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IP Cameras FAQ

Shopping for IP cameras can be overwhelming. They combine photography and computer networking. Are you confused? You're not alone! We've been working with IP security cameras and IP surveillance equipment for a long time. Our staff of experts have answered common questions about network cameras. What is a fixed lens? What does f-number mean? Find the answers here!

What is a fixed lens?

A fixed lens or prime lens means you canít adjust the focal length, so you canít zoom in or out. For IP cameras, fixed lenses are typically wide-angle. Thus, fixed lens cameras are typically used for general coverage.

What is a varifocal lens?

A varifocal lens or telephoto lens means you can adjust the focal length of the camera to zoom in or out. Thus, varifocal lenses let you get general coverage with the option of zooming in for detail on specific objects.

What does focal length mean?

Focal length tells you how wide or narrow the picture captured by the camera is. The smaller the focal length, the wider the field of view, so a 5mm lens gives you a wider picture than a 70mm lens.

What does field of view mean?

Field of view refers to how much of a scene is captured by the camera. It's measured in degrees. The higher the number, the wider the field of view, so a 100į field of view is wider than a 8į field of view.

What do aperture and f-number mean?

Aperture measures how wide the camera shutter opens to let in light. The f-number indicates the size of the cameraís aperture. The smaller the f-number, the larger the aperture, so an f/2.0 aperture is wider than an f/5.6 aperture. A wide aperture lets a security camera take better video in lower light.

Can I use a standard PoE switch to power an IP camera?

You donít need a specialized PoE switch to power an IP camera. However, not all IP cameras have the same power requirements. For example, a camera with a built-in heating unit needs to draw more power than a standard one. In this case, the camera might require PoE+ power, more than standard PoE. Make sure your PoE switch can match the power requirements of the camera.

Can I use an indoor camera outdoors?

You can, but itís not a good idea. Outdoor-rated cameras are designed to meet industry standards for weather and impact protection. They also have extended operating temperature ranges compared with indoor cameras. On the flipside, you can use outdoor cameras inside with no issue.

What does ONVIF mean?

ONVIF stands for Open Network Video Interface Forum. ONVIF is an open standard for IP surveillance, so cameras, recorders, and other devices from different companies can be interoperable. The different ONVIF profiles cover different functions: Profile S for video streaming, Profile G for storage, and so on.

Do I need a network video recorder for my IP camera to work?

No, IP cameras do not require a network video recorder (NVR) to work. However, if your camera does not support local storage and you want to record video, you will need to setup an NVR or similar network-attached storage (NAS) solution to record video.

What does local storage mean?

Local storage means you can store video in camera. Many IP cameras have memory card slots, typically SD or microSD. With those cameras, you can record to that card as opposed to or in addition to an NVR.

What are audio connections used for?

Audio connections are used to connect external microphones to the camera. Cameras that support audio can be one-way or two-way. Cameras with one-way audio don't have speakers. They're useful for when you want to monitor sound but you don't need to broadcast sound. Two-way audio cameras have speakers or have connections for speakers, so you can hear and talk to people at the other end. They're useful in situations like gas stations.

What are alarm connections used for?

Alarm connections are used to connect the camera to an alarm system. An alarm is triggered when an event happens, for example, when a camera detects motion or when someone tampers with the camera. What events trigger alarms and what alarms are triggered depends on the camera and the IP camera system.