An IP camera or network camera is a digital camera that is used to monitor an area remotely. These security cameras allow you to monitor the real-time video of an area or even watch the video recordings of the previous day or distant past from the comfort of your home. You can make them a part of your home automation network as they work with home automation sub-systems like lightings and doorbells. Some devices perform additional functions as well. They let you receive alerts including emails and push notifications on mobile devices anywhere in the world and advanced motion analysis algorithm also help reduce false alerts. They allow more flexibility in installation as they can work using Wi-Fi or Powerline.
An IP camera works on the principles of Internet Protocol (IP) network instead of analog electrical signals. The standard industry protocols include the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP). IP cameras are capable of operating independently and have their own IP address which makes them accessible on any other devices on your Local Area Network (LAN). Most of them have a built-in or mini-computer and can work in either a centralized or decentralized model or both.
IP security camera has 4 major categories based on form factor: the fixed, fixed dome, PTZ and the PTZ dome cameras. Fixed cameras have a fixed viewing angle and remain mounted to always cover a certain area. The lenses can be changed easily and the direction of coverage is also pretty visible. In fixed domes, the cameras are fixed in a dome-shaped housing and are preferred in commercial settings. They are usually weather resistant and also suitable for outdoor applications. A PTZ camera refers to pan tilt and zoom camera where the view of the camera can be controlled either manually or automatically. It allows you to tilt the view up and down, pan side to side and zoom in or out. The PTZ dome camera is kept inside a dome and can continuously move between preset positions allowing you to have a full 360-degree view and monitor multiple areas in a particular sequence. Non-mechanical PTZ cameras having a wide-angle lens are also available which can zoom into any part of the image using optics alone.
Many IP security cameras support night vision by turning off the IR Filter thus making the image viewable at night, in black and white. Some cameras have features like white balance which identifies the light source and compensate for their color which is used to reflect the natural colors. Some cameras also allow voice recording along with the video. In some models, you can also have a full duplex voice communication. Motion detection feature present in some models can generate an alarm whenever any movement occurs in the image. The privacy masks in security cameras allow you to block or blur certain parts of the image and their sizes can increase or decrease automatically when the image is zoomed in or out.