Analog Cameras vs IP Cameras

When we classify security cameras on the basis of the operation technology used, You will find three groups of security cameras or systems. They are Fully Analog cameras, Partially Analog or Digital cameras and Fully Digital cameras.

Analog Cameras Vs IP cameras: Different Categories

1. Fully Analog cameras     

A fully analog security camera is the traditional type of security camera. In this security system, the composite video signals are transmitted to a video cassette recorder (VCR) where the video is recorded on a videotape.

 Since the video material is not compressed, it is recorded with a maximum number of frames. A cassette could at the most record a maximum of 8 hours.

Today these types of cameras are rarely used for home security purpose. .

2. Partially Analog/Digital cameras

Innovations brought digital technology in video surveillance.  As a result, we have cameras which combine both analog and digital components. They are not fully analog or fully digital.

These cameras can capture and transmit analog signals to a digital video recorder (DVR) connected by a coaxial cable. 

Then the DVR converts the signals to digital and store them on a hard drive. You can access it remotely over a local area network (LAN) or view it locally on a monitor. 

DVRs perform the functions of analog-digital and digital-analog conversions.

Advantages of Analog Cameras

  • Analog cameras are relatively cheap. So, you don’t have to spend a fortune to scale up the surveillance.
  • Installing the analog camera or the DVR is easy and uncomplicated.
  • The working of analog cameras is a simple process. The camera sends the video signals to a digital video recorder (DVR). The DVR converts the signals to digital, record and store them
  • Some DVRs are capable of digital broadcasting of the video signal

Disadvantages of Analog Cameras

  • Limited frame rate and therefore are not perfect in capturing motion fully
  • Low quality of images, which appear blurry in zoom mode
  • The coverage area of the analog camera is small. So you have to spend on additional cameras to cover the target area.
  • In an analog set up, you need separate cables for power and data transmission
  • You also need cabling for each individual camera.
  • Since the data can’t be encrypted, the risk of hacking is more.


3. Fully Digital Cameras

The introduction of fully digital cameras or IP cameras is one of the greatest trends in video surveillance. These cameras gained significant popularity in recent years with the application of POE technology in the home surveillance system.

An IP camera contains an encoder and a web server. And it is capable of performing digital processing, compression and motion detection.

And the POE or Power over Ethernet technology minimized the need for cables for installation.

You need only a single cable for both power and transmitting the digital data.

IP cameras send digital videos via IP over a local area network to a network video recorder (NVR).

An NVR, in an IP camera system, performs similar functions by a DVR in an analog security camera system.


image courtesy: Reolink

It captures, compresses, and records each IP camera’s signal and perform intelligent search and zoom.

When you use multiple cameras in a system you need a POE Switch to provide power supply and data connection with the cameras and the NVR.

The IP cameras can be monitored via any web browser.

They receive, send and transfer the picture (video signal) directly via IP networks.

Thus, you can view them remotely and share access with other family members. 

Advantages of IP Cameras

  • IP cameras can produce excellent images as they transmit high definition videos.
  • Further, the zoom-in-and-out feature allows you to view more image details or zoom out to get a wider viewing angle. Cameras with motorized Optical Zoom feature lets you adjust the zoom level remotely. 
  • Thus you can typically zoom an object at a distance of about 100ft.
  • The higher resolution of IP cameras increases the field of view significantly when compared to analog cameras.
  • Thus you are required to deploy a lesser number of IP cameras to cover a specific area of the surface compared to analog cameras. Typically a single IP camera can dispense with 3 to 4 analog cameras for a given place.
  • Similarly,  you can connect multiple cameras with the NVR through a POE switch using a single cable. This is unlike the heavy cabling of individual cameras and DVR in an analog camera system
  • The use of POE switches permits you to provide power to the cameras with limited cabling
  • With IP security camera systems, you can easily view a live feed from more remote locations
  • Most IP cameras come with built-in encryption, which makes them stay resilient to hacking.

Disadvantages of IP Cameras

  • Installation and setup of the system will be a challenge due to the complexity and therefore require professional assistance and expenses.
  • Compared to an analog camera system, you will be required to spend more initially to set up a surveillance system with IP cameras, NVR, POE switches etc.
  • IP security camera systems featuring high resolutions even up to 8MP could escalate bandwidth use and cost significantly compared to analog system.


Comparison: Analog Cameras vs IP Cameras


CharacteristicsAnalog camerasIP Cameras
Resolution704*480 pixels. – 720p and 1080pfrom 1 MPixel to 8 MPixel
CablingCoaxial to each camera and DVR, additional power cablesCat 5e, Cat-6 Power over Ethernet (PoE)
PowerPower for camerasPOE
Switchesall types DVRPOE Switch
Server memoryMid-end DVR (H.264 compatible with memory)PC (standard) with memory
SoftwareOn the DVR (H.264 compatible)AXIS Camera Station
MonitorsStandard high-resolution monitorsStandard high-resolution monitors


Analog Cameras Vs IP Cameras: Conclusion

Today, IP cameras are leading the security camera market. However, the analog camera continues to enjoy wider acceptability especially with the support of the hybrid DVR systems combining the analog and digital components.

The continual technological implementation will likely enable hybrid DVRs to support more brands in the future. A lot of developments is taking place in areas related to access control, intrusion detection etc.

Also, analog camera security system will continue to have an economic advantage over the IP security cameras system in the future.

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