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IP vs Analog Cameras: Which is best for you?

By:Christine Fettinger

With so many options on the market, it can seem impossible to find the best camera for your needs. Enthusiasts don’t help either – purists will swear by the quality of conventional analog cameras, whereas the more professional, gadget-loving photographers will tell you IP cameras are the right choice.

So which is right for you? Consider the facts:

Picture quality: The worst IP cameras still have better resolutions than the best analog cameras. Analog cameras have a maximum resolution of less than half a megapixel whereas IP cameras can go as high as 5 megapixels and most are at least a megapixel.  This means the IP camera can cover a much bigger area and have more highly detailed images. Digitally zooming in on the part of the picture is no problem. IP cameras also capture motion better. IP cameras use progressive scan, so the entire image is scanned in every pass. Analog cameras scan odd and even numbers in two separate passes to create one image. Any motion happening between passes in an analog camera will be blurry whereas motion captured in IP cameras will be clear.

Flexibility: IP cameras need only one cable per camera. That cable provides power, video, internet, and audio, unlike analog cameras which require a different cable for internet, power, and PTZ control. The more functionality you need with analog cameras means more money spent on cabling and camera infrastructure. IP cameras give you increased functionality and productive integration potential without the costly infrastructure required for an analog camera system.

Scalability: IP-based camera surveillance is much easier to expand since the demands of IP camera cabling are far less complex than their analog counterparts. Developing an analog system means new wiring and making sure your new equipment matches your proprietary system, which may limit your selection. ONVIF creates a standard for how IP video surveillance products communicate with each other, so IP-based equipment from different manufacturers can co-exist and interoperate on the same network.

Cost: Analog cameras are still cheaper than IP cameras. However, recording equipment is another major equipment expense. Since analog systems require digital video recorders (DVRs) on site, this can be expensive. IP recording systems are cheaper since open standards enable the use of inexpensive, off-the-shelf IT hardware for integrating functions with IP cameras.  With a smaller network of cameras, the difference between analog and IP can be negligible, but even an IP-based system of 14 cameras can be slightly cheaper. IP-based surveillance becomes more economical as the number of cameras on the network go up since recording and labor costs for analog cameras become more expensive.

Camera Intelligence: It’s no surprise that IP cameras are smarter than analog ones. IP cameras can detect motion and trigger events when certain lines are crossed, objects are missing, or if your camera is being tampered with. Your network can tell you when these events occurred instead of having to watch hours of video footage to catch a few moments.

Other Features: Unlike analog signals, images from IP cameras will not degrade in quality when transported long distances or converted between different formats. IP cameras are more secure, too. They encrypt the video feed as well as allow multi-level user access control. IP cameras are much more compatible with wireless than analog cameras.

IP cameras are the superior cameras. Their picture is far better and they have to ability to detect motion and track individual events. Video feeds can be accessed remotely and from a variety of different devices. Yet, the quality of the camera is not the only consideration when choosing to go IP or analog. Existing infrastructure, the total cost of ownership, flexibility and scalability also must be taken into account. While analog cameras are trending toward obsolete, they are not there yet, and in some specific scenarios may be the better choice for some businesses.

For more information about finding the right technology for your purposes, get in touch with CyberStreams right away at (425) 2_74-1121 or sales@cyberstreams.com.