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Differences Between IP, Analog and HD Cameras
When purchasing cameras and other equipment for closed-circuit television, or CCTV, the same big question arises for most people: is it better to buy analogue or IP technology? Besides that, there are still HD camera options. What is the best option? It is common for even security professionals to have doubts at this time.
The differences between camera types and their technologies are many and there is no single answer here. All of them have their positive and negative side. The best option for you will depend on some factors that we will explain now.
Before we talk about cameras themselves, let’s start by talking about the entire CCTV system. It is important to understand that when choosing a type of camera, you necessarily choose a certain type of system with different technology, cables, equipment and possibilities.
Analogue cameras, the first to become popular in security, work in an analogue system as well, that is, they transmit images through coaxial cables to AV inputs.
You can choose to connect the camera directly to a monitor, but if you want to record the images, you will need to connect them to a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) device first.
An analogue camera will always need two cables connected to it, the coaxial cable for transmitting the images and the other for the power supply. In the end, your CCTV system will basically look like this:
IP cameras, on the other hand, are digital equipment that works on a network system, such as LAN, Intranet or Internet. Simply put, an IP camera is like a computer, which can receive and send data over the network, following the great global trend of IoT – the Internet of Things.
The IP network is much more flexible than the analogue one and you can manage the images on an NVR device, computer or even in the cloud. There are cameras that already come with internal memory or memory card for recording images on the device itself, but the processing and storage capacity is quite restricted.
IP cameras need only one network wire, which already carries the data and feeds the cameras’ energy. It is also possible to access the camera via wifi.
A very popular feature these days is remote access to camera images. Both analogue and IP cameras can be accessed remotely. The big difference is that IP cameras are already adapted for this use, while analogue cameras will need to be connected to a DVR that will convert the analogue signal into a digital signal, so that only then will it be possible to transmit the images via the Internet.
That is, the process and installation are easier with IP cameras. Some even come with their own cell phone applications for easy access.
It is good to be aware that whenever a camera or DVR is connected to the internet there is a risk of hacker invasion.
One of the main advantages of IP cameras over analogue options is precisely the image quality. Today, IP cameras already provide HD images and even higher resolutions like 4K.
The high resolution is what makes it possible to zoom in the image without loss of quality for face recognition, license plates, etc. But today, there is still a third option: HD cameras. These cameras have HD image quality and can use analogue systems and cabling such as HDTVI, HDCVI and AHD cameras.
The resolution quality of the cameras themselves is important, but it’s not all that needs to be analyzed. The entire CCTV system interferes with the final quality of images, especially the cabling.
If you have an IP system, you won’t have problems with loss of image quality. This happens because it is a digital signal that does not suffer a loss during its transmission. Now, if you have an analogue system, you will have to take some precautions so that your image quality is not compromised in the transmission process.
The greater the distance the analogue signal has to travel via coaxial cable, the greater the interference and loss of quality. Therefore, analogue cameras are no longer recommended for very large security operations. Cables must also be kept in a good state of conservation, as defects in their mesh can also interfere with the images.
Many people choose to buy low quality coaxial cables in order to reduce project costs, but this can end up compromising images and is not worth it.
It’s also good to know that if you’re operating an analogue CCTV system, the images will reach your DVR and monitor in real-time, without any delay. IP systems, on the other hand, have a small delay
In fact, IP technology is expanding across the world, but analogue cameras are still the majority. But before opting for IP cameras, it is necessary to compare their cost-effectiveness, and this analysis goes well beyond the price of the cameras themselves.
The benefits of the IP system come at a cost: IP cameras are still priced quite high compared to analogue cameras and may not be affordable for everyone. In fact, transitioning to IP technology may not be a good idea yet in some situations.
A big advantage of analogue systems that can save you a lot is the full compatibility between devices from different manufacturers. Today there is a much wider variety of analogue cameras than IP cameras on the market. All of this will give you more flexibility to buy better or cheaper equipment, even if it’s from a different manufacturer than you own. Compatibility issues are more common in IP systems and you may be “forced” to purchase equipment from a certain brand.
The flexibility of the analogue system in this regard also allows you to greatly improve the quality of your CCTV without having to invest in a completely new IP system with HD cameras. Since these cameras also use coaxial cables, you can keep all the analogue cabling you already have and save a lot of money.
HD cameras are more expensive than traditional analogue cameras, but still much cheaper than IP options. It’s a happy medium that can deliver you great quality with a considerably smaller investment. You may have to swap your DVR device for a hybrid option, but the overall cost will still be much less than redoing your entire CCTV.
On the other hand, IP cameras use a network system to work and, nowadays, it is very common that companies already have this type of system for other purposes. The good news is that, if this is the case for your company, it is possible to use the existing network for the camera system as well. In addition, if a network already exists, it is likely that an IT staff responsible for its maintenance already exists. This same team can carry out the necessary maintenance on the network for CCTV, eliminating the need to hire specific third parties for the camera system, as is the case with the analogue options.
We’ve already talked about how analogue cameras are not recommended for large systems. In this case, the larger investment in an IP CCTV is justified. It’s no use saving on the system if it doesn’t deliver the images with the quality you need. Furthermore, the larger the operation, the more the costs of IP devices are optimized in the medium and long term. In other words, if you are responsible for a large CCTV, IP cameras are probably the best option for you in terms of quality and cost.
Today, more and more technological innovations for CCTV reach the market. These are cameras with artificial intelligence, night vision, real-time analytics and many other impressive features. But, of course, these features are more developed for IP technologies.
Although the technology for analogue cameras is not a trend, there are advanced technological resources and they also work with this technology, as is the case with SmartVision. SmartVision is an intelligent video analytics solution that transforms any camera, whether analogue or digital, into intelligent devices capable of autonomously detecting people and cars in the images.
Intelligent video analytics, or video analytics, is a major security trend in Brazil and worldwide. In addition to increasing the assertiveness of monitoring, this technology has helped to reduce costs in small, medium and large companies. If you want to know more about SmartVision, click here.
Although solutions like this are compatible with both types of technology, it is a trend that technological innovations are increasingly developed for IP systems.
Choosing between IP or analogue cameras can really not be an easy task and will totally depend on your current situation. Overall, if you have a good budget and are willing to invest in a high-quality CCTV, then IP cameras are the best option for you. However, this is not always the case and there are still many ways to have an extremely high-quality analogue system that fits in your pocket. If that’s your case, go for HD cameras, they’re probably the best short-term cost-benefit you can find on the market today.
Finally, it is good to remember that, in addition to these tips, there are several technical specifications that will influence the quality and cost of your CCTV. Therefore, it is essential that you have the support of a reliable and technically qualified professional to help you make the best decisions for your electronic security.
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