IP Camera Selection Guide for Your Surveillance System
There are many IP cameras available. Some are very inexpensive, while others cost a lot. Why the price difference? It mainly depends on the performance and quality. The first thing to consider is what you want to accomplish, and then use the following guide to select the right IP camera.
This article describes what IP camera to consider for each type of application. It suggests cameras from the top-rated brand’s Axis and Hanwha. There are less expensive brands such as Hikvision and Dahua, but they are on the US restricted list of Chinese cameras.
One camera doesn’t fit every application. For example, you don’t want to select an outdoor camera if you plan to use the camera inside. Why pay more for something you don’t need. Different applications require different camera capabilities. Don’t forget that the video recording and management system is an integral part of your surveillance system.
Some of the features to consider include lens, light sensitivity, wide dynamic range, indoor/outdoor, IR illumination, mounting, ease of installation, and the video recording system. Before you select the camera, remember to determine your objectives. It is also essential to understand that the cameras are only one part of the IP camera system.
We suggest IP cameras for small and large rooms, indoor and outdoor applications, long-range viewing, and special situations requiring advanced camera features. The cameras range in price from under $200 to over $1500.
Do you want to identify a person’s face or read a license plate in the parking lot? The best IP camera can view the area (Field of View) that you would like to see and provide the detail (resolution) that you need for your application.
Indoor Camera for a Small Room
If you have a room that’s about 400 or 500 square ft, you can use a camera with a fixed lens. If you want to view the entire room, you may select two cameras and place one in each adjacent corner. The camera should have a 90-degree lens.
The following 2-Megapixel cameras can be considered for this application:
- The LND-6012R Dome camera from Hanwha provides a wide-angle lens and includes IR illumination so you can see when the lights are off.
- The Axis M30 series, such as the M3015, provides a wide lens but no IR
If you just want to view the doorway, then one camera is sufficient, and you can select a camera with a variable lens so you can adjust the view for the doorway. Here are some examples of cameras for watching the doorway.
- The Axis Q-series includes a 3–9mm variable focus lens
- The Hanwha QND-6082R is an indoor camera with a 3.2 ~ 10mm variable lens.
If your objective is to identify a person’s face, you would need a higher-resolution camera. For help selecting the right resolution camera, look at our article, Calculating What You Can See With Your IP Camera.
Large Indoor Room
Large rooms require more cameras or one camera with a higher resolution. The higher the resolution, the wider the field of view. For example, a 4K camera with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels has enough resolution to identify a person’s face in a 24 ft. field of view. The distance to the target depends on the lens.
Here are some examples of indoor cameras.
- The PND-9080R is a 12-Megapixel 4K IP indoor camera with a remote zoom, motorized zoom lens. It can be used in complete darkness because it includes an IR-illuminator.
- The Axis Q3518-LVE is an 8-Megapixel 4K outdoor IP camera (it can be used indoors) with a remote zoom lens. It costs more than the PND-9080 because it’s an outdoor camera. Axis doesn’t have indoor 4K cameras.
Outdoor IP Cameras
If you would like to view a doorway, gate, or entrance to a parking lot, you can use an IP camera with a narrow lens and 2-Megapixel resolution. You can read a license plate in a field of view of about 22 ft. The magnification of the lens determines how far away you can see. Hanwha and Axis have a choice of bullet or dome cameras with IR-illumination. Here are some examples:
- The P1448-LEV is a bullet camera with a motorized lens that can be remotely adjusted from 2.9 mm to 9.8 mm (Horizontal field of view: 109°–37°). It includes an IR illuminator with a range of 25 m (82 ft).
- The Hanwha QNO-6082R is a bullet camera with a motorized lens that can be remotely adjusted from 3.2 mm to 10 mm (109.0°(Wide)~33.2°(Tele)). At the minimum viewing angle of 33-degrees, this bullet-type IP camera allows you to identify a person’s face about 39 ft (12 m) away. The camera has an IR range of 30 m (98 ft).
If you would like to be able to see a license plate on the road, a 4-Megapixel or 5-Megapixel camera is a good choice. Here are two examples:
- The Hanwha QNO-7080R bullet camera is a 4-Megapixel camera with a remote zoom lens (2.8 ~ 12mm) that can be adjusted to a viewing angle of 26-degrees. At the highest zoom setting, the IP camera provides enough resolution to read a license plate that’s about 66 ft (20 m) away. At this zoom, the 4-Megapixel resolution camera provides a field of view of about 30 ft. (9m).
- The Axis Q3517-LV provides a 5-Megapixel resolution and includes the remote zoom lens that makes it easy to set up. The slightly higher resolution provides 3072 horizontal pixels, which increase the field of view to about 35 ft. It has a smaller lens range of 4.3 mm to 8.6 mm, so it is best to view areas closer to the camera.
High-Performance IP Cameras
Some applications require superior video capability. For example, if you would like to see the front license plate at night, you would need a camera that can block out the headlights. If you view people in a lobby with a large glass window, you need a camera with an excellent wide dynamic range. This would allow you to see a person against a very bright background.
Hanwha has several outdoor and indoor IP cameras that include a wide dynamic range (WDR). For example, the X-Series XNV-8082R camera is a 6-Megapixel camera with a 3X motorized zoom. It can see at a minimum light level of 0.05 lux in color, and with the IR illumination, it can see about 130 ft (40m) in total darkness. The camera has an excellent wide dynamic range of 120dB.
Long-Range PTZ IP Camera Applications
Pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) cameras are excellent for long-distance views as well as viewing many different locations. The PTZ cameras have motorized 30 X zoom lenses (and more) that can be adjusted to see a license plate about 1,000 ft away. Here are two examples.
- The XNP-8300RW is a 6 Megapixel PTZ camera. It includes a 30X zoom lens that allows you to read a license plate that’s over 990 ft away (176 m). The IR illuminator allows you to see things that are about 650 ft (200m) away.
- The Axis Q6128-E is an 8-Megapixel camera with a 12X zoom lens. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an IR illuminator. The zoom lens has less range than the Hanwha PTZ camera.
Summary of IP Camera Selection
There are many different types of IP cameras available. The selection process can be confusing, so it’s best to understand your objectives before selecting the camera. The specifications can be used to help you select the right camera. For example, if you want to see someone in total darkness, you should make sure the camera has the correct IR illumination type.
For help selecting the right IP camera for your system, please contact us at 800-431-1658 in the USA, 914-944-3425, everywhere else, or use our contact form.