A critical debate amongst surveillance professionals is how high should cameras be mounted. The higher the camera is mounted, the less likely it is to be vandalized, stolen or obstructed. But the higher it is mounted, the more likely image quality suffers as the angle of incident steepens (as shown to the right).
The recommendations vary tremendously. Many say never to mount cameras less than 12 to 14' off the ground (4+ meters). Others say, the camera needs to be as close to human height as possible to get full facial details.
In this report, we put these two competing positions to the test with a series of experiments.
We mounted a camera to an extended pole on our test rig, allowing us to adjust camera height from 17' to 5', as shown below:
We then positioned a subject at short, mid, and long ranges, in order to see the difference mounting height and resulting angle of incidence made in details captured.
Moreover, we did tests with a subject looking straight ahead as well as walking with their head tilted down, since many people naturally do so, or worse, try to avoid their face being captured on camera.
The report answers the following questions:
- For a subject 6', 24' and 48' from a camera, what is the maximum height a camera can be mounted while delivering clear facial details?
- How much of a practical difference does a person looking downward have in selecting optimal camera height?
- What is the maximum downtilt of a camera that allows a complete face to be captured?
- What does a subject look like from different camera heights at the same position?