What is an IP camera?

Hikvision DS-2CD4A65F-IZS

An IP camera (aka Internet Protocol CCTV camera) is a type of type of digital video camera that is used for surveillance and uses an internet-based network connection in order to store the data that it records.

IP cameras have fast become the best method through which to carry out security surveillance in both the home and in business. Cheaper, more versatile, and simpler to install than traditional analogue CCTV systems, the technology has advanced to such a point that a small system can be set up for as little as a few hundred pounds, and with a range of utilities and features that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.

They function in much the same way as a typical webcam, however they are far more versatile and powerful than the camera used in your average Skype conversation! You can install as many cameras as you need in a single systemand have them both send and receive data due to their digital nature, meaning you can have a truly 'smart' security system that's fully catered to your needs.

The cameras are typically connected to an NVR (network video recorder) via a network cable or a wireless connection, which serves as the central hub of the system and facilitates both the storage of data and an array of other utilities. However, for smaller systems, the cameras can use on-board flash storage (via an SD memory card), meaning that you can easily scale the solution to the size of your needs.

What benefits do they offer? 


Modern cameras typically boast resolutions of up to 1080p, however we are now seeing the first 4k cameras now hitting the market and becoming available for the ordinary user.

Remote Viewing

There are plenty of software packages available that allow you to access and control your cameras via your smartphone or tablet, meaning you can check up on your home or business from wherever you are.

Pan, Tilt, Zoom

For those who need a more dynamic system that can regularly change its area of focus, there are plenty of cameras with pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) options to do just this. There is even software that easily lets you set up cameras to ‘patrol’ a chosen area, giving you further flexibility within your system.

Triggered Alerts

Easy and simple to set up, many cameras come with support for highly customisable alert software - you'll be able to receive text, email, or phone alerts for movement your camera detects, wherever you are, any time of day or night you choose!

Vandal Resistant

Cameras that come with tamper-proof housing are readily available, and mean that you're able to securely place them wherever you need without worrying about having them switched off or easily broken by any would-be-criminals.

Recognition Software

There are even new developments in recognition software, meaning that some high-end modern cameras now come bundled with the ability to recognise, capture, and store individual faces and license plates along with a timestamp. This means that they are better than ever at capturing the details that matter, and recording the necessary information should the worst occur.

How easy are they to set up?

Modern IP camera systems are very straightforward to set up. The big manufacturers have continually improved their lines of plug and play cameras in recent years, meaning that many now effectively work out of the box and require only some basic additional steps to get them up and running.

With a little bit of pre-planning, installation is also very straightforward, both interior and exterior. Power over internet (PoE) capability means that modern cameras only require a standard network cable for both power and their network connection, further reducing the fuss of installation and meaning you don’t need any existing infrastructure except for an ordinary network connection. Further to this, once installed, IP cameras require little-to-no maintenance, letting you monitor them at your convenience without needing regular costly inspection or repairs.


Know what you're looking for? We have a great range of IP cameras and accessories at our webshop - have a look for yourself!

Any questions or need to know more? Have a look at the use-IP forum for answers to commonly asked questions, product information, and other technical support!

If you're a first-time buyer, we have an on-going blog series to help you build your first home security system.

Want to read about newly released products, industry news, or perhaps our new on-going series on setting up your first home security system? Check out the use-IP blog for all this and more!