Analog Security Cameras: Everything You Need to Know

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If you want to protect your home or business, a security system is probably the first thing that comes to your mind. Security systems deter criminals and prevent theft and harm. A crucial part of security systems are cameras; the sight of a camera alone is often enough to fend off most criminals. If you are looking for a camera, you may have run across analog security cameras and weigh them as an option. 

Analog security cameras are devices that provide their video feed to a local monitor or TV and store their recordings on a local security DVR. They are commonly referred to as “CCTV” cameras; they typically record in standard definition (960H resolution). 

Security is essential, and that is why you should know every aspect of analog security cameras if you are considering installing them. If you want to learn everything about analog security cameras, their benefits over digital security cameras (and vice-versa), and be introduced to the best ones on the market, read on. 

What is an Analog Security Camera?

DVR with Various Security Cameras on Table

As we explained in our guide on digital versus analog cameras, analog security cameras are synonymous with CCTV cameras. CCTV stands for closed-circuit television, meaning the video is displayed on a local monitor or television to be recorded by a DVR (digital video recorder). Analog security cameras were once the gold standard for recording surveillance footage in most parts of the world. They were first developed way back in 1927 and became very prominent starting in the 1980s through the 1990s. 

Why did they become so prominent? It is simple, they were (and still are) a cheap way to deter crime. Analog security cameras were installed in droves in the 80s and 90s, preventing many businesses from being robbed or vandalized. Analog security cameras – which come in a dome and or bulleted style (our tutorial on the differences) – are still used widely today, even with the advent of digital or network security cameras that work through the internet and provide better quality.

Since analog security cameras are lower cost and easy to set up, many businesses such as convenience stores, gas stations, and many other consumer stores opt for analog security cameras over digital. Analog security cameras do have their drawbacks; they record video in low quality. However, the sight of these old-school cameras is still enough to swat away most would-be thieves, making a high-quality video recording unnecessary. Analog cameras also necessitate many wires for installation and installation location limitations since they all have to be wired back to a DVR. 

How Do Analog Security Cameras Work? 

Analog, or CCTV, cameras work by transmitting images captured by the camera’s lens along a coaxial cable to a DVR. The DVR is the device that stores the recording on a hard drive. The DVR converts the analog signal from the camera to a digital file when it is saved. The DVR has to be connected to a TV or monitor to view the video recording. However, higher-end DVRs can connect to a router and enable you to watch the recordings through the internet. 

Analog security cameras have plenty of advantages. However, they are considered inferior to digital security cameras by most. Digital security cameras started becoming mainstream in the 2000s and are used in IP-based CCTV systems. IP and digital-based mean their video recordings are initially captured as digital files and work through a network. Digital security cameras can be viewed online, have fewer wires, and provide even more advantages over their predecessor. 

Benefits of Analog Security Cameras Over Digital Security Cameras

Are All Security Cameras Compatible With All DVRs - Featured Image - Smaller

Even though analog security cameras are an older technology, they still have some advantages over the newer digital security cameras. Once your analog security cameras are installed, there is typically not a ton of subsequent maintenance that needs to be accomplished. No network could go “down,” and other than the cameras being physically damaged, power failures, or cables being cut, there is not much that could go wrong. Here are the many benefits: 

  • Cost – Comparing camera-to-camera price, analog ones costs a lot less on average. 
  • Installation & Setup – Initially, setting up analog security cameras is easy; you have one or more cameras that plug into a DVR.
  • Zero bandwidth utilization – Since analog security cameras transmit their feed to the DVR via a coaxial cable, it does not use any wireless or wired network to do so. (Although you can connect some DVRs to a network to view the video.)
  • Nearly unhackable – If your analog security cameras are not connected to the internet or a network, then they cannot be hacked.
  • Lower storage requirements – Since analog video recordings are lower quality, they record smaller file sizes, meaning they will require less hard drive space. 

Advantages of Digital Security Cameras over Analog Security Cameras

IP security cameras with ethernet cables and switches

Digital security cameras are relatively new kids on the block. Although they have been around for 20+ years, technological advancements and improvements continue to make them more advantageous over analog security cameras. Here are their key benefits. 

  • Greater coverage area – Digital cameras generally have a greater field of view and better quality at a distance. 
  • Better image quality – Since digital security cameras’ quality is better than their analog counterparts, you can make out finer details in the recordings, such as people’s faces. 
  • Fewer cameras are needed – Digital cameras tend to have wider lenses. Coupled with the fact that they capture images in better quality, you will need fewer cameras overall on your property. 
  • Data encryption – Your video files are encrypted from the moment they are captured until they are saved. In contrast, analog camera recordings are not automatically encrypted, so if someone gains access to your network DVR, they may be able to view or steal your analog footage. 
  • View & save to the internet – Your recording will do you no good if they are saved locally, and thieves steal the physical recordings. Unlike analog security camera footage that is typically stored locally, digital footage can be automatically uploaded to the cloud since they are IP-based. 
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) – With digital security cameras with PoE capabilities, you do not have to run power cabling for each camera. PoE simplifies and reduces installation cost and time of the overall security system. 
  • Wireless capabilities – Wireless IP-based digital security cameras offer the ultimate flexible installation. 
  • Less installation location limitations – Since digital cameras have wireless or PoE capabilities; there is no worry about power and coaxial cable limitations. They can be installed in more locations and further away from your security monitoring station. 
  • No port limitations – In contrast to analog security cameras that have to individually plug-in to a DVR with a fixed amount of port, digital cameras simply connect to the local network eliminating available physical port restriction issues. 

The Best Analog Security Cameras On the Market

If you are dead-set on getting some analog security cameras for your home or business, you should plan out just how many you will need before you fire away with purchases. Think about the areas you want to cover (inside and outside) and draw out where you will install each camera on the property. Once you decide how many cameras you need, you can choose which analog security cameras are best for you. This excellent Analog CCTV Camera HD 1080P (on Amazon) is a great low-cost option.

It is super easy to install, works indoors and outdoors, and has a built-in night vision mode. Another great option on Amazon is the Zosi 2.0MP HD 1080P 1920TVL Security Camera (on Amazon). If you are just getting started with a security system, you will also need a DVR to record your security footage. Here is a great option: the ANNKE 8-channel 4K Security Video DVR (on Amazon) with a 1 TB hard drive to get you started. You can connect up to 8 analog security cameras and record up to 98 days of footage from 4 cameras with a large amount of memory space. 

Conclusion

Although digital or IP-based security cameras have outclassed analog security cameras, the latter still has many advantages. You can get HD-rated analog cameras, save money on the cost of each camera, and keep your security footage off the internet and the cloud (if you want to). With DVRs, you can locally store days worth of security footage, ensuring that you have a recording of any potential misdeeds down on your property stored. 

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