In the CCTV industry there is an ongoing debate about whether analogue HD cameras or IP cameras are better. Here, we look at the pros and cons of each and get some valuable insight from Techcube’s owner, Vimal and his team of London CCTV installers.
Let”s take a look at the difference between analogue HD and IP security cameras.
What is an Analogue HD CCTV camera?
An analogue HD (AHD) camera is a specific kind of analogue camera that records in high definition (HD), 720p, 1080p and beyond. Previously, this feature was only available on IP cameras. It’s suitable for situations where HD footage is needed for evidence, but not all the features of an IP camera are required.
In an analogue HD CCTV system, the camera captures an analogue signal and this is transferred via a coaxial cable to the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) where the signal is converted to digital, compressed and stored on a hard drive within the DVR. The footage can be viewed on monitors attached to the DVR or the signal can be sent across a network to be viewed on a computer screen.
What is an IP camera?
With digital IP (Internet Protocol) cameras, each camera captures an analogue signal, but the important difference is that this is converted to a digital signal within the camera itself. Digital processing may also be completed within the camera. The digital signal is then sent via a LAN (Local Area Network).
Instead of the analogue system’s DVR, for IP cameras, the video from each camera is compressed and recorded onto an NVR (Network Video Recorder). The key difference is that the signal is sent digitally and a at a much higher resolution than analogue. The NVR streams the video from all cameras and broadcasts over LAN and over the internet for remote viewing.
|Analogue HD Camera|
|Low price||Lower quality than IP|
|When replacing old analogue cameras can use existing infrastructure/cable||Records onto DVR locally not in cloud|
|Easily available online and in shops||Does not have built in UPS (uninterruptable power supply)|
|Less technical and easier to install, less troubleshooting required||Does not have built in camera memory card functionality|
|Not smart like IP, more of a ‘dumb’ camera|
|Requires 2 cables for power and video|
|Better quality picture than analogue HD||Expensive compared to analogue. As of July 2017 from 90GBP to 600GBP+ per camera|
|Firmware upgrade allows improvements|
to cameras, e.g. better compression
|Slight latency (delay) 2|
|Uses one Ethernet cable for power and|
|Need Gigabit network switch and NVR to handle network bandwidth|
|Cloud recording, camera direct to cloud||Need network infrastructure|
|Memory card slot|
|Max 100 metres ethernet cable length but extendable 1|
|Can utilise UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply)|
|If camera and NVR are the same brand then usually installation is plug and play, for immediate use…||…But if camera and NVR are different brands, e.g. Dahua camera and Hikvision NVR then you need a technical background to configure it. An IT engineer or experienced CCTV installer required and often need manufacturer technical support.|
2 = Latency is reduced by using a Gigabit network switch.
Techcube’s owner, Vimal, says that in the future, “network sockets will become ubiquitous and anywhere there is a power point may well have a network socket. Therefore, networks will be easily accessible and IP cameras can simply be connected, plug and play, pure digital!”
He goes on to say that that 4 Megapixel analogue HD cameras do not perform as well as IP cameras; both are of a very high standard but to his eyes, the IP camera results in a clearer image.
IP cameras are perfect for connecting to the cloud, where storage of footage is on a 3rd party server connected to the internet. Cloud storage is now very popular with services such as Dropbox and Google Drive, enabling offsite storage of files. One benefit of cloud storage is that CCTV footage is accessible anywhere there is an internet connection, on your phone, computer or tablet. Also, Vimal says that one tactic thieves employ is to cut cables and steal the Digital Video Recorder or Network Video Recorder so that footage cannot be used as evidence. However, footage in the cloud is inaccessible to thieves. Thieves can also disconnect the internet connection and Vimal says, this is a challenge, but you can also record internally in the IP camera onto a micro SD card. And yes, the thieves can also take the cameras, but it’s a case of putting barriers in place to make it more difficult for thieves. He says, from watching much footage of burglaries, the average time thieves spend in a property is about 15 to 20 minutes. By making CCTV more difficult to tamper with, the more likely it is that the footage will remain intact. For example, if you have 15 cameras on site, it would take a thief a long time to break each camera, so it is too risky for them to do this in case they are caught.
UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply)
With new IP cameras, when the power supply is cut, a UPS within the camera will activate, allowing recording for a while. As of August 2017 these cameras are still very expensive, but in time price will reduce. The current cost for each camera is about £500.
Which is the Winner, Analogue HD or IP?
This is an important topic, there is a vibrant debate with passion on both sides, but Vimal’s belief is that the limitations of analogue HD will eventually mean that it is superseded by IP. Network connections will be commonplace and storage will be in the cloud. At the same price point, IP camera footage is better than analogue HD, partly because with the latter, the signal is sent analogue down a coaxial cable where it can degrade before being recorded in the DVR.