BY DEBORAH L. O’MARA
Creating a Commodity
KEY CONSIDERATIONS IN CAMERA SELECTION
Selecting an Internet protocol
(IP) camera can be mind-boggling. Do you
need 4K, one of the highest resolutions
available? What about storage? Does the
camera save with the super-efficient H.264
compression algorithm, or can you store on
SD memory cards?
Every specification or project will be dif-
ferent, and this is no time for cookie-cutter
surveillance specifications. Contractors
need to sit down and talk to customers
about their goals. A thorough consultation
begins the conversation and specification.
According to Bob Germain, director of product
management, Hikvision USA, City of Industry,
Calif., the required resolution and lens size are
the most basic determinations.
“You need to look at the field of view that
needs to be covered and what level of detail is
desired, whether it is recognition level or iden-
tification level,” he said. “Based upon this, lens
size and resolution can be determined.”
Resolutions for IP cameras vary from
1 megapixel (MP)/720p ( 1,280-by-720),
2 MP/1,080p ( 1,920-by- 1,080), 4K/8 MP ( 4,096-
by- 2,160) to beyond.
“The rule of thumb is the larger the number,
Consider if local camera recording is a good
the better the image and larger the digital file size
as well,” Germain said. “It is important to balance
the higher image quality with network capacity
and the amount of data you want to record.”
Consider options of pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) or fixed
cameras. In some cases, multiple fixed cameras
can cover an area more cost-effectively. How-
ever, PTZ offers better monitoring with its ability
to move and zoom into an area of interest. PTZ
cameras can provide a closeup or zoomed-in view
based on motion detection, trip wires or intrusion-
zone analytic events from the fixed cameras.
option. Recording onto an SD card of up to 128
gigabytes is common. They save bandwidth on
the network and space on the recording device.
Network security should be a key consider-
ation in IP camera selection. Ensure measures
are in place to protect your customer’s network;
cameras should not allow default passcodes,
and they should require administrators to imple-
ment unique protected passcodes.
The ability to use the IP camera with assorted security-management systems allows
for flexibility in system design. IP camera manufacturers follow Open Network Video Interface
Forum (ONVIF) and Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA) standards, and they foster
open platform integration.
Lower prices, more features
According to Randy Miller, vice president of sales,
WavestoreUSA, West Palm Springs, Fla., falling network video camera prices and advanced
features are contributing to their proliferation. End-users enjoy better image quality. New analytics
offer even greater forensic and business optimization tools. According to Miller, high-definition
(HD), 360-degree and MP IP cameras come with
their own challenges for efficient video surveillance management.
“HD, 360-degree and megapixel IP cam-
eras generate larger video files,” he said. “In
video surveillance, high resolution means high
storage needs. A basic IP video surveillance
solution with up to eight cameras recording
continuously for a week can consume over 1
terabyte of storage.”
Electrical contractors (ECs) need to
know IP terminology.
All network cameras vary in the bit rate
between cameras and manufacturers. Bit
rate directly drives the amount of necessary
storage. Video compression encoding formats (CODECS) have a tremendous effect
on bit rate, going from the highest (MJPEG)
to the middle of the road (MPEG4) and the
Miller said WavestoreUSA offers tech-
nical assistance to ECs.
“Another consideration when speci-
fying network cameras specifically involves
360-degree cameras,” he said. “Starting with
the potential to reduce camera counts, 180/360
degree cameras have become an attractive op-
tion for a variety of video-surveillance installs.
In addition to quality and performance, 180/360
degree cameras offer the potential of lower
costs for equipment, installation, maintenance
Miller said the raw image captured by
180/360 degree cameras provides detailed video
of a broad area, often allowing a single camera
to replace multiple units. However, the images
from a 180/360 degree camera’s fisheye lens
are distorted and require dewarping technology.
“Dewarping is a processor-intensive method that makes flat, rectangular images from the
original images,” he said. “You can dewarp at
the camera itself; however, client/server-based
dewarping is a better choice.”
Miller said client/server-based dewarping
records at full resolution. Conversely, when
dewarping at the camera, users must preselect
the field of view, and he said there is no going
back to other views.
There are many considerations in the proper
selection of IP cameras. Take advantage of all of
the resources and training manufacturers offer,
and listen to the customer’s needs before designing the system.
O’MARA is the owner of DLO Communications, www.dlocommunications.com,
specializing in writing services for the low-voltage and systems integration industries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847.384.1916.