Installing surveillance cameras is the most effective way to keep your home safe. When choosing a home security camera, you will be faced up with 2 options due to different lenses: fixed lens, and varifocal lens. What is a varifocal security camera? How do you select between a varifocal lens and a fixed lens? How does a varifocal lens increase the effectiveness of your home security system?

What is a varifocal lens? 

A varifocal lens is a camera lens with an adjustable focal length which changes as the focal length changes. These are effective due to autofocus, and because the camera processor can automatically adjust the lens to keep it in focus while changing focal length (“zooming”) making operation practically indistinguishable from a par focal zoom.

 Varifocal and Fixed Lens

How does a Varifocal Security Cameras Work

Varifocal lens security cameras are security cameras with lenses where you can adjust the zoom so that you can focus on objects that are close or far away.  Some types of varifocal lenses have a manually adjustable zoom. Once you have the camera positioned in the right place outside your house, you can adjust it so that it takes up a big enough area but also lets you see detailed images.  Some varifocal lenses change focus automatically, responding to the motion and images that are within their view.

When to Use a Varifocal Camera: Varifocal Security Camera Advantages

What are the advantages of Varifocal cameras? Which one is better: Varifocal or Fixed lens camera? For a fixed lens camera, it causes more trouble to reinstall the camera for a fitting with a tight field of view. Comparatively, it can be a good idea to buy a security camera with a varifocal lens if you are not sure of the exact size of the area you need to film and display clearly. Varifocal security cameras have many advantages, including:

Adjustable Installation Options

Unlike a fixed lens camera, a varifocal security camera provides you more freedom and adaptability when selecting installation points.  Outdoor security cameras with varifocal lenses let you monitor large outdoor areas like the front yard, backyard, and parking lots. Setting up varifocal security cameras at front doors can cover a wide area in front of your house. Varifocal cameras used for business are usually seen in warehouses to protect properties.

A more advanced type – PTZ camera, not only allows for changing the field of view but also enables horizontal and vertical rotation. So, you do not miss a single detail of any area.

High-Quality Videos/Images Captured

Another advantage of varifocal surveillance cameras for homes is that they can modify the focal length to change the field of view. You can zoom in to get a closer look, or you can zoom out to capture a wider picture, all whilst keeping your image quality. The images will remain at the quality of the MP of the camera, regardless of zoom length. For example, if you are zoomed in fully with a 4MP HD camera, the quality will still be the same as when you are zoomed out.

Less Installation Cost

If you would like to capture various angles of view with a fixed lens camera, you will have to reinstall it and change the location. Reinstalling processes include relocating, drilling, and wiring. This costs you extra time, money, and energy in the long run. A varifocal lens security camera can help clear the headache of constant reinstallation. If the varifocal camera has Wi-Fi or PoE enabled, the installation process could be even easier.

What is a fixed lens camera?

These cameras come with a pre-configured lens which gives you a fixed field of view. These come with a few if any moving parts. This makes fixed view cameras provide a simple installation.

Their relative simplicity and competitive prices make fixed lens cameras popular for homes and small businesses, they are also very effective for general surveillance.

When to Use a Fixed Lens Camera: Fixed Lens Security Camera Advantages

When money is tight (It is cost-effective)

Due to their simplicity and lack of moving parts, fixed view cameras are the most cost-effective on the market.

When you are satisfied with an overview

If you are looking for general surveillance, fixed view models are perfect for you. You can choose a camera that will give you the closest match to the scene you want to observe and monitor.

Quick and easy install

The lack of moving parts makes the installation very easy. There is no need to adjust the focal length or angle of view, just point the camera in the right location. This makes fixed view lens cameras perfect for smaller businesses.

FIXED LENS: Pros and Cons


More affordable and cheaper cameras

Digital zoom without cropping the video

HD quality rivals some varifocals

Little to no setup time (the least waste of time)

Perfect for smaller areas


More and higher installation costs

Limited detail after a certain zoom level (pictures may be pixelated or choppy)

No flexibility when it comes to changing the FOV

Less effective in large areas



Lower installation cost

Optical zoom adjustment (manual)

Greater adaptability/flexibility

Great for focusing on one area


More expensive cameras

Manual testing and adjusting zooms

Longer setup time

More cameras to remove dead zones

Varifocal Lenses VS Fixed Lenses

The main difference between a varifocal and a fixed lens is that the former can zoom in and out, but the latter cannot. So, varifocal security cameras usually see a larger field of view, while surveillance cameras with fixed lenses only have a limited viewing angle.

A fixed lens is set to focus on objects at a certain distance, and it cannot be modified and adjusted. It is like those disposable cameras you used to take on school field trips in middle school, where you cannot adjust the zoom. Many security cameras use fixed lenses, as it is useful to have the camera focusing on the same area of the house.  If your camera has the right lens to help you see in detail, and what is happening (on your driveway for example), then it is the right lens for that intention and purpose.

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