After an extensive research on security camera I decided I neeed one that has the following features:
1. Weather proof, vandal proof
2. high definition (1024+) and night vision
3. connected by IP network: remote monitor, email alert, etc.
5. low profile, concealed
6. power on ethernet (POE), or wireless
All these requirements led me to the Dahua 4300E dome. Dahua is a Chinese company, but don’t be fooled by the fact that they are in China. Checked out their website and I can feel that this is a solid company that makes professional and robust products.Their website also has dimension drawings, high resulution image of the product, and product spec sheet.
Amazon prime delivered the camera in two days. The camera was nicely packed in a round air cusion. The base and housing are made of steel. The dark glass dome is very strong (you can feel it). The hole where the cables go thru the base was sealed with epoxy type of material. There is an rubber o-ring between the base and the housing, and it was routed in a way inner to the 3 hex screw holes that connect the base and housing and the other 3 screw holes that connect base to wall/ceiling, so that even all those screw holes might be exposed to rain, water won’t penetrate into the housing. There is a bag of silicone dessicant inside the housing. Very good design at first impression (at least from my non-professional point of view).
Installation is super straight forward, except that routing the CAT5 cable from my router into dry wall then into attic then out to the garage eave took me about an hour. It comes with a sticker with drawing so you just stick it to the location you derire and you can start drilling right away. I don’t have PoE switch yet so I decided to use a TP-link POE injector to power up the camera.
This is my first time of installing a security camera, and I decided to put it pointing outside of garage (because the routing/wiring is easier). For other locations that I will install with in the future, such as backyard door and front door, I might have to choose a wireless one since routing the CAT5 cable might be too difficult for me. But I still need to figure out a way for routing the power cable, and wireless usually can’t be high definition.
At this time I use BlueIris software and a computer to monitor/record. Everything runs so well so far (except the remote monitoring, which I need to work on the port forwarding to make it happen). I get alert email with images when it detects something. The image and video are very sharp and clear. When I get additional cameras I might need to get a network DVR to fullfil the job instead of using a computer.
The camera did come with some config and monitoring software, but I gave up using them after some trial.
I wish the viewing angle could be wider. Currently I have it above the garage door, close to the corner under the eave, and pointing to my drive way and fence gate. It can view the gate entrance and driveway pretty well, but can’t see the alley where neighborhood traffic goes. It may because of the position and direction. If it were installed at a lower position, it can see people more directly and might see further area, but you trade in with more chance of being vandalized or weather damage. And it is more difficult to install it on brick wall (think about the routing).
The other thing I wish it could be better is the motion detection response time (this is not a problem of only the camera but more of the software and computer). Currently I set the time the motion needs to last before recording kicks in to be 0.8 second. But I found it to be much longer, probably 2 or 2.5 seconds. That is, if someone runs very fast thru the fence gate entrance, the camera might not be able to catch the action before he/she disappears from the field of view. I guess this delay might be due to 1) camera capture speed 2) video transmission speed and 3) computer/software response speed. The software allows to capture the buffer video some seconds priot to the trigger, but it will put significant load on the CPU.
Because of the above two cons, you might want to point it in a way so that the field of view is large enough so that it will take at a least a couple seconds for the intruder to enter and leave the field of view.
I needed this camera real quick before heading out to a vacation so I bought it from Amazon prime. It is much cheaper to buy from other sellers on Amazon or ebay, if you can tolerate a couple more days of shipping.
Updates on 1/5/2015:
I have had some chances to explore this little device since installation 3 weeks ago. I found that this lilttle device is actually so powerful and can implement many tasks by itself (I mean without the need of a PC/software running 24/7). Just log into the camera’s own “control panel” by typing 192.168.1.xx in your web browser, you can setup a ton of things, including the most important, motion dedection, schedule, email alert, ftp upload, NAS storage, SMT text message alert. It will then do all these tasks by itselt, without the need of a PC or any asoftware. It will send you email alert with images, and text message alert once it detects something moving according to the sensivitity level you set. You can set 4 different ares with different sensitivities. If you have a FTP server running it will upload the video and/or images, but if there is no FTP server running you will lose the video (you still have the images through emails). It doesn’t have a SD card slot to store the video/images locally, which I wish it has, because with this feature there is really no need to keep a PC running (for FTP service).
Another nice thing about using the camera’s own embedded capabilities (comparing with using a PC + Blue Iris or other software), is that it will capture the whole video even a few seconds prior to the event (or trigger) by using the camera’s buffer memory. You can set this to be 0~10 seconds prior to event. In contrast, the Blue Iris software is not only non-capable of capturing the before-event part, but also not capable of the first 1~2 seconds after event starts, due to network/computer/software response time.
I like this camera so much that I have ordered another one.