ACTi ACM4201An IP camera, also called a network camera, is a camera with an IP network connection. It can also be described as a camera and computer combined into one unit.  Captured video is transported over an IP network via network switches and is recorded to a PC server with video management software.

That sounds simple enough but when you’re trying to choose the right IP camera you’ll begin to notice how many different types of cameras there are:

That list can be even further segmented but you get the idea.  It can be a dizzying process to wade through the available choices.  But, there’s a reason for all the options and in our ongoing discussion of how to find the right IP camera for your project I’ll be detailing the camera types and how/where they are used.

Oftentimes it’s not just one camera type that’s needed but rather a mix of camera types are utilized to fit the intricate needs of a surveillance system solution.

IP Cameras vs. CCTV Analog Cameras

Aside from how they’re connected and accessed, IP cameras surpass their analog predecessors with advanced features such as video motion detection, alarm handling, audio monitoring, and audio alarms.

Indoor / Outdoor

IP cameras are designed for indoor use only or both indoor and outdoor use. A protective housing for the camera or a certain lens (to regulate the amount of light) may be necessary for outdoor use.

Day / Night

IP cameras can also offer day and night functionality with use of a IR-cut filter or IR-blocking filter that improves light sensitivity to provide clear, high quality black and white images at nighttime. IR illuminators can also be used in conjunction with an IR-sensitive camera to further enhance quality during low-light or nighttime periods.

Thermal IP Cameras are also available that use thermal imaging, which allows users to detect people, objects and incidents in complete darkness and difficult conditions such as smoke, haze, dust and light fog.

IP Camera Functions

Other useful functions that IP cameras offer are:

  • EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization): The camera’s processor will automatically stabilize images in areas with high wind or heavy vibrations.
  • Privacy Masking: Sensitive areas of a scene can be blocked or masked from an operators view.
  • E-Flip: To ensure images will not be viewed upside down from a PTZ camera there is an electronic rotation of the image when a person passes directly underneath.

IP Camera Types Summary

Fixed IP Camera
  • Viewing angle fixed once mounted
  • Exchangeable lenses
  • Indoor/outdoor installation
  • Traditional camera type with high visibility
Fixed Dome IP Camera
  • Fixed camera in small dome housing
  • Discreet non-obtrusive design – camera angle indeterminable
  • Tamper resistant
  • Varifocal lens (field of view adjustment)
  • No external housing required – often designed with vandal resistant or, IP66-rated enclosure for outdoor use
  • Wall/ceiling mount
PTZ IP Camera(Pan, Tilt, Zoom)
  • Pan, tilt, and zoom thru auto or manual control
  • Primarily used indoors with an operator
  • Visible camera angle
  • DOES NOT have full 360° pan & is not made for continuous “Guard Tours”
  • Optical zoom from 10X to 26X
  • Wall/ceiling mount
Nonmechanical-PTZ IP Camera
  • Viewing angle of 100° to 180° with use of megapixel sensor & wide-angle lens
  • Zoom requires NO mechanical movement
  • Nonmehcanical = NO wear & tear
  • Ideal for discreet install. – camera angle not visible
  • Wall mount
PTZ Dome IP Camera
  • Wide area coverage with great pan/tilt/zoom flexibility
  • 360° Pan
  • 180° Tilt
  • Ideal for discreet install. – Works well with drop ceilings and camera angle not visible
  • Continuous Guard Tour mode (camera is mechanically robust for this app.)
  • Indoor/outdoor install.
  • All commands sent over IP network. RS-485 wires not needed.
Day & Night IP Camera
  • Day & Night functionality can be offered w/all camera types (Fixed, Fixed Dome, PTZ)
  • Indoor/outdoor install.
  • IR-cut filter or IR-blocking filter is used when camera switches to night mode
  • IR-illuminator can be used in conjunction with camera if 24/7 surveillance is necessary in low-light areas
Megapixel IP Camera
  • Minimum resolution of 1280×1024 pixels allows greater detail
  • Covers larger part of a scene than non-megapixel camera in a comparable scale
  • Detailed images clearly identify people or images
  • Offered with Fixed, Fixed Dome, & Wireless network cameras
  • Requires higher bandwidth & storage space

Coming up next I’ll begin to provide example surveillance systems that highlight the different IP camera types and show how they have effectively utilized these multiple categories for their varied applications.



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  1. Pingback: Successful IP Camera Project - Fixed Dome IP Camera — IP Camera Supply Blog

  2. Vaibhav Dhattarwal

    Really nice article man.

    Tabular from with discrete points much appreciated.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers mate

  3. Pingback: Vivotek Unveils New Outdoor PTZ IP Camera Series — IP Camera Supply Blog