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Cheap vs Expensive Cameras: The True Cost of Cheap Security

March 26, 2024

Mammoth Takeaways

  • When safety and asset protection are on the line, only consider products and features that can reliably meet your real security needs.
  • Using cheap security cameras for business surveillance poses risks such as poor image quality, lack of durability, potential NDAA non-compliance, and reliability issues.
  • Steer clear of Chinese cameras to avoid jeopardizing security or ending up with an obsolete system whose components can no longer be sold in the U.S.

With nearly $500 billion worth of losses and damages caused by property crimes in the U.S. annually, security cameras are a smart investment for all U.S. businesses and organizations.

That said, not all security cameras are equal. Cameras with cheap lenses, cheap software, and other cheap parts generally provide inferior footage and low reliability. Even worse, some of the “best deals” in the security market come from camera manufacturers that the U.S. Congress has identified as national security threats and could ban at any moment.

So, what's the real cost of going cheap?

Let's dive in and explore why cutting corners on your security system might be a decision you'll live to regret, and how investing in high-quality options could be the best decision you'll ever make.

The True Costs of Going Cheap

First off, let's talk turkey.

Opting for cheaper security cameras might seem like a savvy business move in the short term. After all, cutting costs is always a priority, right?

But here's the problem: when it comes to security, what you save in dollars, you often lose in quality and functionality.

Poor Image Quality

footage from a cheap camera

Cheap cameras tend to offer lower video resolutions, which means they produce grainier, less detailed images.

Imagine trying to identify a trespasser or a vehicle involved in a break-in only to find that the footage is too blurry to make out any distinguishing features.

It's like trying to read a book with half the pages torn out—frustrating, and you’ll miss crucial context and details.

Poor Manufacturing

Lower-end cameras often lack the durability and reliability of their pricier counterparts.

They might fail in extreme weather conditions or simply stop working much sooner than expected.

NDAA Non-Compliance

Opting for cheaper security cameras often leads to NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) non-compliance, particularly with devices originating from China or containing Chinese-made components.

During Russia's invasion of Ukraine, China-allied Russia exploited backdoors in Chinese-made Hikvision security cameras to launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks inside Ukraine, crippling Ukrainian Internet servers and power grids to aid Russia’s military advancements.

As a result, the NDAA now sets strict standards to prevent the installation of Chinese security equipment in U.S. government sites and government-funded installations.

Cameras must undergo a thorough vetting process to ensure no components or software are sourced from banned companies to comply with the updated NDAA standards.

NDAA non-compliance not only affects surveillance installations in government buildings and projects but also poses a stark financial risk to purchasers: Chinese cameras may become obsolete overnight if outright banned by the U.S. government.

The Advantages of Investing More

Now, let's flip the script and consider the benefits of investing in higher-quality security cameras.

Image Quality

First and foremost, more expensive cameras tend to deliver superior image quality. We're talking crystal-clear images—even in low-light conditions.

This clarity is crucial when identifying individuals or reading license plates.

Advanced Features

Higher-end cameras come with advanced features like wider viewing angles, video analytics, and smart search.

These and other advanced features make a huge difference when it comes to monitoring large areas, tracking suspicious activities, and making sure nothing relevant slips through the cracks.


Relatively expensive cameras are usually more durable than their cheaper counterparts.

They're designed to withstand harsh weather, tampering, and wear and tear—keeping your investment protected over the long haul.

This durability means fewer replacements, less downtime, and more consistent security coverage, which in turn means saving money over the long haul.

Are Cheaper Cameras Better?

Cheaper Is Not Better

While the temptation to save a few bucks is understandable, there are better areas to cut corners than your security infrastructure.

Save money by switching to store-brand products in the break room or by firing the landscaping team.

Heck, fire your CEO and board and replace them all with remote workers in Thailand.

Just be sure to keep those cost-cutting scissors far, far away from your security.

OK—Sometimes Cheaper is Better

There’s a big difference between choosing low-quality products to save money and leveraging product knowledge and expertise to intelligently mix and match devices for all the features and functionalities you need at a fraction of the typical price.

While cutting security costs without thinking through the risks is a very bad idea, our team at Mammoth Security knows the ins and outs of commercial-grade surveillance so well that we can help you save money without sacrificing the functionalities of the high-quality devices we install.

In fact, we love surprising our customers with cutting-edge, future-proof installations at jaw-droppingly modest prices.

Best Practices for Choosing the Right Security Cameras

So, how do you make sure you're choosing the right cameras for your business? Here are a few tips:

Assess your needs

Consider the size of the area you need to monitor, the typical lighting conditions, and any specific threats you're facing. This will help you determine the features you need in a camera.

Do your homework

Research different security camera types and brands. Look for cameras that are rated highly for image quality and reliability—and be very wary of products made in China or containing Chinese-made components.

Think long-term

Remember that your security system is an investment in your business's safety and reputation. Opting for quality over cost can save you money and headaches in the long run.

Consult with professionals

If you're unsure about the right cameras for your surveillance system, don't hesitate to reach out to security experts like those on our team at Mammoth Security. We provide valuable insights and can help you select the right camera for your needs, no matter the size or complexity of your site.

Trust Mammoth for Effective Security at an Honest Price

Trust Mammoth for Effective Security at an Honest Price

With our deep-rooted expertise and commitment to quality, the team at Mammoth Security understands the critical role of reliable, high-resolution surveillance for business security.

So, if you're pondering the leap from cheap to quality—or if you have any other questions about securing your business—don't hesitate to reach out to our team. Whether it's cameras, access control systems, alarms, or structured cabling, we've got the know-how to ensure your business is protected with the best the security industry has to offer.

Want even more good news?

We’re currently offering zero-obligation, 100% FREE site surveys, and security assessments to businesses in our service area. Just give us a call or click and fill out the contact form to arrange your complimentary site walk and consultation with a friendly expert from our team.




NDAA compliance is a smart safeguard against potential backdoors and other cybersecurity threats from hostile nations like China, Russia, and Iran. While NDAA compliance is currently only required for U.S. government and federally funded camera installations, it is nevertheless strongly recommended for non-governmental installations due to security concerns and the risk of lost investment in the event of more comprehensive bans in the future.

Businesses can ensure they choose the right security cameras by assessing their needs, researching camera types and brands, thinking long-term about their security investment, and consulting with security experts like those on the team at Mammoth Security.

Businesses should consider Mammoth Security for their surveillance needs due to their expertise, commitment to quality, and ability to provide high-resolution, reliable security systems at fair prices.

The significance of NDAA non-compliance in security camera systems lies in the legal and security risks posed, including the potential for banned Chinese components to compromise U.S. national security or become obsolete and irreparable after the next routine NDAA update.

Businesses should assess their surveillance needs, avoid cameras manufactured in or containing components from banned companies, prioritize long-term security investments, and consult with experienced professionals like those at Mammoth to choose the right cameras.

Mammoth Security helps businesses save money without sacrificing security camera quality by intelligently mixing, matching, and integrating devices to provide all desired camera features and functionalities at a fraction of the usual price.



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