The Value of Analog vs IP Video Surveillance. A Simple Math Equation?

The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is very true in the world of video surveillance. We have seen that, when an incident occurs, a video clip can tell a story that adds thousands of dollars to the bottom line when combined with systems data.  On the other hand, not having that picture can cost a company greatly.


As security camera technology continues to evolve, we often hear customers ask, “Are IP Video solutions really better than analog?” and “Do IP cameras bring greater value for the higher price?”


It is important not to get caught up in the marketing hype. We must return to evaluating the base technology to understand what solution is right – and most cost-effective -- for you and your company.



It’s a Quality Equation

To begin, the quality of video has always been based on how many Pixels Per Foot (PPF) are applied to a Targeted Recording Area (TRA). With a 320 x240 analog camera, 240 horizontal pixels are applied to a TRA. Good general surveillance video requires 25 PPF. However, facial or license plate recognition requires 40 PPF. (See Chart 1 for complete detail.)


To illustrate, if you have a dining area or store front TRA that is 30 feet wide, you will need 3 analog cameras to provide coverage for general surveillance. If you are looking for facial recognition in that same TRA, you will need to increase the number of analog cameras to 5.


If we look at IP cameras, based on Chart 1, it would take a single 1 megapixel (MP) camera to cover the same TRA for general surveillance and a single 2 MP camera to provide optimal facial recognition in that TRA.


There is nothing complicated about this. Both analog and IP cameras can deliver quality video. The question is; how do you define quality? It’s a simple math equation. We know that when you get the right PPF to meet your business needs, you will be happy with your video quality.



Analog vs. IP: Which Brings Greater Value?

When asked whether IP or analog provides greater value for the money, we know that an analog interior dome will cost (for the purpose of this illustration) $150. A 1 MP interior dome will cost $300 and a 2 MP interior dome will cost $480. So for this 30’ TRA, your pricing would be as follows:


General Surveillance Facial Recognition Surveillance
Analog 3 x $150 = $450 Analog 5 x $150 = $750
IP (1MP) 1 X $300 = $300 IP (2MP) 1 x $480 = $480



The cost of individual IP cameras is higher, but the cost of an IP solution is competitive when you consider total number of required analog cameras and overall system design. IP also gives you the ability to integrate with other third-party applications within your business (e.g. POS, Employee Time & Attendance) allowing you to sync up video with the information your systems are providing, allowing you to run your business more efficiently.


Challenge your video surveillance contractors to do the math and explain it before they install your system. This will ensure you get the quality of video your company needs – at the right price – to meet its business objectives.



Surveillance - Clarity Level

Camera Type








Horizontal Pixels







Good - General Horizontal Coverage - 25ppf







Better - Facial/License Plate Recognition Horizontal Coverage - 40ppf







Best - Highest Detail Horizontal Coverage - 80ppf







Mark Nazarenus
Mark Nazarenus is the President of ITech Digital. Mark is an experienced security professional that partners with organizations across the nation to design custom security solutions for industries like retail, restaurants, warehouse and commercial buildings, K-12 schools and colleges.
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