"What can an IP security camera do for me that a traditional analog camera can't?"
Massively increase your chance of accurately identifying stuff - people, vehicles and events for example.
And isn't that what you really want? Whether you're mostly concerned about using your CCTV camera security system to improve security, or increase the profitability of your business... doesn't really matter.
There are plenty of other advantages with IP and particularly with de-centralized systems. For an excellent in-depth guide, download this IP Surveillance Guide - - it may be the difference between you getting an OK solution or one that you are completely blown away by!
Analog CCTV camera resolution is limited by physics. IP Security Camera isn't in the same way.
The very best analog CCTV cameras are, to all practical purposes, limited to around one third of a Megapixel - that's around 0.35 Mpx.
Megapixel IP camera resolutions are routinely available at 1.3 Mpx and 3 Mpx and 5 Mpx and even 20 Mpx! That's a lot of pixels (which is exactly what you want if you want to massively increase your chance of accurately identifying stuff - people, vehicles and events for example.)
Of course life is never quite that simple! There are a lot of other considerations to make sure you get the best shot, and pixels isn't the only important factor. Despite the macho pronouncements I've heard around Auckland recently that go something like ... "We're not even touching analog anymore" or "Analog's dead mate, IP's the only thing worth fitting" ... the reality just ain't that simple.
It is perfectly possible to get a better shot with an analog camera than a megapixel IP security camera (under some circumstances). For example...
Lighting has always been and will always remain, a critical factor in getting high quality images.
A particular lighting problem is backlight such as when the camera is looking at a lit doorway with a person silhouetted against it. Unless the camera has a WDR (wide dynamic range) capability, it doesn't matter how many pixels you're looking at if the ones around the face are blacked out!
Analog cameras typically use a CCD sensor which is arguably superior to the CMOS sensors used in most (but not all) IP cameras. For this reason many analog cameras actually outperform many IP cameras at night.
Another instance is license plate recognition. The megapixel cameras have no problem registering the details - but they can really struggle coping with headlights.
There is an answer here however. The best practice is to use a camera with a special type of filter ( a long pass filter for the geeks ) which only allows the infra red portion of the light to be sensed by the camera. When that is used in conjunction with a separate infra red source pointing at the license plate, the probability of getting the number is much higher.
CMOS sensors tend to cope less well with rapidly moving objects, and can cause blurring or 'motion artifacts'. CCDs do better here because of the way they work.
CMOS is however the future as most IP cameras have these.
Also if you are using IR (infra red) illumination, either built in or external, it's important that the camera is a true day/night camera with ICR (infra red cut filter removal).
And so on... anyway, that's where we come in so you don't have to worry about these types of issues.
In summary, it is probably true to say that all other things being equal (and properly set up) you can't beat the extra definition you get with a HD CCTV megapixel IP camera.
Centralized is like a traditional analog system - cameras connected to a DVR/NVR (Digital Video Recorder or Network Video Recorder). The NVR runs some clever security camera software like this to do the heavy lifting.
De-centralized means the camera has the NVR functions onboard so there's no need for a central computer (ie no DVR/NVR required). Storage of your recorded video either happens on the camera itself or on a storage device attached to the IP network such as a NAS box (or Network Attached Storage for short.
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