Aside from the physical installation of your general IP camera, one of the common challenges installers have faced is working with getting the IP address set. With most IP camera installers migrating from the analog side of the industry, there are a great many lacking in networking skills and this challenge can sometimes seem daunting. This is a general rule of thumb guide for getting an IP address set on an IP camera; with some minor insight on general IPv4 networking.
First of all when referring to IPv4, this is ultimately in regards to the addressing scheme utilizing three periods (often referred to as 'dots') in the construct of the address. (i.e. 192.168.1.1) Some newer IP cameras can and do support IPv6 addressing/networking but this guide will only give a general guide for setting an IPv4 address on an IP camera.
Initially when plugging in an IP camera to a network it will get 1 of 2 different types of IPv4 addresses; either a 169.254.xx.xx (xx = any number within range of 1-255) or an address as assigned by a DHCP server. Most IP cameras will come with a software disk or have software downloadable from the manufacturer's website for finding and even sometimes installing the camera to your network. While sometimes these applications can be helpful with the overall process, for the use of this guide we would only utilize this software for identifying the address currently assigned to the IP camera. Whether using the manufacturer's software package, or any other means to proceed you will need to have identified the address currently assigned to the IP camera. For the case of this guide we will say the camera is found to be on the following IP address: 169.254.20.77.
Once you are aware of the address currently residing on the camera, you will then need to be able to connect to the camera by browser using this address as your webpage. If this connects you right away to the camera you can move on to the next paragraph, if not the likely issue is going to be due to the address/host being 'unreachable' which ultimately means you are not on the same IP scheme or Network ID needed to establish the connection. What you will need to do is manually adjust/set the address of the device you are trying to connect to the camera from so that it will be on the same network as the camera for interacting with it. Put simply, the first three sets of numbers in the IP address of the camera must match the first three sets of numbers for the IP of the device attempting to connect to it. Since we cannot change the camera until interfacing with it, you would then adjust your PC or laptop NIC to a static address of 169.254.20.xx (xx being any number 0-255 but not the same as that of the camera.) To use different addressing in the same example; if your camera were found to be on 192.168.1.1 you would then want to set the connecting device's IP to 192.168.1.xx (xx being any number from 0, or 2-255 it could not be the same as the camera which is 1 in this example) Once you have commit the change in address, you should then be able to interface with the camera using a web browser inputting the camera's IP address as your web address.
Once you are able to successfully connect to the web interface of the camera, getting it's IP address set to the desired address will typically be handled within the menu driven system therein. Look for WAN or network settings from the menus offered, or in some cases you may have to stop a live video stream from a 'click-able' menu or button within the browser interface prior to seeing the menu options available. Ultimately regardless of the manufacturer most IP cameras will have a browser driven menu system by which you can set the address. If not refer to the disks, documentation, the manufacturer's website, or their technical support for further assistance. Upon finding the menu system several key factors could come into play with setting the desired IP address. While some cameras may allow you to simply input an address and move on, others may require the subnet mask and/or a gateway prior to accepting the change. While some installations may have this information supplied by the IT department or otherwise; the following is a best practice to follow for inputting these when you are not certain what to use: For the subnet mask it is best to go with 255.255.255.0 and then use the IP of your network video recorder (NVR) as the gateway. Remember if you changed the NVR's address to connect to the camera, you will want to use the address it will be set on normally.
After getting the address change to take effect on the camera, you will want to verify the address change has taken by searching for the camera using the tools you had prior to find the address it started with. Once you are certain the desired IP has been set, you can then change the IP of your connecting device back to its previous setting.
If for any reason you are still unable to connect to the camera, you will want to verify several things:
1- That the device attempting to connect to the camera is on the same IP scheme/Network ID
2- If still unable to connect verify the gateway & subnet mask entries used from the server and match these on the camera.
Key things to remember; if you are not on the same network ID/IP scheme as the camera, you will in most cases be unable to connect to the camera. The network ID/IP scheme refers to the first 3 octets or sets of numbers used in the IPv4 address.
While some software and NVR platforms will handle this setup without the steps detailed herein; following these steps and understanding the IP networking concepts involved will help greatly when they do not.