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How to set up a network camera

Network cameras (a.k.a IP cameras) are gaining popularity rapidly among consumers due to their ever-improving quality, features and declining prices. An HD network camera that normally cost over $300 in 2012 can be bought under $60 in 2021. Traditional typical users of network cameras are enterprises that have professionals for installation and maintenance. Many consumers choose the DIY approach to set up their cameras. This article is meant to help these users. It by no means can replace the help from professionals that is needed for a variety of reasons – complexity of a video surveillance system, user lacking required basic computer/network knowledge, demanded expedition…

There are literally thousands of models of network cameras in use. It is impossible to have a set of instructions fitting every model perfectly. We use a popular model (M1034-W) by the network camera inventor – Axis – in this article. The setup steps for the vast majority of other network cameras are either identical or very similar to the ones described here.

A word about ONVIF?. Detailed explanation about ONVIF is beyond the scope of this article. An average user may only need to know that ONVIF is an international standard. An ONVIF conformant camera offers the maximum compatibility and interoperability with many software and hardware on the market. Generally speaking, ONVIF conformant cameras have more features and better quality than traditional non-ONVIF network cameras.

You can find numerous ONVIF conformant models on any popular online stores such as Amazon or eBay

For this article, we assume the reader has very basic computer and network knowledge. Technically savvy users may find many parts are too rudimentary for them.

Network configuration

Network cameras are different from web cams and analog CCTV cameras. Web cams are connected to computers by USB cables. Analogy CCTV cameras are connected to servers by coax cables. Network cameras are connected to a network for access just like computers are connected to networks. Each network camera is actually a computer with a CPU and memory. I process images from CCD (Charge-coupled Device) or CMOS (Complementary Metal-oxide Semiconductor) sensors, send to clients (e.g. apps) and hosts a web server.

Configure Apps

Most users want to access their network cameras outside their LANs (e.g. outside their homes). The next section will explain how to access the cameras via Wide Area Network (WAN) (e.g. via cellular connections). Unless you are experienced with the camera and its configuration, it is extremely important to make sure the camera works on your LAN first. This is because the WAN access will never work if the LAN access does not work. If it works on your LAN, it will be very easy to diagnose any issues with the WAN access.

Many apps have automated the setup process to a great degree, and it usually takes less than 1 minute to set up a camera before starting enjoying its video.

The following is for setting up a camera with apps Onvier for Android, and IP CENTCOM for Windows 8.1/10 and Windows Phone.

What is a Video Codec?

A small article about how the video codec work and why this software is very important for the modern media industry.

Background: the idea for this article was born out of a discussion with my friends about media software: how it works and why it’s important. After that, I understood that what’s really needed is a short, simple article about it. So here I’ve explained why we need codecs and given an overview of how they work.

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