Ideal camera for front door doesn't exist? What is the closest match?

granroth

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I'm looking for a front door video setup that I'm fairly certain doesn't exist but I'm hoping to get something as close to ideal as possible. Hopefully y'all can steer me in the right direction?

My ideal criteria would be:

  1. PoE powered IP Camera
  2. At least 4K/UHD/8MP resolution (12MP even better)
  3. Excellent video quality (high bit-rate; great sharpness; great dynamic range; etc)
  4. Mountable next to front door
  5. Relatively narrow FOV (only needs to recognize people coming down the walkway and right in front of it)
  6. Works entirely locally, even if firewalled off from the public Internet
  7. Integrates with Blue Iris
  8. Has person-detecting AI
  9. Supports two-way audio

Note that price is not in the explicit criteria since I focus more on what you get for the money rather than the absolute cost.

Since this is right in the target market of "doorbell cameras" (ala Ring), I started there. The only one I found that was even close was the Eufy wireless model. It's the only one I know of that can work entirely locally, since Eufy seems to care about privacy quite a bit. It also has a 2K sensor, while all others I know of max out at HD. Built in person detection, too. Alas, the video quality is terrible regardless of the 2K sensor since apparently the bit-rate is so low. It also, like all doorbell cameras, cannot integrate (that I know of) with Blue Iris. So any solution there would have to be standalone. If ditching PoE and Blue Iris were necessary to get all of the rest of the criteria, then I'd do it... but Eufy comes the closest and it's not even that close.

If I abandon the dedicated doorbell cameras, I find myself having to also ditch the "two-way audio" requirement since very very few PoE IP cameras support it... and none do that fit all (or even most) of my other criteria. Are there add-on two-way audio devices that could turn a normal IP camera into a doorbell-style one? I haven't found such in my searches.

So if I abandon two-way audio, then I'm looking at turret style IP cameras that I can mount to the wall. I don't like domes due to potential reflection issues and bullet cameras simply stick out too much to have mounted right next to the door.

My first option was the Reolink RLC-1220A camera, based on recommendations on YouTube. It is 12MP, has built-in person detection, is PoE with ONVIF, has audio recording (if no speaker), is around only $100, has great looking video and works with Blue Iris. But... oh wait. Those last two appear to be contentious topics by the experts here with many many reports of how terrible the Reolink video image quality is and how fundamentally incompatible the Reolink video stream is with Blue Iris.

I did say that price isn't a huge factor so if not the Reolink, then what would have the same properties but have far better image quality and work flawlessly with Blue Iris?

No such thing? Maybe person-detecting AI isn't a requirement either now that I appear to have Deepstack/AI Tool mostly working with Blue Iris? I guess now we're looking at "normal" IP cameras. But what recommendations do you give for one that works very very well as a person-detecting (and recognizing in the future) camera mounted right next to the front door?

How close can I get to my ideal camera?
 

Grierts

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Interested in the responses.

I have no answers, but eager to hear what the experts have to say on this topic.
 

mat200

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Welcome @granroth

Question:
Do you want a camera?
or
Do you want an intercom?

..
My first option was the Reolink RLC-1220A camera, based on recommendations on YouTube. It is 12MP, has built-in person detection, is PoE with ONVIF, has audio recording (if no speaker), is around only $100, has great looking video and works with Blue Iris. But... oh wait. Those last two appear to be contentious topics by the experts here with many many reports of how terrible the Reolink video image quality is and how fundamentally incompatible the Reolink video stream is with Blue Iris.
..
Indeed those numerous youtubers do not do a good job reviewing Reolink, and you probably should consider most of those reviews "paid for" / sponsored by Reolink in some way or another.

 
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samplenhold

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Since you ditched the 2-way audio, ditch the 'At least 4K/UHD/8MP resolution (12MP even better)'. Why would you want that resolution for a cam that is going to be used to ID someone a few feet from your door? Do you desire to count his nose hairs?

A 4MP on a 1/1.8" sensor will give you great facial features at typical front door distances. If you have decent lighting at the front door you could operate in color at night. The Dahua T5442 cam comes in 2.8, 3.6 and 6mm as well as a varifocal. It does have a mic so you do get audio, just no talk.

Here is a night shot from a 2.8mm version:

PFD.20210303_223203525.108.jpg
 

granroth

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Question:
Do you want a camera?
or
Do you want an intercom?
Ideally, both. I'd like a very high quality camera that will also permit me to talk to whoever is in my patio. But I do recognize that such a beast likely does not exist and so I am reluctantly willing to forgo the intercom aspect for a great camera for this role.

Since you ditched the 2-way audio, ditch the 'At least 4K/UHD/8MP resolution (12MP even better)'. Why would you want that resolution for a cam that is going to be used to ID someone a few feet from your door? Do you desire to count his nose hairs?

A 4MP on a 1/1.8" sensor will give you great facial features at typical front door distances. If you have decent lighting at the front door you could operate in color at night. The Dahua T5442 cam comes in 2.8, 3.6 and 6mm as well as a varifocal. It does have a mic so you do get audio, just no talk.

Here is a night shot from a 2.8mm version:

View attachment 83941
It's not just the first few feet in front of the door but rather "in front of the door" including the walkway going to the road. Higher resolution gives me many more options for zooming in on things like a car parked out front; or a passenger in said car; or maybe potential package thief started down the walkway but turned tail on some viewed activity -- I want to be able to clearly see all of those scenarios, as well.

I do recognize that increasing the pixel density without a subsequent increase in sensor size means less light hitting each individual pixel and thus worse nighttime use. That's a huge part of why I'm asking here rather than just randomly buying a camera and hoping for the best. Better to hope that somebody here already knows of a camera or two that ticks all of the boxes (save maybe two-way audio and maybe AI)
 

mat200

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Ideally, both. I'd like a very high quality camera that will also permit me to talk to whoever is in my patio. But I do recognize that such a beast likely does not exist and so I am reluctantly willing to forgo the intercom aspect for a great camera for this role.



It's not just the first few feet in front of the door but rather "in front of the door" including the walkway going to the road. Higher resolution gives me many more options for zooming in on things like a car parked out front; or a passenger in said car; or maybe potential package thief started down the walkway but turned tail on some viewed activity -- I want to be able to clearly see all of those scenarios, as well.

I do recognize that increasing the pixel density without a subsequent increase in sensor size means less light hitting each individual pixel and thus worse nighttime use. That's a huge part of why I'm asking here rather than just randomly buying a camera and hoping for the best. Better to hope that somebody here already knows of a camera or two that ticks all of the boxes (save maybe two-way audio and maybe AI)
HI @granroth

There is no perfect single camera / video doorbell product.

Plan for multiple units to provide what you are asking for.

Look up intercom / video doorbell products - iirc we have a few of those reviewed here. Trick is you need a VoIP product here. For video here you want a wider FOV.

Look for a good camera for image captures...
 
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You talk about in front of the door and out to the street. How far is that? No single camera, even 4K can cover multiple distances. The general recommendation is for at least two cameras covering the door, one for face shots and one watching the package drop off area. Then additional camera(s) to cover further out in 6mm or even a varifocal that goes to 12mm. Trying to do too much with a single, 2.8mm camera, will not work out well no matter what the resolution is. All this is dependent on distance, of course.
 
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wittaj

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Ideally, both. I'd like a very high quality camera that will also permit me to talk to whoever is in my patio. But I do recognize that such a beast likely does not exist and so I am reluctantly willing to forgo the intercom aspect for a great camera for this role.



It's not just the first few feet in front of the door but rather "in front of the door" including the walkway going to the road. Higher resolution gives me many more options for zooming in on things like a car parked out front; or a passenger in said car; or maybe potential package thief started down the walkway but turned tail on some viewed activity -- I want to be able to clearly see all of those scenarios, as well.

I do recognize that increasing the pixel density without a subsequent increase in sensor size means less light hitting each individual pixel and thus worse nighttime use. That's a huge part of why I'm asking here rather than just randomly buying a camera and hoping for the best. Better to hope that somebody here already knows of a camera or two that ticks all of the boxes (save maybe two-way audio and maybe AI)
Higher resolution will not result in an improvement for a digital zoom at distance. We just are not there yet except in movies and TV. My 2MP camera digital zoomed in at the public sidewalk 45 feet away looks just as crappy as my 4MP camera digital zoomed in at the same location. And at night the 2MP will blow away the higher MP in almost any location due to the amount of light these sensors need. Simple physics.

If you want an area covered to be able to IDENTIFY, then you need to pick the right camera for the location you are trying to capture images of. A 2.8mm lens is the wrong camera to identify people 30 feet away regardless of the MP, and at some point the lower MP may be better as it lets more light in the sensor. Conversely, a 32mm lens is the wrong camera trying to ID someone 2 feet away. Both cameras are great, but used in the wrong location results in not capturing what you want to identify.

Take a look at this chart - to identify someone with the 2.8mm lens popular someone would have to be within 13 feet of the camera. Realistically, it is more like 10 feet or less.

1604638118196.png


My neighbor was bragging to me how he only needed his 4 cams (that are 4k) to see his entire property and the street and his whole backyard. His car was sitting in the driveway practically touching the garage door and his video quality was useless to ID the perp not even 10 feet away. They provide a great overview but that is it unless it is in a confined area like a hallway or at the front door to Identify someone that knocks on the door and not to identify someone walking in the street.

We repeat, do not chase MP - at night you will appreciate have a lower MP cam. Just ask my neighbors with their 4k cameras that didn't provide the money shot to get their stolen belongings back, yet my older 2MP varifocal camera zoomed in to cover people walking on the sidewalk 45 feet away did capture the money shot that ID'd the thief for the police to find and make an arrest and fortunately still had all the stolen stuff...If you have a lot of light, and I mean a lot of light, then maybe 4k, but most of us do not have enough light for 4K. My neighbor was so disgusted that my older @2MP cameras were outperforming his 4k cameras that he has since replaced several of them with 2MP cameras...

If doorbell cameras were so great, then why have we yet to see an image or video posted to Nextdoor or Facebook or the media that can ID someone other than right at the door - and in many instances they cannot do that since they run auto shutter so you get blur if someone is moving too fast...
 

SouthernYankee

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I think video door bells are nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

1) How many Times a month has someone rung your door bell.
2) If not someone you know, how long have they stood around waiting?
3) What are the security risks to your home network by having it connected to the cloud.

The response time of the phone to contact the camera is long. The number of actual visitors is small.

I had a phone intercom connected to the door bell for more than 20 years. A phone in every room of the house (yes there also). Never used the door intercom once.

I have a 4x4 electric box with a brass plate mounted into the brick. It has a bell button and a 1080P camera.





PXL_20210304_175207200.jpg
 
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1) How many Times a month has someone rung your door bell.
2) If not someone you know, how long have they stood around waiting?
3) What are the security risks to your home network by having it connected to the cloud.
Kind of with Southern Yankee on this. I did see at an apartment/condo complex once where you could push the page button for a tenant at the door and it would ring their actual phone so you could two-way talk and get "buzzed in". But that was because the door was always locked and there were like 50 tenants, and you had to get buzzed in to deliver a pizza or fix a broken pipe or even visit.

Personally speaking, 60% of my doorbell rings are a carrier dropping off a package (especially this past year), which is nice during the few hours when I don't have the cameras up anyway and don't already know.
Basically the other 40% of the time are door-to-door salespeople who don't respect my No Soliciting sign on the door.
Every week I have a milk/egg delivery, he doesn't ring the doorbell at 2AM thankfully, but I catch him on multiple cameras.

Probably fewer than a dozen total doorbell rings per year from neighbors, guests, and other people I might actually want to talk to. But then again I'm not a socialite, and I work from home (so ring, ring, ring, kick in the door isn't a big concern for me).
 
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granroth

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You talk about in front of the door and out to the street. How far is that? No single camera, even 4K can cover multiple distances. The general recommendation is for at least two cameras covering the door, one for face shots and one watching the package drop off area. Then additional camera(s) to cover further out in 6mm or even a varifocal that goes to 12mm. Trying to do too much with a single, 2.8mm camera, will not work out well no matter what the resolution is. All this is dependent on distance, of course.
The walkway from the door to the street is 55 ft long. My (very newbie) thinking on this was to have one narrow FOV camera that could capture all details along that length. By "narrow", I was assuming something closer to 6.0mm than 2.8mm. Looking at the DORI chart of the previously recommended IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED, I see it shows Recognize at 75ft and Identify at 36ft for the 6.0mm variant. But... I also see a reference to the "Close Focus Distance" being almost 13ft. Is that saying that the 6.0mm lens goes out of focus when the person steps closer than 13 ft to the door? If so, then maybe the 6ft focus distance of the 3.6mm makes more sense?

I do actually have a patio camera already. It is a Lorex LNB4421W (1/3" 4MP sensor, 2.8MM lens) bullet installed perpendicular to the door, 20' away showing the package area and maybe 1/3 of the walkway. It's not great and it's in mildly the wrong place, but then I didn't ask this forum for advice before getting and installing it!

Take a look at this chart - to identify someone with the 2.8mm lens popular someone would have to be within 13 feet of the camera. Realistically, it is more like 10 feet or less.

1604638118196.png
Okay, say I installed this camera right next to my front door facing down the walkway towards the street 55 ft way. Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of the following. If I installed the 6.0mm variant, then this is saying that anybody on the street would be clearly a person wearing identifiable colored clothing, but I would just barely not be able to recognize them if I already knew them. If they stepped maybe 10ft up the walk, then I would be able to recognize known people at that distance. Once they got halfway down my walkway, the clarity would be enough that maybe even a face identification suite could match it with a known face in the database? Would there then be a minimum distance where if they stepped "too close" that they would be out of focus again?
 

granroth

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I think video door bells are nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

1) How many Times a month has someone rung your door bell.
2) If not someone you know, how long have they stood around waiting?
3) What are the security risks to your home network by having it connected to the cloud.

The response time of the phone to contact the camera is long. The number of actual visitors is small.
Yeah, I didn't include an actual doorbell on my required list at all since I don't care about that very specific aspect of it. I already have a functioning doorbell and most people just knock anyway. If I did get a "doorbell camera", though, the Eufy doesn't connect to the cloud and tests I've seen with it show a very quick (few second) delay in connecting.

The reason I'm looking for the two-way audio is because I do get people coming to my door wanting to chat and since my office is on the opposite side of the house, it would be far easier for me to just tell them to go way (which is the case 90% of the time) through my phone than to walk across the house, open the door, and tell them in person.

I will say that I hadn't thought of this in terms of an "intercom" (just two-way audio) and so searching in that realm does bring up some possibilities. I was hoping I could integrate it with a push notification from my camera, but I suppose I could also just use the notification as a way to know to pop up an intercom app...
 

wittaj

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The walkway from the door to the street is 55 ft long. My (very newbie) thinking on this was to have one narrow FOV camera that could capture all details along that length. By "narrow", I was assuming something closer to 6.0mm than 2.8mm. Looking at the DORI chart of the previously recommended IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED, I see it shows Recognize at 75ft and Identify at 36ft for the 6.0mm variant. But... I also see a reference to the "Close Focus Distance" being almost 13ft. Is that saying that the 6.0mm lens goes out of focus when the person steps closer than 13 ft to the door? If so, then maybe the 6ft focus distance of the 3.6mm makes more sense?

I do actually have a patio camera already. It is a Lorex LNB4421W (1/3" 4MP sensor, 2.8MM lens) bullet installed perpendicular to the door, 20' away showing the package area and maybe 1/3 of the walkway. It's not great and it's in mildly the wrong place, but then I didn't ask this forum for advice before getting and installing it!

Okay, say I installed this camera right next to my front door facing down the walkway towards the street 55 ft way. Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of the following. If I installed the 6.0mm variant, then this is saying that anybody on the street would be clearly a person wearing identifiable colored clothing, but I would just barely not be able to recognize them if I already knew them. If they stepped maybe 10ft up the walk, then I would be able to recognize known people at that distance. Once they got halfway down my walkway, the clarity would be enough that maybe even a face identification suite could match it with a known face in the database? Would there then be a minimum distance where if they stepped "too close" that they would be out of focus again?
Great questions! Personally I have found that IDENTIFY is a lot smaller number than these charts say, but I am a fan of zoom and details! On the flip side, I have found that for my neighbors that I recognize their shape, walk, gait, etc. can be recognized much further than the tables say. Personally I think with a 6mm you would clearly recognize people you know at that distance, but absolutely not for a stranger. As always YMMV.

Yes, each one of these fixed cams are focused for what each manufacturer deems the correct distance with which to use the camera....which means further out it will be blurry and why you cannot digital zoom an 8MP camera and get details farther out. A 2MP varifocal optically zoomed to that area 55 feet away will blow away an 8MP 3.6mm fixed lens installed in the same location and trying to digitally zoom in to the same area 55 feet away. This reason alone is reason why people should recognize that a fixed lens isn't the see all, be all camera!

So that focus distance these cameras have does mean that further away will be blurry and close up will be blurry. And they differ based on the optics and sensors in them. Personally I have found the Dahua to be better for a larger distance range than the Hikvision, but someone else may feel opposite. But if you have the wrong lens in the wrong place, that is when we experience less than optimal results.

And what you will find then is at night, unless you have A TON of light, these distances further out will be cut back tremendously. Maybe in the day you can recognize 55 feet out, but it may cut back to 20 feet at night. We have to run faster shutters to eliminate blur and the faster the shutter, the more light needed.

That is why many of us have multiple cameras, each one selected for an intended purpose and dialed into the area we are trying to cover. Too many people make the mistake of trying to have one camera do too much.

 
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Maybe hope they bring out a Turret model of this guy? DH-IPC-HFW8442-Z4-D47-LI
or maybe someone with experience could tell you if you could Frankenstein replace one of the lens on an IPC-HDBW4231F-E2-M/M12 with a 6mm, 8mm or 12mm for the longer shot
or go with something more typical like 2 cameras - one for close one for further out. See the thread shared by @wittaj faster than I could find it.
 

samplenhold

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The walkway from the door to the street is 55 ft long. My (very newbie) thinking on this was to have one narrow FOV camera that could capture all details along that length. By "narrow", I was assuming something closer to 6.0mm than 2.8mm. Looking at the DORI chart of the previously recommended IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED, I see it shows Recognize at 75ft and Identify at 36ft for the 6.0mm variant. But... I also see a reference to the "Close Focus Distance" being almost 13ft. Is that saying that the 6.0mm lens goes out of focus when the person steps closer than 13 ft to the door? If so, then maybe the 6ft focus distance of the 3.6mm makes more sense?
The manufacturer listings for Detect, Observe, Recognize, and Identify are just estimates based on how many pixels would be across the face of a person facing the cam at those distances. You really can only use those as estimates to help you decide between a few cams.

But all of that is moot anyways. The only real way to find out is to test with a cam. Buy a good varifocal cam, use a test rig as described in the Cliff Notes, and test different positions and focal lengths. Do this in daylight and at night with a person walking. Don't run wires or mount it until you test it out. The T5442T-ZE is a good cam to use for that. And after you have made your plan, you can still mount it as one of your views.

As was stated above, one of the mistakes a newbie makes is trying to do too much with a single cam. Whether it is a 2.8 or a 6mm does not matter. Trying to do multiple jobs with a single cam usually means that none of those jobs are done well. You have asked for help and opinions, I hope you take these to heart even if you do not like the recommendations. Only you can finally decide what to do.

@wittaj posted a thread above that I wrote about using multiple views and my reasoning behind each cam used. Sit out on your porch or front yard and just observe and think. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Also, you do not have to buy everything at once. Get that one good varifocal cam and really play around with it. You will be surprised at how much you can learn from that.
 
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granroth

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Have you looked at Axis? It'll be pricey, but they make POE powered doorbells.
Ah, interesting! No, I hadn't heard of them. Looking at their options, they appear to have almost exactly what I was looking for... but you're not kidding about being pricey. I didn't come into this with any set budget because I didn't want to limit myself before even starting, but my reaction to seeing their prices made it clear to me that I do actually have a notable upper limit and it's well below that!

But all of that is moot anyways. The only real way to find out is to test with a cam. Buy a good varifocal cam, use a test rig as described in the Cliff Notes, and test different positions and focal lengths. Do this in daylight and at night with a person walking. Don't run wires or mount it until you test it out. The T5442T-ZE is a good cam to use for that. And after you have made your plan, you can still mount it as one of your views.

As was stated above, one of the mistakes a newbie makes is trying to do too much with a single cam. Whether it is a 2.8 or a 6mm does not matter. Trying to do multiple jobs with a single can usually means that none of those jobs are done well. You have asked for help and opinions, I hope you take these to heart even if you do not like the recommendations. Only you can finally decide what to do.

@wittaj posted a thread above that I wrote about using multiple views and my reasoning behind each cam used. Sit out on your porch or front yard and just observe and think. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Also, you do not have to buy everything at once. Get that one good varifocal cam and really play around with it. You will be surprised at how much you can learn from that.
Okay, I ordered the T5442T-ZE from EmpireTech on Amazon and will be poring over the Cliff Notes. I read your thread on multiple views and while I can't imagine ever going to quite that extreme, your reasoning is impeccable on why it's necessary. I'll start with the incoming varifocus and take it from there.
 
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