Subscriber Discussion

Parking Lot Camera Recomendations

What camera(s) & lens would you recommend for a parking lot application?

Light level is moderate - not measured but guessing 3-5 lux

Distance of camera to area 60'

Would want as wide a field of view as possible

I've read Johns reviews and Axis Q1602/4 / Bosch's Starlight NBN-733V both seemed to do well - anyone have field experience with either?

Price is a concern as well


Undisclosed - There are a lot of cameras out there that might fit the bill, it would help if you could tell us a little more about the application, such as what are you trying to view and what level of detail is needed?

Here is an IPVM Parking Lot Shootout article from 2011 (although it has some older model cameras) that shows some different scenarios and how different cameras performed to give you some ideas.

DISCLAIMER: I am a manufacturer representative and Arecont Vision is on my linecard.

Undisclosed: I have deployed several of the surround video series Panoramic cameras in parking lots in the New York/ New Jersey area. More info on said cameras here: Arecont Panoramic cameras

Axis and Bosch offerings you mention are certainly solid offerings but I think its worth considering the AV8185DN/ AV20185DN in addition to those cameras.

Why go with the 8MP rather than the 12MP new one? Btw, I think the 20MP is a terrible idea, really poor low light performance among other things.

Because threadstarter mentioned that light level is moderate. I think we would both have to see the amount of lighting at night before we could provide definitive recommendations.

Still confused why you did not mention the 12MP at all? We have tested the 20MP version, and it's terrible even in moderate light typical of a parking lot (presuming you don't use slow shutter, etc. and blur moving subjects).

John Grocke - thanks for the link to that parking lot shootout, I hadn't seen that one before

None of the cams were great at 200' and none picked up a license plate with the tailights on, but the other tests were very definitive in terms of performance / expectations in low light evironment

Arecont AV1355DN and AV2155DN's (1.3MP/2MP) are actually not that bad, but need a lot of picture tweaking out of the box.

Sony DH160's and DH260's (1.3MP/3MP) work pretty well as an premium option.

Have installed both in a fair number of lots.

What 'tweaking' are you doing to those cameras?

Saturation, contrast and colore levels.

Undisclosed, how wide is your area? You say, 'Distance of camera to area 60'' but is it 100' wide, 300'? That's a big factor in camera selection.

I don't think you need a 'super' low light camera for this but really high resolution cameras like an Arecont 20MP are almost certainly going to produce dark / 'shadowy' images in such scenes.

I don't know about light levels but from experiance the AV20185DN's are problemtic; buggy firmware. The AV8185DN are more stable. Haven't played with the 12MP panoramics yet.

The 12MP has new imagers that I believe are the same as the new 3MP WDR ones we tested - those were impressive.

Type of lighting?

Btw, we are finalizing a color fidelity experiment with 6 cameras across LED, mercury vapor and sodium lights. It should be released in the next week or so. It will be very interesting.

I have used the Axis Q1602 camera and found it did extremly well compared to the Sarix Surevison camera. I have not tested the Bosch NBN-733v so I am unable to comment on that one. Trick is to set customer expectations correctly. The Axis being color gave some added benefit of car color which was nice.

I have used the Arecont 360 and 180 8Mp cameras and the customer was happy with the results during the day but nighttime was not very good or useful. The system is suplimented with IR cameras and a LPR system so it wasnt as much of a concern in this instance.

We also have had horrible custoemr support from Arecont in regards to this project, we received lenses that were defective ( blurry at the edges) and the next set of lenses didnt have an IR filter so all the color was off. Third set worked. Just took a 40' lift on 3 seperate occasions.

i'm glad i'm not the only one who's had what i thought were lens problems on Arecont cameras, domes that is. Sometimes i've seen inconsisten clarity.

The Q1602 is certainly strong in low light but in this case, lighting is already decent and not being MP is a significant drawback for a parking lot.

John H

From the angle the camera must be mounted - looking at approx 150' of parking lot

Given the angle - it is anticiaped only 30 - 40' of FOV will be able to get good face shots for ID purposes

The FOV will capture customer entry as well as cars / people / activity in the lot

So you mean, the total width of the shot is ~150' but the portion to capture face is 30-40'? Assuming so, this still means that we have to deal with 150' wide.

A 1080p camera (1920 horizontal pixels) over 150 feet gives 12.8 ppf (which is quite low and will give minimal details even in ideal scenarios - ppf guide). Even if you go to 5MP (~2500 horizontal pixels), the situation only improves minimally.

To me it seems that the issues in the parking lot that require cameras to observe are still unclear and therefore difficult to choose the correct hardware at this time.

As John says the AV 8 or 12MP would likely be my choice too but these cameras will only give situational awareness in low light conditions.

Are the subjects entering a business where facial recognition can be made upon entry?

Are the subjects spinning doughnuts in their vehicles or smoking dope in the corner of the lot? Perhaps a couple of 1000 Watts of additional lighting along with some dummy cameras is the answer rather than rather than 'live' cameras.

Whatever way you look at this project additional lighting will only help the situation and I'm not referring to IR's for this case. As already by another contributor, setting customer expectations should not be understated.

It makes sense when investing $4K on cameras to invest $1K on lighting. ($4K for 66% of 24h OR $5K for 100% of 24h - slam dunk!!)

Are parking lot cameras really necessary at all? I mean, everyone ( at least with a vehicle ) has insurance in the parking lot. Your customer is the only one with insurance inside the business. Installing cameras in the parking lot may increase his liability and therefore his insurance premium??

Hello Richard:

Not everyone has vehicle insurance. Even where it is required by law, there are still thousands breaking the law.

Also, establishing 'who is at fault' is a critical aspect of claims, even when insurance is involved.

Lots of bad stuff aside from vehicle accidents happen in parking lots. Slips & Falls, Assaults, and worse. Is video surveillance irrelevant to those events?

What's up Brian,

1. Generally the insured drivers policy covers accidents involving "uninsured drivers".

2. Parking lots are regarded as public places. If someone slips, falls, gets shot, flashes or whatever, how is this different than carrying on the same conduct on the street sidewalk leading to the parking lot?

Hello Richard:

1. Not exactly. For example, my personal policy only covers 'uninsured' medical damages, not property. Furthermore, this is an optional coverage and is not legally required. An uninsured moron that smashes my car literally has nothing to lose by claiming it was my fault, and I owe HIM money. Video can be a very righteous witness to crazy stuff like this.

2. Parking lots are not 'public places' as long as private enterprises pay to install, maintain, and operate them. (eg: Lakeland Man Suing Publix After Fall In Parking Lot - News - The Ledger - Lakeland, FL)

PARKING LOTS ARE PUBLIC PLACES. There is no point continuing this discussion until you accept this widely stated FACT.

"Public Place" definition - NJ

USLEGAL - 'Public Place'

Richard, the point is that private businesses have liability for actions that occur in their parking lot.

If they did not, why would all these retailers and corporations have cameras covering their parking lots? They could just say "Hey, it's a public place, go talk / sue the city."

John, my local Home Depots and Safeways, KMart and Costco to not have parking lot surveillance. To me these big box stores likely have store wide policys on such issues. In addition these busy parking lots likely experience numerous altercations of one kind or another over the course of a 12 month period.

Therefore, it would appear to me that they (big box) have chosen to deligate any liability issues on said lots to their insurance provider do deal with accordingly. Again, to me, this implies that any increase in their insurance premiums as a result of parking lot altercations, even over a 10 year period, is less than the cost of investing in security cameras for the same period.

Let's not forget that security cameras can be a double edged sword with the very people you are endeavoring to protect ending up suing your ass because they slipped on a banana skin etc. No problem have insurance and your premium still goes up due to the claim that may not have had merit without the evidence from your own camera!!!

This brings me back to: "Are parking lot cameras really necessary at all?"

Flat out, that question does not matter. Please stop debating it. The original poster is asking for cameras for a parking lot where they are requested. Whether or not anyone feels they're necessary is not the point. They have been asked for. Anymore of this debate is simply spamming the thread and is not useful.


This is a discussion not a debate. This discussion may well prove useful in the future on a personal level but has been educational for me at the present time.

I'm sorry this thread has not stayed on the course you would have liked it to but as you should be learning, not many things in life do.

We are still discussing parking lots, security, liability, camera models.

"spamming" really?? Go take the afternoon off. You need a break. Later


It seems pretty clear to me that you have not thought out your stance on parking lot surveillance. For big box retailers it makes plenty of sense. Loss prevention teams at home depot VERY frequently reference parking lot surveillance.

I'll give you an exmaple. At the home depot I worked at one summer when I was younger people would take very expensive diamond blades for the saws and stuff about 20 of them into a cardboard box of a separate product they were purchasing. Loss Prevention would watch the customer do that on surveillance, then travel up to the counter and pay for only the product that they hid the blades in. Once LP saw this, they would reference the outdoor cameras to attempt to see: A. What make and model car the thief drives. B. Try to get a license plate of said car. and C. See if they had any accomplices such as a getaway driver.

Parking lot surveillance isn't just for viewing parking lots. For retailers its another option at their disposal to eliminate shrink. I'm still in awe at the obtuse nature of your comments.

Your initial statement "Installing cameras in the parking lot may increase his liability and therefore his insurance premium??" infers the question of liability.

Parking lot liability is a matter of private enterprise. In the link I listed, and thousands more like it, a private enterprise is being sued, not 'the public'.

Your links define 'public places' for the purpose of enforcement, but do not establish liability.


Even in Oklahoma City a parking lot is considered a Public Place!

Oklahoma Municipal Ordinance

Public Place defined on Page 3 section D

"a place to which a governmental entity has title, to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access"

It is public, to the extent that the public has access to it, not that the private entity has no liability.

A shopping area / mall can be considered a public space in the same manner but that does not mean that the owner is absolved of having to implement security measures.

"An uninsured moron that smashes my car literally has nothing to lose by claiming it was my fault, and I owe HIM money."

You choose not to insure the risk of an altercation with an uninsured driver. How does this make me the parking lot owner responsible for your lack of insight and insurance coverage.

Actually, he chose to break the law (by being uninsured), which makes him criminal. Your question makes it sound like you believe victims of crime are always culpable for being victimized.

The parking lot owner can 'prove' with video that an accident didn't happen as described, or they did in fact clear snow & ice, or their employee didn't hit a patron with grocery buggies, etc...

There's plenty of financial incentive to cover parking areas with cameras. If that's your axe to grind, then IPVM isn't your platform - maybe the US Supreme Court?

DISCLAIMER: The following does not represent legal advice. As I've been advised on other strings, I am not a lawyer.

I find this legal debate (with links) over whether a parking lot is a public vs private 'place' fascinating. Fascinating in that it doesn't really matter.

Parking lots are public 'places' (i.e. no expectation of privacy) which can be owned by either public (city) entities or private (retail store) entities.

Whether or not the 'place' is publicly or privately owned is the key differentiator.

As John already pointed out, ownership places a burden on the private owner to protect their patrons. As Brian has already pointed out, this is because people will sue them if they don't at least attempt to appear as if they are trying to protect these patrons.

A mall is also a public place. But the public doesn't pay for their cameras either...

I think we'll have to agree to disagree! That said, I will install cameras on any parking lot I am asked to, without question.

In reality parking lot cameras are used for liability defense probably 95% of the time. This gives a property owner the best return on investment. I base this on years in the industry dealing with a variety of clients. IF someone claims to fall in a parking lot, the owner has little recourse. If the owner has a camera system and can show the person cutting thru the grass, hoping a fence, tripping on curbs that are not lowered for pedestrian traffic... I have witnessed them all. based on this you dont need that high of a resolution camera to catch a person falling where they are not supposed to. You do typically want to run on continous recording instead of motion, but that another debate.

Just my 2 cents from experience

You are not going to facially receognize a purse theif in a parking lot. Best case is the guy walked in the store thru a choke point and was facially recognized there.

lol I remember having to organize those grills in the front of home depot. What a frigen pain that was.

White Teens Run Over Black Man In Surveillance Video - ABC News

Video: Teens Run Over James Anderson

The surveillance video shows Anderson, 49, in the parking lot of the Metro Inn in Jackson. A group of white teens who had driven in from adjacent Rankin County in a white SUV and green pickup truck, descend on Anderson, beating him, walking back and forth between him and their cars. One can be seen pumping his fist in the air.

The teens in the white SUV drive off, leaving Anderson on the ground. That's when Dedmon, a thin blonde driving the green pickup truck, allegedly accelerates toward Anderson.

Anderson, who appears to be stumbling toward the street on the curb, disappears underneath Dedmon's car. Dedmon and his two teenage female passengers –- who were not charged -- then allegedly drove to a McDonalds to meet up with their friends.

"I ran that n****r over," Dedmon reportedly said in a phone conversation to the teens in the other car.

Metro Inn general manager Val Patel told ABC News affiliate WAPT Dedmon, "rolled the window down and laughed and danced" and took off toward the interstate.

Anderson was pronounced dead at a hospital.

"We're all shocked by the allegations. It's uncomfortable, I'm sure, for all of us to know this can happen to a random citizen," Hinds County District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith said. "There were racial slurs used throughout the turn of events which led to the conclusion that it was most likely a hate crime."