Analogue versus IP cameras

When looking to install a security surveillance system in your home or business, one of the foremost decisions is whether to go with an IP or analogue camera system. Before deciding, it is advisable to first understand the differences between them and how the technologies work.
The difference between an analogue and an IP cameras

The main difference between the two is the way in which the video signal is delivered. On the one hand, analogue cameras turn the video signal into a format that can be received by a television or other receiver such as a VCR or monitor.

On the other hand, an IP-based camera (also known as an IP network camera) digitises the video signal using a specialised encoder. This allows the IP camera to act as a network device, thus allowing captured video images to be viewed not only through an existing network but also through a web browser that can be accessed over the Internet. IP-based cameras also have the added benefit of being able to use switches, hubs, and routers that allow the Cat-5 network to be expanded to much broader ranges.

In order to determine which camera system is best suited to your needs, let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of each style.
Pros of analogue cameras

Lower cost: Analogue cameras generally cost less to purchase than IP cameras.
Superior compatibility: It is much easier to mix and match cameras and brands if you use analogue versions. This can be a big ‘plus’ if you already have existing camera equipment that you wish to incorporate into your surveillance system.

Cons of analogue cameras

Not High Definition (HD) quality: This style of camera was developed before advancements in image quality.
Lack certain features: Many of the basic analogue cameras tend to lack some of the more advanced features of modern cameras, such as digital zoom.
Potential interference problems: Where you are installing a wireless surveillance system, analogue systems can face interference problems. More importantly, the resulting signals cannot be encrypted. This potentially means that someone else could view the signal.
Long distance applications are more difficult: If your surveillance needs encompass a wide area, analogue cameras may not be your best choice. Analogue cameras generally do not accommodate big distances and getting them to work over broad ranges can be difficult.

Pros of IP cameras

High-definition (HD) or Megapixel (MP): IP cameras are now available that offer a huge jump in image quality compared to conventional surveillance cameras.
Better wireless reception: IP cameras have encryption built into them that provides a more secure network. Interference is also not a problem with IP-based models.
Can utilise existing wiring: Because IP-based cameras act as their own network device, you can often take advantage of existing network wiring within your home. This can make the installation task much easier.
Remote access can be easier: IP cameras are better suited for remote surveillance needs.

Cons of IP cameras

Higher cost: Because of the additional technology that is built into each camera, the cost is generally higher than for equivalent analogue versions.

IP vs. Megapixel

As well as between analogue and IP cameras, there is also a difference between IP and megapixel cameras. IP cameras are generally the same resolution as an analogue camera, with a built-in video encoder to convert the analogue signal into an IP address.

High-definition (HD) or Megapixel (MP) IP cameras are now available that offer a huge jump in image quality compared to conventional surveillance cameras. Resolutions are available as 1.3, 2, 3, 5, 8 and up to 16 megapixels (16 megapixels, 4872×3248 pixels, in resolution contains over 50 times more detail than images captured with conventional surveillance systems).

We’ve found that hybrid CCTV Solutions (a mixture of analogue and IP/megapixel cameras) have become more popular since existing CCTV infrastructures could be tied in using one NVR/Software interface.

The images below illustrate how HD surveillance systems can capture full situation awareness as well as fine detail.


Detail 1


Detail 2


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While a high-end standard IP or analogue camera would create this image but then need to be zoomed in telescopically to view the detail, loosing the rest of the picture, a megapixel camera makes forensic zooming possible. With megapixel cameras there is the ability to capture not only situation awareness via the big picture of what is going on, as well as the fine details that can be used for license plate reading and identifying people, allowing security operators to react faster and reduce investigation time, resulting in a higher probability of prosecution and conviction. This would not be possible with an analogue camera, so it is being said that new HD surveillance solutions that preserve image quality are transforming the industry.

Given the benefits and the cost differences of each camera system type, the decision comes down to your specific surveillance needs. Give our experts a call now and we can accurately assess your needs and provide recommendations for the best fit for you.