Frequently asked questions about CCTV IP Network Cameras
Please contact us using our on-line form should you have any questions
Q: What's better Digital/IP/Network or Analog CCTV?
A: This isn't a quick answer so I will split it down into three parts
Wiring and Recording
- Traditional (Older) CCTV systems are Analog. Originally, these recorded to video tapes, but more recently the analog signals are converted into digital and recorded to DVRs (Digital Video Recorders). As such, some sellers sell these as an advanced Digital system, but they are not. Analog CCTV requires a Coax cable for the data and a Power cable to each individual camera.
- Newer more modern CCTV systems are Digital (also known as IP or Network CCTV). These cameras transmit digital images to a NVR (Network Video Recorder) over an Ethernet cable, similar to that used between your internet modem/router and your computer. These Cat5/6 cables also carry the power required by the Network Camera (this is called PoE / Power-over-Ethernet)
- Have you ever seen CCTV on your local news channel and wondered why it was so terrible? It does't have to be that way. Most of what you are seeing is analog CCTV systems
- The quality of Analog CCTV systems is measured in TVL (TV-Lines). These range from 420TVL to 1000TVL. 420TVL being cheap but 1000TVL relatively expensive. 700TVL is a popular system that you will seen sold in many famous retail stores with a DVR. The resolution of 700TVL is 976 x 582, approx. 0.5MP
- Digital has a far higher resolution, with lower-range starting at 1280 x 720 (approx. 1MP) and high-range at 2048 x 1536 (approx. 3MP). That's between 2 and 6 times more pixels and clarity than your standard Analog system
- I would liken the quality difference of Analog vs Digital to 1990s TVs vs Flatscreen LCDs
- Although a 2MP IP Camera is the resolution as a Full HD 1080p broadcast such as BBC HD or Sky Sports HD, the quality won't be the same. Why? These cameras are small and compact, the cameras used by broadcasters contain much larger sensors and lenses. So although these are great quality, don't expect to be able to film the Avatar sequel with them!
We believe at ExactCCTV that seeing is the best way! So here is an independent video comparing 700TVL Analog all the way up to an 3MP IP Camera.
I hope you can see that Digital is clearly the winner when it comes to quality, it really is BetaMax vs DVD however you compare it!
- Comparing kit prices, poorer quality Analog CCTV systems are cheaper than Digital
- But when you take into account installation costs this difference is much closer
- In fact, in cases where it's difficult to source power, or cameras aren't located close to each other, Digital is cheaper and much easier
- If you don't have a system, then installing a Digital system will require far less wiring and not require any additional power routing to camera locations
Q: OK, so Digital more cost-effective when I include installation but what if I already have an Analog system that I want to upgrade?
A: If you already have an Analog system, then upgrading the cameras and recorder would be a cheaper option but the benefits would be smaller compared to a full digital upgrade.
If you were to "bite the bullet" and install a new Digital system, that may be more cost-effective as it will be more future-proof then upgrading to a dying technology.
If you have no option to upgrade an Analog system due to existing wiring, then we would only recommend upgrading to AnalogHD/TurboHD (HD-SDI/CVI/TVI). This will cost slightly more than a Digital system but will be of a similar quality to a low-to-mid range Digital system.
Here's two independent videos to show you the quality of a top-of-the-range HD-SDI 2MP and HD-TVI 2MP Analog Cameras
Q: Surely you're only saying Digital is best because you sell Digital? I've seen lots of videos from installers saying Analog is much better.
A: Well we say Digital is best because it is (just like how Digital TV killed off Analog TV) and hopefully through independent videos and links we provide to reviews of products you will soon agree too.
Yes we sell Digital, but we also sell HD-TVI Analog (also known as TurboHD) to give you the full choice to suit your needs. However, we only recommend HD-TVI Analog in specific cases purely because it is less cost-effective than digital and not as good quality.
We want you, the customer, to make the right choice and get the right product for you. We encourage our customers to contact us for any advice for any installation, Analog or Digital.
Why do these installers recommend Analog I ask? It definitely require more installation costs than Digital as these diagrams hopefully show.
Digital - One cable per camera
Analog - One power cable and one data cable per camera
Digital IP Cameras we sell are plug-and-play (auto-configure) and we provide access to simple step-by-step installation videos. There is no need to pay expensive installation costs from experts although if you don't feel confident, having a handyman install the cameras and wiring would be a far cheaper option.
Q: Do I have to connect my NVR/DVR to my internet router?
A: No you don't. You should only connect your NVR/DVR to the internet router if you want to have remote access. If you do this, be sure to change the default password for the NVR/DVR or others may be able to access your feeds! For best security, I only recommend connecting to NVR/DVR to the internet when you require remote access, e.g. when you go on holiday. If it's not connected to the internet, it can't be accessed by others.
Q: Will I have to trawl through hours and hours of endless footage to find the recorded incident I'm after?
A: Hopefully not. The NVRs we sell allow you to enable motion detection. They won't video unless they detect something. For cameras at the front of the house this could be 20 incidents of 2 minutes per day but at the rear of a house this can be as little as 2 recordings. You can also playback at fast-forward speeds of 2x/4x/8x. Using a combination of these methods could mean you are spending 15 minutes to review 2 weeks of recordings.
Q: Isn't CCTV illegal?
A: Not in most countries. Although I would recommend a common sense approach to it's use. For example, monitoring your drive and front-garden would be ok, even if it captures the public road and surrounding area, but pointing a camera over the fence of your neighbours garden wouldn't be ok.
Here's a snippet from an independent website for UK http://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/cctv-privacy-and-the-law.html
We find most neighbours, once informed, will be happy you have CCTV if they become a victim of crime and want you to see if your cameras inadvertently caught the criminals in the act or in the area, e.g. parked up on the public road outside your house.
Q: Does CCTV really work?
A: As you can see from the independent videos for each of our products, it really does. It's not like it used to be or some older models still are.
CCTV acts as a great deterrent to stop crime. Using CCTV with a combination of other deterrents (good locks, burglar alarm, security lights, etc) will be telling the criminals your house is not an easy target, not what they want!
Here is an independent article saying that having a real CCTV system was a major deterrent for burglars. The dummy ones are too easy to spot as such for professionals.
Q: Why choose Exact CCTV?
A: At Exact CCTV we pride ourselves on giving honest impartial advice and stocking high-quality high-end and good value CCTV solutions. We distribute to professionals, companies and also sell to retail customers. Our aim is to give you the best pre-sales service and then continue with an after-sales service which ensures you are happy to recommend us to others. We don't aim to sell you the most expensive product but instead the products that suit your needs.
Q: I've seen similar CCTV cameras cheaper on eBay, why shouldn't I buy them?
A: Whilst we strive to be the cheapest, unfortunately this isn't always possible. As an official distributor and trustworthy company, we can help with pre and after-sales. We also try to provide as much information and help on this website to help you make the right choices. Some of the cameras sold elsewhere can be fakes or cheap alternatives, which is something you are guaranteed not to get from ExactCCTV.
However, contact us with an example and we will contact the manufacturer in order to get our prices down for not only you but all our customers.
Q: Are your products made in China or imported from China? I've been told elsewhere that they have UK made versions.
A: All products we sell are with English firmware (no Chinese dates etc), English manuals, English technical support and come with UK & EU guarantee from Exact CCTV (not a Chinese RTB). Most of these products are made in China, this will be the same as elsewhere. Anyone claiming that their product isn't imported from and/or made in China isn't being honest I'm afraid.
Q: What if it breaks? Is it covered under warranty? Do I have to pay a lot of money to send it back to China or Japan?
A: Unfortunately electronics can become faulty. That is why our products are covered under a UK & EU guarantee unless otherwise specified. If you are from outside the EU, chances are we can still offer a guarantee, but please check with us first using the "Contact Us" page or button.
You won't have to send items off to get lost in the China Mail system, why should you? We deal with all returns here in the UK. Simply "Contact Us" with the issue and should the items be defective then we will issue an RMA. Please note that damage caused from flashing incorrect firmware (i.e. firmware not supplied by Exact CCTV) will void the guarantee. If you want to update the firmware because of a specific issue then it's always best to contact us first for the correct firmware.
Q: Can I download and update firmware from the manufacturer's website?
A: For most of our products yes you can. For your own security and peace-of-mind we offer to check you are downloading the correct firmware before for your device, this minimises the risk of you bricking your device through putting the wrong firmware on.
Q: What payments do you accept? And what protection do you offer?
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Q: I have a different question.
A: As always, feel free to Contact Us for any help.
We have taken care to ensure that our website (including the help pages) and these FAQs do not contradict each other. However if there are any inconsistencies or contradictions then the terms and conditions at the checkout page shall apply instead of any contradictory or inconsistent part of our website.