How to Purchase a Modern Camera System, Part 1

ESC knows how important staying on top of things can be to those who own and operate a business or that manage an office complex, for example. Video surveillance has become a key component in the fight against crime in every imaginable setting. For this reason, ESC would like to assist you in your own quest for a better camera system.

In part 1 of 2, Al Colombo, ESC’s Social Media Director, offers helpful information on some of the things to know and watch for when 1) contemplating the installation of a new video surveillance system, as well as 2) upgrading an existing analog video surveillance system. In part 2, he’ll provide additional information on what makes a good IP or analog video system. Besides being ESC’s Social Media Director, Al Colombo is a well known 30-year technical writer in professional print security magazines. –John Larkin, ESC Senior Partner

Cameras: Analog Vs. Digital IP

The need to watch events that take place at a remote location as well as the use of recorded video are legitimate needs that can be met using a modern day CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) system. Video surveillance has become extremely important to business owners, banks, airports, malls, as well as city managers and those who are responsible for government facilities, such as schools, county court houses, federal buildings, and others

Analog ball camera“In the latest research study ‘CCTV Market Outlook 2020,’ the analysts identify that the market for global CCTV is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 12% during 2015-2020. Also as per the research’s findings, IP CCTV cameras currently dominate the global CCTV market, as many of the organizations are updating or installing new IP-based surveillance systems” (Research and Markets: Global CCTV Market Outlook 2020,

The first cameras on the scene were analog based cameras, which meant that they use simple coaxial cable, like the cable that connects an ordinary television to a cable box. Analog cameras are good when the distance between the camera and the target is relatively close. And although analog video can be sent over town, across the state, from one corner of the nation to the other, as well as other nations, digital IP (Internet Protocol) cameras will do it better. 

The reason why IP cameras do it better is because they are directly networkable, which means they plug directly into a company LAN (Local Area Network). Because a local facility LAN can serve the purposes of a large enterprise application, such as a huge retail chain, IP cameras are best suited for most modern applications. That portion of the network that serves global connectivity is often referred to as a  WAN (Wide Area Network).

How to Purchase a Networkable CCTV Camera System

If you intend to purchase an IP camera system, there are several things you need to know and do. First, it’s wise not to embark on the process by yourself as the road there is rife with potholes and dropoffs.

Here are five areas of concern that you need to address when looking for new cameras

1. Environmental Conditions: Probably the first thing you need to know is if the camera in question will be used indoors or outside. What is the temperature range were you intend to install this new camera(s)? Be sure to verify the operating temperature of any cameras that you do pick. What about outdoor lighting–is there enough lighting to see individual faces?  

2. Monitoring Live Video: How many people do you intend to have visually monitor a display with live video? If the number of individuals is limited to two or three in the same facility, then analog will work fine. However, if you need to have your video monitored elsewhere, remote from the location where these cameras will reside, then network IP is probably the best way to go.

3. Video Data Storage: There are storage devices that will work fine where it comes to storing video data. Analog storage systems available–called a DVR (Digital Video Recorder)–that will “record” 4, 8, 16, 32, up to 64 cameras at a time. If you’re working with an existing analog video system and you’re considering adding a number of IP cameras to the mix, however, then you may want to select a HDVR (Hybrid Digital Video Recorder). A HDVR will accommodate both analog and digital IP cameras.

Another possible selection is a NVR (Network Video Recorder) which is strictly designed to accommodate digital IP cameras in a network environment. By selecting IP cameras, assuming you have or will have a LAN to connect them to, you may also select a cloud data storage service where live, streaming video can be sent for secure storage, analytics, and a variety of other  features available for a monthly fee. In this case you have to have a bandwidth sizable enough for signal transport from your facility to the cloud processing center.

4. Cable Considerations:  If you already have an existing analog video system, chances are you’re already using RG59 or RG6 coaxial cable. IP cameras are designed to use Category 5e or Category 6 cable, both of which are UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) cables. Where coaxial cable is categorized as an unbalanced line, which means it needs an outer shield to protect the video signal from outside interference, UTP is considered balanced, which means the twisted nature of the cable naturally cancels any interference that may exist in the environment.

It’s possible to use coaxial cable with IP cameras but there are things that must be done and converters that need to be installed in order to make it happen. The incentive for maintaining your existing coaxial cable in a network setting relates to the cost you would otherwise incur if you were to replace it with network-grade UTP. Labor isn’t cheap although the cable is relatively inexpensive to buy.

5. Maintaining Analog Cameras in a Network Setting: There are times when it makes sense to keep the analog cameras  you already have while installing a digital IP network. In this case, any new IP cameras you install will need the customary Category 5e/6 cable while you can continue using your analog cameras. The ultimate goal,  however, is to channel those existing cameras into your new digital IP network. For this, it’s necessary to convert the analog signals from each camera into an IP signal using an ‘encoder,’ which will be positioned on the network side of the coaxial cable.

How to Purchase a Modern Camera System Index:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

ESC Can Help

In order to put all of this together, in order to purchase the right camera for your circumstance, it’s necessary to have the help of a highly technical, successful security integration firm, like Electronic Systems Consultants LLC of Greater Ohio. To discuss your situation with an ESC professional, call 614-754-1393, send an email to ESC@Tpromo.Com, or use the comment/suggestion form below. –John Larkin, ESC Senior Partner

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