Comparison of Cost to Performance of IP Cameras
What is the right price for an IP camera system? It depends on your requirements—IP Cameras range in price from around $150 to over $3,000. The least expensive cameras provide less capability and performance than the more expensive variety. For example, you will pay more for a camera that can notify you if someone steals the laptop off the table.
This article provides the cost-performance range of various IP cameras.
Performance Criteria for IP Cameras
The following performance characteristics differentiate the IP camera market. Each feature can be necessary for a specific application.
Applications that require viewing in very dark conditions require more expensive low-light performance cameras. The low-light capability also requires cameras with better low-noise amplifiers that allow you to see the license plate on a dark street.
The resolution defines what detail you can see and how wide a field of view you can see.
Outdoor cameras are sealed from the environment and have heaters and fans to allow operation in a wide temperature range.
Audio and IO Support
Two-way audio lets the security person hear what’s happening and talk to people near the camera. This added capability makes it easy to warn people to leave an area or speak to someone at the door.
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)
The wide dynamic range allows a camera to see a person even with a bright background. There are some situations where this is critical for identifying a person’s face.
PTZ versus Fixed IP Cameras
If you need to see a very wide area, the PTZ camera is essential. It allows you to patrol a large parking lot and see enough detail to identify a license plate.
The latest intelligent cameras increase the capability of the surveillance system. The limited Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes it possible to be notified when someone leaves a package in the lobby or takes a laptop off the table. It also provides object classification to find the red truck or a person with the blue coat in the recorded video. The camera can also detect and classify certain sounds, such as a gunshot or someone screaming.
Price-Performance of IP Cameras
We compared four ranges of cameras. Each class of IP cameras provides functions and capabilities that make them suited for specific applications. There are also specialty cameras, such as those that can operate in harsh environments, explosion-proof, and specialty long-range cameras. The following comparison provides the cost performance of bullet and dome cameras rather than pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras.
Least Expensive IP Cameras
These cost-effective IP cameras provide a choice of 2 MegaPixel or 4 Megapixel resolution. The A series cameras range in price from $135 to $220 and offer reasonable low-light sensitivity.
The 2-Megapixel camera (like the Hanwha ANO-L6022R) provides low light sensitivity (0.03 lux). It has a fixed 4 mm lens and can view objects 30m (98.4 ft.) away in total darkness using the IR illuminator.
The 4-Megapixel camera includes a motorized zoom lens. They are best used in small areas that don’t require long-range low-light capability or sophisticated intelligence.
For example, the outdoor 4-Megapixel camera (like the Hanwha ANO-L7082R camera) provides a minimum illumination capability of 0.1 lux color. It includes a 3.3 – 10.3 motorized varifocal lens. It uses IR illumination to see in total darkness at a range of 20m (65.6 ft.).
Medium Priced IP Cameras
This range of cameras offers better functionality and performance. They range in price from $200 to over $400. These cameras are best used in larger rooms and outdoors to view the building’s doorways, gates, and walkways.
The Q series Wisenet cameras are an example of medium-priced IP Cameras. IP cameras, such as dome and bullet cameras, range in price from $200 to $475. The PTZ cameras range in price from $1,100 to over $1,900.
Some of these cameras include built-in microphones so you can hear what’s going on near the camera.
High-Performance IP Cameras
These cameras provide high resolution (up to 4K) and excellent low-light sensitivity. They range in price from about $420 to over $1250. include other functionality such as two-way audio, extremely wide dynamic range (WDR), and lens distortion correction. They can be used in large areas such as parking lots and large rooms.
Hanwha’s X and P series are examples of higher-priced cameras providing advanced capability. The higher resolution provides a larger field of view. For example, a 2-megapixel camera can identify a person’s face in a field of view about 24 ft wide, but an 8.2 Megapixel camera (3840 x 2160) can provide face recognition in a 48 ft field of view.
The X Series Wisenet cameras provide advanced capability. There are specialty cameras in this family that include very low-light sensitivity. For example, the XNO06085R can see in color at 0.004 lux. This allows you to see things in partial moonlight. It’s better than the human eye.
Intelligent IP Cameras
Intelligent cameras with limited artificial intelligence provide advanced functions that alert security personnel of alarm conditions. They also help classify objects that have been recorded so they can be found in long video recordings. The intelligent IP cameras range in price from $750 to over $1,500.
AI functions provide the ability to classify objects. For example, a person’s upper or lower garments can be classified by color or if they are carrying a bag. The camera can classify a vehicle by color and type, such as sedan, SUV, van, truck, bus, motorcycle, or bicycle.
These intelligent cameras can also detect when an object appears or disappears, detect defocus, read a license plate, classify sound, and the tampering of a camera.
Specialty IP Cameras
There are unique cameras that are used in specific applications. For example, stainless steel cameras are used in highly corrosive environments such as salt spray. Panoramic (360-degree) cameras are used to obtain situational awareness. Long-range PTZ cameras with high-powered IR illumination are used to view long-range objects, such as military vehicles over two miles away or ships entering the harbor. Some cameras, in special enclosures, operate in extreme environments, such as viewing the inside of a furnace, and even cameras that work in explosive gas environments. These cameras range in cost from $2,000 to well over $50,000.
Summary of Comparison of IP Camera Cost to Performance
The more expensive camera provides improved performance and capability. The best IP camera depends on your application. IP Cameras range in price from about %150 to over $3,000. Special features like detecting someone who has taken your laptop or viewing scenes by the moon’s light can be critical in some applications.
If you would like help selecting the best IP camera system, please contact us at 1-800-431-1658 in the USA or 914-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.