Best IP Camera Reports By Consumer Reviews 2021

An IP camera will help you monitor your home, office or other premises from your smartphone or computer via the Internet

An IP surveillance camera is an important element of a smart home or security system. It will make it possible to control everything that happens in a particular room and outside it. With the help of it, you will be able to monitor your employees in the office, children or elderly relatives at home, builders during repairs.

The Best IP Cameras Consumer Report 2021

TP-LINK Tapo C100

An affordable IP camera that will help keep track of what is happening in the room. Among other things, it also supports the manufacturer’s proprietary motion detection system. When this happens, the gadget creates a time point and makes it possible to return to it at any convenient moment. The camera has a special IR illumination that increases the useful distance of its use in the dark up to 9 meters. The device also has an integrated microphone and speaker, which enable communication at a distance.

Product Features

  • construction: static;
  • resolution: 1920 × 1080 pixels;
  • viewing angle: 110 degrees;
  • night mode: yes;
  • IR illumination: yes;
  • moisture protection: no;
  • dimensions: 67 × 99 × 55 mm.

Pros

  • affordable cost;
  • compact design.

Cons

  • small viewing angle;
  • no moisture protection.

TP-LINK Tapo C200

A more advanced version of the previous model from this collection from the same manufacturer. Against her background, this camera stands out with a rotatable design, which makes it possible to see what is happening in the room at full 360 degrees. This is very convenient if you want to see not only a certain narrow area (for example, a corridor), but also everything that happens in a particular room or the whole room. You can control the direction of the camera horizontally and vertically remotely. The camera can be installed upside down for ceiling mounting.

Product Features

  • design: rotary;
  • resolution: 1920 × 1080 pixels;
  • viewing angle: 360 degree rotation;
  • night mode: yes;
  • IR illumination: yes;
  • moisture protection: no;
  • dimensions: 87 × 118 × 85 mm.

Pros

  • 360 degree view.

Cons

  • no moisture protection.

EZVIZ C6T

This is not just an IP camera for home video surveillance, but a real security kit. In addition to the device itself, which acts as a hub for additional devices of the manufacturer, it also includes a door opening sensor and a key fob to enable and disable the security system. If necessary, you can purchase additional sensors for windows and more – in total, the camera supports up to 32 such gadgets.

Product Features

  • design: rotary;
  • resolution: 1920 × 1080 pixels;
  • viewing angle: 360 degree rotation;
  • night mode: yes;
  • IR illumination: yes;
  • moisture protection: no;
  • dimensions: 100 × 90 × 100 mm.

Pros

  • 360 degree view;
  • additional sensors.

Cons

  • no moisture protection;
  • high price.

Xiaomi Mi Home Security Camera 360° 1080p

This Xiaomi IP camera is very similar to the previous one both in design and technical equipment. Nevertheless, against the background of it, it stands out for its ability to be tied to the Xiaomi smart home, which continues to gain popularity both due to ease of use and due to the good price-quality ratio of gadgets. The camera is conveniently controlled remotely and is suitable for two-way voice transmission, which is very useful for communicating with pets and not only.

Product Features

  • design: rotary;
  • resolution: 1920 × 1080 pixels;
  • viewing angle: 360 degree rotation;
  • night mode: yes;
  • IR illumination: yes;
  • moisture protection: no;
  • dimensions: 78 × 118 × 78 mm.

Pros

  • 360 degree view.

Cons

  • no moisture protection.

IMOU LOOC

A versatile IP camera that is protected from moisture, therefore it is suitable not only for indoor but also for outdoor use. Compared to the rest of the models in this collection, this one also has a wide variety of installation options. The camera can simply be placed on a flat surface on a stand; it can be hung on a wall or ceiling without any problems. Among other things, the manufacturer also produces special elastic cases to protect the camera from external damage – they are also useful for increasing the stealthiness of the solution.

Product Features

  • construction: static;
  • resolution: 1920 × 1080 pixels;
  • viewing angle: 111 degrees;
  • night mode: yes;
  • IR illumination: yes;
  • moisture protection: IP65;
  • dimensions: 75 × 85 × 98 mm.

Pros

  • moisture protection;
  • variety of installation options.

Cons

  • high price;
  • small viewing angle.

How to choose an IP camera

Each IP camera is designed for video surveillance, but nevertheless solves different tasks. It is important to understand under what conditions the IP-camera will transmit what information in what quality.

IP camera selection parameters:

  1. IP Camera Lens Selection
  2. IP Camera Matrix Selection
  3. Selecting IP Camera Resolution
  4. Outdoor IP Cameras
  5. IR cut filter
  6. Backlight
  7. Audio
  8. Form factor
  9. Anti-glare functions
  10. Compression
  11. Broadcast speed
  12. Built-in analytics
  13. Additional functionality

IP Camera Lens Selection

One of the most important parameters when choosing an IP camera is the angular field of the lens, the basis for determining the number of cameras and their mounting locations. This is the area visible by the lens, the coverage. Viewing angles – horizontal, vertical, diagonal – are directly related to focal length.

The shorter the focal length, the greater the coverage and the shorter the range.

The focal length is constant and variable, lenses with variable focal length are motorized and manually controlled. A lens with a “manual” variable focal length makes installation a lot easier, and the distance itself is such that it does not exist with fixed lenses, such as 13.5 mm.

Motorized lens – for continuous monitoring with the need to scale the image frequently.

For 24-hour video surveillance with IR illumination as an additional light source, you will need an IP camera equipped with an IR corrected lens. Visible light is focused at one point, and infrared rays at another. If the focus is not shifted, the picture will be blurry, muddy – out of focus. The IR correction in the lens is just the focus shift. IR correction is not always indicated in the documents, although it is present – check with the seller for this moment.

IP Camera Matrix Selection

The matrix takes an image from the lens and converts it into a digital stream. The picture quality depends on the sensitivity of the matrix. Sensitivity is indicated in lux (lx). Lux is a derivative of one lumen (luminous flux meter) per square meter. The parameter shows the minimum amount of light required to form an image – 0.1 ~ 0.9 lux, 0.01 ~ 0.09 lux, 0.001 ~ 0.009 lux. The more zeros after the dot, the more sensitive the matrix, the better the picture, the longer the IP camera does not go into black and white mode. A matrix with a sensitivity of 0.001 ~ 0.005 lux produces a better image and is capable of forming a color video under the light of street lamps – if the lens aperture does not interfere with this.

Aperture is a relative aperture that allows light to pass through. The smaller the number, the more light will enter the matrix. The aperture of a lens with an aperture of F / 1.2 is higher than with an F / 2.0 – the aperture is larger, more light passes through. There is little benefit from a sensitivity of 0.001 lux if this light is in the observation area, but will not pass to the matrix.

For an IP camera supplied without a lens, it is customary to indicate the sensitivity for optics with F / 1.2. Some manufacturers are tricky and quote F / 1.2 when the camera is equipped with an F / 2.0 lens. Actual sensitivity will be lower than indicated. In addition, manufacturers measure it differently – under different conditions, with a different lens. How to choose an IP camera with good sensitivity?

Pay attention to the size of the matrix. The larger the sensor, the higher the sensitivity is (1/4 less than 1 / 2.8). The lower the noise: there are fewer inter-pixel insulating elements on a small matrix, which leads to increased heating, which degrades the signal-to-noise ratio.

There are no too large matrices: the only limitation is the price.

Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all recipe for sensitivity selection. Experience helps, but if it is not there, it is better to turn to specialists, ideally to the manufacturer.

Selecting IP Camera Resolution

Unjustifiably high resolution is fashionable, but often unprofitable: you will have to pay not only for the IP camera itself, but also for high network bandwidth, the processing power of the DVR, terabytes of hard drives, and equipment depreciation. In addition, the higher the resolution, the lower the sensitivity of the matrix – simple arithmetic: more pixels, but the same amount of light, there is less light for each pixel.

Choose a resolution depending on your tasks and shooting conditions. If you do not need great detail, 2 megapixels will do – a resolution sufficient for most tasks.

In some cases, even two megapixels are not needed. Examples:

  • A high-resolution IP camera is installed at the entrance to the office. She records all incoming. Already fixed objects move in the corridor – it is important to move them, and detailing is no longer needed. A 1MP IP camera is enough. The same applies to the interior.
  • An IP camera with a resolution of 2 megapixels is installed at the entrance to an apartment or house to capture visitors, but in the room itself, high resolution is needed only if you need to know whether a child is reading fiction or a textbook. In other cases, it is already known who moves – a cat or a nanny. 1 megapixel is enough.

High resolution needed:

  • in large open spaces of squares, halls, stadiums, railway stations, airports – for shooting at long distances with the subsequent approach of fragments;
  • if necessary, often scale the picture – zoom in on certain areas;
  • for clear differentiation of details, for example, denomination and number of a bill, license plate at a great distance, etc.

In an inexpensive camera, high resolution will play the role of a disservice – a cheap processor is not able to process so many pixels, the pixel size of a small matrix is ​​negligible and therefore it gets a minimum of light, and the picture is blurry – all other things being equal, its quality is much worse than the quality of a picture with a resolution of 2 Mp.

In general, object detection requires 20 pixels per meter, recognition (person, car) – 200 pixels per meter, identification (face recognition) – 950 pixels per meter. Even if the footage is large, it is often better to put two cameras with a resolution of 2 megapixels than one 5 megapixel.

Outdoor IP Cameras

If you need an IP camera for working outdoors, pay attention not only to the operating temperatures – they are low for unheated rooms, but also to protection (choose for the task):

  • From moisture and dust (without this, the IP camera is not outdoor): IP54 – dustproof device with protection against splashes, IP66 – dustproof equipment with protection against pressure jets, IP67 – short-term immersion in water to a depth of 1 m is permissible, IP68 – IP -the camera will operate immersed (≤ 1 m) for up to 30 minutes.
  • Corrosion protection: minimum stainless steel housing, maximum NEMA 4X (protection against corrosion, dust and splash from the wind, water from a hose under pressure, damage due to icing).
  • Against mechanical stress – IK06 ~ IK10: IK06 – withstands a drop of 500 g from a height of 20 cm, IK07 – 500 g from 40 cm, IK08 – 1.7 kg from 29.5 cm, IK09 – 5 kg from 20 cm, IK10 – 5 kg from 40 cm.
  • Explosion protection – ATEX and IECEx; These IP cameras are designed for gas pipelines, oil refineries and chemical plants, etc.

In the characteristics of protection, with the exception of vandal resistance, there are no tricks. All standards have long been developed, described and are in effect: there is either protection or not.

When choosing an IP camera for outdoor use, pay attention to the “Cold start” function – there is no sense even from IP68 and NEMA 4X, if after a short-term power outage the camera does not start, because it has cooled down and a cold start is not provided.

IR cut filter

IP camera arrays are sensitive to visible and infrared light. Infrared rays distort the color rendition, spoil the image – purple spots appear in the picture, covering parts of the frame. To prevent this from happening, use an IR filter – ICR (Infrared Cut filter mechanically Removable; mechanically movable infrared filter) or electronic. For night video surveillance, IP cameras work in day / night mode – if there is a lack of light, they switch to black and white shooting mode.

  • The mechanical IR-cut filter is an IR-refracting sputter plate mounted in front of the sensor, equipped with a bias drive. In the dark, the filter is shifted to the side to increase the sensitivity of the sensor, the backlight can work. The filter receives a signal for displacement from a photosensor, which automatically controls not only the filter, but also the backlight.
  • Electronic IR-cut filter – spraying directly onto the matrix, which does not transmit IR rays in any shooting mode. Such cameras are converted to b / w – this gives a slight improvement in the picture, but IR illumination is useless.

If you need round-the-clock video surveillance, take IP cameras with a mechanical IR filter, if only daytime, you can limit yourself to electronic. For the street, regardless of the time of day, only IP cameras with a mechanical IR filter are suitable – in winter it gets dark very early, and with an electronic filter, an image obtained even in the early evening will not be informative.

IR illumination

The greater the range of the illumination, the better – the wrong thesis: illumination of the observation area is required from the illumination – no more. Long Range Illumination – A directional beam that illuminates a narrow sector rather than the entire area. Such illumination is not necessary for a lens with a focal length of 2.8 mm, because the object of observation is close.

Note – in the dark, the field of view will be twice as narrow. Equally, the picture quality will decrease, since the rays of the infrared range are perfectly reflected from rain, snow, dust, midges and others.

A nuance of long-range IR illumination is the illumination of close objects. The problem is solved by adaptability: the processor receives sensor data on the distance to the object and proportionally changes the power of the diodes. When choosing an IP camera with a “long” backlight, make sure that the latter is adaptable – the datasheet will say Smart.

In summer, in hot regions, it makes sense to use IP cameras without IR illumination – with a free-standing floodlight. The built-in backlight diodes heat up, coupled with the high air temperature, this creates unnecessary unplanned noise.

IP Camera Audio

If it is important not only to see, but also to hear what is happening, you need an IP camera with a microphone. To organize a two-way voice message, you will also need a speaker. Many models are equipped with microphones, but the installation site often does not allow for legible recording – in such cases, an external microphone is connected to the IP camera (audio input is required).

Form factor

Dome and Bullet IP cameras are the most popular. Bullet IP cameras are often equipped with long lenses, including motorized ones – the very shape of the body contributes to this. Basically, “cylinders” are placed on roads, entrances and entrances with a high camera position, large spaces (stadiums, train stations, airports, etc.).

Dome IP cameras can be mounted in places of direct access – low ceilings, walls, and so on, places out of sight of guards. The shape of the body is the most resistant to mechanical stress. “Domes” are universal – they are suitable for any object, but are most relevant in parking lots, in low corridors, at entrances and wherever the camera can be reached.

Vandal resistance as a parameter is also present in cylinders, but the swivel arm nullifies the dignity – an attacker only needs to turn the camera in the other direction. The same applies to the Sphere form factor (the video module is spinning) and the Cube. In an IP camera with analytics, with an anti-sabotage function, specifically, detection of a change in the field of view and detection of an impact, an alarm signal will be sent to the system, but until it is responded to, time will pass, often quite enough for a crime to be committed. Such cameras are used in office rooms, living quarters, classrooms and other similar facilities.

IP cameras in the Box form-factor stand apart. They are not equipped with lenses, leaving the designer to choose the optimal optics. They are not outdoor – thermal housings are needed for external installation. This is professional equipment – it is often used for face recognition at entrances, license plates at entrances.

Selecting anti-glare functions

Light does not take into account the needs of video surveillance, especially on the street – shadows change location, darkening entire areas, the sun moves, illuminating different areas depending on the time of day. Professional photographers love backlight, but even they find it hard to work with it, and for video surveillance this is a serious complication that destroys the information content of the picture: only the silhouette of the object is visible against a bright background, without details. There are software and hardware solutions to deal with different contrast lighting or its consequences:

  • DWDR – digital post-processing, selectively brightening the dark areas of a scene and darkening too light ones.
  • WDR with range indication up to 110 dB – hardware function; the processor selects the optimal shutter speed within the specified decibel interval (matrix dynamic range). Exposure can achieve a lot – the waterfall looks like drops on a short one and a bright light flux on a long one.
  • WDR with an indication of the range from 120 dB – a hardware function (usually referred to as Real or True), not only a choice of shutter speed, but also the creation of several frames (Double Scan, Quadro Scan) with different exposures, their subsequent assessment of the brightness of different areas and summing in one balanced.
  • WDR with an indication of the range from 120 dB – a hardware function implemented directly in the matrix; exposure metering system located around each pixel: for pixels where there is a lot of light, the shutter speed is short, where there is little – long.

There is also BLC, which corrects specifically a bright background, and HLC, which combats local illumination (headlights, lanterns) by masking or dimming.

HLC is local, DWDR and BLC give a low effect, per-pixel metering is medium, multiple scans are high (there are no shadows even where they should be), but not everything is so simple.

WDR with multiple scan is not suitable for video surveillance of high-speed objects and for IP cameras with analytics. Example: frame rate of live video – 25 frames per second, city speed of a car – 60 km / h; in a minute the car will travel a kilometer, in a second – 16.6 meters, in 1/25 second – 66.6 cm, but we take two frames, which means that the car will travel 30 cm between frames, and this will generate artifacts in the image. If the speed is high, the vehicle is likely to be displayed twice.

Artifacts also do not contribute to the flow analysis – it is not clear whether the runner crossed the line or not, entered the area or left it, it is impossible to correctly recognize the car number when the numbers overlap, and so on.

For video surveillance in areas with fast moving objects, Real WDR is not suitable, it must be turned off. But then why this function? Better to give preference to pixel by pixel or DWDR.

Compression

Responsible for compression are H.264, H.265 codecs. The H.265 standard is most effective at high resolution – at 2 megapixels it does not realize the advantages (there are not enough pixels for many 64 by 64 blocks). In most cases, H.264 is sufficient. Now it is fashionable to implement the entire set, including the so-called smart codecs, according to the principle the more the better, but this is superfluous – do not forget that all standards are paid: the more of them in the camera, the more expensive it is.

Smart codecs are H.264 +, H.265 +, ZipStream, WiseStream, which increase the efficiency of H.264, H.265 manufacturers’ development based on pre-compression of static frames used as reference frames.

Choose an IP camera with codecs, taking into account the parameters of the DVR – it must support compression standards. What is the use of a set of H.264, H.265, H.264 +, H.265 + if the recorder only works with H.264?

Broadcast speed

The slower the recording speed, the faster the objects move on the monitor during playback.

To display on the monitor in real time, a speed of 25 frames per second is required.

It is believed that 25 fps is always needed. But the total need is far-fetched: real-time video is needed where there is constant movement, and to record what is happening at the emergency exit, the dormant reception, on the roof, some parts of the perimeter, most of the interior rooms of the same office, high speed is not needed – 15 fps is enough , and you can save on bitrate. On the trails, on the contrary, 25 frames per second is not enough – there you need 50-60 fps, so that fast-moving cars can be seen on smooth scrolling.

Built-in analytics

The software motion detector that has become familiar is already analytics (in fact, it does not detect motion as such, but analyzes the image for changes), and it frees the operator from endless viewing of monitors, saves archive space, time to view recordings, and reduces the load on the network, therefore that, if configured appropriately, the IP camera starts recording only upon a detector signal.

Today, using the analytics built into the camera, they solve many problems. Among the analytical functions – detection of crossing a virtual line, abandoned or missing objects, movement with classification of objects by size, speed and direction, entering and exiting an area, intrusion into a zone, fog, people, cars, bicycles, counting visitors, sound detection , violations (excess / understatement) of the sound threshold, lens obstruction, changes in the field of view, image substitution, sound classification, behavior analysis (falling, loitering, etc.) and a range of highly specialized functions.

Technologies are developing at an enviable speed, and in the future the list of analytical capabilities of IP cameras will expand, including towards neural network solutions.

Additional functionality

  1. If the network is unstable, there are disconnections, choose cameras that support an internal archive with recording on an SD card or flash drive – you will not lose information. It is necessary that the registrar or the cloud support the work with the archive of the IP camera, including resuming. The technology also saves from power outages if the system has a UPS: the video recorder is more powerful equipment, the power source will not last for a long time, and the power consumption of the cameras is low – it can work for a couple of hours.
  2. If you need an IP camera between racks and the like, choose with the appropriate vertical display mode – it is indicated in the characteristics. The blind spot will be much smaller, the image is better. You cannot simply turn the image over – the image will lie on its side. Requires hardware support for corridor mode and vertical resolution.
  3. If the mains power supply is not available at the IP camera installation location, select the model with twisted pair power (PoE) from the DVR or switch. Otherwise, there is no need to overpay for PoE. When choosing an IP camera with a motorized lens, automatic iris and focus, pay attention to the lock function – there is nothing good about floating focus and aperture.
  4. In places where vibration is likely (road, workshop, etc.), buy IP cameras with digital image stabilization (DIS), which eliminates the effects of shaking (blur). Some manufacturers enhance the function in hardware, equipping the IP camera with a gyroscope, and DIS turns on at the slightest shift.
  5. If you need an IP camera to monitor a high-traffic area or choose an analytic model, buy 3D DNR spatial noise reduction. For quiet areas, 2D DNR is sufficient.

Advice:

  1. Choose a camera not for the price, but for the functionality – so that the equipment solves the assigned tasks. A budget on a budget, but preference for a cheap one is a great way to trite this budget.
  2. If even after reading the article it is difficult to understand the characteristics, ask to show an example of recording from a particular camera. A conscientious and motivated manufacturer will not refuse.
  3. Do not buy IP cameras without taking into account the parameters of the DVR: equipment compatibility is a must.
  4. When purchasing wireless IP cameras, keep in mind the physical obstacles – partitions and the like will reduce the transmission distance.
  5. According to statistics, installers choose some IP cameras, while users choose others. And often users are greeted with negative surprises. Contact a specialist if you are not sure of the correct choice of each characteristic.

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