Whether you’re a bookkeeper, physics teacher or doctor, terminology like “Analog, IP, AI Analytics, Facial recognition and LPR monitoring” probably don’t mean much to you. Trying to understand why the “NVR” you’ve just been quoted on is R 1,000.00 more than the one you’ve seen on Facebook Marketplace is not something your trained for!
To try and make camera technology more accessible, and to promote the use of the right equipment for the right circumstance, our new year–end blog series will discuss camera terminology and explain some of the advantages and disadvantages.
Today we start with one of the most fundamental differences, Analogue vs IP Cameras.
Analogue cameras are an old camera technology used in CCTV systems. It sends video over a cable to VCR’s or DVR’s. Think of an analogue CCTV system as your eyes and the DVR as your brain. The eye can’t do more than send visual data to the brain to be processed.
Analogue cameras were designed and installed in 1942 by German Engineer, Walter Bruch. He invented these Analogue cameras for himself and others to see V2 rockets being launched. 79 years later the purpose of these cameras hasn’t changed as we still use these for off-site monitoring. Looking at the technology in a little more detail, however, and it’s clear some drastic changes have been made.
Advantages to installing an analogue system
- Cost: one of the most common reasons clients tend to stick to their analogue system is because of the bottom-line price tag. It tends to be significantly cheaper than an IP-based system, especially as the camera count increases.
- Installation simplicity: most of the available analogue cameras in the market are easy to install and run. The cameras send visual data down a cable to the DVR (Digital Video Recorder). The DVR then converts the received analogue signal to a digital format and stores it. There is very little, if any configuration required to get the cameras to ‘talk’ to the DVR.. you simply plug ‘n play.
- Technology: after 79 years one would hope that the technology behind analogue cameras would’ve improved. Luckily it has, High Definition (HD) analogue cameras hit the market a few years ago and even higher resolutions are now available.
Disadvantages of Analogue cameras
- Digital recording quality: when it comes to camera views that have a lot of movement and require a high-resolution image, IP cameras can offer you a better frame rate (more frames per second gives a smooth video and more chances of capturing that suspect’s face as he turns towards the camera).
- Coverage: analogue cameras tend to have a narrower field of view, or less powerful night-vision, meaning that more cameras might be needed to cover the same area, with more cabling required and more things that could go wrong.
- Positioning of the Analogue cameras: Analogue cameras need to feed information directly to the DVR. But the cables can only carry information over a defined distance. It is best to have the cameras situated as close as possible to the DVR to avoid diminishing the quality of the connection.
Internet Protocol (IP) cameras
1996 was a game changer in the camera monitoring industry as Axis Communications introduced the Axis Neteye 200, the first centralized IP camera developed by Martin Gren and Carl-Axel Aim. This gave the end user the accessibility to view snapshots of movement from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Modern day IP cameras frequently provide us with new integrations, new capabilities and new possibilities. For example, with an internet connected camera system today you can view your cameras anywhere in the world using a cell phone, tablet or home PC. You can even set-up the cameras to send you a notification when someone is seen on a camera.
Advantages to installing an IP system
- Resolution: while analogue systems have improved recently, they still cannot compete with the top-end resolutions on offer with IP cameras. When high-megapixel cameras are required, IP cameras are a must.
- Image quality: IP cameras provide better video quality than analogue cameras, frequently offering better handling of light imbalances, higher definitions (making them more useful for functions like facial recognition, number plate monitoring services and access control) and better night-vision. Most of this is due to the fact that there is more computing power in an IP camera than an analogue camera.
- Connectivity: Although we don’t encourage their use at OmniVision, Wireless IP cameras can be very helpful and cost beneficial where it is unpractical or impossible to run cables in conduit piping.
- Extra features: IP cameras posses onboard computing power, and so can offer additional image processing that analogue cameras cannot. This makes it possible to potentially read license plates, detect people or track movement directly on the camera itself (referred to as edge processing). And because each camera can do its own job, you no longer need super-powerful central servers to crunch data from every camera on the site… each one does its own processing, and the central server can run much lighter.
Disadvantages to installing an IP system
IP cameras do not have many disadvantages, however, their additional cost tends to top most people’s list. As the saying goes though, one gets what one pays for, and that is certainly true in the comparison between analogue and IP cameras. They may cost more, but they offer far more for the extra money.
Another potential disadvantage is that, due to their high resolution, IP cameras can suck up quite a bit of bandwidth on a network.
Which one? Ask OmniVision!
Whether you’re going for an analogue or an IP system, OmniVision Security is able to provide a world class off-site monitoring service. We can connect remotely to just about any camera system, new or old, analogue or IP, and have a software suite that enables human detection on just about any video feed at a very reasonable cost. And because we are independent of any manufacturer or installer, we will always give you our honest opinion on the hardware you’re considering. That, paired with our vast experience with just about every brand name product available in South Africa, means you should definitely be calling us when considering whether your existing camera system is sufficient for off-site monitoring, or whether you need to spend a little more to upgrade to the latest and greatest.