The principle difference between analog and IP cameras is the method by which the video signal is transmitted and, ultimately, where the video is compressed, or ‘encoded’.

Difference between Analog and IP Camera

Wireless

  • IP
    One of the clear advantages of IP cameras is the flexibility to integrate with a wireless network. Whereas wireless IP is “virtually” unlimited in terms of expansion, bandwidth and the topology is still a concern.
  • Analog
    Analog cameras which use radio frequencies to transmit video wirelessly are limited to about a dozen cameras before it reaches capacity in the unlicensed spectrum

Security

  • IP
    IP video streams can be encrypted and are difficult to intercept. On the other hand, the network itself is subject to viruses and other types of attacks. Since each camera (and there could be 1000’s of them in a single system) and the devices which it communicates with are network appliances, they are all subject to attack from hackers from anywhere in the world.
  • Analog
    Analog signals are less secure and can be intercepted and/or viewed by anyone with access to the cabling infrastructure. With the possible exception of the DVR, the entire video surveillance chain is immune to viruses and other types of software attacks. In order to access, or interfere with, any part of the video system other than the recording devices attached to the network, a hacker or intruder would have to physically access the specific device being tampered with.

Maintenance

  • IP
    An IP camera is a network appliance and requires continuous “skilled” management. Estimates for the cost of maintaining a network appliance (one IP address) range from $100 to $400 per year.
  • Analog
    Analog cameras are unmanaged devices. No IP address to manage, no worries about programming, software, IT skills, etc. It either works or it doesn’t. Once installed, they require no “skilled” maintenance, if any.

Cabling Infrastructure

  • IP
    One perceived advantage of IP cameras is the ability to use an existing network wiring infrastructure to support a surveillance system. Network wiring by standard follows TIA/EIA-568-B guidelines, which limits the total distance from switch to camera to 330 feet. Structured cable in the IP camera architecture is capable of transmitting power (PoE), video and data.
  • Analog
    Legacy cabling for analog cameras utilized coaxial cables, which are cumbersome. Today, integrators can use ‘baluns’ to transmit analog video, power and data over a network wiring infrastructure beyond TIA/EIA limitations. Using baluns, analog video can be transmitted well over a mile and power over 1,000 feet. Using active baluns video can be extended well over a mile on standard Cat5 cabling.

NOTE: One concern is the PoE standard limits power to 12.9 watts. It is insufficient for many Infra Red and outdoor cameras requiring a heater and/or blower. Even when the new PoE + standard eventually becomes ratified, it caps out at 25 watts which is far below the 70+ watts required to power and operate an outdoor PTZ so you still need to run additional cabling power.

Video Transmission

  • IP
    IP traffic, like Voice-Over-Internet (VoIP), is subject to a myriad of potential faults, such as: bandwidth limitations, network congestion, varying bit rates, large file sizes, load balancing, viruses and latency. If the network fails, even momentarily, the recorded or monitored video will cease or degrade.
  • Analog
    Analog video traffic is not subject to any networking issues or risks. The bandwidth is virtually unlimited. It is a passive connection, similar to an analog telephone connection, and cannot be interfered with due to problems external to the video surveillance system

Compatibility

  • IP
    IP cameras require a network video recorder (NVR) or browser that will communicate with each particular model of camera, which is proprietary and unique. Each time you add an IP camera, you have to make sure that the NVR supports that particular model. An NVR may also support only a limited number of cameras from a particular manufacturer. Many IP camera producers have a large variety of communication protocols.
  • Analog
    Any analog camera can plug into any DVR. There are no compatibility issues when changing either the DVR or any of the cameras. As a note, many DVRs today are hybrids wherein they have seamless communication and management with both IP and analog cameras on a common software interface.

Scalability

  • IP
    One of the advantages of IP is its ability to simply add on cameras by plugging into any network connection.When scaling an IP camera system to an enterprise level there is a requirement for substantial managed networking equipment and significant bandwidth.
  • Analog
    Analog cameras can be virtually expanded as there is no requirement for bandwidth or data transmission between the cameras and the recorders.Since analog cameras do not require bandwidth they can exponentially scale with minimal network concerns as they are plugged directly into the DVR bypassing network transmission.

Obsolescence

  • IP
    While IP cameras have been around for more than a decade, they still only represent 15% of the overall CCTV camera market.
    IP cameras are technologically immature and have a long way to go. Today’s models will be quickly replaced by higher quality, more efficient, feature-rich, less expensive and more reliable products.
  • Analog
    Analog cameras are stable and mature and have a well defined history and roadmap and purpose.
    Analog cameras will continue to make more sense in most applications as indicated by its continued market share dominance.

Cost

  • IP
    IP cameras can be 3x more expensive than their analog equivalents. Additionally, there are per camera licensing costs for connecting them to the NVR. In some instances, IP megapixel cameras can be more cost effective by taking the place of several analog cameras in a large open space where there are no “choke” points. Large installations require managed network switching equipment and peripherals, which can become very costly.
  • Analog
    Analog cameras and peripheral equipment are significantly lower in price to their IP counterparts. Analog cameras require little to none in the way of peripheral and managed equipment, which reduce costs, especially in the enterprise. For most typical applications, when accounting for hardware, software and installation analog is a better value proposition.