Should you choose IP or analogue CCTV?

Security has become a major concern in homes and businesses making CCTV a paramount installation to fit into every home and business security plan.
For those who know a bit about video surveillance systems, users normally have to make a decision as to which system they want to install as their security solution.
Technically speaking, there is the conventional analogue CCTV system in one hand and the IP systems. From the financial point of view, the analogue system is likely to be more cost effective than IP counterpart although the cost of IP cameras and NVR are declining due to technology and competition.

The key difference between analog CCTV and IP Cameras

Without going into too much of technical explanations, the two systems can be quickly defined as below:

  • Analog cameras transfer the video signals in analog form (electrical signals), usually use RG 59 cables for the cabling, and have the videos recorded by a DVR (Digital Video Recorder), where each single camera is directly connected to the DVR.
  • IP cameras encode the video signal into IP packets, use the data network (LAN) for the cabling, and have the videos recorded by an NVR (Network Video Recorder) that can be connected anywhere on the network.

Both type of cameras use the same mechanism for capturing the video by their CCD sensor, and the main difference is the method by which the video signal is transmitted.

Benefits of IP Cameras over Analog CCTV

  1. Higher image quality: Unlike a few years ago, where cameras have poor video resolution, now we have mega-pixel IP cameras that totally outmatch any analog camera solution. The higher pixel resolution of the IP cameras means you can zoom into much more details of a scene even after it is recorded, without losing clarity.
  2. Unified cabling infrastructure: by utilizing the same LAN network infrastructure, IP cameras can be deployed usually with no need for major re-cabling. It also enables utilizing different network mediums such as wireless and fiber links seamlessly.
  3. No major interference / distortion hassle: in analog systems, especially when the cameras are over a few hundred meters/feet away from the DVR, interference and distortion due to electrical noises, poor quality connections, and ground loop effects can cause tricky situations requiring extensive effort to overcome. With IP cameras, one won’t need to bother about interference / image quality issues.
  4. Power arrangements: IP cameras can be mostly powered over the same network cable through POE (Power Over Ethernet) by simply connecting them to a POE-capable network switch, eliminating the need for separate source of power. This is not the case in analog cameras, where each camera would need separate power source.
  5. Lots of extra features: New IP cameras come with a constantly-expanding list of new features and enhancements – these include video analytic and enhancement features, web interface for direct view and remote monitoring and control, automatic alert notifications via email and SMS and even internal NVR for recording of videos.

When can I still consider Analog Cameras?

With all technology enhancements, many of the arguments justifying analog cameras are not valid anymore and belong to the past. Arguments such as analog cameras have better image quality or costs less were valid a couple of years ago, but not anymore.

But there are two design conditions when one might still justify an analog camera solution:

  1. Very small systems for small shops: If you want a very simple and cost effective setup to include up to 4 cameras connected with a very short cables to a DVR to setup a basic surveillance for a small shop, analog cameras are probably still considerable for 1-2 years.
  2. Distributed, distant cameras with no existing network infrastructure: There might be some rare cases where a simple surveillance solution is needed where there are a few cameras distributed in different directions and with several hundred meters/feet distance from the control room. In such cases, if there is no network infrastructure available, one might still consider an analog camera solution for the sake of lower costs of implementation.