How To Choose The Right IP Camera

October 25, 2010 by Nathan Miloszewski

I’ve talked about the advantages of IP cameras and where they are used but, there is a lot to choose from.  Why are there so many options and how can choosing the right IP camera be less difficult?

IP cameras have considerably more functionality than their analog counterparts due to the available technology which allows for great flexibility.  This is also driven by end users increasing demands on the products that shape the video surveillance market.

 Video Surveillance Market Demands

  • Better image quality
  • Simplified installation and maintenance
  • More secure and reliable technology
  • Longer retention of recorded video
  • Reduction in costs
  • Size and scalability
  • Remote monitoring capabilities
  • Integration with other systems
  • More built-in system intelligence

To live up to these demands, video surveillance has shifted from analog CCTV surveillance to full digital, network-based IP surveillance systems.  The shift has been gradual because surveillance systems were 100% analog which still have a fully functioning infrastructure in place with components that have not out-lived their usefulness.

Video Servers

In instances where analog components are still being used, hybrid systems have been implemented mainly through the use of video servers.  Video servers connect to analog cameras via the coaxial cable and convert analog video signals into digital video streams that are then sent over a wired or wireless IP-based network.  This allows you to gain some features and functions of IP-based systems while maintaining existing analog cameras.

Considerations When Choosing IP Cameras

  • Camera Type:  Should the IP camera be fixed, dome, PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom), or wireless?
  • Indoor or Outdoor Environment:  Where will the camera be installed?  Lenses and camera housings differ for different environments.
  • Image Quality:  How important is image quality?  Do you need sharp details of an image or, just an overview of a particular scene?  Quality differs from camera to camera and like anything else, you get what you pay for.
  • Resolution:  Megapixel IP Cameras provide much higher resolution than VGA models.  How much image resolution does your application require?
  • Intelligence:  IP cameras can come equipped with built-in intelligence such as alarm notifications.
  • Network Functionality:  Does the IP camera support the appropriate protocols for your network?
  • Vendor:  Do you trust the camera brand and will they still be on the market years from now when quality and warranty issues arise?

This is just a broad overview of why there are so many choices and what you need to consider when selecting the right cameras for your application.  In the posts to follow I’ll be delving into more detail about the various IP camera types and where they are used.


  • mark

    i am looking for a outside camera for our stoage yard at work. we would like to start with one camera and easily expand . night vision about 100 ft . must be able to record and easy to use for people with basic computer skills also easy to install

  • Henry Horner

    Dear Friend

    I am going crazy trying to find a suitable wireless FOCUSING outdoor IP webcam. I tried a $350.00 Bullet Cam — problem was the background was so out-of-focus it was useless.

    I live in a scenic area of the Ozark Mountains (Yellville, AR) and want to share the stunning view from my back deck. My question:

    WHICH camera (top cost $500.00) would give me either still photos updated once a minute, or streaming video, but allowing me to focus on Infinity — to show the beautiful rolling Mountains.

    I would sure be grateful for your suggestions. I’ve looked at dozens of IP wireless cams on the Internet — none yet seem to offer what I need.

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