|Internet Protocol (IP)-based cameras are enabling organizations across Canada to significantly boost overall security without breaking their budgets. However, not all IP-based security cameras are created equal. A camera that is ideal for tracking vehicle license plates moving in and out of a busy port area, for instance, may not be a perfect fit for monitoring people inside a bustling airport.|
Carlos Varela, Marketing Manager, Security, Broadcast Communication Solutions Group, Sony of Canada Ltd., recently outlined some useful tips for buying an IP security camera in Security Matters magazine.
Define a role
An obvious step, but one that is often overlooked, is to carefully define what objects a camera will be monitoring, and what areas a camera will need to cover. Once the objectives are defined it will be simpler to decide whether they require features like high image quality, zoom operation or wide viewing fields.
Cause for alarm
Many security cameras boast “intelligent” features such as motion detection, which allow them to sense motion and trigger alarms when they detect changes in the fields they have been set to watch. Users need to be aware that some security cameras can be very sensitive and will trigger false alarms caused by environmental effects like rain, snow or leaves shaking in the wind.
A question of quality
There are three main aspects to the image quality generated by an IP-based security camera. First is the camera’s frame rate – a rate of 30 frames per second will generate a high quality, full motion image. However, full motion images require considerably more storage than lower frame-rate video that displays some stutter. Security camera buyers should decide how much quality they need based on what they will be shooting, how long they need to store the footage and how much footage they need to store.
The second aspect of image quality is resolution, measured in pixels. The higher the pixel rating, the better the image. Higher pixel images will require more storage space.
The third aspect of image quality is the compression technology used to minimize the video’s bandwidth and storage requirements. IP security cameras can support JPEG, MPEG-4, H.264 or a combination of the three. JPEG offers the best quality, but takes up the most bandwidth and storage space. MPEG-4 requires less bandwidth and storage, but offers lower quality playback. Some cameras support dual-streaming, allowing users to run JPEG encryption on their local area network where bandwidth isn’t an issue, while streaming MPEG-4 over the more bandwidth-restricted wide area network.
Other factors to consider when exploring the idea of buying IP-based cameras include low light performance and pan/tilt/zoom functionality.
If a camera will be used in a low-light area, look for a unit that will film at a low lux rating. Lux measures sensitivity to light – the lower the lux rating, the better a camera functions in low light conditions.
Pan/tilt/zoom cameras are able to shift their fields of vision and aren’t restricted to a fixed area. They are able to cover more territory than fixed cameras, but they are also more expensive.
This article originally appeared in Security Matters magazine.