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How to set up a network camera (a.k.a.

IP
camera)
Network configuration
Enable ONVIF Services (for some models of Axis).
Configure Apps
Configure WAN Access (i.e. Remote Access)
Dynamic DNS

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 $200 in 2012 can be bought under $60 in 2016. 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.

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.

1. Connect the network camera to your Local Area Network (LAN). A LAN is often the
home network of a consumer. Plug an Ethernet cable (a.k.a. Cat 5 cable) into the Ethernet

socket of the network camera, then plug the other end to the router (a.k.a. gateway or
access point).

If this network camera does not have Wi-Fi, this may be the only step needed for the
network configuration.

2. Find the IP address of the network camera. There are a few ways to do it.
o Use a utility program from the camera’s vendor to find the camera. Please make
sure Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is used for now to ensure the

The following is from AXIS IP Utility: The following is from .network camera obtains an appropriate IP address from the router.

IPCSearch for the generic network camera: .

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.1/10 and IP CENTCOM for Windows Phone. IP CENTCOM for Windows 8. you can run an ONVIF client application to discover the camera. The following are from Onvifer for Android.o For ONVIF cameras.

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The following two figures show the Wi-Fi configuration pages of an Axis network camera and a generic network camera respectively: .g. http://192.168. o Use your router’s configuration page to find the camera’s assigned IP. then plug in the Ethernet cable to see which device shows up on the list to determine the device’s IP.20:81).0.g. the generic network camera referred to in this article uses port 81). Some cameras uses a different port for HTTP (e. You can unplug. Please note that if the camera uses the default HTTP port 80. you do not need to specify the port in the web address. Use a browser to visit the camera’s web UI with its IP address and port (e. Configure Wi-Fi. The following is an example: 3.

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Many routers try to use the same IP address for a device by default. make the IP address static). but you should not rely on this for fixing the IP address. Since the IP address is dynamically assigned. Configure then network camera to turn the dynamically assigned IP address to a static IP address.4. There are two ways to achieve this: 1. The following is from AXIS IP Utility: The following is from IPCSearch for the generic network camera: . You can use a utility program to do this.e. Fix the IP address (i. it may change after a power cycle of the network camera or the router.

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You can also use the network camera's web UI. The following is from the Axis camera's web UI: .

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6. Unplug the Ethernet cable. . move the camera to your desired location (unplug and plug in the power cable if needed). Start using the Wi-Fi. Some network cameras obtain new IPs for Wi-Fi different from the ones for wired connections. The following is from the generic network camera's web UI: 5. Find the new IP again. You may need to know new IP for configuration.

You will need to enable ONVIF as shown by the following figures for Axis 1031-W: .Enable ONVIF Services (for some models of Axis). some from Axis) have ONVIF services disabled by default.g. Some ONVIF cameras (e.

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g. It is critical to add users for ONVIF services because these cameras have no users for ONVIF services by default. proprietary API). The following figure shows how to add .Axis cameras require a set of users for ONVIF services different from that for other types of access (e. web UI.

.ONVIF users.

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outside their homes).g.g. The next section will explain how to access the cameras via Wide Area Network (WAN) (e. via cellular connections). and it usually takes less than 1 minute to set up a camera before starting enjoying its video. it will be very easy to diagnose any issues with the WAN access. The following is for setting up a camera with apps Onvifer for Android. If it works on your LAN. it is extremely important to make sure the camera works on your LAN first. and IP CENTCOM for Windows 8. Unless you are experienced with the camera and its configuration.1/10 and Windows Phone. Many apps have automated the setup process to a great degree. .Configure Apps Most users want to access their network cameras outside their LANs (e. This is because the WAN access will never work if the LAN access does not work.

The first step is choosing the type of device for the configuration as shown by the following figure: .

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Older network cameras support RTSP. MJPEG. Once the type is selected.1/10 respectively: .ONVIF is the recommended one. user name. IP CENTCOM for Windows Phone and Windows 8. or both. input the few required parameters (e. Almost all new modern network cameras are ONVIF conformant. Please note most ONVIF cameras can also be used as generic RTSP stream or generic MJPEG. the setup will usually be completed in seconds. password). The following figures show the setup screens for Onvifer.g.

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0. They are applicable no matter which app (including browsers) you use to access your device remotely unless you use technologies such as P2P that maintain a constant connection between your camera and a server of a company that is usually unknown to users.101. Since it is a public IP. If you just want to know the quick steps to set up WAN access.0.255. The specific steps highly depend on your camera and router. just like everyone in your city can locate a home by its street address. Each port offers a unique service. home network).0 . we can talk about how to access a network camera outside its LAN. Private IPs are good for a LAN.31. If there is only one network camera on a LAN. one port for RTSP.255. Remote Access) Most users want to access their network cameras outside their LAN (e. It may look daunting to configure the WAN access.g.0 - 192.g. It is like that a street address "101 5th Avenue" is good for locating a home in a city.255.255.0. The most common range is 192. This section may be a bit long because we try to help you understand the principles behind the process.0. but it actually takes only a few minutes to do it once you know how. For example.0 . one port for web UI. Every network camera has an IP address (e. Now.16.Configure WAN Access (i.g.10. or access a home outside its city. The IP address of a network camera is a private IP. Each LAN is behind a router (or gateway). They are least likely in the private IP range of 172. workplace network. Non-technical users can treat this IP address as a street address. They may access via a cellular connection. Non-technical people can treat ports as doors of a home. followed by 10.172. 192.168.168. You get different services by entering different doors. home network) as a city.0.255. a Wi-Fi hotspot. and the router has an IP address and that IP address is public IP address.168. the router can be accessed on the Internet anywhere in the world. The only way to access a computing device on a network is through its IP address and ports.0. not a private IP address like that of a network camera though the IP address's format is the same. and their LAN (e.255. Every computing device on your LAN can find the network camera by its IP address. Let us have some basic understanding of how network cameras are accessed first. but you cannot use it to locate a home in another city because every city may have "101 5th Avenue". A network camera may use more than one port (the default port is HTTP default port 80). please take a look at this post of ours with a few slides. Please note that most instructions here regarding configuring WAN access are NOT specific to our apps. etc.168.255. we can ask the router to forward everything to the .e. Every LAN may have a device using a private IP address such as 192.100) on a LAN. We have received far more questions about this topic than any others. How do we tell a router that we want to communicate with a specific network camera on the LAN behind it? The trick is port forwarding.

camera. it is the best to change a camera's ports to match their external forwarding ports. Though it is not necessary theoretically. Using the city analogy. The following two figures show how to configure port forwarding for multiple cameras after modifying their ports to match the external ports. we need to allocate different ports for different cameras. you will access every network camera with exactly the same IP address . For example. and so on. Most cameras allow modifying its used ports. it would be the best to change the camera's HTTP port to 8080. and port 554 is used for RTSP. Port 80 is usually used for HTTP and ONVIF. For example. if port 8080 is forwarded to a camera's HTTP port. In other words. but with different ports. doors 8082 and 5558 of the city to doors 80 and 556 of 102 5th Ave. and everything will be the same as accessing the camera on the LAN except using the public IP address of the router.the public IP address of the router. you will send/request packages to different homes of a city by using its different doors. To deal with multiple cameras. . doors 8080 and 5556 of the city to doors 80 and 556 of address 101 5th Ave. if port 5554 is forwarded to a camera's RTSP port. This would not work for multiple network cameras. it would be the best to change the camera's RTSP port to 5554.

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. 5556…) in apps. but it is critical to tell apps to overwrite the RTSP ports informed by the cameras with their corresponding external RTSP forwarding ports (e. The following figure shows the port forwarding configuration of this scenario. in this case you can forward different external ports to the fixed ports of cameras. All of our apps support RTSP port overwriting. This is because the cameras are not aware of port forwarding. 5554.Some cameras do not allow the modification of their ports.g. so they always tell apps to use their ports.

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Some cameras.Each router has its own port forwarding UI.Web UI. ONVIF services. The following is the port forwarding page of Netgear N300 Wireless Gigabit Router WNR3500Lv2. one port ONVIF services.each port forwarding entry allows forwarding one port or a range of ports from the router (called external or public) to one port or a range of ports of a device. and one port for RTSP. especially many made in Shenzhen. All network cameras of major brands use one port for everything . China require up to three ports - one port for web UI and maybe snapshot. All of them have the same pattern .HTTP. RTSP and snapshot because they use only one transport protocol . a popular low cost router. They support RTSP over HTTP. .

all of our apps list the required ports as shown by the following screenshots: . Fortunately.Finding the required ports sometimes is a bit tricky.

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For the purpose of network camera WAN access.opendns.com) to replace a router's public IP address. The details of DDNS are beyond the scope of this article. One can also subscribe to paid or free DDNS service such as dyndns. 2. It essentially tracks the change of the router's IP address. If you do not know your router's public IP. you can set up your camera with address 109. The following is the Axis camera's DDNS configuration UI: .com" in Windows Command Prompt. Dynamic DNS The above method of WAN access assumes the public IP address of the router is static (i.opendns.173.com resolver1. mycamera. DDNS support of network camera.  Use command "nslookup myip. The address for "myip.12:8080. Many network camera manufacturers offer free DDNS service. This is not the case for most consumer homes. Fortunately.opendns. so the address to a network camera remains constant.12 and you have forwarded external port 8080 to the camera's ONVIF port 80. It is Dynamic DNS (DDNS). Public IP addresses are dynamically assigned to home routers except for those who obtain static public IP addresses by paying fees to their ISPs. there are a few ways to find it:  Use a browser to visit http://whatismyipaddress. there is a way to deal with this.org There are three common ways for DDNS services to track routers' IP address changes: 1.g.Now you can use your router's public IP address to access your network camera. users only need to know that DDNS offers a static host name (e. it is resolved to the dynamically assigned IP address of a router. freedns. Here is how to Setup a NETGEAR Dynamic DNS account.afraid.137.173.myddns.e.137.com  Visit the Internet configuration tab of your router's configuration page. does not change). and access it anywhere in the world. When a DDNS host name is used.org.com" is your public IP. DDNS support of a router. Suppose your router's public IP is 109.

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. The following is the generic camera's DDNS configuration UI: 3. Running a small client app on a computer on the LAN gated by the router.

Some network camera manufacturers also provide detailed instructions for DDNS. .All of them use the same mechanism . Each DDNS or service or router usually has detailed setup instructions. Please see the last section "The Axis Internet Dynamic DNS service" of this Axis document for an example.sending the router's dynamic IP address to a DDNS server upon its change or periodically.