What is a Bullet Camera?

Published on August 31, 2018 by Matt Garnham in Blog Posts on Security Cameras

What is a Bullet Camera?

Orange Security CamerasA bullet camera is a security camera in a cylindrical shaped body with one of many different mounting bracket styles. They can typically be installed on ceilings, walls and if you buy from us, anything in between!

They are generally weatherproof e.g. IP66 rating. This contributes to the flexibility of the camera design. Bullet cams are one of our best selling types of surveillance cameras (alongside Open Dome Turret Cameras) due to this great flexibility.

Bullet Cameras are instantly recognized as security cameras all around the world. This makes them a great deterrent also.

Where does it get it’s Name From?

Originally this type of camera got it’s name from the style of camera looking like a rifle shell casing. Bullet cameras are also referred to as lipstick cameras.

Advantages of Orange Security Bullet Cameras

Orange Security Bullet Cameras

  • Great for use outside
  • Bullet Cams are one of the easiest cameras to install
  • Installed on virtually any mounting surface
  • Long range varifocal lenses (6-22mm and 5-50mm) allow identification at huge ranges (over 200 feet)
  • Cable management bracket gives a quick and easy way to have hidden cabling
  • The adjustable cowling (as per Orange Security cameras) helps with glare from the sun and protection from the rain giving you even more flexibility

Disadvantages of Bullet Cameras

  • They are more open to vandalism. Unlike our open dome turret cameras or traditional vandal dome cameras, bullet cameras are not vandal resistant and if someone really tries to change the direction of the camera, it is possible
  • A bullet cam is a pretty large piece of equipment – some people prefer a dome style camera as it is more discrete
  • It is obvious where the camera is directed so it is possible to approach from behind the camera

Different Types of Bullet Cameras

There are 2 main choices when it comes to selecting bullet cameras. 1) Whether you have IR illumination or not 2) Fixed or Varifocal Zoom Lens.

IR Illumination

The first choice is whether the bullet camera is to have on-board infra red illumination. IR LEDs allow the camera to see in total darkness. This is great when used outside as the camera can see at night when there are no other sources of light. This also enables the cameras to be used inside when all lights are turned off.

All bullet cameras that are sold here at Orange Security feature on-board IR illumination. This is what most customers want. We do have an option of disabling the on-board IR illumination. We are more than happy to do this for you, however it is only for when the camera is used in very specific purposes.

Fixed Lens vs Varifocal Lens

This is the most important decision you will make when purchasing security cameras. So much so, that every day we work closely with our customers to ensure they get the right lens option for them!

Orange Security Cameras Orange Security Cameras
Bullet Camera with a Fixed Lens Bullet Camera with a Varifocal Lens

The varifocal lens option gives you the ability to adjust the zoom and focus of the camera. You can zoom the camera in and out giving you greater flexibility of where you position the camera and at what point you are going to be able to identify a person.

We always recommend the varifocal lens options, however the budget doesn’t always stretch that far. For these customers we supply a range of fixed lens cameras. The only difference is the lens – the internal electronics are the same so you can still expect to get the great high definition camera image you have come to expect from us.

The table below shows which lens is best used depending on required distance. I have included links to each product if you want to check them out.

Type Fixed Lenses Varifocal Lenses
Lens Focal Length 3.6mm 8mm 2.8-12mm 6-22mm 5-50mm
Lens Angle of View 94° 42° 103° – 30° 43° – 16° 52° – 7°
Max Identification Distance up to 20 feet up to 40 feet up to 50 feet up to 80 feet up to 230 feet
Product Link Bullet Camera with 3.6mm Fixed Lens Bullet Camera with 8mm Fixed Lens Bullet Camera with 2.8-12mm Varifocal Lens Bullet Camera with 6-22mm Varifocal Lens Bullet Camera with 5-50mm Varifocal Lens

Mounting Bracket

Orange Security Bullet Camera Bracket ExampleThe mounting bracket of all our bullet cameras have full 3 axis movement. Most bullet cameras can move left and right, up and down. Where the Orange Security Bullet Cameras are different is they also have a horizon rotation axis. Very important as this allows you to get the horizon level. This animated image shows how just one axis of movement (up and down).

The animation is of a bullet camera with a varifocal lens, however the bullet camera with a fixed lens works in the same way…just smaller!

Varifocal Lens Adjustment

Orange Security Bullet Camera Zoom Focus AdjustersThe 3 models of bullet cameras that we supply with varifocal zoom lenses are manually adjusted.

To make these adjustments, you need a large flat-blade screwdriver.

Remove the weatherproof caps from the underside of the bullet cam. Take the screwdriver and make adjustments to the zoom and focus. It’s easier to make many smaller adjustments alternating between the zoom and focus as opposed to one big movement.

Watch the image from the camera and see how the image changes until you are happy.

Bullet Camera Cowling

Bullet Camera CowlingThe cowling is quite an important part of a bullet camera. This part serves two purposes. First, it helps shade the front of the camera from and second it helps keep rain off the front of the camera.

You need to be careful with the cowling – too far forward and at night it will interfere with the image. If you extend the cowling too far forward, the infra red illumination will reflect off this cowling back into the lens and render the image useless.

For the varifocal lens camera, the back of the cowling should be about in line with the back of the camera (as shown in the photo here).

For the fixed lens camera, you can position the cowling anywhere with the adjustment available using the screws.

Different Parts of a Bullet Camera

These are the different parts that make up a bullet camera. The camera that is shown here is our Bullet Camera with 5-50mm Long Range Lens.
Orange Security Bullet Cameras

  1. This is the lens of the camera. For bullet cameras this can either be a fixed or an varifocal lens.
  2. This is the Infra Red (IR) LED array. This allows the camera to see in total darkness either outside at night or inside with all the lights off. All our bullet cameras feature next-gen LEDs for IR illumination
  3. This particular camera is fitted with a varifocal zoom lens. The zoom and focus of this lens can be adjusted using the 2 adjusters indicated here
  4. This is the cowling of the camera. All bullet cameras that we sell here at Orange Security have a cowling that helps to reduce glare from the sun and can also keep rain away from the lens. Be careful not to move this too far forward – if you do, at night it can reflect the IR illumination back into the camera lens distorting the image
  5. This is the mounting bracket of the camera. Probably the least exciting part of the camera but one of the most useful! A 3-axis adjustable bracket such as the ones we supply here at Orange Security gives you the most flexibility when installing the camera.


I hope that gives you a pretty good indication of what a bullet camera is…or at least what a bullet camera from us here at Orange Security is! If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and one of our team members will assist. Otherwise, check out our comprehensive range of bullet cameras here.

about the author: Matt Garnham
Security Camera expert for many years. He is the founder and owner of Orange Security. Started life in the security industry in the UK. Relocated to Southern Florida and Orange Security was formed.

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