Bullet vs. Dome Cameras (vs. Turrets)

There's Not a Lot of Difference Between Bullet and Turret Dome Cameras

Use Bullet Cameras Outdoors and Turret Dome Cameras Indoors

We recommend using bullet cameras outdoors because Bullet Security Cameras are easier to install on a wall (which is usually how you install an outdoor camera) and usually have a bit more distance.

Use turret dome cameras indoors as they are easier to install on the ceiling (which are usually inside) and usually have more of a wide viewing angle.

Avoid Dome Cameras with Glass Domes, Unless...

Unless you're facing a lot of vandalism and you need a protective glass dome, a bullet or a turret dome camera is just easier to install. Dome cameras have a much higher rate of installation mistakes.

Let's Start with Where You're Going to Install the Bullet, Dome or Turret Camera:

If you know you're going to install it on a wall, odds are that you want a bullet camera. If you know you want the camera on the ceiling or soffit, you probably want a dome or a turret.*

The two main differences between every bullet and every dome camera are (1) where the mounting screws are and (2) the shape of the housing. The placement of the screws changes where the camera is most easily installed.

Bullet Cameras

bullet camera

Mount screws are on the back of the camera base
Thus, Usually Mounts on a Wall
Thus, Usually Used Outdoors

Dome Cameras

dome camera

Mount screws are above the camera lens
Thus, Usually Mounts on the Ceiling
Thus, Usually Used Indoors

Turret Cameras

bullet camera

Mount screws are above the camera lens
Thus, Usually Mounts on the Ceiling
Thus, Usually Used Indoors

In General, Bullet Cameras are for Outdoors and Domes & Turret Domes are for Indoors

If a camera is mounted on a wall, it is probably outside. If a camera is mounted on the ceiling, it is probably inside.

Although there's usually nothing preventing a manufacturer from putting the particular combination of viewing angle, resolution, and zoom into either a bullet or dome casing, usually manufacturers do make IP dome cameras with wider angles than bullet cameras. Like a pair of binoculars, a more narrow viewing angle allows you to see more clarity at a distance even with the same resolution.

Because dome or turret cameras are usually installed indoors from the ceiling, they tend to have wider angles of view. In general, you almost always need to cover 90 degrees indoors and you don't often need to narrow the FOV to get more distance.

Bullet cameras, because they are usually installed outdoors, have a slightly more narrow angle of view than dome or turret cameras. This is because outdoor cameras usually have to cover more distance than width.

The Pros and Cons of Bullet, Dome, and Turret Domes


Easiest to Install
More Obvious
Easy to Reposition
Can usually recognize people and license plates at greater distances
Better Night Vision, Less IR Bounce Back
Greater number of Long Range Camera Options


Camera Shape Can Support Spider Webs or Bird Nests


Hard for Vandals to Change Direction of Camera
Harder to see where the Camera is pointed
Usually has a wider field of view


Harder to Install
Harder to Reposition
Harder to Keep Glass Dome Clean
Glass attracts Dust and Fingerprints
More IR Bounce Back
More Discreet
Some People Forget to Tighten the Glass Dome and Moisture Gets In
Dome can Trap Condensation, Even When Properly Tightened
Can usually recognize people and license plates at shorter distances


Easier to Install than a Glass Dome
Won't Trap Condensation
No Glass Dome To Get Dirty or Dusty
No Glass Dome to Attract Fingerprints on
Better Night Vision, Less IR Bounce Back
Usually has a wider field of view


Camera Shape Less Likely than Bullet but Can Support Spider Webs

More Discreet
Can usually recognize people and license plates at shorter distances

The Exceptions: When you use a Bullet or Dome Camera, No Matter Where You're Installing It

It is easier to install bullet cameras on walls and dome or turret cameras on ceilings, however, all three camera types can be mounted on either a vertical or horizontal surface after some adjustment. So if you really want a bullet camera on a ceiling tile or a dome camera on the wall, you can do that. It's just a little more work than installing them the 'usual' way.

Sometimes, what's easiest doesn't matter.

Some Specialized Cameras only Come in one Shape.

Some Bullet Camera Models Have More Optical Zoom

Long range cameras like our Archer or Sharpshooter models, allow you to zoom out further than a dome camera ever could. The level of optical zoom that a camera has is related to the distance the lens is from the image sensor. This means that some bullet cameras (usually ones with longer barrels) will have the ability to zoom out farther than dome cameras. Long-range cameras are really only useful outdoors.

Some (All of SCW's) Dome Camera Models Have Vandal Proof Glass

Colleges and universities almost always buy dome cameras even for outdoors. Why? A reinforced glass dome can cut down on a significant amount of camera vandalism.

Not all domes have strong, reinforced glass, but all our dome models do.

IK10 vandal-proof glass (the highest rating possible) for physical damage is usually exclusive to dome cameras. Bullet or turret cameras are much easier to adjust, but that means that vandals can adjust them too. Cameras like our Sheriff or Judge have IK10 protection.

The Problem with Domes:

Why Turret Dome Cameras are more Popular than Glass Dome Cameras:

Glass dome cameras are just harder to install. Period. Turret Dome Cameras just remove one complicating factor: the glass.

rusted dome from forgetting to tighten the dome

Forgetting to Tighten The Dome Enough

A significant number of people just forget to tighten the dome down and end up destroying their products. This can happen to anyone. This camera was accidentally destroyed by a commercial security camera installer.

With bullet or turret cameras, there's no possibility of making this mistake, as there's no way to expose the internal components to moisture.

Fingerprints and Dust

There's no way to remove and install a glass dome without getting fingerprints on the glass shell.

Fingerprint oil attracts dust.

Although it is possible to get a fingerprint smudge on the lens of a bullet or turret camera, it is unlikely. It is also easy to fix a smudged turret or bullet--just wipe it off with a cloth.

Fixing a fingerprint smudge on a glass dome can be much harder. It may be necessary to remove the glass shell and clean the inside of the dome.

Dust on Lens

dust on lens

Fingerprint on Inside of Dome

fingerprint on lens

Losing the Silica Packet

Every camera has a silica packet that is designed to absorb moisture from condensation.

Condensation occurs on the warm side of the glass. For example, in summer there may be condensation in the morning on the outside of the camera lens. On a cool night or in wintertime, the air starts to get warmer than the dome, and the camera lens will fog up on the inside.

Another common mistake for dome cameras is losing or removing the silica packet. For turrets or bullet cameras, you never open the camera up, so you don't have the possibility of losing the silica packet.

silica packet absorbs moisture in security camera enclosure

Domes are NOT PTZs

Just in case you read this whole guide and then said to yourself, "Even if they are harder to install, I still want a dome camera because I want to be able to move it," don't worry. That's a common misconception.

People sometimes confuse dome cameras and PTZ cameras since they have similar dome-like shapes.

PTZ cameras are cameras that can Pan, Tilt, and Zoom (move around) with an app or joystick or computer program. Dome cameras are not PTZ cameras even if they look similar. Only specifically labeled PTZ cameras can pan, tilt, and zoom. That being said, there are very, very few PTZ cameras in the bullet shape. PTZ are by-and-large dome-like in shape.

PTZ Cameras

Pan, Tilts and Zooms: Controlled Remotely

Often confused with Dome Cameras. Sometimes Called "Speed Domes"

Needs a bracket for mounting

Still Not Sure If You Want a Bullet or a Dome Camera?

If you don't know where you want to mount it, and none of the special features or pros and cons that we have listed here matter to you, consider this one last factor:

No One Likes Drilling Up

If you can't decide, go with a bullet camera.

The vast majority of our returns are people who bought a dome camera and realized later how much easier a bullet is to install.

Just Getting Started with Security Cameras?

Get the SCW Beginner's Guide!

New to security camera systems? Confused by Analog vs IP? Bullet vs Dome? Indoor vs Outdoor? Don't even know what PTZ means?

No problem! Download the SCW Beginner's Guide and get all your questions answered right away!

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