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The Ultimate IP Camera Guide - Start Here!

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I've wanted to make this list for a while, and hopefully it will help answer some simple questions or guide newcomers on their IP video quest. Feel free to add, change, or refine this!

 

Most Popular Camera Manufactures (on this forum):

ACTi (http://www.acti.com) - Midrange camera - good price - free software.

Avtech (http://www.avtech.com.tw) - Has good 'push' support for events to mobile devices.

Avigilon (http://www.avigilon.com) - Similar to Axis cost - must buy through dealer - good software/support.

Axis (http://www.axis.com) - Popular choice - higher end cameras get expensive - easy to find online for sale - free + paid software options.

Dahua (http://www.dahuasecurity.com‎) - Re-branded as Q-See - low price - difficult to find updates/support.

Geovision (http://www.geovision.com.tw‎) - Midrange - have some LPR cameras.

Grandstream (http://www.grandstream.com) - Low cost - have some unique features.

Hikvision (http://www.hikvision.com‎) - Becoming more popular - re-branded as Lorex/Swann systems from Costco.

IQinVision (http://www.iqeye.com) Midrange pricing.

Mobotix (http://www.mobotix.com) - Cameras made in Germany - reliable but expensive - no moving parts to fail in their cameras.

Vivotek (http://www.vivotek.com) - Midrange pricing.

 

Other Camera Manufactures:

Arecont (http://www.arecontvision.com/‎)

Brickcom (http://www.brickcom.com/)

Bosch (http://www.boschsecurity.us/en-us/ProductInformation/Cameras/NetworkCameras/)

Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/professional/products/security_video_solutions/network_cameras)

GE (Unknown Website Address)

Honeywell (http://www.honeywellvideo.com/products/cameras/ip/index.html)

JVC (http://pro.jvc.com/prof/attributes/category.jsp?productId=PRO5.2)

Panasonic (http://www.panasonic.com/business/psna/products-surveillance-monitoring/index.aspx)

Pelco (http://www.pelco.com/sites/global/en/home.page)

Samsung (https://www.samsung-security.com/)

Sony (http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/mkt-security/)

Toshiba (http://www.toshibasecurity.com/)

 

IR Illuminators:

Raytec (http://www.rayteccctv.com/)

Axton (http://www.axtontech.com/)

Iluminar (http://www.iluminarinc.com/)

+Other Generic Brands

 

Accessories:

PoE Switch (Unmanaged, or Managed which allows remote powering on/off of specific ports) (TRENDnet, Netgear, D-Link, Cisco, Axis, etc.)

Ethernet Cable (Regular/Burial Grade)

Lenses (C/CS/S/D Mounts)

IR Illuminators (Discussed Above)

Enclosures (Pelco, Videolarm, Axis, Generic Brand, etc.)

PIR Sensor (Optex, Bosch, etc)

UPS Battery Backup System

 

Popular Places To Buy:

[Redacted - do a search on the forum for general ideas ]

 

Video Recording Software:

ACTi VMS (Free) - Only supports ACTi Cameras.

Avigilon (Per channel: Core ~$100, Standard ~$200, Enterprise ~$350) - Purchase through authorized dealers.

Axis Camera Companion (Free) - Only supports certain (newer) Axis Cameras. 16 cameras max.

Axis Camera Station (~$90/license)

Axxon Next (Free for 16 channels) (http://www.axxonsoft.com/products/axxon_next/)

BlueIris ($29.95 - $49.95) (http://blueirissoftware.com/) - Supports a large variety of network cameras.

exacqVision ($50 - $150/license + $25 yearly for optional updates)

Genetec (Expensive)

Geovision (Free)

Luxriot ($99 - $1000+)

Milestone XProtect (Free - $1000+)

Mobotix Control Center (Free) - Supports other cameras for viewing. May be able to record with MXServer.

OnSSI (Unknown)

Vitamin D (Free/$49/$199) (http://www.vitamindinc.com/index.php) - PC + Mac Compatible

Zoneminder (Free) - Open source Linux software.

...Etc, Most Manufactures Provide Their Own Software.

 

Network Video Recorders (NVR's)/NAS Stations:

Synology (1 License Included - ~$50 /per additional license)

Dahua

QNAP

Luxriot

NUUO

Hikvision

 

iPhone Viewing Apps:

Netcam Viewer (Free/$5.99) (http://bit.ly/18UfXMs)

Live Cams Pro ($1.99) (http://bit.ly/19RAleQ)

QCamPro ($7.99) (http://bit.ly/14iCWxR)

Official Mobotix (Free) (http://bit.ly/15XNtmo)

IP Cam Viewer Pro ($3.99) (http://bit.ly/10QAwYn)

Dahua iDMSS Lite (Free) (http://bit.ly/110ZjmV)

Dahua iDMSS Plus ($4.99) (http://bit.ly/12FyWpw)

+Specific Manufacturer's Apps (Q-See, Hikvision, etc) (Search Manually) - Typically better integrated then 3rd party apps.

 

Android Viewing Apps:

IP Cam Viewer Pro ($3.99) (http://bit.ly/TG6OyB)

Dahua gDMSS Lite (Free) (http://bit.ly/12zjvAs)

Dahua gDMSS Plus ($5.00) (http://bit.ly/12FzfAA)

+Specific Manufacturer's Apps (Q-See, Hikvision, etc) (Search Manually) - Typically better integrated then 3rd party apps.

 

Review Sites/Sample Videos:

Network Camera Critic (http://www.networkcameracritic.com/)

Mateusz CCTVnerd (http://www.youtube.com/user/mateuszfen)

Megapixel Cameras - Images and Demos (viewtopic.php?f=19&t=11322)

Plazor (http://www.plazor.com)

Axis YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/AxisCommunications)

Avigilon YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/Avigilon)

MXInstaller (http://www.mxinstaller.com/)

 

Companies That Rebrand/Resell:

Swann (Rebrands Hikvision Equipment)

Lorex (Rebrands Hikvision Equipment)

Q-See (Rebrands Dahua Equipment)

Toshiba (Appears To Rebrand Vivotek)

Cisco (Sometimes Rebrands Pelco)

 

Other Helpful Links:

CCTV Lens Calculator (http://www.jvsg.com/online/#)

Identification And Recognition Guide (http://www.axis.com/academy/identification/index.htm) - Make sure you have the correct resolution for your application.

Security Today - IP Cameras (http://security-today.com/directory/list/ip-video.aspx)

CCTV Frame Rates Comparison (

) - Recordings don't necessarily have to be 30fps for desired results.

IP Video 101 Training (http://ipvm.com/report/ip_video_training_course_101)

 

Live Demo Cameras:

Mobotix Cameras (http://www.mobotix.ro/live-ro-p-3.html) or (http://comsurv.com/live-video-cameras/)

Axis Cameras (http://www.axis.com/camerademo/) or (http://ipcameralive.com/)

Mixture (http://camelive.info)

 

Terminology:

CBR: "Constant bit rate [encoding] means that the rate at which a codec's output data should be consumed is constant." (i.e. the amount of data flowing from camera to user/nvr is always constant - even during movement or lack thereof. [See also VBR])

DSD: (http://www.dsdcctv.com/)

DVR: "a consumer electronics device or application software that records video in a digital format to a disk drive, USB flash drive, SD memory card or other local or networked mass storage device."

Edge Recording: "The concept of taking audio/video from a camera, and storing it at the edge of the Ethernet network instead of transporting it across the network to a centralized recording facility such as a Network Video Recorder." (Most cameras have this ability now.)

IR/IR Illuminator: LED's (often a separate device) which provide illumination for cameras in near to total darkness. The light produced cannot be seen by the human eye. The camera must be sensitive to IR for this to be useful (some cameras have 'fixed' IR cut filters). 'White light' illuminators are also available. These produce light visible to the human eye and to a camera with or without an IR cut filter.

LPR/ANPR/AVI/CPR/LAPI: "A mass surveillance method that uses optical character recognition on images to read vehicle registration plates."

NAS: Basically a box filled with hard drives for storage of data. Some cameras have the ability to record directly to these networked boxes without the need for an always on or dedicated computer.

NVR: "A software program that records video in a digital format to a disk drive, USB flash drive, SD memory card or other mass storage device."

ONVIF: "Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) is a global and open industry forum with the goal to facilitate the development and use of a global open standard for the interface of physical IP-based security products."

PIR: Passive Infrared "is an electronic sensor that measures infrared (IR) light radiating from objects in its field of view. They are most often used in PIR-based motion detectors."

PoE: "A system to safely pass electrical power, along with data, on Ethernet cabling."

UPS: "uninterruptible power supply...is an electrical apparatus that provides emergency power to a load when the input power source, typically mains power, fails."

VBR: "Variable bit rate files vary the amount of output data per time segment." (i.e. Less data during still scenes, more data during high movement periods.)

WDR: "'Wide dynamic range' describes an attribute of an imaging system which can capture greater scene details from shadows to highlights than normal."

 

Commonly Asked Questions:

Q: "Which brand or manufacturer should I buy?"

A: Each brand has its strengths and weakness, whether it be price, size, low light capabilities, resolution, frame rate, support, software, compatibility, etc. There really isn't one magical brand or camera. Each security scenario is different and requires a unique solution.

 

Q: "Where can I buy an IP HD PTZ Outdoor Camera for $200?"

A: Probably not going to happen. PTZ cameras are expensive because of all the motors, belts, gears, and such. Perhaps instead consider using several fixed multi-megapixel HD cameras instead for coverage.

 

Q: "How do I embed/add video from a camera to a website?"

A: See: http://www.networkcameracritic.com/?p=1290 or http://bit.ly/10rC8WV

 

Q: "How do I view my cameras on my TV/Monitor?

A: Consider using an Android powered HDMI dongle. These mini computers are powerful and compact enough to be attached to a TV or monitor for camera viewing using an Android app. Also see: http://www.networkcameracritic.com/?p=1049

 

Q: "Should I buy a Foscam?"

A: These cameras are not typically discussed here because of their poor reliability and feature set. They are often cloned and copied making firmware updates and support hard to come by. So in short, probably not. However if you are just starting with IP cameras, many members have since upgraded from these over time to bigger and better.

 

Q: "How do I view my camera(s) from the internet?"

A: You need to setup your router for port forwarding. Here are several guides to assist you. See: http://www.networkcameracritic.com/?p=124 or http://bit.ly/184DTvf

 

Q: "What shutter speed should I use during low light/night?"

A: "Typically 1/30 of a second is as low as you would want to have it set. Any longer and moving objects will be blurry making the footage less then useful.

 

Q: "Should I use a wireless camera for my application?"

A: Wifi signals, especially at long distances, can drop or become unreliable. They also become targets of hacking "resulting in free access to your personal cameras (EXTREMLY DANGEROUS) or blocked cameras, ones that will not record anything." It is best to use a hardwired connection via cable for installations. PoE installation can supply signal and power over one cable for easy installation. If a cable is not an option consider using a dedicated wifi access point, like the type made by Ubiquiti Networks.

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" title="Applause" /> Great work; should be a sticky and a must-read for those starting out.

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Would add to your guide proprietary applications for mobile (like the ones offered by QSEE, HIK, Camera Kings, DAHUA, etc).

 

Those apps work very fast and better then the IP CAM Viewer, if only one manufacturer solution is used.

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Would add to your guide proprietary applications for mobile (like the ones offered by QSEE, HIK, Camera Kings, DAHUA, etc).

 

Those apps work very fast and better then the IP CAM Viewer, if only one manufacturer solution is used.

 

Nice, I added this suggestion to the list!

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Great post! Full of info. Quick question, can ip camviewer view multiple cameras from a dvr, or just a single IP camera?

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"Should I use a wireless camera for my application?"

Also Wireless cameras can be hacked, resulting in free access to your personal cameras(EXTREMLY DANGEROUS) or blocked cameras, ones that will not record anything.

 

DAHUA(QVIS, QSEE, any 37777 unbranded):

-iOS: iDMSS Lite for iPhone, iDMSS Lite HD for iPAD, iDMSS * PLUS for newer hardware that supports playback, alarms, motion detection

-Android: gDMSS Lite for Android, gDMSS Lite HD for Android Tablets, gDMSS * PLUS for newer hardware that supports playback, alarms, motion detection

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Great post! Full of info. Quick question, can ip camviewer view multiple cameras from a dvr, or just a single IP camera?

 

It says, "For DVRs, add a separate camera for each channel. Put the channel number in the "Ch.#" field."

 

So it sounds like it can view multiple cameras on a dvr. I don't have a dvr to test this however. The app is pretty complex though - I'm sure it can somehow.

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Got it, in type, you scroll to DVR and than pick the channel number. Basically, you would have to add each channel if you want to see all at once though. I live this app cause it lets you digitally zoom, unlike idmss does.

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I'd like to add Axxon Next to the list of Video Recording Software.

 

Axxon Next works with a long list of cameras and is Free for up to 16 cameras and 1TB of storage. I've used it for a while and it seems to use storage pretty efficiently and goes pretty easy on the CPU. (I'm using it with 9 cameras - Axis and Arecont brands).

 

http://www.axxonsoft.com/products/axxon_next/

 

It also has a new Android app, but I have yet to get that working

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How about adding a section on IR illuminators/enclosures/accessories?

 

Nice - added illuminators and accessories. What were you thinking for enclosures?

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The only name that comes immediately to mind with enclosures is Pelco.

 

Some of the guys who do this professionally might know a few others.

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I am very happy with Live Cams Pro and suggest adding it to the iPhone Viewing Apps list.

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Do we have a "Mobile Apps" section yet? (sorry if we do...I'm not paying close enough attention I guess)

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Do we have a "Mobile Apps" section yet? (sorry if we do...I'm not paying close enough attention I guess)

 

There is indeed! An iOS and an Android section - I'm not sure if there are many windows phone users here...

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Great list but your Avigilon VMS pricing is way off

 

Per channel

 

Core ~$100

Standard ~$200

Enterprise ~$350

 

And that is for a single license. They drop as you buy multiples.

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