I'll jump right to the conclusion out of the gates here: each solution has its merits. The tone of this post will be to highlight many benefits of IP and Megapixel video surveillance, but that does not mean analog video does not have its place.
Pictured above - 180 degree (four lenses) IP Megapixel security camera from Arecont.
IP (Internet Protocol) cameras do not have to also be Megapixel, but a Megapixel camera is always going to be IP.
You can view IP and Megapixel security cameras from anywhere via the web or with management software, which is loaded on the server and accessed by workstations.
In terms of viewing analog security cameras, they "digitize" the image, but before transmitting, they need to convert it back to analog so it can be received by a monitor, DVR (Digital Video Recorder), etc.
Speaking of DVR's, analog cameras use these recording devices--boxes with various capacities for cameras, i.e., 4-channel, 8-channel, 16-channel, etc. IP and Megapixel security cameras record onto an NVR, a Network Video Recorder. This software can exist on a box or can be loaded elsewhere.
An advantage of analog cameras here is that there is more flexibility with the type of camera you add to the DVR. With IP and Megapixel, the cameras that are added need to be supported by the NVR.
Another advantage of analog cameras has to do with capacity. You can add as many cameras as your DVR allows.
Bandwidth can be an issue with IP...but it doesn't have to be. If you simply slam a network with many IP cameras, it will bog it down. But you can build your own network by running CAT 5 cable (UTP) to switches in as many locations as is necessary. And networks are gaining in capacity in recent years and therefore able to handle more traffic than in the past.
And price? IP can be three times more expensive, but you'll need fewer cameras if they're Megapixel. For instance, you could purchase a single 2-Megapixel security camera for a parking lot that could conceivably replace approximately 3-4 analog cameras.
And those analog security cameras might not even measure up when push comes to shove. What happens when you actually need to present evidence to the police and there's no facial or license plate recognition...and it's even difficult to make out vehicle type? Why have cameras in place that won't even produce results when it counts?
You typically won't have these issues with Megapixel security cameras. In fact, you will have excellent results when going back to stored data to zoom in on objects. With analog, it's sort of like writing your name on a balloon, then blowing the balloon up. It'll enlarge, but will be more grainy and distorted the larger the balloon gets.
Other differences? An IP security camera transmits PoE (Power over Ethernet). The camera gets its power from the closest switch. With analog, you need a power supply which can be used in conjunction with CAT 5 cable and will allow you to send video and power over the cable.
In summary, analog in small applications is a good value if installed over CAT 5 cable, which "future proofs" for conversion to IP cameras. IP security cameras can provide more power and flexibility.
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