Common CCTV Abbreviations

Glossary of CCTV Abbreviations & Acronyms

When deciding to install a security system it quickly becomes apparent that the CCTV world is full of strange acronyms and abbreviations that you should be aware of when speaking to a local CCTV retailer or vendor. The mark of a trustworthy and quality security products supplier will be whether or not they break it down into terms that you will understand.

Acronym Definition
A/V Audio / Video
AVI Audio Video Interleave - An audio-video standard designed by Microsoft.
AES Auto Electronic Shutter - The ability of the camera to compensate for moderate light changes by adjusting the camera shutter without the use of auto iris lenses.
AGC Automatic Gain Control - this feature adjusts the brightness level of the video to keep it at a consistent level.
AWG Short for "American Wire Gauge". AWG is used to measure the diameter of solid and round electrical conduit wire. This measurement helps determine a wire's current carrying capability as well as voltage and level of resistance. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the diameter and thinner the wire.
BLC Back Light Compensation - a feature on newer CCD cameras which electronically compensates for high background lighting to give detail which would normally be silhouetted.
BNC Bayonet Nut Coupling - A commonly used connection for audio/video (A/V) applications. Uses a mount similar to the way a bayonet knife is mounted onto the end of a rifle, BNCs are used to connect a variety of different coaxial cable types. After the plug is inserted, it is turned, causing pins in the socket to be pinched into a locking groove on the plug.
CAT5 Category 5 (cable) - A type of cable that is used in networking applications.
CAT6 Category 6 (cable) - A type of cable used in networking applications for IP security systems.
CCD CCTV security cameras produce images using CMOS or CCD (Charge Couple Device) chips. CCD chips are higher quality and produce a better image than CMOS.
CMOS Complementary metal oxide semiconductor - Pronounced see-moss, CMOS is a widely used type of semiconductor.
CCTV Closed-circuit television
DVR Digital Video Recorder - A digital video recorder is basically a computer that converts the incoming (analog) signal from the cameras to digital, and compresses it, and stores it. The DVR replaces the function of a multiplexor (or quad or switcher) and a security VCR. There are many advantages of digital video recorders over their analog counterparts.
FPS Frames Per Second - in digital video applications, refers to the number of video images that can be captured, displayed, or recorded in a second. Also referred to as the 'frame rate' or 'refresh rate'.
GHZ Gigahertz
HD-CVI High Definition Composite Video Interface - A new way of sending 720P or 1080P digital resolution video over coax. Also known as HD-over-Coax. Not synonymous to HD-SDI or HD-TVI.
JPEG (or JPG) Pronounced "jay-peg" and stands for "Joint Photographic Experts Group" who designed the standard. This is a standard way of compressing images which works particularily well for photographic images (as opposed to graphic art).
MHZ Megahertz
MPEG (or MPG) Pronounced "em-peg" and stands for "Motion Picture Experts Group" who designed the standard. This is a standard way of compressing audio and video files. (It's also the technology behind the now world-famous MP3 music files.)
NTSC National Television Standards Committee - analog video standard used in North America and most of South America. See here for more info.
PAL Phase Alternating Line - predominant analog video standard used in Europe and Asia. See here for more info.
POE Power Over Ethernet - an adaptor that allows you to transmit power to a security camera through CAT5 (aka ethernet) cable.
PTZ pan-tilt-zoom - PTZ cameras allow you to adjust the position ('pan' is side-to-side, 'tilt' is up-and-down) and focus ('zoom') of the camera using a remote controller. Due to this added functionality, these cameras tend to cost much more than non-PTZ cameras
RG59 An RG-59 is a common coax cable used in CCTV applications.
RCA An RCA connector, sometimes called a phono connector or cinch connector, is a type of electrical connector commonly used to carry audio and video signals. The name "RCA" derives from the Radio Corporation of America, which introduced the design by the early 1940s to allow mono phonograph players to be connected to amplifiers.
S/N ratio signal to noise ratio; this number represents how much signal noise the camera can tolerate and still provide a good picture. The higher the number the better.
SECAM Sequential Color with Memory - analog video standard used in France and other countries. See here for more info.
VCR Videocassette recorder; an electronic device for recording and playing back video images and sound on a videocassette.

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Last Modified: June 27, 2015

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