What is an IP Camera?

An IP camera, or Internet Protocol camera, is a type of digital security video camera that receives sends video data via an IP network.

They are commonly used for surveillance purposes. Unlike analog closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, they do not require a local recording device, only a local area network is required.

Most IP cameras are webcams, however the term ‘IP camera’ or ‘netcam’ usually refers to IP cameras that can be directly accessed over a network connection, usually used for surveillance.

 

How does it work?

An IP Camera is connected via an ethernet cable or wirelessly via an existing WiFi network. They capture and process video and audio data. The data is then sent and received over the internet or local area network (LAN).

They’re often used with network video recorders (NVRs) or sometimes digital video recorders (DVRs). While some IP cameras do not require support of an external device as the camera is able to record directly to any local or remote storage media.

NVR stands for Network Video Recorder. NVR systems record and store video footage directly from the network.

DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder. These systems are considered the older “legacy” option. Unlike an NVR system, DVR systems work with analog cameras, which can’t process video footage. Instead, the analog cameras stream raw video footage to recorders via coaxial cables. From there, the recorder processes the video footage.

Once the video is processed, both DVR and NVR systems work the same. After connecting to a smartphone or any other viewing device, you can easily access and view your video footage when needed.

 

Types of IP Cameras

PTZ IP Camera: Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras are able to pan-tilt-zoom to adjust their field of view and angle via a remote operator. They are useful for covering larger areas like public spaces.

Fixed IP Camera: Fixed IP cameras operate in a static position and provide a fixed view that is within the camera’s field of vision. Fixed IP cameras are widely used in both outdoors and indoors, typically in stores and offices. Compared to PTZ cameras, they require less bandwidth.

PoE or PoE+ IP Camera: PoE IP cameras use an Ethernet cable (Cat 5 or 6) to supply both electrical power and data simultaneously. This eliminates the need to run two cables for power and data separately, thus reducing the amount of hardware required. PoE systems tend to be easier to install and cost less to maintain compared to traditional systems.

The difference between PoE only and PoE+ is the amount of electricity transmitted to power the systems. Standard PoE systems power most IP cameras and transmit up to 15 watts of electricity. PoE+ systems transmit up to 30 watts and are usually used in more high-power cameras with their own heating and cooling mechanisms.

Wireless IP Camera: Wireless IP cameras connect to a WiFi router to send video data. The footage is then transferred to cloud storage or the camera’s local built-in storage. Wireless IP cameras can be a good solution for small homes, while wired camera system is less susceptible to interference and recommended for larger areas.

 

Features of an IP Camera

IP systems are likely to be the future of CCTV. There have been extensive variety of components and innovations, allowing you to record videos in HD quality, light exposure, remotely access to your camera and the capability of functioning in bad weathers.

Night Vision
Many IP Camera now have a night vision feature which makes the picture visible during the night. This gives you extra security protection for the 24/7.

WDR
WDR stands for Wide Dynamic Range. This is a technology used on video cameras to compensate issues with light exposure. It works on the dark and bright areas then create a balance on the image for higher image quality and visibility.

Audio
An optional feature to record the voice or sound together with video.

Motion Detection
The ability to detect and identify movement in the frame.

Intrusion Alarm
If any occurrences happen with the cameras like cutting the cables that can stop the operation of the IP cameras, alarms will be initiated.

Power Over Ethernet (POE)
POE – Power Over Ethernet allows the network data cable (Cat 5E/6) to carry power and data at the same time without using a separate power cable.

Weather resistance
Some cameras are manufactured to be invulnerable to heavy rain or dust storm. So if you are looking for an IP camera for outdoor purposes, it is recommended to search for a Ingress Protection(PR) rating of IP65 or above.

Remote monitoring
Some IP camera comes with a mobile app support for real time remote viewing of the live footage through the use of a smartphone or other devices.