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Network Cameras

Buying Guide For Network Cameras
The ethernet protocol is something used for a lot mo...
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Buying Guide For Network Cameras

The ethernet protocol is something used for a lot more than just computer networks – as you may or may not know. One particular field that is being modernized by the use of ethernet is surveillance camera systems. By offering more features compared to analog camera systems, network cameras are available in consumer level kits and go right up to large-scale professionally installed systems.

Network Type
Most network cameras work on one of two network styles; their own dedicated network system or an existing network system. Things to keep in mind when choosing the network style will be the bandwidth required. Video uses a lot of bandwidth, and the more cameras you have, the more bandwidth you need. If you have a small existing network system or plan on having lots of cameras, when you may want to look into a dedicated system just to handle the cameras.

Cameras
Camera placement will be one of the key factors that will in turn affect many others. Will it be indoors or outdoors? Outdoor cameras will need to be built to withstand the weather in your area (hot, cold, rain, snow, wind, etc). The last thing you want is to place an expensive camera in a situation it isn't designed for and have it damaged or destroyed. Next you'll want to take a look at the lighting of the area you're viewing and decide whether or not natural lighting is sufficient for the cameras operation or if you'll need to look into a night vision model. Most night vision cameras work the same way your video camera's "night mode" does; by using an array of infra-red LED’s that will illuminate the area with a light invisible to the human eye but visible to the camera lens. The field of view of the lens will be another key factor to look into. If you're viewing an outside area or a large corner then you will likely want a large field of view so that the camera can see as much as possible without needing to invest in several cameras to cover one area. Inside, on places like hallways and doors, you likely won't require a camera with a large field of view because you will be watching a much more focused area.

Camera Power
Many network cameras are powered by the main system sending power down a pair of wires in the network cable. This eliminates the need for having dedicated power available at each camera location and greatly increases the usability of where you can place the cameras. However, if you're wanting to connect the system into an existing network setup then you may not have the option to run a power system through the ethernet at the same time.

Wireless/Wired
With the growth of wireless networks these days network cameras are entering that sect of the market as well. If you don't want the hassle of running a mess of wires to every camera location (not always easy to do in an existing building) then you can buy wireless cameras to do the job with less setup hassle. The only wires you'll need to run for wireless cameras are power wires. Since they can't be connected to a power system through ethernet cable, they do require a power connection at their location.

System Connectivity
With most network cameras you have a few choices on how you want to hook things up. This will depend on the size of the setup and how you want to access it. Option one would be interfacing all the cameras with a local computer by using the required hardware. This generally means you will have a computer dedicated strictly to recording and monitoring the surveillance system. Due to the resources used by recording live video it is usually advised that you use the system for no more than the sole purpose of being the camera system's DVR (Digital Video Recorder). Setup option two would be having a dedicated system DVR. These are remotely accessed systems which monitor and record all the connected cameras. You can find these systems with large scalability to handle everything from a small home or office up to a huge apartment building or office tower. Generally speaking, these systems have nothing more than the cameras and a network connection attached to them. To actually see what's going on you need to connect to access them through a third party computer. This means you can use any computer on the same network as the system and often outside that network as well by setting up remote internet access to the system. Now you can monitor your system not only at the office, but if you're concerned about activities after hours you can also log in from the comfort of home. Of course the system options and types will vary vastly depending on your setup and requirements. Always keep security in mind when using a system like this - you don't want it to be something that any employee or internet wanderer can access!

The nature of this type of product means there are not only lots of consumer level companies out there, but there is also many corporate level companies as well. I've given you a brief outline of the main points you'll want to consider when looking into a system of this nature. The deeper specifics on just the cameras alone could lead me into an article ten times longer than the one you've just read - so I won't go into any specific detail. The same goes for the DVR systems and system options out there. I gave you a really brief outline of the two main types without writing you a book about each. There are lots of great DIY systems on the market for smaller setups and a lot of companies out there who really cater to consumer-level network cameras. If you're running a larger business then chances are you will be consulting your network camera setup with your security company and going with hardware considered to be higher grade than what you'd buy at a local electronics store. Now that you at least know the basics you'll start to understand all the parts required to build a network camera system and can research further into each component on your own.

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