Can I Use a DSLR for Home Security?

In the days of 4K home security, it isn’t often that poor picture quality hinders you if there’s an incident at your home. These days, if someone walks up to your front door, you’ll likely get a crisp and clear image sent to your phone almost as soon as it happens.

However, poor picture quality has been a problem within the home security industry, leading to some people improvising with their kit. A DSLR camera will almost always capture the best images possible, but they can’t possibly be adapted for home security purposes, can they?

If you have a DSLR you wish to repurpose or would like to buy one for home security and general photography, then it is possible. In this article, we look at how a DSLR camera can be used for home security for those inclined to do so.

The Right Camera

If you wish to use a DSLR camera for your home security, selecting the right piece of kit is important. There are many different models and brands when it comes to DSLR cameras; some would be over-specified. For instance, a Canon EOS 1DX is a great camera, but at $6,500, it would be more attractive to a potential thief than anything in your home, and you could instal a state-of-the-art home security system for the same price.

If you wish to adapt a DSLR camera for home security, then something like a Canon 400D would be about right – a used body shouldn’t set you back more than $200, and the camera could be used for something other than home security, such as family pictures if you wished. Remember, whilst there are better bespoke options out there, repurposing a kit such as a DSLR is a hobbyist project useful in certain situations rather than the perfect solution.

Used as a Webcam

The first way you could use a DSLR for home security would be as a webcam, beaming live pictures from your home to a streaming service. This would work much like a typical home camera, streaming live pictures from your home to a website or third-party app for you to monitor.

There are guides to setting up a DSLR for streaming, but as a starter, you’ll need a camera, HDMI capture device, tripod and a power kit to ensure your battery doesn’t run out. You could also stream sound using a USB microphone, and if you set up a streaming service such as Stream Yard, you could see live pictures from your home wherever you went. You could also record the images, and they’d be saved on the third-party site, not the camera, so even destruction of the hardware wouldn’t result in lost images.

Used to Capture Still Images

You could use your DSLR to capture still pictures as well. This is a simple process, but you’d need to explore DSLR power supply options to find one which would be ideal, as you’d likely have your camera turned on for prolonged periods. You’d also need a motion sensor for your camera, and depending on where you wish to set up, you might also need a tripod or mount.

The concept is much the same as it is for wildlife photography, where a camera can be set up and left to capture creatures in the wild. You could even rig up a range of camera flashes to light up your scene if you’re hoping to cover an area in poor light.

Pros and Cons of DSLR Security

There are obvious drawbacks to using a DSLR for home security. For instance, a camera is unlikely to be fully weatherproof without a hood of some description, and the camera is valuable in itself, making it a target for criminals entering your home.

However, the picture quality is likely to be second to none, and there’s some degree of flexibility in terms of lenses. In theory, so could set a remote trigger at the gate of your home but have a lens zooming in from inside the house focused on the home entrance. There are advantages to using a DSLR as an internal security camera via a webcam, especially the ability to link to a streaming provider and immediately ‘go live’ if a situation arises.

There’s no doubt that in terms of accessibility and affordability, there are cheaper home security systems out there, but for a photographer or hobbyist, a DSLR home security setup is certainly something you could consider.