Network IP Security Cameras Buying Guide
Our comprehensive buying guide features everything you need to know about IP security cameras, so you can make an informed buying decision.
Who's Using IP Cameras?
- Big-box Retailers
- Large Businesses
- Government Agencies
- Law Enforcement Divisions
- Educational Facilities
- Transportation Services
- Homeowners with large or multiple residences
Benefits of IP Network Technology
Benefit #1 IP cameras are digital end-to-end and use progressive scanning to provide crisp, high resolution images.
Benefit #2 IP cameras transmit video, audio, PTZ commands and power over a single network cable, lowering your cabling costs.
Benefit #3 IP camera systems provide future-proof scalability, with the ability to add more cameras as needed without costly changes to your network.
Benefit #4 IP video and data is encrypted to ensure safe, secure transmissions.
Benefit #5 Many IP cameras are ONVIF and PSIA compliant and are compatible with a variety of manufacturers' devices.
Benefit #6 IP cameras offer remote viewing of video from any camera connected to the network.
Crime in America
- 910,000 burglaries during the day
- A burglary occurs every 14 seconds View our infographic.
Top 5 Locations for Your Home Security Camera
- Pointed at your front door
- Above garage doors with a view of your driveway
- In the backyard and above patios
- Any room where valuables are stored
- Living rooms or family rooms, or any room that is inside a main entryway
Surveillance isn't just for security.
Find out how surveillance is making a difference in astronomy on our blog.
Protecting Your Investment
Once you purchase security cameras for your home or business, you'll want to make sure you protect your investment with a regular maintenance schedule to ensure your cameras will function optimally and last a very long time.
- Periodically check to make sure your cameras lenses are clean (indoor and outdoor)
- Check any exposed wiring to make sure you there is no damage and you have a good connection
Get more tips on our blog.
Retail Theft is on the Rise
Security cameras are instrumental in helping retailers tackle theft. It's estimated that retailers lose 220-300 million dollars annually to shoplifters. Learn more in our retail theft survey infographic.
Our comprehensive buying guide features everything you need to know about network IP security cameras, so you can make an informed buying decision.
What is IP Technology?
Internet Protocol cameras (IP cameras) or network cameras were first introduced in the 1990s. IP technology is the communications protocol that is used for transmitting digital data network packets over an existing computer network and the internet.
How an IP Camera Works
An IP camera plugs directly into your network router and transmits data through the network. A network camera requires a high speed internet connection, router, Ethernet cable and IP address to function, and it connects to the network just like a printer and other network devices.
IP cameras are digital end-to-end. The advantage is the video signal remains in digital form throughout the entire transmission process from camera to network, maintaining extremely high video signal quality and ensuring data integrity. IP cameras also allow for remote viewing of video from any internet or network connection without requiring a video recorder.
Important Considerations for IP Network Cameras
Before you purchase an IP security camera, it's important to determine the needs for your security application. Here are a few considerations to help with the process:
- What form factor(s) are most appropriate?
- Will you be monitoring indoor or outdoor environments?
- What level of detail do you need to see?
- How many cameras do you need?
- What about low light conditions?
- Do you have enough network bandwidth?
- Is your IP camera compatible with other IP devices?
Do You Need an Indoor or Outdoor Camera?
If you plan on monitoring outdoor locations, you'll need an IP camera with a weatherproof enclosure. Make sure it has a sufficient IP weather rating to withstand the elements in your area. If you need to target high crime areas that are prone to vandalism, you'll want a vandal-proof network IP camera. Review the security camera specifications to make sure you get the appropriate camera for your application.
What Form Factor Do You Need?
There are many benefits to each camera form factor, and the design you choose should support your unique security needs. Do you need a dome camera with an obscured lens angle or an inconspicuous mini-dome camera? Would you prefer a pan/tilt/zoom camera with a powerful optical zoom, 360° panning and wide area of view?
Or, do you need a compact, inexpensive cube camera for indoor surveillance? Or do you need a weatherproof outdoor bullet camera with day/night capabilities? Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which type of form factor works best for your surveillance needs.
What Level of Detail Do You Want to See?
When choosing an IP camera, it's essential to know what level of detail you need to see in your video. Do you need to view a wide area, or see video of cars driving by; or do you need to zero in on a face or a license plate to provide evidence for a case? A high resolution camera with the appropriate lens will allow you to see your video images in great detail.
IP camera resolution image quality is measured in pixels. A highly detailed image is made up of more pixels and contains more data than a less detailed image. IP camera resolution is defined by the number of horizontal and vertical pixels (e.g. 1280 x 1024 resolution).
The resolution of the camera and lens will dictate what you will be able to see. The camera resolution defines the level of detail, while the camera lens determines how far away the image is from the camera and how wide of a viewing area or field of view (FOV) that you'll be able to see.
Field of View
The camera's field of view also affects resolution. The field of view (FOV) is the viewable area of a given scene captured by the camera. It is also referred to as the angle of view or angle of coverage. FOV is determined by three elements: the lens and sensor element within the camera and where the camera is positioned in relation to the scene. A large FOV generally results in the target object being relatively small, compared to a camera with a small FOV.
Your camera lens affects resolution as well and determines the field of view you will see. A camera lens with a higher focal length number will deliver more magnification; while a lower lens focal length number will provide less magnification but a wider field of view. If you choose a high-resolution IP camera, then you need to select a high-resolution megapixel lens in order to maintain the resolution required to deliver a clear, detailed image. If your camera sensor delivers a high resolution, but your lens does not deliver a resolution that’s equal to the sensor’s resolution, then you’ll get an image that’s not as crisp and detailed.
What About Low Light Conditions?
Choosing a camera with features that support low light environments is also very important in regards to image quality.
A camera with true day/night functionality delivers clear, crisp images in low light conditions. This feature is one of the most important factors in a camera's low light performance. The camera automatically removes the infrared filter from in front of the imager which enables the camera to see near infrared light. It allows more light into the imager to deliver a clearer picture and minimizes distortion in black and white mode.
Wide Dynamic Range
Wide dynamic range (WDR) is also an important factor in determining a camera’s ability to produce a clear image in diverse lighting environments. WDR balances the contrast of light and shadow. This feature enables the camera to deliver clear video with near perfect exposure in harsh lighting conditions, such as in extremely bright, dark or backlit areas within a scene.
Do You Have Enough Network Bandwidth?
IP security cameras require network bandwidth to transmit and store images, video and data. The more cameras you have connected to your network, the greater your bandwidth requirements. High-resolution cameras also require more bandwidth. IP cameras use video compression to help reduce video file size and optimize network bandwidth and storage capacity, while maintaining image quality.
How Many Cameras Will You Need?
When choosing an IP camera, it's important to assess how many cameras you may need for your security application. Do you have a large business with many entrances and exits to monitor? Or are you looking to keep an eye on a smaller residential property? Do you have a large college campus with multiple buildings to secure? The larger the property and greater amount of areas to monitor, the more cameras you'll need.
Don’t Forget About Power
Many IP cameras have a Power Over Ethernet (PoE) feature that allows you to power your IP camera through your network cable. If your IP camera does not have PoE, you’ll need to use a separate power cable to power your security camera.
Consider Device Compatibility
Many IP camera manufacturers work with multiple software companies to ensure device compatibility. Numerous IP cameras are Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA) compliant.
This means that the IP cameras adhere to set standards for interfacing with other IP-based security products and are tested for interoperability. The cameras can communicate with other IP devices (such as a network video recorder) and are compatible with a variety of manufacturers’ security devices.
It is a good idea to refer the recording software’s list of compatible devices and compliance testing is still required to ensure operational compatibility.
How IP, Analog CCTV and HD-SDI Camera Interfaces Compare
|Video, Audio , Power, Over a Single Cable||Yes||No||No|
|Delivers full HDTV Frame Rate||Yes||No||Yes|
|Edge Analytics Support||Yes||No||No|
|Works with Existing Coax Cabling||Needs Adapter||Yes||Yes|
IP Camera Troubleshooting
IP Camera Cannot Be Accessed by Your Web Browser
Check to see if you are using a supported web browser or PC operating system. Try to ping your IP address to see if your IP address is accessible or if it conflicts with your IP camera over your network. Or, if you are using a LAN and a PC, verify that your PC is on the same LAN as the camera.
The Camera Isn’t Working
First see if you have power and your camera is on the network. Confirm that your network and power cables are properly connected to your camera and your router, and the devices are getting power. If you have a good connection and the camera still does not work, try a soft reset by powering off the device and powering it back up.
If that does not work, try a hard reset which will restore your camera to factory settings, allowing you to test each setting individually to see a particular setting is causing the problem.
You Cannot Log In To Your IP Camera as an Administrator
Confirm that you have entered your login credentials correctly and that entered the correct password.
Camera is Out of Focus
Slowly rotate your camera lens clockwise or counter-clockwise until your camera lens is in focus.
Video Images are Unclear
Check to see if your IP camera is in a low light environment. Your camera needs proper lighting to ensure good image quality. Also make sure that your camera lens is clean and the back focus is correctly adjusted and your video settings are configured properly.