How to choose right IP Camera - Information Guide

Posted by ifihomes on 23rd Feb 2017

How to choose right IP Camera - Information Guide

What does an IP Camera mean ?

An IP camera is a video camera that is networked over a Fast Ethernet connection or else it is known as a network camera. The IP camera sends its signals to the main server or computer screen via an Internet or network link. It is mostly used in IP surveillance, closed-circuit television (CCTV) and digital videography. IP cameras are widely replacing analog cameras due to their digital zoom and remote surveillance options over the Internet.

Benefits of IP camera over analog technology include:

  • Remote administration from any location.
  • Digital zoom.
  • The ability to easily send images and video anywhere with an Internet connection.
  • Progressive scanning, which enables better quality images extracted from the video, especially for moving targets.
  • Adjustable frame rates and resolution to meet specific needs.
  • Two-way communication.
  • The ability to send alerts if suspicious activity is detected.
  • Lower cabling requirements.
  • Support for intelligent video.

An IP camera is a type of digital video camera commonly employed for surveillance, and which, unlike CCTV cameras, can send and receive data via a computer network and the Internet. Apart from the traditional wired IP cameras, there are wireless IP Cameras, PoE IP cameras and PTZ IP cameras.

  • Wireless IP cameras connect to a computer network via WiFi or Bluetooth connections. With mobile features, a wireless IP camera can usually survey a wider area than wired cameras and are generally easy to install.
  • PoE (Power over Ethernet) describes any of several standardized or ad-hoc systems which pass electrical power along with data on Ethernet cabling. PoE IP cameras use NVR as a central power source and are highly reliable as PoE allows a single cable to provide both data connection and electrical power to devices such as wireless access points or IP cameras. The PoE technology has greatly improved the functionality of IP cameras, particularly for night use. In addition, using PoE IP cameras can help simplify network installations and maintenance.
  • PTZ (Pan-tilt-zoom) IP cameras can pan, tilt and zoom using automatic or manual controls. With a wide range of motion and functionality, one camera can cover an extensive area from different perspectives and angles. They are ideal for tracking an object or person of interest or getting more detailed views when needed. They are often used as baby monitor cameras to watch over kids or the elderly.

Where can IP Camera's be placed for home surveillance ?

IP camera can be mounted or placed Indoor/Outdoor for home surveillance.IP cameras are designed for indoor use only or both indoor and outdoor use. A protective housing for the camera or a certain lens (to regulate the amount of light) may be necessary for outdoor use.

It can be categorized based on the form factor.

  • Bullet cameras: These are the familiar, cylindrical cameras we see everywhere. A bullet camera may resemble a tube of lipstick, though some more robust models are the size of a soda can. These are great if you know exactly where you want camera coverage; they can be wall-mounted and left to do their work.
  • Dome cameras: These are the ceiling-mounted “eye in the sky” type security cameras. Some are fixed in place, others can be remotely controlled to pan, tilt and zoom in for a closer look.
  • Indoor Cube Cameras: These are designed to be installed in a corner of the ceiling or placed on a flat surface. Usually comes with built-in microphones and speakers, so can also be used as baby monitors, or as door phones.

Is there a need of Network Video Recorder (NVR)?

Most of the IP cameras are capable of working without a NVR. Some of the IP cameras have got its own SD card storage which is used to record video clips and capture snapshots detected by the motion detection in the camera.

Network Video Recorder (NVR) is a complete system that includes the computer and software and is typically proprietary and not expandable.It is similar to the Video Server system, but instead of using a standard Windows computer, it uses a dedicated special computer with an operating system and application software that is dedicated to recording the video. It also allows many people to view real time and recorded video.

It keeps a backup of video footage in case your camera is stolen/damaged/destroyed. It records continously and also give a live view of the camera from a single interface. If there are 4 or more cameras you do not need to log into each camera one by one. You can simultaneously play back video streams from multiple cameras.

Features to consider while purchasing an IP Camera

Night Vision: Many IP Surveillance cameras support night vision by turning off the IR Filter which makes the image view-able at night, in black and white.

Motion Detection: This feature is used to generate an alarm whenever movement occurs (or stops) in the image. There are certain include windows which can target specific areas within the images and there are certain exclude windows which can ignore specific areas for motion detection. Motion detection may not function which the camera lens is moving.

Field of View: Most surveillance applications call for a 240-degree field of view and a zoom capability of 500 feet.

Bandwidth: It's a huge issue, especially as demand grows for more cameras on the network and higher-resolution images. You can reduce bandwidth consumption by putting intelligence into the camera, so, for instance, only certain images are forwarded.

Power Source: The state-of-the-art approach for network cameras is to use power over Ethernet (POE), which means you power the camera through the same wire that sends the IP signal. POE is not always available on PTZ cameras, however, because of the amount of power they consume.

Weatherproof: These camera's comes with an extra layer of sealant around the camera to provide extra protection. It should be at least IP66 compatible.

Frame Rates: Frames per second, of FPS, is a standard measurement for how many frames your camera records per second. Higher frame rate makes videos progress smoother, important when recording fast-moving objects.

HD Resolution: Digital IP cameras resolution is specified by number of pixels, starts with 1MP, 2MP, 3MP and more.

Alarms: If any unwanted incidents happen with the cameras like cutting the cables etc. that can stop the functioning of the IP cameras, certain alarms can be activated by them based on the event and severity. These alarms can range from sending emails, SMS to activating an external device automatically through input/output ports available in the cameras.

Service/Support: Make sure the camera vendor or re-seller is able to send replacement parts quickly and can readily offer engineering support. Many network camera manufacturers sell indirectly through channel partners, which is common in the IT industry but not in the security industry. This takes some getting used to among traditional security personnel.

Local Recording: Whether you use local recording as a backup to a NVR for times when the camera cannot connect, or as the main storage method when recording smaller or fewer videos, local recording allows you to save video files directly on the surveillance camera with a memory card.

Other features to look into is :

Pan, tilt and zoom:There's a big advantage in having remote control of the camera to zoom in and make it look around the room with up/down and sideways movement. Models with this ability will generally cost more.

Motion sensing: You want a camera that can be set to detect motion and automatically take pictures and video and send alerts. Other considerations include whether you can set time slots for motion detection to be active, and if you can adjust its sensitivity.

Audio link: Some cameras have one-way or two-way audio communication via the camera.

Cost: IP Cameras depends on features like Plug and Play, Remote control, Night vision, Wi-Fi, Megapixel rating and Lens quality. 

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