Where more traditional standard definition (SD) analog CCTV cameras wouldn't do the job, people needed to start looking to high definition (HD) security cameras. With HDSDI being a flop for the industry, IP cameras have been almost unopposed in the HD market since it began. HDCVI cameras are becoming much more commonly known about and sought after these days. With this new and now proven technology growing in popularity, it's caught people who only used to consider IP cameras potentially looking in another direction. Rather than a versus, think of this more as a comparison.
We're going to base this on available resolutions, as well as overall image quality. To start off, HDCVI and IP security cameras are both available in 1.3 megapixels (720p) and 2 megapixels (1080p). While these may be the lowest of the HD resolutions, it's night and day next to analog CCTV cameras. At these resolutions, both images look very true to their marked resolutions, but you will notice a crisper and more true to color image with IP cameras. Now, if you never had these two side by side, you'd never know the difference, but fair is fair.
After 1.3 and 2 megapixels, HDCVI cameras drop off the map where IP cameras are easily accessible and readily available up to 12 megapixels. HDCVI is still relatively new in the scheme of things so we'd like to give it the benefit of the doubt; whether or not 2 megapixels will be a limitation of this technology is still up for debate.
Camera Frame Rates
At 1.3 and 2 megapixels, there are both HDCVI and IP cameras accessible with frame rates as high as thirty frames per second (FPS) to achieve real-time recording. You need to be careful with IP cameras after 2 megapixels; if you really need real-time recording, pay special attention to the cameras frame rate.
Cable Type and Cable Run
HDCVI cameras are HD analog cameras and use traditional RG59 cable (aka: RG59/U, Siamese cable, BNC cable, etc…); more specifically, they use solid copper RG59 cable. Along with having coaxial cable here for video, you also have your DC cable for power. In order to connect your HDCVI cameras to both your DVR and power supply(ies), you will need to use BNC connectors (twist-on, crimp, compression) and DC power terminals. HDCVI cameras also have an incredible video transmission distance of up to 1600 feet, but still require power within 300 feet if using a 12V DC power supply box.
Of course, the power distance can be easily increased by using a 24VAC power source but a 24VAC to12VDC power converter will be required at each camera end to down-convert to 12VDC which is required by almost all HDCVI cameras at this time.
For IP cameras, you'll be using Cat5e or Cat6 network cable. Either one of these cables is fine; just know that at this current time, nothing requires anything greater than Cat5e. Since most IP cameras are now PoE (power over Ethernet), the only other thing you'll need are RJ45 connectors to attach your cameras to your network/power supply. If you find yourself with IP cameras that are not PoE, you will need to run additional DC cable and use power terminals at one or both ends depending on your power supply. Non-PoE camera will be limited to 328 feet for video and 300 feet for power. PoE IP cameras will be limited to 328 feet for both video and power, but that can be augmented with as many as two PoE extenders to extend this distance to nearly 1000 feet.
HDCVI and non-PoE IP cameras will require either an individual power supply, or power distribution box. You will use either use DC power terminals to attach your DC cable to the cameras individual power supply, or you will directly attach your DC cable to the screw down terminals in your power distribution box if you have one.
IP Cameras with PoE capability will be powered via your single length of Cat5e/Cat6 cable by a PoE network switch. While providing power to your cameras, the network switch will also serve to connect your cameras to your network.
Both camera types, HDCVI and IP, are capable of recording to standalone video recorders. HDCVI is paired with the HDCVI DVR, while IP is paired with the NVR. The DVR and NVR are virtually the same thing as far as build and features are concerned. The difference between them is how your cameras may connect to them.
With an HDCVI system, your coaxial cable will be hardwired right to the back of the DVR. IP camera systems can mimic this setup, but only if the NVR possesses PoE ports on the back of it. The alternative it to connect all of your cameras and NVR to a network switch before connecting it to your network (router/modem). At this point, your cameras and NVR will be on the same network, but your cameras will now have to be manually added to the NVR using the graphic user interface (GUI). This will also mean needing to use the IP configuration tool to pre-configure each IP camera.
We know this is where we're ending, but for most of us, this is where we start. The simple fact is that even though IP cameras have been dropping in cost considerably, HDCVI cameras are still cheaper. This is a pretty heated issue to discuss among professionals, but like we said, fair is fair.
Not only are the cameras cheaper, but HDCVI DVRs are also cheaper than the NVRs needed for IP cameras, although not as noticeably this time. You may find yourself saving a hundred dollars per camera by switching to HDCVI but only saving about a hundred dollars total when you reach your most expensive items; video recorders.
Cables and connectors are where IP cameras redeem themselves. Cat5e cable is easily less than half the cost of solid copper RG59 cable; just keep in mind that RG59 is outdoor rated and most Cat5e is not. In addition to that, RJ45 connectors cost around thirty cents per piece at most while HDCVI cameras will require BNC connectors for one to three dollars per connector and power terminals at about two dollars apiece.
No one came here to say which is better. In this case, we just feel that it's more important for people to understand some of the basic differences in order to determine whether HDCVI or IP is right for them. We haven't touched on individual features yet, but…coming soon? Don't forget that you have the perfect opportunity to use both camera types in the same system if you choose to use a Tribrid DVR. You can read more about these exciting new DVR/NVR combinations here: What is a Tribrid Security DVR?