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Tips on How to Use and Buy CCTV's

Basic Features of CCTVs

"A closed-circuit television (CCTV) system uses a stand-mounted or hand-held video camera to project a magnified image onto a video monitor or a television (TV) screen" (From AFB). A CCTV includes the following basic features:

  • video camera with zoom lens (hand-held or stand)
  • monitor or television (attached camera or external)
  • provide enlarged image of material under camera
  • magnification range of 2X to 60X+
  • switchable polarity (black text/white background or white text/black background)
  • controls for focus, magnification, brightness, contrast
  • X-Y viewing table for easy material movement
  • variety of monitor sizes (5 inches to 20+ inches)

Advanced Features of CCTVs

  • black and white camera with color monitor (allows user selectable foreground and background colors)
  • color camera with color monitor (view full color enlarged images)
  • controls for foreground and background color, split image, color or b/w presentation
  • line markers or windowing (horizontal and/or vertical screen masking that provides a user selectable viewing window for reading)
  • motorized viewing table


Types of CCTVs


Information Links


Links to Manufactures: Desktop and Portable


Scanner Based Text Magnifiers Links

  • SIght and Sound Technology - scanner based reading systems, other low-vision products.
  • JBliss Imaging Systems - the Versatile Image Processor, computer based scanning solution for text magnification. Can also read the information back to you.
  • AiSquared, scanner based text magnification, ZoomText.


Other Devices

  • OVAC 600 - head mounted CCTV (search the page for OVAC 600)

Questions for Choosing CCTVs

This form is followed by questions. Use the form to determine your needs first. Then evaluate various brands and types of CCTVS. Find the CCTV which is the closest match to your needs.

CCTV Feature Requirements #1__________ #2___________ #3__________
magnification range        
screen size        
camera (b/w or color)        
color monitor (y/n)        
polarity (y/n)        
X-Y table (y/n)        
portable (weight)        
windowing (hor/vert)        
adjustable monitor height        
tilt monitor        
lighting type        
split screen (hor/vert)        
inline (y/n)        
use with computer (y/n)        
change foreground - background colors        
use with computer        

1. What is the magnification range?
2. What is the range of screen size?
3. Is the camera color or black and white?
4. Is it a color monitor?
5. Does is support polarity of the screen image?
6. Does it allow for windowing (horizontal and/or vertical)?
7. Does it have an X/Y table?
8. Does it have adjustable monitor height?
9. Does it have a tilt monitor?
10. Which type of lighting is used (fluorescent or incandescent)?
11. What kind of camera is used?
12. Does it support split screen (horizontal and/or vertical)?
13. What is the size and weight of the system?
14. Is it an inline system?
15. Will the CCTV accept video input from a computer?
16. Can the foreground and background colors be changed?

CCTV Curriculum and Assessment

Created by Jim Allan, TSBVI