January 2

A Comparison of Analog and IP Security Cameras


There are two primary types of cameras used in video surveillance systems: analog and internet protocol (IP) cameras. Each camera operates differently. Many security camera systems are a hybrid system, incorporating both analog and digital components.

After you review the following attributes of each type of security camera, you may be able to determine which system is right for your needs.

analog security cameras

Analog Security Cameras

Analog security cameras have been used in the security industry in CCTV systems for more than 30 years. Originally, analog cameras transmitted a signal via a cable to television and VCR, where the video was recorded on a tape to be watched later.

  • Operation. Today, modern analog cameras capture and send a video signal over a coax cable to a digital video recorder (DVR). The DVR stores the analog video signal on a hard drive for later retrieval. It is archived for a set number of days.

    The DVR has built-in intelligence for options like scheduling, motion detection, and digital zoom. To view the video, monitors are connected to the DVR or can be accessed remotely over a local area network (LAN).
  • Video Quality. Analog cameras have low resolution. The quality does not match IP cameras, but they do perform well in low light conditions. Analog cameras have limited site ranges and do not offer clarity for the zoom-in function. If you zoom in on analog images, you will see a grainier picture, which means you’re not going to recognize a perpetrator’s face by zooming in.
  • Installation. Analog cameras require more cabling than IP cameras. They require a separate cable to control the pan, tilt, and zoom functions. If there is audio, another cable will be needed. One analog camera may need three separate cables for power, audio, and video.
  • Security. Analog cameras are far more vulnerable to security breaches because the feeds are not encrypted and can be intercepted.
  • Distance. Analog transmissions can take place up to 300 meters away over a coax cable. They sometimes lose clarity with increased distances.
ip security cameras

IP Security Cameras

First developed in 1996, internet protocol (IP) security cameras capture and digitize analog images and has gained more popularity in recent years.  The camera contains an encoder and a web server. Digital processing compression and motion detection also occurs within the camera.

  • Operation. Digital videos are sent from the camera via IP over a local area network using an ethernet cable to a network video recorder (NVR). Although an IP security camera needs to be connected to the same network as the NVR, it does not require a direct connection to the NVR.

    To operate, IP security cameras use Power over Ethernet (PoE). Therefore, only one cable supplies power to the camera and transmits the video, unlike analog where multiple cables are required for operation.

    The NVR captures, compresses, and records each IP camera’s signal. Additionally, the NVR has built-in software that enables features like intelligent search and zoom. For local or remote viewing, video from the camera can be broadcast over the internet, where it can be viewed on a web browser.
  • Video Quality. IP cameras capture high-definition images in megapixels. The higher the pixel resolution of the camera, the better the image quality you’ll receive. IP cameras provide overall higher video quality than analog cameras. They offer a wide or narrow field of view and better zoom-in capabilities.

    Greater video detail can be seen when a digital signal is transmitted, which makes facial recognition or detecting license plate numbers much easier.
  • Installation. There are 5 components needed to set up an IP camera system. They include:
    • PoE switch: the link that sends data between the camera and recorder.
    • Security camera recorder: the central location to manage, record, playback, and download videos
    • IP camera: the eyes of the security system
    • A network cable: CAT5 or CAT6 cable to provide power to the system.
    • A modem or router: used for remote viewing
  • Security. IP cameras encrypt and compress data before transmitting it over the internet to your server. This makes it much more difficult for data to be intercepted.
  • Distance. Digital video can be sent using an IP camera of distances over 100 meters. The images maintain clarity over long distances and when the signal is converted between different formats.

what camera is best for you

What’s Best for Your Needs?

It’s obvious from the above comparisons that the IP cameras are more robust, secure and reliable than the analog ones. You should weight whether you really need that level of security.

You’ll also need to weigh costs. An IP camera system is more expensive, especially the initial investment. But it's important to remember that a single IP camera can take the place of three or four comparable analog cameras due to the increased coverage area, so while a single unit may cost more, you're ultimately buying less cameras.

Gateway Can Help You Decide

Still not sure which camera suits your surveillance needs? At Gateway Lock and Security,

our security experts will identify the best solution for your home or business based on your budget. We can also configure, install, monitor, and maintain your video surveillance system. Give us a call for a free consultation.


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