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IP Camera Buyer’s Guide

A comprehensive guide to choosing the right camera for your video surveillance system. IP cameras offer a high resolution of up to 5 MP and an excellent video image. There are many options when choosing the right IP video surveillance ip kamera camera and video recorder. Use this manual as general information for your IP video security system project.

Important factors when choosing the right IP security camera

  • Location
    • Main field of view
    • Light conditions at night
    • Resolution requirements
    • Aesthetics and form factor

IP cameras provide enhanced surveillance of your video security system with a much higher resolution than traditional analog cameras. Higher resolution means better clarity and detail in camera views with the ability to zoom in on critical areas with a much wider view of up to 90 degrees after recording.


Outdoor cameras are housed in a weatherproof housing that can withstand the temperatures and humidity of the outdoor environment. Both dome and bullet cameras are used in outdoor installations and home security.

Indoor cameras tend to be smaller and lighter and are not weatherproof.

Both types of cameras can have infrared night vision capabilities if required.

mounting location. Consideration of the camera mounting location is primarily determined by the optimal view from the camera. Secondary, but just as important, is the possibility of wiring to the site and also the security of the camera. Cameras get stolen and you can sneak up on them if they are placed in the wrong place.

Types of video surveillance cameras

Camera selection depends on several factors, including the shape and form factor of the camera. Dome cameras or bullet style cameras are the most popular today and offer essentially the same lens and video compression circuitry so it’s a matter of personal choice of packaging.

There are several options when choosing a security camera style:

  • Location – Will it be intrusive? Can it be manipulated? Best viewing angle?
  • Infrared Requirements – Bullet cameras are available in longer IR lengths (up to 400 feet)
  • Deterrent Factor – Often, just finding video cameras will deter a security situation. How well should the cameras be seen? Deter or discreet?

Bullet cameras are typically placed in areas that require higher intensity infrared and have a larger lens for a longer field of view. Bullet cameras must be placed out of reach as they are not vandal-proof devices.

Dome cameras are the most common camera packages and are discreet and can be placed on false ceiling panels very effectively. The dome camera is offered in vandal-proof packaging that can be placed in almost any location without fear of theft or damage.

Camera resolutions

The camera’s resolution is the relative pixel size of the recorded screen. The higher the resolution of the camera, the more detail and clarity is available. More data or more pixels means a more detailed image is captured.

Camera lens

Camera lenses are commonly built into dome and bullet cameras. The lens is either fixed, vari -focal, or with manual and automatic PTZ focusing in the case of a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera.

  • Fixed (example 3mm),
    • Vari -Focal (Example 2.8-12mm)
    • Optical zoom (5mm – 100mm)

The camera lens determines the field of view (FOV) of the camera based on the camera image requirements. The following table contains the lens information:

Show lens size degrees

  • 2.8mm 95 degrees
  • 3.6mm 80
  • 5mm 68
  • 8mm 44
  • 12mm 24
  • 50mm 5.3

Fixed lenses and vari -focal lenses (e.g. 2.8-12mm) available. Many camera lenses these days come bundled with cameras and do not need to be purchased separately.

Infrared technology

Infrared cameras are very common today and are offered in almost every camera package, including dome and bullet security cameras. Infrared cameras work with reflected infrared light from monitored objects.

An infrared camera provides a color image during the day, and when the amount of light drops to a certain level (automatic or adjustable), the infrared automatically turns on. The IR LEDs on the camera are then activated and the IR camera produces a black and white image which can be very detailed depending on the quality of the camera.

IP camera networks

IP cameras are usually set up on a private network and camera data is not shared over the local corporate network due to bandwidth issues. An HD camera can require up to 5 MPS, so a private and local network is set up for communication between the IP cameras and the network video recorder. Via a connection to this, cameras are made available for local and remote access as required.

PoE – Power-Over-Ethernet has made ip kamera installation a plug-and-play method, achieved by most network video recorders, making IP addressing and configurations a thing of the past. The high-quality NVRs offer configuration tools and systems that make IP camera systems silent and very easy to install. Many NVRs today offer built-in PoE , eliminating the need for external power sources for the cameras. The data network for the cameras is also integrated into the NVR device.

Advanced features of IP camera systems

Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) – One of the best improvements in high quality camera systems, WDR provides dynamic contrast and balance in shadows (dark areas) and bright light. Old cameras treated the entire FOV and attempted to balance brightness, resulting in poor quality in contrasting areas of view. WDR provides brightness in shadows and within the same FOV, lower brightness in the window areas with the setting sun.

Smart Search Features – The ability to search for motion detection is a great feature, and Smart Search offers motion in any area of the field of view. Motion Detection detects movement within the entire FOV and Smart Search offers the same capability in any area of the FOV. For example, you can search a front parking lot or search who went through the door in the lower right part of the field of view.

Alarm Notifications – The ability to send specific notifications via SMS or email is an underused feature available in most DVRs and NVRs in the market. The ability to notify you via SMS or email in the event of hard drive failure, video loss, etc. can enable proactive service of the critical video security system. Another popular alert is motion detection in certain cameras, which not only provide a text or email of the motion, but also a video snapshot of the motion detection.

Face Recognition and Analytics – Face recognition is the most well-known video security analytics, but proactive video surveillance capabilities that can track specific movements and alert monitors to special events are also valuable. Mass detection and aggressive behavior patterns are observed in large complex systems that require a proactive surveillance program.

Network Video Recorder

Network Video Recorders (NVR) are the hub of the video surveillance system and provide the live and recorded video in multiple channels which are usually 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 channels (or camera). The NVR provides network management of IP cameras and often includes a built-in switch with PoE . The NVR is responsible for maintaining the video recordings and is archived on the installed hard drives. Large NVRs can accommodate up to 32TB of hard drive space for storing video files.

Remote access from any device

Remote and local access to the IP cameras is via the secure connection to the network video recorder. Applications such as CMS software on a PC and/or remote client applications for iPhone , Android and tablets.

Access to the facility’s cameras from the mobile phone through smartphone applications is very popular today due to the speed with which the facility can be accessed via video from anywhere. The ability to monitor residential and commercial facilities 24/7 from any location is a great tool for managing a facility or enhancing the security of your home.

Benefits of IP video security

IP cameras provide detailed, high-resolution images. IP cameras are now reaching 3-5 megapixels and compression technology is advancing toward 4K video security and beyond. IP camera prices continue to drop as more and more IP cameras enter the market.

IP video cameras can now scale into the thousands by using multiple NVR servers, and PoE connections make setting up cameras as easy as installing a Cat5 connection.

IP video cameras are ONVIF compliant and devices can be swapped out to offer the best camera for the project. ONVIUF is the standard for IP manufacturers that enables cross-vendor integration. Integrating the best camera for the requirement, regardless of manufacturer, enables higher quality and lower project costs for video security projects.

Remote access to IP video camera systems from any device including PC, iPhone , Android or tablet device. This on-demand application provides quick access to your facility’s video cameras.

The 5 most important things to consider with IP camera systems:

  • Only consider cameras with a resolution of 1080p or higher . The quality and performance is superior to 720p and the cost difference is negligible in 2015. In 2017 we will say the same about cameras with 4K resolution.
    • Not all ONVIF specification cameras are created equal. You may get an image, but not all IP cameras can enable motion detection, so you end up having to have full-time recording. Find confirmation of tests and certifications with IP cameras and NVRs.The ip kamera network should be on its own VLAN or network and not directly connected to the corporate LAN. Should a local network connection be required, it should be directed there via a routing instruction. Most NVRs provide their own VLAN.Consider the interface to the iPhone , Android or tablet device as an important factor when choosing the NVR/camera as it has a big impact on monitoring/accessing the security system.
    • Consider a brand name camera as there are many low quality import cameras with very limited warranty options available to you.
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