IP Video Security Camera Buyers Guide

IP Camera Buyers Guide

A comprehensive guide in selecting the right camera for your Video Surveillance system. IP Cameras offer high resolution up to 5MP and offers a superior video image. There are many options in selecting the right IP Video Security Camera and Video Recorder. Use this guide as general information for your IP Video Security System project.

Important Factors in choosing the right IP Security Camera

• Location

• Main Field of View

• Lighting conditions at night

• Resolution Requirements

• Aesthetics and Form Factor

IP Cameras will provide enhanced monitoring of your video security system with much higher resolution than traditional analog cameras. Higher resolution means better clarity and details in the camera views with the ability to post-record zoom into critical areas with a much wider view reaching up to 90 degrees.


Outdoor cameras are contained within a weather-proof housing able to withstand the temperatures and moisture of the outdoor environment. Both dome-style and bullet-style cameras are used at outdoor facilities 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 determined by first and foremost the most optimal view from the camera. Secondarily, but just as important, the ability to run cabling to the location and also the security of the camera. Cameras get stolen and you can sneak up on them if placed in the wrong location.

Types of Video Surveillance Cameras

The 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 each offer essentially the same lens and video compression circuitry, so it’s a matter of personal choice in packaging.

There are several choices when choosing a surveillance camera style:

Location – Will it be intrusive? Can it be tampered with? Best Viewing Angle?

Infrared Requirements – Bullet-style cameras are available in longer IR lengths (up to 400 feet)

Deterrence Factor – Many times the mere spotting of video cameras will deter a security situation. How well do you want the cameras to be seen? Deter or Discrete?

Bullet Cameras tend to be placed in areas needing higher intensity Infrared and have larger lens for a longer Field of View. Bullet Cameras need to be placed out of reach as they are not vandal-proof devices.

Dome Cameras are the most common camera package and are discrete and can be placed on drop-ceiling tiles very effectively. The dome camera is offered in vandal-proof packages that can be placed in almost any location without fear of theft or damage.

Camera Resolutions

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

Camera Lens

Camera lens are generally built-in to the dome and bullet style cameras. The lens is either fixed, vari-focal, or with a PTZ Manual and Auto Vari-Focal 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 chart details the lens information:

Lens Size Degrees View

2.8mm 95 Degrees

3.6mm 80

5mm 68

8mm 44

12mm 24

50mm 5.3

Fixed lens and Vari-Focal lens (ex. 2.8-12mm) are available with IP Cameras. Many camera lens today are included with the cameras, and are not required to be bought separately.

Infrared Technology

Infrared cameras are very common today and are offered in almost every camera package including dome and bullet-style security cameras. Infrared cameras work from reflected infrared light off of objects that are being monitored.

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 switches on. The IR LEDs on the camera are then activated and the IR camera produces a black and white image which can provide great detail dependent on the camera quality.

IP Camera Networks

IP Cameras are typically setup on a private network and camera data is not shared across the enterprise local network due to bandwidth concerns. A HD camera can require up to 5MPS, so a private and local network is established for communication between the IP Cameras and Network Video Recorder. Cameras are made available by a connection to this on a demand-basis for Local and Remote Access.

PoE – Power-Over-Ethernet has made installation of IP Cameras a plug and play method achieved by most Network Video Recorders as IP addressing and configurations are a thing of the past. The quality NVRs will provide configuration tools and systems that make IP Camera systems quiet and very easy to install. Many NVRs today provide onboard PoE so external power sources for the cameras are not needed. Also, the data network for the cameras is built into the NVR device.

Advanced Features of IP Camera Systems

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

Smart Search Functions – The ability to search on motion detection is a great feature and Smart Search provides motion within any area in the FOV. Motion detection detects movement within the entire FOV and Smart Search provides that same ability in any area of the FOV. For example, you can search a front parking area or search who went through the door in the lower right portion of the FOV.

Alarm Notifications – The ability to text message or email certain notifications is an under-used feature available in most DVR and NVRs in the marketplace. The ability to alert you via text or email with hard drive failures, video loss, etc. can allow proactive service of the critical video security system. Another popular alert is motion detection in certain cameras that provide not only a text or email of the motion, but a video snapshot of the motion detection.

Facial Recognition and Analytics – Facial recognition is the most recognized video security analytics, however the pro-active video surveillance features that can track certain movements and alert monitors to special events are also valuable. Crowd detection and aggressive behavior patterns are observed in large complex systems that require a proactive monitoring program.

Network Video Recorders

Network Video Recorders (NVR) are the hub of the Video Surveillance system and provide the Live and Recorded Video in multiple channels that are typically 4,8,16,32,64,128 Channel (or camera). The NVR provides the network management of IP Cameras and many times include a built-in switch with PoE. The NVR is responsible for maintaining the Video Recordings and are archived to the Hard Drives installed. Large NVRs can hold up to 32 TB of Hard Drive space for Video File storage.

Remote Access via any Device

Remote and Local Access to the IP cameras is achieved through the secure connection to the Network Video Recorder. Applications such as CMS Software on a PC and/or remote client applications for the iPhone, Android and Tablets.

Accessing the facility cameras through the cell phone via smartphone applications is very poplar today due to the speed in which the facility can be video accessed at any location. The ability to monitor residential and business facilities 24×7 at any location is a great tool for managing a facility or enhancing the security of your home.

Benefits of IP Video Security

IP Cameras deliver detailed high definition images. IP Cameras are now achieving 3-5 megapixels and compression technology is advancing towards 4K Video Security and beyond. Pricing for IP Cameras is continuing to lower as more IP cameras enter the marketplace.

IP Video Cameras can now scale in the thousands 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 interchanged offering the best of breed camera for the project. ONVIUF is the standard for IP manufacturers allowing cross-vendor integration. Integrating the best camera for the requirement no matter the manufacture allows Video Security projects to have greater quality and reduced project costs.

Remote Access of IP Video Camera systems via any device including PC, iPhone, Android or Tablet Device. This on-demand application is a fast access to your facility video cameras.

Top 5 things you should consider in IP Camera Systems:

1. Only consider 1080p or above resolution cameras. The quality and performance is superior to 720p and cost difference is negligible in 2015. In 2017, we will be saying the same thing about 4K resolution cameras.

2. Not all ONVIF specification cameras are the same. You may get a picture, but not all IP cameras are able to enable motion detection so you end up having to have full-time recording. Look for confirmation of testing and certification with IP cameras and NVRs.

3. The IP Camera Network should be on its own VLAN or self-contained network and not directly connected to the enterprise LAN. Should a Local Network connection be required it should be routed to it through a routing statement. Most NVRs provide its own VLAN.

4. Consider the interface to the iPhone, Android or Tablet Device as an important factor in NVR/camera selection as this has major impact on monitoring /accessing the security system.

5. Consider a name-brand camera as there are many import cameras that are of inferior quality with very limited warranty options for you.

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