Disclosure: StreamingChurch.tv welcomes this guest blog from CamStreamer. Read on for the pros and cons of network cameras and their alternatives.

While the benefits your ministry gets from live streaming are undeniable, when it comes to streaming software and hardware, we often find ourselves on thin ice. With numerous options, pricey hardware, and dozens of manufacturers, it’s easy to become confused. Let’s take a look at a piece of technology that has been on the rise recently and that you should keep in mind when deciding about your streaming gear – a network camera.

Get to know the network camera

Recently, the applicability of network cameras, which were originally developed for security and surveillance applications, has expanded significantly. Today, these devices typically offer superior image quality with resolutions of up to 1080p or 4K and a perfect image even in challenging light conditions, which is often the case in churches. The most functional feature of a network camera is, however, the fact that it’s a computer in and of itself.

A network camera is a video camera with a built-in video encoder, its own IP address, and often considerable intelligence. This offers several advantages. Network cameras have enough computing power to handle a number of the other tasks required by church live broadcasting, which saves time and, consequently, money.

Avoid additional hardware

Let’s go into detail. The global leader in network video, Axis Communications, offers third-party integration on their cameras thanks to an open platform called the Axis Camera Application Platform (ACAP). With this feature, space has been created for developers to come up with applications designed to meet specific customer needs. One such application, the CamStreamer App, allows you to easily broadcast sermons. The app runs directly on board the camera, which means you don’t need any additional hardware, excess cables, processors, and so on. You can try the app for free – the 30-day free trial can be downloaded here.

Start a live stream with a few clicks

You can join professional streaming platforms (StreamingChurch.tv can be implemented directly in the CamStreamer App) and provide your viewers with many additional services. (A few clicks is literally all it takes – watch this instruction video on how to connect the CamStreamer App with StreamingChurch.tv). This way, live streaming can help you spread the message more effectively and engage people more deeply in worship and the everyday life of the ministry.

Consider your needs

When deciding about the right streaming solution, it’s always important to consider which device and software best suit your needs depending on the size of the congregation, return on investment, and the expectations you have. With a quality network camera, the price calculation might look like this:

Total: $948 one-time investment

*Manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to such a solution. With a network camera (as well as with any camera), it’s necessary to address audio transmission. You can either connect a camera to a mixing console (audio mixer), or connect a microphone to the camera, which can mean additional costs.

The purchase price of a quality network camera (such as those from Axis Communications) can be higher – especially in comparison with some other low-end manufacturers. The cost of such a camera is compensated by its durability, image quality, and the fact that you don’t need additional hardware.

Find the best solution

Despite the cons outlined above, network cameras with smart applications have proven their value in churches all over the world, demonstrating that a quality live broadcast can be achieved with much less money than expected and can be affordable even for cost-sensitive parishes and congregations.

And it’s worth it. Live streaming can bring considerable advantages for your ministry – you can significantly extend your reach for greater impact and a wider audience, which consequently brings new people to the church. Moreover, you can reach additional people by saving previous services online, thus enabling anyone to hear and watch the video sermons at any time.

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