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Figure 2 - Camera connections for power, ground and audio
Figure 2 - Camera connections for power, ground and audio

Security cameras and micro spy cameras will have a connection point for DC (direct current) power and a video output, and some will have an audio output or several control lines for onboard features such as gain, color, text overlay, and lens control. The most basic cameras you will probably work with most often will have only power and video connectors, or simply include three wires coming out of the tiny enclosure. The tiny board cameras with three wires will usually follow a simply color scheme of black or green = ground, red = positive power, and white, yellow or brown = composite video output. Of course, it is always a good idea to check the manual for polarity and voltage before making any guesses.

The camera in the left of Figure 2 is quite advanced, having a built in on screen display system, many internal function parameters, lens control, and audio. This camera is somewhat large, so it has many buttons on the back side, audio and video jacks, DC power jack, and a special connector to control a motorized lens. The basic low lux micro camera on the right of Figure 2 only has a tiny connector with a three wire cable to allow power, ground, and video output connections. We will discuss lux later in this section. The large camera is great for daytime long range imaging where color quality is important and the tiny camera is perfect for extremely low light or infrared night vision imaging in a stealthy location.



Figure 3 - Large cameras with removable lenses have C or CS mounts
Figure 3 - Large cameras with removable lenses have C or CS mounts

Larger security cameras designed to be used with higher quality interchangeable lenses like the one shown in Figure 3 will usually have a C or CS type mount. C-mount lenses provide a male thread which mates with a female thread on the camera. The thread is nominally 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter, with 32 threads per inch. A CS lens has a flange focal distance of 12.526 millimeters (0.4931 in), and is otherwise identical to the C-mount. Some camera bodies have a smaller lens mount and will often come with an adapter to allow the attachment of C or CS lenses, although some focal range may be lost. The camera shown in Figure 3 has been fitted with a C mount adapter.

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