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Video Analytics: IP vs. Analog

Todd Thompson

Todd Thompson

Todd Thompson - Construction Manager – 2M CCTV

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CCTV users who have thus far resisted moving toward IP technology may be missing out on the versatility that IP security cameras offer through video analytics.

Video Analytics Software Screenshot

Video Analytics Software w/ Event Detection

High resolution analog cameras can do the job for most users of video surveillance systems.  TV lines of greater than 600 are common, and the low lux ratings for day/night cameras are vast improvements over earlier analog technology (Read about resolution differences between IP and Analog).

However, in critical applications where forensic evidence is needed to solve a crime or to troubleshoot a critical manufacturing operation, the greater resolution of IP cameras, along with the versatility of their direct digital images, may be the difference between success and failure upon review of the video.


Digital Image Manipulation:  IP over Analog

An IP camera captures an image in digital format as opposed to analog cameras which convert an image to digital by the use of an encoder.  As a direct digital image, one captured by an IP camera can be dissected, zoomed in, masked off, and analyzed without distortion.

The tools which allow this manipulation of the digital image are generally referred to as video analytics.  While analog systems have some capability for analytics, they work within the limitations of the quality of the image that is captured.

If someone captures an image at a distance of 50 feet with an analog camera, depending on how large the object is, the image will never look less distorted than it does at that distance.  The more it is magnified (zoomed in), the greater is the distortion of margins, or lines, of the object.  An image that is drastically magnified is unusable because of the lack of distinctive lines.

With a native digital image, however, magnification (zooming in) presents a close-up view of the captured image so that a car captured on an IP camera at 200 feet still looks like a car when it is magnified 20 times.

So as not to confuse people, it does not mean you can read the VIN number on the car (this isn’t a television cop show) it means that there is no blurring of the image that is captured.  IP cameras cannot improve upon the quality of the captured image.  However, they do allow manipulation of the image without distorting it.

READ MORE:  And check out Travis’ post on HD CCTV


Video Analytics Growth

Video analytics is on the rise with improved technology and smarter security systems.  Here is a chart of the video analytics market by industry, projected to grow to roughly $1 billion by 2016 (source: ABI Research).

Video Analytics Projected Growth

Video Analytics Chart: $1 Billion Market by 2016


7 thoughts on “Video Analytics: IP vs. Analog

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  5. Tunis. For all the useful info all tht was shared. So w/ all this Il vs. Analog talk what abt an auto tracking il system tht supports analog??? Lets say it can be customized to support any dvr system

  6. Todd. Thanks for the write up. I think it has some good insight on IP vs Analog and Video Analytics. However, the idea that analytics is limited on an analog vs an IP camera isn’t true. Given the same resolution, the choice between an IP and analog camera doesn’t make a difference when it comes to analytics. We develop video analytics for the security market ( and we deal with very high end, long range analytics. The choice between IP and analog really comes down to installation and operational considerations. To date, we deploy our product on both IP and analog cameras at probably a 50 – 50 ratio. However, most of our very high end video analytic applications are analog. That being said, there are many advantages that IP cameras do have over analog and the market is definitely moving more toward the use of IP cameras, but the ability to have a wide range of video analytics is not limited to one over the other.

    • Eric, thanks for the comment.

      There is no doubt that extraordinary results are being seen in the field of video analytics, both in analog and IP. The main point of my article is that the resolution of the image is critical for forensic application. As analog resolution continues to advance in competition with IP megapixel cameras, there is no doubt that limitations, with regard to forensic application, will be increasingly minimized. Resolution is the key, which you have stated as well.

      The issue of the decision coming down to installation and operational considerations is important to recognize, too. Affordability is part of this decision, and it is often driven by what the customer has already invested in. If customers think they are being left out of advanced video analytics because they are “stuck” in a large investment in an existing analog system, they may be missing the point that it is the resolution that matters. Reinvestment in higher resolution analog cameras may be a much better option for analog customers who are already heavily invested.

      One last point: customers who are new to the video surveillance market hear the term “IP,” and I think some believe that analog is like the old 8-track music system, destined for obsolescence. People also thought this about Apple when Microsoft Windows took over the world. While IP is the newer technology, it is far from displacing analog entirely, and it may, again, have its day in the sun.

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