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Understanding IP, Analog, and HD-SDI Quality Levels

There are four types of surveillance camera systems: Store-Bought Analog, IP Cameras, HD-SDI Cameras, and TVI.

More than Resolution: The Differences between IP cameras, HD-SDI cameras, Analog, and TVI cameras


A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 700 TVL camera with a wide angle lens

Analog Cameras: Standard Definition: Low Cost

Analog cameras shoot in Standard Definition and are the lowest cost systems on the market, but they cannot do HD recording. Standard Definition cameras use Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) technology, but this can sometimes be confusing as people often say "CCTV," as a synonym to the word "surveillance" and not as the specific closed caption technology for which it abbreviates. Standard Definition cameras connect via BNC Coax cable.

More Samples from Analog Cameras

Image: Someone 10 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 20 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 50 feet from the camera


IP Cameras (aka Network Cameras): Digital, HD and beyond, and Interoperability

The industry is transitioning to IP cameras and they are the most advanced. IP has a whole host of interesting tricks such as not needing to be directly wired to your recording device - as long as your NVR and cameras are connected to your computer network, they will be able to talk with each other. IP also can connect to third-party video analytic software providers that can do license plate OCR reading and databasing, facial recognition, missing object or extra object detection, threat detection, retail traffic flow pattern prediction, and many others. IP systems and cameras can also talk with other digital devices such as digital alarm systems, POS systems, lighting systems and many other devices as long as those devices support talk-back too. These talk-back languages are known as PSIA (for non surveillance items) and ONVIF (for surveillance items). Our IP cameras are fully compliant with both languages.

1080P Samples from IP Cameras

Image: Someone 10 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 20 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 50 feet from the camera

3MP Samples from IP Cameras

Image: Someone 10 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 20 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 50 feet from the camera

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 3MP camera with a zoom lens

Why IP cameras are Preferred: Installation Comparison of 16 Channel HD systems:

SCW HD Systems: Easy

Notice how all the cameras plug into the NVR? This means that all the cameras will auto-configure and be powered by the NVR. There's no need to know how to set IP address or do any networking setup.
Plug it the one wire and it works.

Analog, CVI, TVI, and HD-SDI: Difficult

Notice how these system requires an electrician's help? Power distribution boxes are complicated and have exposed wires. You can use power plugs for each camera, but that's gets cluttered and may not have any protection from power surges.


A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 1080P camera with a wide angle setting

HD-SDI: Don't Waste Your Money

In 2010 when HD-SDI launched, it had a lot of hype. HD-SDI uses the exact same type of wire (BNC Coax) as Standard Definition cameras, so if you are pulling down a old Standard Definition system and want to replace it without having to rewire it, HD-SDI was supposedly the way to go.

Reality, however did not line up with HD-SDI's claims.

As of 2013, we stopped carrying HD-SDI cameras because because the real world performance didn't live up to advertising.

As of 2014, HD-SDI is all but dead for respectable companies. None of the major manufacturer's make them anymore; although many retailers still sell them. This is because the main benefit of HD-SDI ("You don't have to rewire!") ended up not being entirely truthful. HD-SDI is really fussy about cabling, which meant a lot of people had to re-run the cable anyway because of small nicks, kinks, or other unknown issues with the line. Don't go with HD-SDI; you'll be disappointed.

HD-SDI has now been replaced by HD-CVI and HD-TVI. read our report on why we think HD-TVI will make it and CVI is doomed to be discontinued like HD-SDI.

1080P Samples from HD-SDI Cameras

Image: Someone 10 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 20 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 50 feet from the camera


TVI - What HD-SDI was Supposed to Be, Plus Backwards Compatibility

HD-SDI was replaced by HD-CVI in 2013, In 2014, TVI replaced both.

TVI uses the same cable as Analog (BNC Coax), and is backwards compatible with analog.

If you replace your analog DVR with a TVI DVR, all your old analog cameras will still work (but still will be analog quality). You can then selectively add TVI cameras in either 720P or 1080P. You not only can keep your old cables, you can even use your old analog cameras as you transition to HD.

If you have an analog DVR and need to add a camera, you can use a TVI camera. It will only record in analog (because that's all the recorder can do), but when you replace your DVR with a TVI DVR, you will be able to record in HD for the TVI cameras.

Our TVI line will be available in January.

1080P Samples from IPI Cameras

Image: Someone 10 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 20 feet from the camera    Image: Someone 50 feet from the camera

A face at 25 FT, recorded with a 1080P camera with a wide angle setting

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