to use for legal purposes.

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    Major Problem

    You can easily configure your camcorder as a security camera with regards to connections and video capture. There’s a major problem to contend with though.

    If you’re a camcorder owner, you would know that when a camcorder is in the camera mode, it goes into the auto turn off mode after a few minutes if you’re not recording. What this means is to keep you camcorder on in the camera mode, you would have to be recording video onto a tape. A security camera would need to be in the camera mode all day long. Your camcorder is virtually worthless as a security camera if it turns off automatically after a few minutes.

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    How do you overcome the auto off problem? One easy way to get your camcorder to be constantly in the camera mode is to leave the tape door open. This is not a guarantee, however. The `tape door open’ solution isn’t going to work with all video cameras.

    The auto off feature of your camcorder is built into your camcorder’s firmware. If you still want to use your camcorder as a security camera, you would need to send your camcorder to a qualified camcorder service personnel to modify the firmware so that your camcorder would always stay on in camera mode until you switch it off.

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    Sony Camcorder Option: PowerPod-LANC

    If you have a Sony camcorder with a LANC connection, you don’t have to go through the hassle of modifying your camcorder’s firmware to make it work as a security camera.

    You could go for PowerPod-LANC, a hardware/software package which turns your Sony (LANC) camcorder into a sophisticated security camera.

    PowerPod-LANC comes in the form of a motorized base on which you would mount your camcorder. It provides for easy panning and tilting which you control through your computer with the help of the bundled software. It connects to your PC via a USB port.

    PowerPod-LANC works with Windows and you would need a FireWire port to connect it to your camcorder. If yours is an analog camera, you would need a capture card.

    Its software allows you to have remote access to your camcorder via the Internet. This means you can pan, tilt or zoom you camcorder from anywhere in the world via the Internet.

    PowerPod-LANC also supports non-Sony camcorders, especially Canon models which have LANC connection. To check whether your camcorder is covered, visit the developer’s website.

    At the time of writing, the PowerPod-LANC package would set you back by $189.99, but if high-resolution video footage coupled with remote access is what you’re after, you would gladly whip out your credit card for it.