IP Cameras Price Versus Performance

screens and camera technology display

How much should you expect to pay for your IP camera?  IP cameras range in price from under $200 to over $1000.

Since the price depends on what you need, you should always make sure you understand your objectives. For help in defining your requirements, take a look at our article, Defining Your Objectives.

Price varies with performance. The least expensive cameras have fixed lenses. Do you need a camera for a small room or an outdoor camera that can recognize a person over 300 ft. away? The more expensive cameras include variable lenses that you can adjust from your computer. Some high-performance very low-light outdoor cameras can see things by starlight.

Dome and bullet cameras have similar performance and price. Bullet cameras are usually used outdoors and are easier to mount on a wall, while dome cameras are better for ceiling mounting. The IP camera is only one of the components that make up your IP camera system. The surveillance system also includes the video recording system. It is important to make sure that any camera you select is compatible with the video management software (VMS) or NVR

When to Use a Camera with a Fixed Lens

A camera with a fixed lens is best used indoors in small rooms or maybe viewing a door. You usually can select fixed lenses with 2.8mm lens, 3.6mm or 6mm lens. The lens determines how far away you can identify a person’s face or license plate. For example, a 2-Megapixel camera with a 2.8mm lens (116-degree angle) can help you identify a person’s face that is about 14 ft away. The field of view is about 12 ft. wide. If you use a narrower lens (6mm), you can see the person further away (about 27ft.). IP Cameras with higher resolution allow you to see further away and provide a wider field of view.

When to Use a Camera With a Variable Lens

A camera with vari-focus lens allows you to adjust the field of view (how wide the shot is). There are manual adjustable lens and remote zoom or motorized lenses that allow you to adjust the camera from your computer.  

A camera with a variable lens is much better if you are not sure about what the field of view should be. The remote zoom allows you to adjust the field of view from your computer and makes installation much easier.

When to Use an IP Camera with Increased Capability

Intelligent IP Camera

Some new cameras include analytic capability that notifies you if a person screams, or if a gunshot is heard. The cameras with advanced analytics will trigger an alarm if a person crosses a defined line, or when someone leaves a package in the airport lounge. Take a look at our article about Real-Time Notifications.

If you need to see at night, you can select cameras with very low-light sensitivity. These cameras can see by starlight. The higher resolution cameras allow you to view wider areas with the same detail and can view things further away.

IP Camera Cost to Performance Table

Here’s a price performance table that can help you determine the right camera. For simplicity, we only included dome and bullet cameras. There are also pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, panoramic cameras and special long-range cameras that can see things many miles away.  

Note on costs: We used average costs for good quality cameras available from major manufacturers. You may find lower cost cameras, but be careful because you get what you pay for. You may find a $25 camera but you will be disappointed by the reliability, or by the lack of technical support and service. Your camera system also includes a video recording system. The cameras we considered for this chart are supported by many different types of recording systems.  

2- Megapixel Indoor Dome Cameras
Basic Indoor 2-Megapixel Dome cameraFixed 3.6 mm lens$120
Add IRFixed 3.6 mm lens with IR with a range of about 15 m (49 ft.)$150
2-Megapixel Outdoor Dome or Bullet Cameras


With IR illumination

Basic outdoor Dome IP Camera with IR and fixed lensFixed lens can be selected. Lens types such as 6 mm, 3.6 mm, or 2.4 mm.


Low light is about 0.1 lux in color

IR range of 20 m (65 ft.)

Add a  variable lens.Manual adjusted variable lens and focus: 2.8 to 12mm adjustment


Low light is about 0.1 lux in color

IR range of 20 m (65 ft.)

Add a remote zoom auto-focus lensRemote zoom and focus. Provides about 3X zoom. Includes longer IR range of about 30 m (98 ft.)$550
2-Megapixel Higher Performance IP Cameras
Add analytic functions and better low light, longer distance IR illuminationLow light performance improves to 0.015 lux in color


IR Illuminator: 50m (164ft.)

Advanced analytic functions include:

  • Loitering,
  • Directional detection,
  • Fog detection,
  • Audio detection,
  • Digital auto tracking,
  • Sound classification,
  • Tampering
Add longer zoom lens and longer IR distance.Uses longer range zoom lens. 12 X remote zoom and focus with increased IR distance of 70 m (229 ft.)


Includes advanced analytics. The long 62mm lens allows you to identify a person you know that’s over 300 ft away.

Add extra low-light capability


No IR illumination

Increases low light capability to 0.004 lux in color. BW is 0.0004 lux allowing you to see by starlight on a clear night.  Includes 4X remote zoom lens, and advanced analytic functions. $840
Add IR to the Extra low-light capabilityThis is a bullet camera instead of dome camera. it has similar capability to the dome but adds 70 m (229 ft.) IR distance.$810
High-Resolution Cameras with Remote Zoom and Focus
4-Megapixel domeRemote 3X zoom and focus. Low-light sensitivity of 0.15 lux, and IR range of 30m (98ft.)$335
5-Megapixel domeRemote 2.4X zoom and focus. Low-light of 0.07 lux, and IR range of 50m (164ft.)$930
12-Megapixel dome (4K-camera)Remote 2.2X zoom and focus. Low-light sensitivity of 0.3 lux, IR range of 40m (131ft.)$1,020


The price of IP cameras depends on the performance they provide. We compared IP cameras that vary in price from under $200 to over $1000. When you consider IP cameras for your application you can use inexpensive IP cameras with a fixed lens at a doorway or small room, while using a more expensive camera to view the parking lot. Cameras with advanced analytical functions can notify you in real-time about critical events. Take a look at our video about Real-Time Camera Systems.    

If you would like help selecting the right camera for your application, please contact us. We can be reached at 1-800-431-1658 in the USA or at 9149-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.