IP cameras—also called network cameras—are digital video cameras that connect to your computer network in order to provide surveillance footage. IP cameras have been steadily replacing older analog systems since Axis launched the first IP camera system in 1996. By now, the technology for network cameras has progressed to the point that analog surveillance cameras are on the way out.
We were talking about IP cameras the other day. As we were talking, we realized that it’s not terribly clear to our customers why IP cameras are replacing analog cameras. The old technology seemed to work well enough. Why switch?
So we here at TriTech came up 22 REASONS for you to invest in the best video security technology on the market today: IP surveillance cameras.
And don’t think that these are all the reasons we could’ve come up with, either! This is just scratching the surface.
IP Surveillance Cameras Provide Security
IP cameras protect you, your employees, your customers, your property, your assets.
If they didn’t offer security, what would be the point? But they do, and they do it more effectively than traditional analog cameras.
The whole point of using a security camera is to take images that have enough detail to be useful. If you have footage of someone’s face and they’re just a couple of pixels, you may as well text an emoji to the police.
IP cameras provide far superior resolution to analog cameras. The typical analog camera shoots at a resolution equivalent to 704 x 480, the old TV standard. IP cameras produce HD digital video of 1920 x 1080 resolution and beyond.
Better resolution means more detail. More detail means you have more information when you need it. Faces are identifiable, license plates are readable, evidence is clear.
2. Progressive Scanning
Resolution is one thing, but reducing blur is something else altogether. You can have a 20MP image of a car in motion that’s just a bunch of lines. What use is that?
IP cameras solve this problem by using progressive scanning. This means that each frame is a complete picture. When you see the video resolution given as something like 1080p or 720p, that “p” stands for progressive. Analog cameras use interlaced scanning. They typically shoot at something like 480i—note the “i” for interlaced.
Interlaced scanning means that the picture you watch is actually a composite of two images. Imagine a frame of footage with the numbers 1 to 500 on the side. Each number marks a row, a slice of that picture. For each frame, the camera only captures the slices that are marked either odd or even, that is, on the first pass, it captures rows 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. and on the second pass, it captures rows 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. Thus, it takes two passes for the camera to capture a complete image. It saves on bandwidth.
When you watch the interlaced footage, you basically don’t notice the lines, because your mind fills in any missing details. But when you view a still image of something in motion that’s a composite of interlaced frames, it’s going to be blurry. The still image is actually two partial images stitched together. The object in motion will have moved between those two images. When they’re stitched together, you get blur.
Progressive scanning, which captures the whole frame each time, eliminates this problem. You get a clear image for each frame.
3. Field of View
IP cameras have a wider field of view than analog cameras. Analog cameras have a narrow field of view. If you have a narrow field of view, you’re going to be recording a narrower scene. You’ll be missing a lot of the action.
Actually, IP cameras don’t simply have a wider field of view. They have the versatility to cover the field of view that fits your needs. They can have narrow or wide fields of view. They can have the field of view that works for your situation, so you won’t be spending money on a solution for a problem that you’re not trying to answer.
Because IP cameras combine high resolution with a wide field of view, you’ll be getting quality records of more area. This means that you’ll need fewer cameras in your surveillance camera system. Some network cameras even take 360° video!
4. Double Lens Cameras
Not only can IP cameras come with either wide or narrow lenses, they can come with both at once. MOBOTIX, for instance, produces double lens cameras. These mean that you can have one lens permanently focused on the wide-angle to capture the whole scene, with the other lens focused closely on the most vital location, giving you maximum detail where you need it the most.
It also means that you’re replacing two cameras with just one, simplifying your purchasing, installation and upkeep process.
5. Outdoors Cameras
You might think that IP cameras, because they’re computers, would not be robust enough for outdoors installation. That’s not the case. Outdoors network cameras are built to IP standards to withstand the elements.
Some also bring extra benefits. For instance, they might include day and night capabilities. Your camera would be able to take high-resolution full-color video by day, and by night take useful thermal imaging recordings.
An IP camera hooks into a network. Why can’t that network be wi-fi? The answer is: It can! And the advantages of having a wireless connection are easy to imagine. You’ll be able to place the camera precisely where it works best, without having to worry about how to get wires to it.
Wireless cameras run on batteries, and batteries are becoming increasingly efficient. And you won’t have to worry about the camera running out of power without you knowing about it, because it’ll send you a notification when it’s running low.
7. Intelligent Features
Because IP cameras are computers as well as cameras, they have features that extend their functionality far beyond the traditional camera.
8. Electronic Image Stabilization
Our partners at Axis have developed some amazing technologies for their IP cameras. One of these is electronic image stabilization. Let’s say you’ve put your camera on top of a pole. Why wouldn’t you? It has the best view. However, you never realized that pole actually sway and vibrate a whole lot in the wind, which makes your video all blurry.
Axis has developed a method of intelligently stabilizing the image, meaning you have expanded possibilities for where you can place your camera.
9. Wide Dynamic Range
Another amazing technology Axis has developed is wide dynamic range. When photographers speak about dynamics, they’re talking about the brightness or darkness of a scene. A scene that incorporates bright patches and dark patches while retaining detail is said to have a wide dynamic range. The human eye can adjust to a very, very wide dynamic range, but cameras… not so much. Think about how when you take a picture on a sunny day, the sky gets blown out: it’s pure white. There’s no detail.
Axis has developed camera technology that intelligently adapts to bright or dark patches and retains detail even with the wide dynamic range. This cannot happen with analog technology.
Intelligent features mean that your camera can provide you with instant analysis of the visual data. A simple example is that network camera software might be able to determine the number of people in a given scene. By analyzing these data, you’d be able to implement a more efficient queue, for example, or determine when to bolster staff numbers.
There are many IP camera analytics programs out there, and their number is only going to increase over time. And because your camera’s software can be updated at any point, your previously purchased camera will have access to new analytics features.
Pan. Tilt. Zoom. To get the perfect picture, you need to have a mobile camera. However, with analog cameras, once you set the camera up, your options for changing the angle are limited. Network cameras allow you control the camera remotely, so you’re able to change where the cameras are pointed to continue getting the most pertinent footage.
One feature some cameras have combines PTZ functionality with intelligence: auto-tracking. With auto-tracking, your camera automatically follows objects in motion. Your more likely to get usable video of objects in motion that way, particularly when combined with the progressive scanning that all IP cameras use.
Manufacturers of IP cameras are becoming increasingly skilled at miniaturizing their products while retaining all the high-quality features you need. Think about the incredible miniaturization of video cameras in a smartphone. Now think about how discreet a tiny security camera could be.
Covert cameras are particularly useful when you want to get close-up video for ID purposes without being obvious. A good example would be on a banking machine.
Dome cameras are similar to covert cameras in one way. Because of the dome covering, the precise direction that the camera is facing is difficult to determine. However, dome cameras are generally placed in obvious locations, such as above a door. They act not only as cameras, then, but also as visual deterrents even when they’re not filming people. By not being obvious about which way they’re pointing, dome cameras make people believe they’re on camera all the time.
15. Remote Access
An IP camera is not only a camera: it’s a little computer that connects to the internet. This means it can have its very own IP address. With the appropriate app installed and the system configured properly, you’ll be able to access the camera anywhere, on any device. Because you’ll essentially be accessing it on an extended LAN, you won’t need to worry about security, either.
16. Encryption & Authentication
Of course, if you have a camera for security, you need to make sure the camera itself is secured. IP cameras offer encrypted video feeds with multi-level user authentication controls. Other options include placing a watermark on all your video to make sure no one is tapping into your feed and using your images.
IP cameras aren’t just sitting there, waiting to be broken. Anti-vandal cameras, such as the MOBOTIX V15, are specifically designed for the roughest of environments. With stainless steel housing, these rugged cameras can handle anything.
IP cameras can also come with tamper-resistance or built-in alarms to let you know if someone is messing with your camera.
18. Power over Ethernet
Many IP cameras make use of Power over Ethernet (PoE), which means they don’t need a separate plug for their power. Their power is supplied through the Ethernet cable that connects the camera to the network. This is particularly useful for outdoors installations.
Ethernet cables can be split, meaning a single cable can supply power to multiple cameras, reducing your cabling even further.
19. Efficiency & Energy Savings
Because IP cameras can detect motion, they’re able to go into a sleeping mode when there’s nothing to film. Over the lifespan of the system, this can add up to a significant savings, both in harddrive space needed to record the video, and also just in electricity usage.
The software that gives your network camera intelligent features can be updated, just like you would update any other computer. This means that the functionality of your camera is not simply what you get in the box. The camera can increase in functionality as you own it.
More importantly, you’ll never need to take down the camera to update it. Because it’s hooked up to your network, you’re going to be updating the camera’s firmware just like you’d update any other computer.
21. Easy to Use
If you have your network already set up, IP cameras are about as simple as it gets to install. A single Ethernet cable provides power, data and video connectivity. You configure the system. You’re going.
The final reason is just the brutal reality of the marketplace: analog video surveillance is a dying technology.
If you choose to go with an analog system, you have to know that manufacturers are moving away from the technology. IP cameras are superior. You will likely be able to get legacy support for quite a while, but the tides of technology have decisively moved away from analog surveillance cameras.
To learn how TriTech can help your business find security, give us a call at (262) 717-0037 or toll-free at (800) 891-3388 or email us at service (at) tritechcoa (dot) com.