How Far Can Surveillance Camera Or Webcam See?

How Far Can Surveillance Camera Or Webcam See?

If you are wondering how far can your surveillance camera see, or you would like to know more about your webcam seeing distance then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will tell you more about the camera’s resolution, distance, and field of view (FOV).

Surveillance Camera Or Webcam seeing distance:

  • Most indoor and small outdoor cameras (webcams) see for about 10 – 30 feet
  • Larger bullet cameras for about 50 – 60 feet
  • PTZ Cameras work best in the range of 200 – 250m or 500 – 700 feet

As you can see from above, there are different types of cameras, and not all are meant for the same purpose. Of course, it is not the same thing if you would like to talk with someone over your laptop and watch over Skype, as well as high-end surveillance cameras that are here for your protection.

We will go into details about what are the ranges of security cameras, as well as how far can a webcam see, and what affects their point of view.

How Far Can Surveillance Camera See

A lot of factors come into play when you are looking at the security camera range of sight and it mostly depends on the Focal Length of the camera lens.

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a surveillance camera will be its focal length. The focal length is a measurement of the distance between the lens and the image sensor. It determines its “field of view,” which is “what the camera can see.”

Inside surveillance cameras, we encounter fixed focal lengths and variable focal lengths. A Fixed focal length surveillance camera is most commonly called a “fixed lens” camera, while the variable focal length camera is called a “varifocal lens” camera.

The focal length of a lens, measured in millimeters, is the distance from the lens’s optical center (or nodal point) to the image plane in the camera (often illustrated by a “Φ” on the top plate of a camera body) when the lens is focused at infinity.

A smaller focal lengths give a larger field of view while larger focal lengths give a smaller field of view.

To explain it a little simpler, you can think of a fixed lens camera as a “what you see is what you get,” and with a varifocal camera you are going to have the ability to adjust what the camera “can see.”

Surveillance Camera See Range

Surveillance Cameras usually can see in a range from 0 to 70 feet, depending on many factors, such as the sensor, resolution, and lens that it is using. There are also some high-end cameras, that can see much further, and their range varies from 0 to 700 feet.

If you are using a security camera for what it is supposed to be used, security, then you will have to know how much can your camera see to be able to identify the person that is nearing your home or some other place like a warehouse or similar.

Before buying your new surveillance camera, be sure to check can it identify a person’s face or registration numbers from at least 50 feet. If it can’t, its other capabilities are not so important. Go and look for another one.

What you have to know before buying your surveillance camera is the maximum distance you would like to be able to identify the person or the vehicle, and would you like it to secure a larger or smaller area.

What Affects The Line Of Sight Of Surveillance Camera

When buying your security camera, and looking at its line of sight, you have to know what affects it. So let us begin.

Field of View (FOV)

As we have talked about it above, the field of view is one of the most important things when it comes to the security camera seeing range.

If you have a large field of view, you will cover more space, but you will see fewer details because objects then appear smaller and further away.

To have the field of view you want, you have to either buy a camera with the correct focal length, or you can buy a security camera that has a varifocal lens, which allows you to adjust it.


Resolution is another factor to consider when buying a surveillance camera. There is no point in installing a security camera that has a good range but can’t identify things because of the bad resolution.

So, when buying your security camera, check its resolution, and even better, if you can, check out the taken videos with it. HD surveillance cameras are now cheaper by the day, so don’t save on that too much.

Night Vision

If you want the best security, even in the night (and who wouldn’t want that), go with a camera that has a night vision (yes, they can really see in the dark).

These types of surveillance cameras use Infrared illumination to see in the dark. There are many factors on how far can your camera see in the dark, and you can check it out with each.

If you are going for a night vision, check that it also has a Digital Noise Reduction (3D-DNR) function, which helps with better image quality in the dark.

How Far Can a Webcam See

Webcam usually see for about 10 – 30 feet

A webcam is a camera that transmits images in real-time using the World Wide Web or some other video calling program. It is a type of video camera that connects directly to a computer for the purpose of transmitting video signals over the Internet. It is mostly used for transmitting video conferences, and for establishing visual contact when talking over the Internet, or through some kind of instant messaging program.

Webcams are typically small cameras that sit on a desk, attach to a user’s monitor, or are built into the hardware. Its software enables users to record a video or stream the video on the Internet. As video streaming over the Internet requires much bandwidth, such streams usually use compressed formats.

The maximum resolution of a webcam is also lower than most handheld video cameras, as higher resolutions would be reduced during transmission. The lower resolution enables webcams to be relatively inexpensive compared to most video cameras, but the effect is adequate for video chat sessions.

Webcams can also be used as surveillance cameras, but as said above, they usually have less quality in every aspect.

In a webcam, you should look for the same things as we wrote above for the surveillance camera, and it includes the field of view, resolution, distance, frame rate, and overall quality. Usually, with web cameras, you are not so much interested in big distances, because you are using it for some video chats, youtube or something similar. If that is your case then focus on webcam resolution and frame rate.

But, if you would like to use it for security, or filming with it some larger area in the distance, then the field of view and resolutions are your two main attributes to look for.

You first have to determine what you want to use it for, what distance from the camera you need for it to record, and so on, and according to that you go and buy the best for the money that fits your needs.

It’s hard to tell exactly how far can a webcam see because it all depends on the webcam model, and they are usually not built for a big line of sight, but be more flexible for online use. We can say they have a line of sight from 10 – 30 feet.

What can you do with a webcam?

There are many things you can do with a webcam, such as:

  • Video chat
  • Webcam stills
  • Home surveillance

Video Chat

This is more or less the main reason webcams are made for (other than to spy on us, wink, wink). People have used them for video chatting for a long time, either on a computer or cell phone. In the past, Skype was the most used software for video chats, but in the last few years, people use video chats and webcams through many software and apps such as Facebook messenger, WhatsUp, Viber, and many, many more.

Webcam stills

Suppose you want to broadcast images of weather from your home town on a website and update them at regular intervals. You can do that with a webcam. You simply point the cam somewhere in your town, hook it up to your computer, and install a special piece of software.

The software captures an image from the cam every five minutes (or at some preset intervals) and copies it onto your website (or some other place) using a simple process called FTP (file transfer protocol). Every time a new image is uploaded, it replaces the previous one on your website. When people look at your site, they see the latest image that your webcam has uploaded. Most people design their cam pages so they do what’s called a “meta refresh” (automatically reload) every few minutes. That ensures they’re always showing the latest image.

Home surveillance

People are more and more interested in smart technology, and that includes smart home technology. It lets you monitor your home and control things like lighting, heating, and all sorts of appliances with smartphone apps.

There is also an aspect of home surveillance. You can use your webcam as smart technology for your home, and pretty easy make it into home surveillance cam.


  • Tristan

    Tristan has a strong interest in the intersection of artificial intelligence and creative expression. He has a background in computer science, and he enjoys exploring the ways in which AI can enhance and augment human creativity. In his writing, he often delves into the ways in which AI is being used to generate original works of fiction and poetry, as well as to analyze and understand patterns in existing texts.