Dome vs. Turret Cameras: Which Is Better For You?

Two of the most popular security cameras on the market today are dome and turret cameras. Both camera types can be used for CCTV (closed-circuit television) or IP (Internet Protocol) video surveillance, but they're designed to meet different security footage needs. Let’s compare their strengths and weaknesses and walk through the core questions to ask before choosing one camera type over the other.

What Is a Dome Camera?

Dome Camera Image

Dome security cameras are named for the dome shape of their protective housings. These housings let them blend into background environments far more easily than other camera types and also make them more resistant to vandalism.

Dome cameras also stand out from most types of cameras because their lenses and image sensors are designed to capture near-panoramic footage of large areas in a single shot.

Despite having a lot to offer, a dome camera has a few significant downsides. Its compact form prevents expansion between its lens and image sensor from capturing clear footage of distant objects (optical zoom), and its protective casings make them vulnerable to glare effects and night vision complications, such as IR (infrared light) bounce back.

What Is a Turret Camera?

Turret Camera Image

Turret security cameras are named after the armored turrets on military tanks because they can be rotated freely within their socket-like mounts.

While their lack of a protective dome shell makes turrets less vandal-resistant than dome cameras, they make up for it with their ability to capture clear, high-definition, or high-resolution footage of objects both up close and at a distance.

And thanks to their ball-and-socket design, turrets also happen to be the easiest camera type to manually aim and reposition after installation.

Turret vs. Dome Cameras: Which is Better?

Do you need high-quality night vision surveillance?

Simply put, a turret camera has better night vision than a dome camera. This is because a turret camera’s lens and the image sensor are not behind an extra layer of protective glass. The glass of a dome camera’s housing can result in challenges like IR bounceback at night, especially if the dome's anti-glare mechanism is warped by changes in the weather.

The very best turret cameras for nighttime security have special EXIR (Extended Infrared) capabilities. EXIR night vision turret models are designed with separate windows for their lenses and IR LED lights. The result? Superior, crisp night vision.

Do you need clear images and video surveillance from a distance?

Most dome cameras are great for collecting nearly panoramic images and video. The tradeoff for this width of vision is less definition when surveilling objects that are farther away.

Most turrets, on the other hand, have optical zoom capabilities, which means they can be adjusted to capture clear footage of objects both nearby and at relatively far distances. This optical zoom feature is especially helpful in situations where close-up images of suspect faces or license plates are needed.

Do you need video surveillance outdoors?

Camera Installed outside

While both dome and turret security cameras can be installed outdoors, dome cameras are often favored because their compact shape and size make them unlikely to gather spiderwebs or attract nesting birds—issues that sometimes come up with outdoor turret cameras.

A dome camera's glass housing, if properly installed, can also help to prevent its internal components from being damaged by the elements. In fact, outdoor dome cameras often provide the highest protection against inclement weather events.

That said, even when installed correctly, some outdoor dome cameras are prone to issues like condensation collecting within their housings—a complication that results in blurry surveillance footage.

Regardless of the camera type you select for outdoor use, you should always check the manufacturer’s IP (Ingress Protection) rating to make sure it’s adequately weatherproof for your environment.

Ingress Protection ratings signify a camera model’s ability to prevent solids like dust and liquids like rainwater from entering the camera. The very highest IP rating available for security cameras is IP68, with the first number signifying resistance to solids and the second number signifying resistance to liquids.

Is vandalism an issue?

Camera Installed at parking

One of the many benefits of outdoor dome security cameras is their extra resistance to vandalism. Because the camera lens is protected behind a dome housing, vandals are unable to readjust its viewing angle—a maneuver intruders have successfully attempted with turrets and other camera types.

In parking lots and similar areas with expected or repeated vandalism, specialized "vandal-proof" dome camera models are a smart investment. They earn a rating of IK10 for their resistance to physical force, the highest rating possible for vandal-resistant security cameras on the market.

Do you have an overhang near your outdoor surveillance area?

Whether indoors or outdoors, turret cameras can be mounted vertically on poles and walls, upside-down on ceilings and overhangs, or at an angle. The installation of an outdoor dome camera is a trickier matter.

Outdoor dome cameras, unless they feature a visor-like shelter component, should always be installed upside-down to prevent water from pooling above their seals, freezing, and causing damage.

Before deciding to use an outdoor dome camera to cover a vulnerable location, make sure that there's an eave, soffit, or other overhangs nearby or that the model you are using has a visor-like shelter.

Do you need a discreet camera, so people won’t feel surveilled?

The small size and obscuring cover of most dome security cameras allow them to blend in with their environments much more easily than their turret counterparts. Simply put, a small glass dome can easily fit in with most interior designs.

If you're looking for extra discretion, consider installing new mini dome cameras, which are small enough to fit in the palm of a child's hand.

While domes don't provide the same deterrent effect as turret cameras, they allow for a more customer-friendly surveillance environment. It can be off-putting to shop while a turret camera (or an even more aggressive bullet camera) is pointing at you, so the subtlety of a compact glass dome that doesn't even look like a camera is a great choice if you want to keep customers at ease.

Do you want a camera with a strong deterrent effect?

Camera Installed at exit

Turret cameras are a better option than domes if you want people to know that they’re being surveilled. A turret camera’s deterrent effect in and of itself adds security value, which is why they’re commonly found in retail stores where shoplifting is a recurring problem.

And while obvious surveillance can be off-putting in some environments, there are many settings where a noticeable IP camera or CCTV camera system can make people feel safer.

Turret vs. Dome: Choosing the Right Security Cameras for Your Property

When planning the installation of surveillance cameras for your CCTV or IP security system, it's necessary to learn about the various types of security cameras available and how each type might meet the specific footage requirements in each area you need to surveil.

Do you need a security camera with clear, reliable night vision? - Turret

Or is resistance to vandalism more important than night vision? - Dome

Do you need a camera that people are likely to notice? - Turret

Or a camera that can blend into your décor and be forgotten? - Dome

If you need outdoor footage, do you have eaves or other overhangs near the location you'll surveil (necessary for outdoor dome installations)?

Most importantly, ask yourself if you need easy angle adjustment and a great zoom range with turret cameras or a camera lens designed to capture nearly panoramic angles of view with dome cameras.

Mammoth Security and Your Surveillance Options

Mammoth Security team

While dome and turret security cameras are available in many models with specialized features, understanding their core differences and comparing them to each other and even more camera types will set you on the right path for wise video surveillance investments.

At Mammoth Security, our team has the experience and know-how to help you select the right type of camera for each area you need to surveil, and we know how to install those cameras for successful coverage and long-lasting reliability.

For assistance with your commercial security needs, just fill out the quick form at the bottom of this page. We’ll reach out to arrange your 100% free, zero-obligation site survey and security consultation with a friendly and knowledgeable member of our team.