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Understanding ONVIF and its limitations

Anyone who is interested in IP security cameras will come across the acronym “ONVIF” at some point. The acronym has a lot of mystery behind it and can be difficult to completely understand. This article will explain and demystify common misconceptions surrounding the acronym.

What is ONVIF? or What is an ONVIF camera?

ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) is a global and open corporate forum that was founded to standardize the IP-based surveillance camera industry. They have created several categories for compliance to make it easier for companies to create products that are compatible with other manufacturers. Often times this has mislead customers to believe the hype that any device with the “ONVIF” label will work with anything on the market that claims to be ONVIF compatible. Small manufacturers that have little or no research and development investments package inexpensive chipset solutions in to camera shells and claim their products are ONVIF compatible and should work with any ONVIF NVR recorder. However, that is not the case. Such manufacturers should rightfully be called assemblers as they have zero investments in their own product development. You can find several companies online selling through Newegg, Amazon, or Ali Express which sell the same inexpensive IP camera solution. This can make finding the right security camera that will work with your system a learning milestone in your path to becoming a security camera prosumer.

Is my camera ONVIF compliant?

Because there are so many manufacturers out there it is impossible to say if your ONVIF camera is truly compliant. ONVIF created several profiles that are loosely followed by IP camera chipset manufacturers. Below is a table of commonly used ONVIF profiles for IP cameras and NVR recorders.

Profile S
(Streaming Video)
Profile C
(Access control)
Profile G
(Recording and Storage)
Profile Q
(Quick Installation)
  • Video streaming
  • Audio streaming
  • PTZ Controls
  • Video settings
  • Site information
  • Event and alarm
  • Door access control
  • Video and audio storage
  • Configure, request, and control recording
  • Receive metadata
Plug-n-play compatible supports

  • discovery
  • configuration
  • control of compatible devices

My camera is ONVIF compliant, will it work?

In most cases you will get a video stream from the ONVIF camera but no other features. Motion detection, audio, remote viewing, camera settings, and PTZ control are features that will not work, even with an IP camera that is labeled “ONVIF compliant”. Any company that you purchase from can claim their equipment is ONVIF compliant, however this is misleading and untrue. The only way to know is to test your ONVIF camera with the standalone DVR or NVR you intend to use. Different firmware versions on camera and recorders provide varying degree of compatibility thus making it impossible for either camera or recorder manufacturer to answer that question unless the exact camera and recorder models have been tested to work together.

How do I know what cameras I can use with my system?

A good rule of thumb is to use caution when purchasing from different companies. It is also a good idea to contact the company you purchased your recorder from to see if they support the cameras you are interested in. It is foolish to buy an ONVIF camera and expect it to work with your NVR without doing the proper research first. Do not expect to purchase an ONVIF camera and have it work with a security camera system unless it has been verified to do so by the company you are purchasing it from and vice versa.

How does ONVIF effect me as a consumer?

The intent here is not to intimidate you as the buyer to buy only from us. This article is meant to educate you about the existence of limitations with ONVIF compatibility that if overlooked can lead to a costly mistake. While every buyer has different assessment criteria when choosing a supplier, too commonly it is cost motivated. Using cost alone as a buying criteria can lead to more complications and headaches down the road, especially when trying to find a reliable recording solution. When making purchasing decisions it is important to consider the variety of camera types available from the supplier, and make sure a compatible standalone recorder solution exists.

How can I connect ONVIF IP cameras to a NVR from CCTV Camera World?

If the ONVIF IP camera you have was approved and verified for use by our technical staff, then it is easy to add the camera to one of our NVR recorders once the camera and NVR have been configured to be on the same local network. As shown in the video below it takes a few mouse clicks to add the camera to the NVR.

How to Connect ONVIF IP Cameras to an Avalonix DVR or NVR

Matt Rossi is a Technical Support Manager at CCTV Camera World, a leading CCTV Camera distributor located in Buffalo, NY. He is a technical support expert for everything video surveillance related.

 

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