What is an IP camera?
First off, what is an IP camera? An Internet Protocol camera receives controlled data and transmits it back out over the internet. However, like all cameras, there is not one ‘best,’ just some that are better for certain situations or requirements. So let’s take a look at some things you should consider when trying to decide on the best IP security camera for you.
What are the benefits to IP?
So now you know what an IP camera is, but why should you switch? There are plenty benefits to IP security systems over traditional analog. Primarily, having digital video makes reviewing footage easier. You are also able to view footage and receive alerts on mobile devices. They also tend to be able to record at higher resolutions than traditional analog. IP cameras have a lot of flexibility in installation because of their ability to run on either WiFi or a direct powerline. Total system cost is typically lower and they can link with home automation networks and other devices. Additionally, using a PoE switch, they can send data and receive power through one cord, simplifying installation.
What are the different types?
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of IP cameras, let’s examine the various styles they are available in. It is important to note that the location the camera is being installed may limit your viable selections.
First off is the box camera, these cameras are useful because they provide a menacing appearance to criminals given there more traditional shape. These tend to have the best performance out of all the type, however, they are also the most expensive. Box cameras are able to be placed in whatever style housing you choose, allowing them to be used in a multitude of conditions. They generally have the longest service life but require separate illumination for use in low light.
Next, we have the common bullet camera; these are actually box cameras sealed inside their own housing. They tend to be easier to install and larger lenses are able to be equipped to their bodies. These larger lenses allow bullet cameras to reach a longer range. These tend to be great for outdoor use and the design helps reduce glare.
Next, the dome camera is a more discreet option, blending in with its surroundings better. It also includes a rotating camera and wide angle, allowing a single unit to capture a greater area. Dome cameras are also vandal resistant and often come equipped with night vision. They are also great for indoor or outdoor use, depending on their weatherproof rating.
Finally, there is the turret camera; these tend to have extended IR capabilities due to a single IR glass near the lens, as opposed to the traditional ring of LEDs. They have a versatile mounting system and can be mounted vertically or horizontally. Turret cameras tend to offer no, or less, IR bounce as opposed to the other styles mentioned. IR bounce is cause by debris build up in the lens causing the light to bounce around. This creates a cloudy haze over the image and will progressively get worse over time if the camera is not properly maintained.
The next thing to consider is what focal length would be best for you. Focal length determines how far or wide a camera can see. A longer focal length will allow the camera to focus in at longer distances, however, a shorter focal length will enable it to capture a wider field of view.
A fixed lens camera operates, as its name implies, using a nonadjustable lens. You have a fixed focal length and you are unable to adjust the field of view. These tend to be the cheapest option because of the simpler lens mechanism. They also tend to provide a better picture quality because there is no zoom adjustment occurring. For general surveillance needs, or if you know you are installing multiple cameras on your property, fixed cameras will serve you just fine.
A varifocal lens camera allows the user to adjust the zoom and angle of the lens. This is done on the camera unit itself and cannot be adjusted remotely. This is primarily for users who don’t car to constantly adjust the angle to check in on things. Instead, it functions well in locations where traditional fixed lens cameras will not fit discretely and still be able to record an optimal view. Users can install a varifocal camera and then adjust the view to the desired location.
PTZ stands for “pan, tilt, zoom.” This is a more advanced form of varifocal lens and adjustments may be made through an external device. Users are able to move the lens around to focus on different aspects around the property. PTZ cameras tend to be the most expensive due to the more complex motorized mechanism which allow it to move. Although, with the increase in cost, you gain the ability to control your cameras from any location. For many users these features are worth it. Whether you’re a contractor checking up on progress on work sites or management checking in on employees, PTZ cameras provide an effective option.
What features do you want?
Another thing to look into are the features you require. For this you’ll need to plan out how your cameras will be used and what functions you find important. Do you want IR capabilities for capturing and viewing nighttime footage? If you know you’re going to be using a NVR, you may not be worried about having cameras with onboard storage, otherwise that may be something you want to consider. Now, if your cameras are going to be installed outside or in harsh environments, you will want to check the weatherproofing done to the camera, or use a special housing unit. Next, you will want to consider the resolution and field of view you require. Where this camera is located and what you are trying to capture will largely come into play during this decision. One useful feature to consider is power over Ethernet (PoE). This will enable the user to send data and receive power via the same cord. You will also want to ensure the camera supports ONIVF and RTSP IP protocols to guarantee compatibility with NVRs and home automation devices. Finally, you need to decide whether you want a wireless or wired system. In most cases we recommend going with a wire connection because it offers improved reliability, especially in systems with multiple cameras.
Do you need a Network Video Recorder (NVR)?
Many users ask whether they need a NVR to run their IP camera system. It is not required, most IP cameras can work without one and some include internal storage. If you’re just starting out with one or two cameras with onboard storage, it’s not really necessary, but as you add to and upgrade your system, you may want to add in a compatible NVR. An NVR is recommended because it allows for the user to live view all their cameras from a single interface. It also enables simultaneous playback of video from multiple cameras for quicker footage review. An NVR also provides you with a backup of your video footage in case something happens to the cameras themselves. It will also increase your storage, allowing 24/7 continuous recording of multiple cameras for a longer period of time.
In summation, there are a multitude of applications for IP cameras. There are also various styles IP cameras come in and different functions they come with. It is important to consider what features are important to you and which design will serve your purpose the best. 2M Technology offers a wide variety of different IP camera styles and functions from the top manufacturers so be sure to check us out for all of your security needs.