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8 Differences Between IP and Analog Cameras (and Why They Matter)

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    Cost, quality, and flexibility are just a few of the factors to consider when choosing a surveillance camera

    differences IP cameras vs. analog cameras

    Your 21st-century business needs a 21st-century security system. A core element of this is your choice of camera. There are typically two options – analog and IP. It’s important to understand the differences in order to pick the camera that best fits your company’s needs.

    Analog is the more traditional camera. It’s used in CCTV systems, and it transmits video through a cable to digital video recorders (DVRs). IP (Internet Protocol) is the more modern camera. It sends digital video via a network that can be accessed directly on a computer or mobile device.

    Which camera is right for you? Let’s dive a little deeper into some of the most important features of both.


    The big difference between analog and IP camera installation is cable. Analog cameras require significantly more of it – usually separate cables for pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) functionality, audio, and power. IP cameras, meanwhile, only need one cable for video, audio, power, controls, and PTZ.

    Video quality

    Overall, IP cameras offer higher video quality. They can also zoom in faster and farther than their analog counterparts and provide more options for wide and narrow fields of view. The level of detail is also superior, making them the ideal choice for facial recognition or reading license plates. On the other hand, while analog cameras capture lower-quality video, they tend to pick up images better in low light.


    IP cameras offer significantly higher resolution than analog. Analog cameras top out at the NTSC/PAL standard of 720 x 480 pixels (NTSC)/575 (PAL) or 0.4 megapixels (4CIF). IP camera resolution runs the gamut from 1.3 to five megapixels, which allows you to capture a wider viewing area and to get more detail when you zoom in to narrow spaces.


    IP cameras can transmit digital video with 100% clarity up to 330 feet over twisted-pair Ethernet cable and near limitless distance on a network. Analog cameras require more cords and have a reach of just up to 1,000 feet over coax cable and around a mile over twisted-pair cable.

    Networking and remote access

    In this category, IP cameras truly shine, as it’s fairly difficult to effectively network an analog camera. By contrast, IP cameras can operate on a shared network and stream to multiple users. Users can individually access different images and videos simultaneously.

    Other network features of IP cameras include:

    • They pan, tilt, and/or zoom to focus on motion, then automatically return to their neutral position.
    • They send a text or email when they detect movement.
    • They alert your security team when someone walks through a sensitive location.
    • All footage is stored in an easily searchable database, saving valuable time when your team needs to locate video of a specific person, location, or time period.
    • The network can take note of anything unusual that appears or occurs, including when it senses movement, when objects go missing, or when something is wrong with the camera itself.

    IP cameras are also scalable and expandable, which means their capacity can grow to meet your company’s needs. Since the footage is stored in the cloud rather than on manual drives, your data usage can expand practically without limits.


    If there is one category where IP’s advantages over analog truly come into focus, it’s security. In short, analog’s reliance on physical media opens it up to breaches since bad actors can steal recordings and devices or physically intercept the feeds. On top of that, analog feeds lack the encryption that’s common for IP systems.

    IP cameras, conversely, have VPN support, which encrypts and compresses the data and makes it difficult to access even if it’s intercepted. IPs also aren’t necessarily always reliant on wired electricity, which is open to sabotage. If the power goes down, they can function with solar panels and battery backups.


    This is one area where analog and IP may be on a level playing field. Most analog cameras are built to stand the test of time, with fewer delicate electronics that can be compromised by the elements or natural wear and tear.

    The data on IP camera reliability is a little less clear, due to the fact that the technology hasn’t been around nearly as long. But where IPs shine is in the reliability of the storage system, due largely to encryption and backups.


    Analog cameras tend to be cheaper than IPs, as they are older and less complex. However, it’s also worth noting that an analog system requires additional expenses for cables, installation labor, and recording and transfer equipment. Also, IP cameras can sometimes be installed on previously existing analog systems using media converters and extenders.

    Another data point to consider is that, while there are some improvements to design and performance, analog cameras don’t change all that much over time. But the market for IP cameras is always growing and changing, with the “Next New Thing” always around the corner. While that constant innovation can be exciting, it also comes with a price tag.

    Which camera is right for you?

    Well, that depends. If your company is small and you need a single camera to monitor one door, an analog CCTV camera is a cost-effective solution. A simple cord can run the footage to your computer and you’re in business. If, on the other hand, you need a more advanced security solution, and have the budget to afford it, IP cameras will more effectively cover all of your entrances and exits and provide you with robust, modern tools to protect every aspect of your business.

    No matter which camera you choose, Mobile Video Guard works with businesses of all sizes to provide top-quality monitored video surveillance. Whether you need to keep out trespassers at night or keep an eye on workers suspected of theft, we can cover it all. Call or email us today to get a free quote.


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