Need basic guidance shopping for IP cameras


#1

I’m an old Webcam XP user, and up till now I’ve done OK just connecting Logitech USB cameras to a system located in the middle of the house, mainly so we can watch our cats when we’re traveling. But despite my surprising success with 20 foot and longer USB extension cables, its starting to look pretty ugly, and I’d really like to have a wireless solution. I understand a wireless camera will still need power, but if it can at least connect and share video data via the house wi-fi network, that will be awesome.

BUT… I’m trying to shop ebay where prices are low, but info and specs are hard to come by, and I realize I don’t know how these Wi/Fi IP cameras really work. I’d like to think they all adhere to some standard, and that once I configure them, they will simply join my network, and WebcamXP will be able to find them. But maybe its not that easy? I’m starting to think a lot of Wi Fi cameras only work with the proprietary surveillance software of one manufacturer or another. If this is the case, what do I need to look for to make sure I’m likely buying cameras with a a standard interface and connectivity setup?


#2

Hi and thanks for being “an old Webcam XP user” :slight_smile:

I agree that this should be easy and it can be easy, but it depends on what you want to do. I have divided this into cameras and software.

Software:
Do you plan to exchange all the cameras to IP cameras using wifi? If that is the plan I would recommend you to change from WebcamXP to Netcam Studio which is the next generation software that can handle IP cameras much better and more easy for users to connect IP cameras. You can download Netcam Studio here http://netcamstudio.com/ and test it. You can also connect USB cameras, but with some limitations. But, test and see how it goes.

IP cameras:
The market for IP cameras have really exploded during the last years. Prices have decreased and some cameras are very good. To make it easy for users many manufacturers have their own non-standard software and communication protocol, but quite often these cameras do not work in our software. If you want to use WebcamXP or Netcam Studio the cameras must support the protocol MJPEG and/or RTSP. WiFi is so standardized today so that is no problem. With MJPEG you get video and with RTSP you get video and audio. Today most of the new cameras also support ONVIF which is a standard how to set up and communicate between an IP camera and the software. Netcam Studio support ONVIF and makes it therefore much more easier to set up.

IP camera resolution
Today a selling argument from many manufacturers of cameras is how many MegaPixel the camera have. A camera with many megapixel like 2, 3, 4 … gives an excellent picture, but they also use a lot more computer power. So see what you have today and the CPU load of the computer. If the CPU load is high you should maybe stick with the same resolution of the new IP cameras. It is very easy to buy a good camera with many megapixels, but if you have many cameras you might also end up with buying a new computer.

If you want to continue to use WebcamXP look for what cameras that software support http://www.webcamxp.com/ipcams.aspx. By installing the Universal Source filter in WebcamXp it can also support other cameras that use MJPEG and RTSP. ONVIF is not supported in WebcamXP.

So you need to make some decision to start with. Will I exchange all USB cameras to IP cameras? Do I want to use my existing computer or can I buy a new one? If I want to keep the existing computer what is the CPU load with existing cameras?

This should be easy and ONVIF is a necessary way to make it more easy, but there are some other things a s well :slight_smile: I hope this gave you some guidance. Browse around in the section for Network cameras and you should find a lot of information.

Good luck and you know where to find me.
-Henrik


#3

Thanks @Henrik ! Thats just the kind of info I think I need. You hit the nail on the head about the many cameras that come with proprietary software. But I’ll look up the meanings of the MJPEG and/or RTSP protocols to better understand what it means, and hopefully can do some sensible shopping.

I’m not quite sure I understand why the CPU load would be greater than with USB cams. I’ve been using some Logitech C525 USB cameras, which are good to near hi-def resolution (1280 x 720p I believe), and with the USB, the computer has to run both the drivers for these cameras and Wecam XP. I figure that for a camera to support a wi fi link and some kind of image transfer protocol, they must have a bit more built in CPU horsepower than the little USB cams, and their prices seem to reflect it!

The software part I’m still a little fuzzy on. Of course i still need WebcamXP to run the web server, and capture motion (I just have it email me pictures). But with these cameras being wi fi connected, and with a DNS service in place, I’d almost have thought they each could run their own web servers, just with their built in CPUs. But I guess they don’t go that far.

I’m pretty hopeful about my computer(s). Though some of them are quite old DELLs, they are pretty amazing machines. In fact the one we’re using for these webcams right now is connected to our living room TV, and easily plays streamed full motion (at least 30fps) video movies at 1920 x 1080i without even getting beyond 30% CPU. That may be partially because I’ve invested in good video cards. Also, because of the issue with stringing USB wires all over, I’ve opted to run Webcam on 2 different machines, each with just a handful of cams, and running their web servers at different ports. I’ll probably still keep SOME of the USB cams, but if I’m going to monitor outside the house and distant rooms better, the wi-fi will be the only way to do it.

Anyway, if there’s anything you think I’m missing, please let me know In the mean time, thanks for the info on what protocols to look for, as well as the listing you linked of known compatible cameras. Much appreciated, and have a great day!


#4

Hi,
That’s good. Regarding the CPU you didn’t write what type of USB cams you use and therefore, my remark. If you use a USB cam with 720p resolution an IP cam with the same resolution would use the same CPU load (more or less). Many Ip cams start at 720p and have higher resolutions so just be aware of that.
Dell computers are very good work horses and can take a lot.
IP cams have a lot of built in features, but since you have NCS or Webcamxp it is better to use that as a central. Otherwise you must connect to each camera.
Have a look at this one where you have one computer for the USB cams and one computer for the IP cams. Then connect them to each other and you can have a very nice system. I do this and it works very well. How to connect one NCS server with another NCS server

Good luck,
Henrik