What is a decent IP cam for my budget?

rwsstudios

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Good morning everyone,
Some years back I bought one of the original IP cameras, it was an Ubiquiti(sub branded, actually manufactured by Hikvision I believe) and after I got it working it was pretty cool. Had a few bugs, but the tech was relatively new at the time. I lost that camera long ago, and some years later I bought a Foscam. It sat on a shelf for a year or two before I got the chance to play with it. I finished installing it last week, and now I am dealing with all the bugs in the FOSCAM VMS. I also discovered that there is virtually ZERO support from FOSCAM so I picked up a few Wyze cameras.

At first I was impressed with the Wyze cameras. They practically installed themselves, and the app was very easy to use. And the "Starlight" feature in the outdoor v3 is AMAZING! But I quickly discovered the limitations. First of all, there is no desktop app, nor is there the possibility to record to a local hard drive. To make matters worse, they want you to pay a yearly subscription fee, PER CAMERA, of $19.99 a year to have full motion detection recording capabilities. So basically your system is crippled unless you pay the subscription. I think that's bull-sh*t.

I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations for me. What I need is:
(1) Phone support
(2) Local HDD recording of motion detection events
(3) Connect to my network via wi-fi
(4) Under $100 per camera

What would be nice is:
(1) Low light/night time color recording
(2) "Bullet" style, or 360 degree half sphere design (to intimidate intruders, the Wyze cams look like webcams, not intimidating)
(3) Audio send/receive capabilities

If anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears! Thanks for reading!!!

-Monte
 

wittaj

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Good luck with that search LOL. You won't find it.

(1) Phone support typically is provided by companies that are cloud based with a subscription...how else are they going to make any money dealing with all the non-computer illiterate folks calling because they need help. These companies have made it as easy as possible by having people simply download an app and scan the QR code and they still screw that up. But that ease of use comes at a cost of an unsecure network that can be hacked, and the video feeds going who knows where. And most of us have found when we call customer support, we know more about their product than they do...

(2) Same as #1 - why would a company providing long term phone support want to give up their ability to allow you to store to an HDD or SD card. Some do, but you also need to pay their yearly subscription fee.

(3) You NEVER want to have a a wifi camera...The biggest issue is wifi is problematic for surveillance cameras because they are always streaming and passing data. And the data demands go up with motion and then you lose signal. A lost packet and it has to resend. It can bring the whole network down if trying to use it through a wifi router. At the very least it can slow down your system.

Unlike Netflix and other streaming services that buffer a movie, these cameras do not buffer up part of the video, so drop outs are frequent. You would be amazed how much streaming services buffer - don't believe me, start watching something and unplug your router and watch how much longer you can watch NetFlix before it freezes - mine goes 45 seconds. Now do the same with a wifi camera and it is fairly instantaneous (within the latency of the stream itself)...

The same issue applies if it is hard-wired trying to send all this non-buffer video stream through a router. Most consumer grade wifi routers are not designed to pass the constant video stream data of cameras, and since they do not buffer, you get these issues. The consumer routers are just not designed for this kind of traffic even a GB speed router.

Just the fact that the cameras are connected through the router means that with P2P and UPnP enabled, that they can be easily hacked even if they do not know your wifi or router password.

Any port forwards, UPnP, QR code scan type ease of use opens up your system to being hacked due to security vulnerabilities in security cameras (ironic I know). Last thing you need is some hacker get into your system, not to look at your cameras, but to employ a DoS attack originating from your IP address...or worse gaining access to your banking and other sensitive stuff....

Or sometimes it is just to peep at you...or to mess with your car and taunt you by disabling your cameras.

Since you mentioned Foscam, let me share you a story. I have a friend that falls under this "I just want to plug it in and scan a code and it works and is cheap" mindset. Many years ago she bought a Foscam wifi camera to monitor her front door. She plugged it in and pointed it out a 2nd story window and downloaded the Foscam app and scanned the QR code and magically she could see her camera.

A few years later she bought a wifi printer and again, simply dowloaded the app from the manufacturer and scanned the QR code and she could start printing.

One time in the middle of the night, she hears her printer printing a page. She thinks maybe she is dreaming or hearing things, so she thinks nothing of it and goes back to sleep. Next morning she gets up and the printed page says I SEE YOU and a picture of her from her Foscam was below it.

She changes her wifi password in case it was the peeping perv next door that she has caught looking at her from through her window.

Problem still persists. She goes into Foscam app and changes the password to the camera. Problem still persists. She gets a new router. Problem still persists. She gets rid of camera and printer.

At some point Foscam issues a security vulnerability and issued a firmware update. Based on chatter on forums, basically the vulnerability was something like when logging into the camera with a web browser over HTTPS, the initial login to the site is done using SSL. But then it establishes a connection to the HTTPS port again (for the media service) and sends all of its commands unencrypted. This means the username and passwords are being sent unencrypted. While this was a security vulnerability found in Foscam, I suspect it is in others as well. I suspect this is how my friend was hacked and someone was sending pictures of her taken from her Foscam camera to her wifi printer that she set up using the QR code.

An older article, but I bet most of these still have the vulnerability as most do not push out firmware to fix holes in security:


THIS IS WHY MOST OF US HERE DO NOT ALLOW OUR CAMERAS TO HAVE INTERNET ACCESS

(4) Not going to happen and meet your 3 requests above. You could get close with an Amcrest, but their customer service will be limited and they are not plug and play like your Foscam and Wyze...but once dialed in will actually be useful video with motion...


Your what would be nice list:

(1) - not going to happen for under $100. Do not mistake a nice color bright image at night with no movement as a good camera. I can make a $20 camera look like noon at midnight and the static picture looks great, but the moment any motion is introduced, it is blur and ghost city. Folks here want a clean freeze frame capture to make out details.

(2) You can buy fake cameras for under $20 with a flashing light and hang those up to intimidate folks.

(3) You can find that on most cameras, but not within the other requirements you have above.
 
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I'll echo what wittaj said. Plug and pray just isn't how real cameras work. Each camera needs to be set up specifically for the physical location and conditions it is installed in. Auto setting simply make a good still picture and fail, usually totally, at detecting motion in challenging conditions. Those conditions mean low light or night time situation when the video turns into a blurry, useless, mess. There are less expensive cameras but they do not have the proper sensor size to resolution ratio needed for good night performance.

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.

720P - 1/3" = .333"
2MP - 1/2.8" = .357" (think a .38 caliber bullet)
4MP - 1/1.8" = .555" (bigger than a .50 caliber bullet or ball)
8MP - 1/1.2" = .833" (bigger than a 20mm chain gun round)

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.

Compiled by mat200 -

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. Keep in mind that it may take two cameras, or more, 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.
 

rwsstudios

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Thanks for all the information guys. I'll start looking for a closed circuit system and avoid IP cameras altogether.

I have three IP cameras currently hooked up to my wi-fi router and motion detection event recording works 100% of the time so far. However, the system has only been up and running for about a week now, so we shall see. My cameras DO have a VBR, so the data scales with reduced bandwidth. All three cameras still appear to have smooth motion, even with two 4K tv's streaming Netflix. My Foscam, although it says cannot record to a local drive, will record locally. It records to my local HDD without the need for a FTP server. Still the VMS says it's not recording...but when I look in my security folder on my desktop, sho-nuff! There are all my event recordings. The only places I need surveillance is in a well lit area, even at night, so I really don't need infrared, but the Foscam DOES have the capability. The Foscam interface does leave something to be desired...

What about connecting via ethernet and bypassing wi-fi altogether? My Foscam can connect via ethernet, so that should reduce any security concerns somewhat. That would also stop the system from hogging bandwidth. With a HW firewall the system should be virtually "un-hackable". I guess I can sacrifice support and wi-fi for a system that does what I need it to do...I just like support. But I refuse to pay for a subscription while all I really want is hardware to write to my HDD.

As far as closed circuit goes, is there any paid or open source software that can handle generic wired HD cameras? Anyone know of any decent camera hubs that can transfer data to a computer with software capable of motion detection? It seems simple enough, hardware receives video data from 4-8 cameras, sends data to computer via serial or ethernet port, software decodes data and provides a user with an interface to set parameters. Seems like I should be able to pick up a bare bones system for under $500. Thoughts? Thanks for reading!
 

mat200

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Good morning everyone,
Some years back I bought one of the original IP cameras, it was an Ubiquiti(sub branded, actually manufactured by Hikvision I believe) and after I got it working it was pretty cool. Had a few bugs, but the tech was relatively new at the time. I lost that camera long ago, and some years later I bought a Foscam. It sat on a shelf for a year or two before I got the chance to play with it. I finished installing it last week, and now I am dealing with all the bugs in the FOSCAM VMS. I also discovered that there is virtually ZERO support from FOSCAM so I picked up a few Wyze cameras.

At first I was impressed with the Wyze cameras. They practically installed themselves, and the app was very easy to use. And the "Starlight" feature in the outdoor v3 is AMAZING! But I quickly discovered the limitations. First of all, there is no desktop app, nor is there the possibility to record to a local hard drive. To make matters worse, they want you to pay a yearly subscription fee, PER CAMERA, of $19.99 a year to have full motion detection recording capabilities. So basically your system is crippled unless you pay the subscription. I think that's bull-sh*t.

I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations for me. What I need is:
(1) Phone support
(2) Local HDD recording of motion detection events
(3) Connect to my network via wi-fi
(4) Under $100 per camera

What would be nice is:
(1) Low light/night time color recording
(2) "Bullet" style, or 360 degree half sphere design (to intimidate intruders, the Wyze cams look like webcams, not intimidating)
(3) Audio send/receive capabilities

If anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears! Thanks for reading!!!

-Monte
Welcome Monte @rwsstudios

$100 .. hard to get all of that as noted

Try to see if you can find firmware to update your Wyze camera to support a rtsp stream, and if you get that to work - then look at Blue Iris or another VMS to record to a local PC.

Thanks for all the information guys. I'll start looking for a closed circuit system and avoid IP cameras altogether.

I have three IP cameras currently hooked up to my wi-fi router and motion detection event recording works 100% of the time so far. However, the system has only been up and running for about a week now, so we shall see. My cameras DO have a VBR, so the data scales with reduced bandwidth. All three cameras still appear to have smooth motion, even with two 4K tv's streaming Netflix. My Foscam, although it says cannot record to a local drive, will record locally. It records to my local HDD without the need for a FTP server. Still the VMS says it's not recording...but when I look in my security folder on my desktop, sho-nuff! There are all my event recordings. The only places I need surveillance is in a well lit area, even at night, so I really don't need infrared, but the Foscam DOES have the capability. The Foscam interface does leave something to be desired...

What about connecting via ethernet and bypassing wi-fi altogether? My Foscam can connect via ethernet, so that should reduce any security concerns somewhat. That would also stop the system from hogging bandwidth. With a HW firewall the system should be virtually "un-hackable". I guess I can sacrifice support and wi-fi for a system that does what I need it to do...I just like support. But I refuse to pay for a subscription while all I really want is hardware to write to my HDD.

As far as closed circuit goes, is there any paid or open source software that can handle generic wired HD cameras? Anyone know of any decent camera hubs that can transfer data to a computer with software capable of motion detection? It seems simple enough, hardware receives video data from 4-8 cameras, sends data to computer via serial or ethernet port, software decodes data and provides a user with an interface to set parameters. Seems like I should be able to pick up a bare bones system for under $500. Thoughts? Thanks for reading!
Take some time here before you drop money on a system .. many too affordable systems fail to provide what many users are looking for.

Wired / ethernet wired IP PoE cameras are well liked by members. Lots of info here .. do follow the recommendations posted by @wittaj and @sebastiantombs
 

SouthernYankee

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IP cameras are ok to use. Most of us use IP cameras. BUT they are not directly access for the internet. the IP cameras are on the home network only, blocked from access to the internet. The cameras are connected to an NVR or a VMS(like Blue Iris), which is accessed from the internet.

On the cameras buy one and only one camera, test it at your desired locations at night with motion, with a "Bad guy" wearing a hoodie, if the video is not any good for the cops to ID the person, and the video to stand up in court, you have wasted your money.

The best camera to start with is a quality variable focus camera, this will allow you to select the camera, mounting position, and lens. IPC-HDW5442t-ZE .... Dahua IPC-HDW5442T-ZE 4MP Varifocal Turret - Night Perfomance testing

All wifi camera are unreliable for security and surveillance. WIFI cameras are ok for watching the Deer eat the flowers, or the birds at the feeder.
 

rwsstudios

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Thanks for the reply Southern Yankee. I still have a few weeks to return my Wyze cameras. I am mainly relying on this camera for motion alerts pushed to my phone. My shop is at the location where I live, and I mount my cameras inside my shop with the lights on. So, if I get a motion alert, I know someone or something is moving around inside my shop and I can take action if I am out of town. I see the Blue Iris is on sale for $57. Is this one comparable to the one you called out in your message? I assume both will connect via ethernet. I'm hoping to try something out in time to return these Wyze cameras. The IPC varifocal turret night vision looks AMAZING!

Thanks again!
 

Mike A.

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The Wyze V3 do have a desktop viewer now, but it's rather limited and requires an active subscription:

And they now have beta RTSP firmware for the V3 so you can hook them into BI or some other system to record to a local drive.

In that case, you don't need any subscription and you can block them (with some caveats) in that case. But you still have the other limitations noted above re WiFi, etc. And their AI is cloud-based so you won't have that without access and a subscription. You can get the subscriptions for a lot less when they run special deals (all the time) but, yeah, adds up across multiple cameras and subscriptions suck.

They're OK for cheap little fill-in cams I suppose but nothing that I'd depend on. The image looks impressive in static images but in very dark complex scenes noise and compression and/or with motion the image starts to break down kind of badly. I got a few to play with and continue to run them but they're kind of toys, nothing more.
 

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I thought I recall someone here said if the Wyze doesn't have internet access, the time on it goes to crap quick. May or may not be a deal killer for some.
 

Mike A.

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If they don't have access to the Internet to make whatever connections, then they'll drop off the network regularly every 3-5 minutes. I think trying to reset to do whatever they want to do with their P2P network. They come right back up within about 15-30 seconds so they don't crap out completely but not great. I put mine on a guest network to avoid that.

ETA: Oh, sorry... read your post too fast. Yes, that probably was me. The time doesn't work well either since they can't get to an NTP source. If you watch the traffic you can see them trying to access a long list of servers. But no go, so....

Bunch of things like that they should change in the RTSP beta. But doubt they ever will.
 
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rwsstudios

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Yes looney2ns, Murphy's Law! I'm not going to waste my time with wi-fi cams...too easy to hack. I'm looking for budget ethernet cams, not the cheapest, looking for something middle of the road. Good enough to make a positive ID under normal lighting conditions, and motion detection recording to a local drive with push notifications to my phone. What do y'all think about the blue iris?
 

wittaj

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Blue Iris is awesome and can keep your cams off the net and save to a local HDD. It has way more functionality than you will see from any prior camera app you have used.

As I mentioned in my first post to you on this thread, if you are willing to give up some of your other requirements, the Amcrest line of cameras are a decent middle of the road. They are Dahua OEM cameras, but usually with less build quality and not as good internals, but certainly are better than anything out there at that price or lower.
 
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Less expensive models -

Personally, I'd stick with the 2231T-ZS or 3241T-ZAS from Dahua. Middle range prices, $125-$135 each, and very capable both day and night. The 2231 has no mic, audio, while the 324 does have a mic. Just buy one, or two, at a time depending on your budget at the moment.

Blue Iris is probably the best, reasonably priced, VMS software available. It does have a fairly steep learning curve due to the complexity and features. The help file it has explains most everything and if you're still stuck just ask here. You can download the demo version and take it for a test drive.

Blue Iris is best on a stand alone PC used for Blue Iris only. A used business class machine with a 6th, 7th, or newer generation CPU, 16GB of RAM and enough room for at least two, physical, 3.5" platter drives for video storage and an NvME slot for a boot drive. Business class machines usually come with Win10, Pro version is best, already on the machine.
 

rwsstudios

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So I just went to the blue iris page in IP talk, and I didn't see any specs. That's okay, you guys wouldn't be recommending it if it wasn't a decent camera. But then I went to the blue iris website and I can't tell if a subscription is required. I'm okay with sacrificing phone support if the product is good, and of course wi-fi is no longer anything that I want. But the website started talking about licenses and subscriptions. Shouldn't I get the software for free with the purchase of a camera? And I should mention that I want to avoid any subscription fees. Anyone here explain to me what the licensing fee and subscription is all about? I would have just called blue iris, but phone support only comes with their most expensive subscription. Thanks again!
 

wittaj

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Blue Iris doesn't sell cameras.

IPCAMTALK has a store that sells cameras from trusted vendors here like @EMPIRETECANDY and Nelly's. IPCAMTALK also sells BI cheaper than you can purchase it from the BI website.

Blue Iris has a demo that you can try and see if you like it. If you do, it is roughly $60 for the program. That gives you updates for a year. After the year, the program will still work and be fine, but if you want any further updates, then it is $30 for the next year. But that is totally up to you - the program will still fully work if you do not purchase the $30 following year.

So it isn't really a subscription in that it will still work, but they issue dozens of updates a year and most of us find it is worth paying the $30. It is still a far better program than you will find from anywhere else for a fraction of the cost.

You will find the best support around, blowing away any support from any other software, from the members of this site. Collectively we can figure out about anything. And it is free!
 

rwsstudios

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Thanks for the response, wittaj!

Yea, we don't sell directly to the customer either, only to vendors. We would not survive without our distributors. I was only at the blue iris website to learn more about their cameras and their specifications. So $57 for the camera, and $60 for the program. Is it capable of sending push notifications to my phone, and do I need to pay a subscription fee to be able to view motion alerts remotely? Thanks for all the help everyone!
 

wittaj

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I am not sure what you are looking at - Blue Iris does not sell cameras. It is strictly software. This forum is not affiliated with Blue Iris, but this site does sell cameras and Blue Iris.

You have lots of options for receiving alerts - text message, email, phone call, push notifications, connect it to home automation, etc. Lot's of ways.

If you want true "push notifications" then you would need to purchase the BI app also ($10) from the respective app store. There are no subscription fees. BI sits local on your computer.

Some also use the pushover app.

Again, lots of options and flexibility depending what you are trying to accomplish.
 

rwsstudios

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Okay, so blue iris is software ONLY. Got it. So that begs a few more questions. Every piece of digital hardware has its own I/O protocol. How do I know what standards BI will accept? Basically I want to know what options I have as far as cameras go. I was really trying to find units for under $100, but if that's not an option that's not an option. Will BI software understand a signal from my Foscam bullet ethernet cam?
 
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