7 Differences between Dome and Bullet Cameras (Simple Guide)

Overall, Video surveillance and closed-circuit TV systems have become a ubiquitous part of our everyday life.

Testament to this is the fact that they play an essential role in law enforcement and implementation of security measures in both public and private settings.

Dome vs Bullet Camera

Both dome and bullet cameras can be seen in environments from bank systems, driveways, casino monitoring to the most basic of retail stores.

And while they serve the same purpose, their facets and characteristics differ noticeably (or with some subtleties). For better context on the topic of dome vs bullet cameras, the remainder of this article will explore the:

  • Differences between dome and bullet cameras
  • Their pros and cons of bullet and dome cameras
  • The major characteristics and use cases of the two CCTV camera types.

So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

What's in this Guide?

What is Closed circuit television (CCTV)?

Before we delve further, to set the tone for our discussion, let’s define CCTV in the simplest sense. CCTV is principally a closed video system whose signal is broadcast to a limited set of monitors.

In essence, CCTV restricts access to a set group of people, for specific or defined purposes.

This is in stark contrast to traditional TV broadcasts where the signal is openly transmitted to unrestricted viewers.

CCTV signals are channeled with specialised software and cameras that come in different shapes, models and sizes. For example, bullet cameras, box cameras, indoor and outdoor domes. Or even turret cameras, covert and fisheye models, panoramic and A.I CCTV cameras.

What are Dome Cameras?

As part of the CCTV vertical, dome cameras derive their name from their circular and dome-like shape.

In essence, dome cameras are typically enclosed in a transparent protective dome that offers a discrete and sleek design.

As a result, this type of surveillance camera is generally more resistant to vandal behaviour, and can be used in either outdoor or indoor settings.

Additionally, its iconic shape and dome enclosing allows for easier monitoring at a wider angle since its lens maintains relatively good moveability.

Furthermore, they are typically equipped with varifocal lenses that deliver a variable focal length which allows users the flexibility to adjust the camera lens to a desirable distance.

Dome cameras are quite popular in busy, customer facing establishments such as hotels, restaurants, and retail stores.

What are Bullet Cameras?

In the same breadth, Bullet cameras are best defined by their shape.

Essentially, bullet cameras gained their name from their distinct long cylindrical shape (which mirrors a bullet shell or lipstick tube).

This CCTV camera type is commonly used a visible deterrent and several studies have shown that the presence of such surveillance cameras helps keep establishments less prone to crime.

These waterproof cameras are enclosed in protective casings to shield against dust and dirt. This ideally makes them perfect for outdoor installations where they are easily mountable on ceilings and walls, and thus a good starting point for people new to CCTV.

Furthermore, they are widely preferred for situations that require long-range viewing and come fitted with either fixed or varifocal lensesdepending on the use case.

What are the Pros and Cons of Dome Cameras?

Pros

  • They have an unobtrusive design, and thus can integrate into any setting in a discrete manner.
  • They have vandal-resistant features as the camera lens is highly protected.
  • They are highly durable for the long term.
  • Can capture wide-angles in a single frame.  
  • They maintain 360-degree rotation capabilities, and hence can cover all angles, thus making it difficult for intruders to determine where the camera is pointing.
  • Can be employed in both indoor and outdoor environments
  • Typically equipped with night vision capabilities from integrated IR LEDs.

Cons

  • They require more regular maintenance as they easily get dirty and accumulate dust
  • They are more difficult to reposition as they cannot pan from left to right.  In practice, despite their ability to capture wide angles, they are mostly static, and thus require repositioning to capture different fields of view).

What are the Pros and Cons of Bullet Cameras?

Pros

  • Their compact size makes for easier installation
  • Long range capabilities with high-quality image resolution
  • They are weatherproof and constitute casing that protects against glare and rain
  • Due to their shape and design, large lenses can be easily fitted into them to enhance video capture.
  • They serve an effective visible and evident deterrence to deter criminal activity.
  • They have high manoeuvrability, and thus easy to reposition. They can pan from left to right to get a better view on subjects of interest.  Depending on the model, this can be achieved manually or remotely.

Cons

  • Highly susceptible to vandalism and animal disturbances (such as birds). Essentially, their visible nature makes them an easy target for vandals and animals.
  • They are not adequately suited for monitoring locations with significant movement, like parking areas.

What are the differences between Dome and Bullet Cameras?

Housing

Dome cameras are circularly shaped in a manner that helps to conceal the direction the camera is facing. They typically come with built-in heaters and fans to counter temperature extremes and avert becoming brittle or cloudy with exposure to solar and ultraviolet radiation.

Furthermore, they are built in a spherical form with vandal-resistant hardened shells to minimize the effects of wind load and vibrations.

On the other hand, bullet cameras are constructed in long and cylindrical shape with protective casings to shield against natural elements.

Since they are mainly utilised in outdoor settings, there is no need to purchase or set up special casing. Bullet cameras are also less prone water penetration, and are significantly less prone to IR reflection off of the glass.

Installation

Generally speaking, dome cameras are marginally more challenging to install than bullet cameras. This difference comes from the fact that dome cameras must be remounted to change the field of view.

On the contrary, bullet cameras can be easily repositioned if the area to view is within the camera’s range.

Furthermore, Bullet cameras come with a mounting handle for easy installation.

While they can both be installed outdoor and indoors, bullet cameras are commonly mounted to the side of the wall while dome cameras need to be installed on a ceiling or eave which can be more challenging. This is mainly because dome cameras typically require mounting in highly visible areas.

Additionally, dome units need to be carefully installed with care to account for potential vibrations from electromechanical equipment like air conditioners.

Maneuverability

Practically, bullet and dome cameras typically maintain a fixed position.

However, bullet cameras are highly versatile and can be easily repositioned while dome cameras need to be manually ejected from the ceiling to be repositioned.  

Camera Range

Though several elements influence a camera’s range like the type of lens, sensor chips, and lines of resolution; dome cameras have smaller lenses than bullet cameras. Because of their shape and size, bullet cameras can be upgraded with larger and stronger lens.

As a result, bullet cameras are well suited for locations that requisite long-range visibility.

Cost

The difference in cost between the two camera types is somewhat negligible, though it’s noteworthy that bullet cameras are a bit more cost-efficient. This is mainly because they typically have fewer parts (camera and the mount).

While dome cameras are typically sold with more parts (camera, housing and extra parts).  

Aesthetic

In terms of aesthetic appeal, dome cameras can fit and easily camouflage into most settings. Furthermore, their dome-shape is somewhat futuristic whilst maintaining an elegant and non-obstructive feel in contrast to bullet cameras.

Durability

Notwithstanding, though both cameras are highly durable, dome cameras seem to last longer. This can mainly be attributed to the vandal-proof properties that help protect the camera itself.

Ideal Use Cases

Domes cameras are typically set up in shops, restaurants, casinos and hotels since their design allows wider angle monitoring.

They can be strategically placed to cover all angles of the room. On the other hand, bullet cameras are perfect for outdoor surveillance activities on industries, farms and residential property. The below video should help explain in a short overview:

Summary: Dome vs Bullet Cameras

All things considered, both CCTV camera types serve as reliable security force multipliers, and complement security alarms and security personnel when instituting intrusion detection measures and access control.

Since both cameras function effecively the same function, the differences highlighted during the course of this blog eventually come down to minor user semantics and preference.

A user might prefer dome cameras because of their aesthetic appeal and subtlety, while another individual might want the bullet camera’s deterrent effect and long-range capabilities.

All in all, no one-size fits all, so, as a general precaution, before purchasing consider: the number of cameras you need; the type of visibility you’ll need; your environment and potential hazards (Operating temperatures, water, bird).

For more information or guides, keep up to date with upcoming security blog posts!

Steve White

Steve White

Steve is an experienced security professional with over 20 years in security installation and consulting. He's here to help you answer your security questions.

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Steve White

Steve White

Steve is an experienced security professional with over 20 years in security installation and consulting. He's here to help you answer your security questions.

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