was about to pull trigger on a Reolink setup then I saw this forum.......

boomshine

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Hello all,
New on here as you may have guessed by the title. I am moving into a new to me home and i want to setup a home security camera setup. at my last house I had a night owl setup from Costco and absolutely hated it for a million reasons. upon doing some initial research I came across what seemed to be some of the more popular options on amazon (Reolink and amcrest and a couple others). I was just about to pull the trigger on a full Reolink setup but decided to see what the internet had to say one last time and found myself here. I am planning to use blue iris and just purchased a dedicated pc for that. I'm sure this is beating a dead horse but i would like to get some input on where my security camera budget would be best spent. Any information would be much appreciated.

I was planning to purchase 4-6 cameras to start with and I am more worried about price/value than I am about a hard number for budget but nothing crazy expensive

thank you
 
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:welcome:

Reolink is not very good equipment. The primary reason being that they play games to make the video "look good" day and night. This is really problematic at night because they slow the shutter, exposure time, down so low that any motion is a blur which renders the video useless. Any camera can be made to "look good" and maintain color at night if the shutter can be slowed far enough. Bottom line is every camera needs light for color at night, some more and some less, but they still need some light.

My standard welcome -

Welcome to the enchanted land of video surveillance lunatics, good guys, nut jobs and miscreants (yes, I fit into at least three categories). There are a lot of knowledgeable people on here and knowledge and experience are shared constantly. That's how I got to be a lunatic (already a nut job and miscreant).

Start out by looking in the WiKi in the blue bar at the top of the page. There's a ton of very useful information in there and it needs to be viewed on a computer, not a phone or tablet. The Cliff Notes will be of particular interest although the camera models listed there are a generation old at this point. The best way to determine what kind of camera you need in each location and where each location should really be is to buy one varifocal camera first and set up a test stand for it that can be easily moved around. Test using that, viewing using the web interface of the camera, during the day and at night. Have someone walk around behaving like a miscreant and see if you can identify them. There is also information for choosing hardware and securing the system along with a whole bunch of other good stuff.

Don't chase megapixels unless you have a really BIG budget. General rule of thumb is that a 4MP camera will easily outperform an 8MP camera when they both have the same sensor size. Reason being that there are twice as many pixels in the 8MP versus the 4MP. This results in only half the available light getting to each pixel in an 8MP that a pixel in the 4MP "sees".

A dedicated PC doesn't need to be either expensive to purchase or to run. A used business class machine can be had from eBay and various other sources. The advances made in Blue Iris make it easily possible to run a fairly large system on relatively inexpensive hardware which also makes power consumption low, as in under 50 watts in many cases. The biggest expenses turn out to be hard drives for storing video and a PoE switch to power the cameras and, of course, the cameras themselves.

The three basic rules of video surveillance cameras-

Rule #1 - Cameras multiply like rabbits.
Rule #2 - Cameras are more addictive than drugs.
Rule #3 - You never have enough cameras.

Quick guide -

The smaller the lux number the better the low light performance. 0.002 is better than 0.02
The smaller the "F" of the lens the better the low light performance. F1.4 is better than F1.8
The larger the sensor the better the low light performance. 1/1.8" is better (bigger) than 1/2.7"
The higher the megapixels for the same size sensor the worse the low light performance. A 4MP camera with a 1/1.8" sensor will perform better than a 8MP camera with that same 1/1.8" sensor.

Don't believe all the marketing hype no matter who makes the camera. Don't believe those nice night time captures they all use. Look for videos, with motion, to determine low light performance. Any camera can be made to "see" color at night if the exposure time is long enough, as in half a second or longer. Rule of thumb, the shutter speed needs to be at 1/60 or higher to get night video without blurring.

Read the reviews here, most include both still shots and video.

Avoid Reolink, Foscam, SV3C, Nest, and all the other consumer grade cameras. They all struggle mightily at night and never get anything useful on video. Here's a link to a whole thread debunking Reolink in particular.

Avoid WiFi cameras, even doorbell cameras. WiFi is not designed for the constant, 24/7, load of video that a surveillance camera produces. At best, with two cameras on WiFi, they will still experience dropouts multiple times daily. Murphy's Law says that will happen at the worst possible moment.

Lens size, focal length, is another critical factor. Many people like the wide, sweeping, views of a 2.8mm lens but be aware that identification is problematic with a lens that wide. Watch this video to learn how to analyze each location for appropriate lens size and keep in mind that it may take two cameras to provide the coverage you need or desire. Another factor that effects view angles is the sensor size. Typically larger sensors will have a larger field of view in any given lens size.

The 5442 series of cameras by Dahua is the current "king of the hill". They are 4MP and capable of color with some ambient light at night. The 2231 series is a less expensive alternative in 2MP and does not have audio capabilities, no built in microphone, but is easier on the budget. The 3241T-ZAS has similar spcs as the 2231 and has audio. There are also cameras available from the IPCT Store right here on the forum and from Nelly's Security who has a thread in the vendors section.

5442 Reviews

Review - Loryata (Dahua OEM) IPC-T5442T-ZE varifocal Turret

Review - OEM IPC-B5442E-ZE 4MP AI Varifocal Bullet Camera With Starlight+

Review-OEM 4mp AI Cam IPC-T5442TM-AS Starlight+ Turret

Review IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED (Turret, Full Color, Starlight+)

Review: IPC-HDBW5442R-ASE-NI - Dahua Technology Pro AI Bullet Network Camera

2231 Review
Review-OEM IPC-T2231RP-ZS 2mp Varifocal Turret Starlight Camera

3241T-ZAS Review

Less expensive models -

VPN Information Thread
 

boomshine

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WOW! that is super helpful and i must admit that much of my decision was from the youtuber mentioned. you have however shed some light and i will continue to learn before i buy, then start with one.

Thanks a ton
 

wittaj

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Let me give you an example as to why Blue Iris and Reolinks do not work well together...just because you may have saw it on YouTube doesn't mean the person is an expert LOL....between paid testimonial from a camera manufacturer and ad revenue for hits...At least you found this site BEFORE purchasing as we have so many coming here AFTER purchasing...

This was a screenshot of a user's Blue Iris status where they had set the cameras to 15FPS within the cameras and they were missing motion:

1614727286960.png


Even though they have set it for 15FPS, look at what the camera is doing - dropped some down to below 1FPS but none are 15FPS. Now look at they key - that is the iframes. Blue Iris works best when the FPS and the iframes match. Now this is a ratio, so it should be a 1 if it matches the FPS. The iframes not matching (that you cannot fix or change with a reolink) is why they miss motion in Blue Iris and why people have problems. This is mainly why people are having issues with these cameras and there are many threads showing the issues people have with this manufacturer and Blue Iris. It is these same games that make the camera look great as a still image or video but turn to crap once motion is introduced.

Now compare the BI camera status above to cameras that follow industry standards that allow you to actually set parameters and they don't manipulate them. You will see that the FPS match what is set in the camera, and the 1.00 key means the iframe matches:

1614139197822.png


The Blue Iris developer has indicated that for best reliability, sub stream frame rate should be equal to the main stream frame rate and these cameras cannot do that and there is nothing you can do about that with these cameras... The iframe rates should equal the FPS (something these cameras do not allow you to set), but at worse case be no more than double. This example shows the cameras going down to a keyrate of 0.24 means that the iframe rates are over 4 times the FPS and that is why motion is a disaster with these cameras and Blue Iris...A value of 0.5 or less is considered insufficient to trust for motion triggers reliably...

This is totally out of control of Blue Iris and there is nothing that can be done about it - it is clearly a limitation of the cameras. All the updating in the world on Blue Iris will not correct this deficiency as it isn't a deficiency of Blue Iris.

Blue Iris is great and works with probably more camera brands than most VMS programs, but there are brands that don't work well or not at all - Rings, Arlos, Nest, Some Zmodo cams use proprietary systems and cannot be used with Blue Iris, and for a lot of people Reolink doesn't work well either.
 

wittaj

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Too many people go to the local box store and get fascinated with the wide angle views that 2.8mm and other "all in one units" like a Reolink or Arlo or Lorex or NightOwl can provide and chase megapixels. But the picture is really no different than taking a pic from the same place with a cell phone - take that picture and then zoom in and it is a pixelated mess....and it sounds like you have experienced that, among other issues...

You would be shocked how close someone needs to be to a 2.8 lens in order to ID them. And how much additional light is needed at night (when it matters most) for a 4k camera. There currently isn't an economical 8MP/sensor combination at the moment that any would recommend.

Take a look at this chart - to identify someone with the 2.8mm lens popular in the kits, someone would have to be within 13 feet of the camera.

1604638118196.png



My neighbor was bragging to me how he only needed his 4 box-kit cams 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.

When we had a thief come thru here and get into a lot of cars, the police couldn't use one video or photo from anyone's system that had fixed 2.8mm or 3.6mm cams - those cams sure looks nice and gives a great wide angle view, but you cannot identify anyone at 15 feet out. At night you cannot even ID someone from 10 feet. Meanwhile, the perp didn't come to my house but walked past on the sidewalk at 80 feet from my house and my 2MP varifocal zoomed in to a point at the sidewalk was the money shot for the police that got my neighbors all there stolen stuff back. Reolinks are even worse than these at night - he tried those first and sent back to get Arlos....and a year later he is regretting that choice too.

In fact my system was the only one that gave them useful information. Not even my other neighbors $1,300 4k Lorex system from Costco provided useful info - the cams just didn't cut it at night. His system wasn't even a year old and after that event has started replacing with cameras purchased from @EMPIRETECANDY on this site based on my recommendation and seeing my results - fortunately those cams work with the Lorex NVR. He is still shocked a 2MP camera performs better than his 4k cameras... It is all about the amount of light needed and getting the right camera for the right location.

My first few systems were the box units that were all 2.8mm lens and while the picture looked great in daytime, to identify someone you didn't know is impossible unless they are within 10 feet of the camera, and even then it is tough. You are getting the benefit coming to this site of hearing thoughts from people that have been there/done that.

We all hate to be that guy with a system and something happens and the event demonstrates how poor our system was and then we start the update process. My neighbor with his expensive arlos and monthly fees is that guy right now and is still fuming his system failed him.

Main keys are you can't locate too high or chase MP and you need to get the correct camera for the area trying to be covered. A 2.8mm to IDENTIFY someone 40 feet away is the wrong camera regardless of how good the camera is. A 2.8mm camera to IDENTIFY someone within 10 feet is a good choice OR it is an overview camera to see something happened but not be able to identify who. Also, do not chase marketing phrases like ColorVu and Full Color and the like - all cameras need light - simple physics...

The best advice we give is purchase one varifocal camera and test it at each location you want to install a camera and confirm the lens you need.
 

mat200

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FYI -

For those wondering about Reolink, I've started a thread here to help provide some more info to give you a better understanding of some issues.
( there are other threads also, so feel free to search for Reolink in the search box )

 

SouthernYankee

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For your new camera system start with one high quality variable focus camera. Test your camera placement for each of your planned cameras, test the mounting, test the required lens. Each test it must be at night with motion, have a "Bad Guy" wearing a hoodie move past the camera at 15 to 20 FT out, can you ID the Bad guy, will it be useful to the cops, will it stand up in court?
Go Slow, learn as you go.

Read,study,plan before spending money ..... plan plan plan
Doing it right the first time will save you money.
Test do not guess

=============================
My standard welcome to the forum message.

Cameras are for surveillance to get information for after the fact. Cameras are NOT a deterrent.

Please read the IP Cam Talk Cliff Notes and other items in the IP Cam Talk Wiki. (read on a real computer, not a phone). The wiki is in the blue bar at the top of the page.

Read How to Secure Your Network (Don't Get Hacked!) in the wiki also.


Quick start
1) If you do not have a wired monitored alarm system, get that first
2) Use Dahua starlight cameras or Hikvision darkfighter cameras if you need good low light cameras.
3) Start with a good variable focus camera, so you test for the correct lens,lighting, camera placement.
4) use a VPN to access home network (openVPN)
5) Do not use wifi cameras.
6) Do not use cloud storage
7) Do Not use uPNP, P2P, QR, do not open ports,
8) More megapixel is not necessarily better.
9) Avoid chinese hacked cameras (most ebay, amazon, aliexpress cameras(not all, but most))
10) Do not use reolink, ring, nest, Arlo, Vivint cameras (they are junk), no cloud cameras
11) If possible use a turret camera , bullet collect spiders, dome collect dirt and reflect light (IR)
12) Use only solid copper, AWG 23 or 24 ethernet wire. , no CCA (Copper Clad Aluminum)
13) use a test mount to verify the camera mount location. My test rig: rev.2
14) (Looney2ns)If you want to be able to ID faces, don't mount cams higher than 7ft. You want to know who did it, not just what happened.
15) Use a router that has openVPN built in (Most ASUS, Some NetGear....)
16) camera placement use the calculator... IPVM Camera Calculator V3
17) POE list PoE Switch Suggestion List
18) Camera Sensor size, bigger is general better Sensor Size Chart
19) Camera lens size, a bigger number give more range but less field of view. Which Security Camera Lens Size Should I Buy?
20) verify your camera placement, have a friend wearing a hoodie, ball cap and sunglasses looking down approach the house, can you identify them at night ?
21) DO NOT UPGRADE your NVR or camera unless you absolutely have a problem that needs to be fixed and known what you are doing, if you do you will turn it into a brick !!

Cameras to look at
IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED . Review IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED (Full Color, Starlight+) - 4MP starlight
.................... Dahua IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED review
IPC-T5442TM-AS ..... Review-OEM 4mp AI Cam IPC-T5442TM-AS Starlight+ - 4MP starlight+
IPC-HDW5442t-ZE .... Dahua IPC-HDW5442T-ZE 4MP Varifocal Turret - Night Perfomance testing -- variable focus 2.7 mm-12mm 4 MP Starlight
IPC-B5442E-ZE ...... Review - OEM IPC-B5442E-ZE 4MP AI Varifocal Bullet Camera With Starlight+ -- variable 2.7mm-12mm bullet
IPC-B5442E-Z4E .... bullet 8mm-32mm variable focus zoom 4MP
IPC-HFW7442H-Z ..... Review - Dahua IPC-HFW7442H-Z 4MP Ultra AI Varifocal Bullet Camera -- 4 MP variable focus AI
 
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