Security Camera Systems

Whether you’re monitoring activity in your business or keeping an eye on your property, choosing the right security cameras or security camera systems is essential to your surveillance goals.

If you’re new to the world of video surveillance, however, the variety of cameras and their functionalities can leave your head swimming. As a follow-up to our security cameras glossary, this article is here to help further break down the distinctions between IP vs. analog, local vs. cloud-based storage, and many more terms you need to know.

IP Cameras vs. CCTV Cameras

CCTV, also called closed-circuit or analog cameras, transmit video to a specified monitor, generally with a person monitoring the footage. To record the footage coming in, a digital video recorder (DVR) is required.

IP, or “Internet Protocol,” cameras receive digital data through a computer network. They are more modern than CCTV security cameras.

Some of the differences between CCTV and IP cameras are price, connectivity, image quality, detection capability, and scalability. Since IP cameras have more modern capabilities, they will generally cost more than analog cameras. IP security cameras can be connected to a file server or Network Video Recorder (NVR). Analog cameras only connect to a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), as they require conversion from an analog signal to a digital format for recording. The images captured by IP cameras are far superior to those of analog cameras. Today’s IP cameras are capable of resolution up to 8MP (4K or ultra HD). In contrast, analog cameras have significantly less resolution at 2MP or less. IP cameras are capable of advanced video analytics built into the camera that can be used to flag events like motion detection, loitering, cross-line detection, and tampering. Analog cameras do not have analytic capabilities apart from what’s built into the DVR. IP camera systems connected to a file server can support a limitless number of cameras, whereas an analog system typically accommodates a maximum of 16 cameras per DVR.

Local vs. Cloud-Based Storage

Local and cloud-based storage are a bit more self-explanatory than some of the other terms. Local storage means that your video footage is transmitted over a local area network (LAN) and stored on a local file server.

When cloud-based storage is used, the cameras record footage and send it into an online cloud storage area. Cloud-based storage of 24/7 video is not practical because it uses an extreme amount of bandwidth.

Due to its bandwidth demands, cloud-based storage could be an option for a very small system with low-resolution cameras. However, most security camera systems, especially those with Ultra HD cameras, should use the local storage option.

Wired vs. Wireless Systems

There are many things to consider when choosing between a wired and wireless security camera system. Wired cameras, for example, have a more stable connection because they are constantly connected to their sources of power and won’t receive interference from other nearby wifi devices. On the other hand, they can be more of a hassle to install: you have to place them near a power source and drill holes in the walls or ceiling to run the wires through. Once you get them in place, you probably won’t want to move them.

Wireless security cameras are easier to install and can be moved to a new location at any time because of their increased portability. Many wireless cameras can run off of batteries as opposed to electricity. However, they tend to be a bit pricier than wired systems and you may receive interference from nearby wifi devices. Because wireless cameras are battery-powered, they typically only record short bursts of video and are not suitable for applications where continuous recording is required.

PTZ Cameras vs. Fixed Cameras

PTZ stands for “pan-tilt-zoom,” conveniently listing all of its functions in one compact acronym. PTZ security cameras are articulated, meaning they’re able to pan back and forth or up and down to cover a broad area with a single camera.

Fixed cameras, on the other hand, stay in one position. The biggest advantage a fixed camera has over a PTZ is that they’re always looking at the same place. Sometimes, as they are moving back and forth, a PTZ misses an event occurring on the other end of its spectrum. Unless there is a person monitoring the footage to catch what’s happening, the PTZ will continue its course and could miss the event.

A PTZ camera works best when there is a person monitoring it. That way, they can take control of the camera and point and zoom in at whatever area is being targeted. Some prefer to just use multiple fixed cameras pointing in a variety of directions, which provides the same amount of footage breadth while staying locked on their target areas.

Thermal vs. Infrared Cameras

While both of these cameras create images based on infrared radiation in the environment, they do so in different ways. Infrared cameras take in and measure information about the infrared light waves around them using an infrared light source, producing a black and white image.

Thermal cameras, also known as thermal imaging cameras, also use infrared radiation to create images. They measure the heat coming off of animate and inanimate objects to produce black and white or color-coded images. One of the advantages of a thermal camera over an infrared camera is that thermal cameras are best at detecting motion in very large outdoor areas.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cameras

The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor security cameras is their durability. Since outdoor cameras have to deal with weather conditions, and have a higher likelihood of being tampered with, their housings are more durable and environmentally sealed. Many outdoor housings also include a heater/fan to accommodate extreme temperatures.

Additional Considerations

Communication Features

Some security camera systems allow you to not only see an image but also hear and/or transmit audio over a loudspeaker.

A two-way communication function adds a further level of security to your surveillance system. On top of being able to communicate, these speaker systems can be used for emergency response. Oftentimes, they will have a secondary extension that contacts local security or calls 911 if the call button is pushed and held. When this feature is paired with security cameras, your surveillance system becomes even more powerful.

Video Management System (VMS) Capabilities

The video management system is the software that collects and stores the video footage from your security camera system. It provides an interface for viewing and managing your footage and can even provide you with different capabilities that will help you manage your cameras’ functions. For example, some VMS software can help you control the motion of a PTZ camera or aid in investigations using archived footage.

Covert Security Cameras

Also called “hidden cameras,” covert cameras allow you to monitor situations and people without detection. They’re often used by police and other law enforcement agencies for short-term operations.

When choosing a covert camera, look for one that is quick to install (“deploy”). You’ll also want to keep in mind how the footage is being transmitted and stored, and if you plan to install it outdoors, durability will be important.

If you want to add even more to your understanding of security camera systems, we can help. Let our experts answer all your questions and customize a solution that meets your needs, as well as your budget.

Contact i2c Technologies today at (888) 422-7749 or request a quote online.