What are the Different Types of Camera Systems?

Contel Bradford

There are many different types of camera systems available to businesses and consumers. Among the most common are digital camera, wireless camera, and camera surveillance systems. Each type serves a different purpose and has its own unique set of benefits.

A digital camera.
A digital camera.

Digital camera systems are commonly used for microscopy in laboratories, medical and pharmaceutical fields, and various industrial businesses. These systems can be very expensive, with some costing ten of thousands of US dollars. This higher price is generally attributed to the presence of specialized macro lenses and flashes, as well as other features that are not usually found in consumer-orientated digital cameras.

A surveillance camera monitors and records activity within a home or business.
A surveillance camera monitors and records activity within a home or business.

Wireless camera systems have a wide range of uses. The most common use, however, is to monitor a location for security purposes. These systems tend to offer an array of innovative features, including the ability to manage the camera from a personal computer. When using one, a user can adjust settings and even view video footage right on his PC, regardless of the camera’s physical location. This is normally accomplished by use of a software interface that provides the user with web-based access to the system.

Camera surveillance systems are perhaps the most well known of all camera systems. There are essentially two types of camera surveillance — analog and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras. While they strive to meet the same general goals of monitoring and security, these two types of systems are quite different.

A large majority of the camera surveillance systems on the market are the traditional analog variety. This type of system is generally comprised of a lens, digital signal processing (DSP) chip, and a housing. The camera itself is connected, using cables, to a digital video recorder (DVR), which records video footage to a built-in hard drive. It is the DVR that compresses, converts, and streams the video content provided by each camera installed on the system.

Also called network cameras, IP camera systems are more advanced than their analog counterparts, as they use Internet Protocol to transmit data. The major difference is that each camera installed on the system performs the functions of a DVR. This includes compression, conversion, and streaming over a network connection. Another difference is that, rather than being connected to a DVR, this type of system is usually connected to a PC or network video recorder (NVR), which records the compressed video data.

When it comes to camera systems, those interested have many types and brands to choose from. Some are simple, while others are sophisticated and offer more advanced functions. Knowing the difference in these systems can help the buyer to determine which is right for his specific needs.

DVRs can be used to store video gathered by a security system.
DVRs can be used to store video gathered by a security system.

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Discussion Comments


@spotiche5- I think you should check out used digital cameras at different online auctions. You should be able to get a good deal, and some auction sites even provide money back guarantees that used products work.


@spotiche5- I think that one of the best places to purchase a used digital camera system is from a pawn shop. Though used, most cameras sold in pawn shops are checked out by the staff to make sure they work properly. You can get a good camera for a small fraction of the price you would pay at a retail store.

If you choose to buy a used camera, it is important that you keep in mind that it won't be protected by a warranty. If something happens to it, you will be out your money.


Does anyone have any suggestions about buying a used digital camera? I am looking for one to take with me on vacation, and I don't want to spend a lot of money.

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