Review: Vivotek IB8168 IP Camera

Vivotek is a long-standing manufacturer of quality IP surveillance products, and have an extensive lineup of network cameras to suit all requirements. We have supported their cameras in our Mac CCTV software SecuritySpy for over a decade, and we frequently recommend them to our customers.


The IB8168 is a small simple bullet-style camera for indoor use. Like its dome-style counterpart, the FD8168, it is described by Vivotek as “ultra-mini”, which is certainly appropriate for a camera that measures a mere 11cm (4.5″) long and 3cm (1.25″) in diameter. It features a 2 MP sensor that can supply 1080p video at 15fps, and is powered by PoE (Power-over-Ethernet), with no option to directly connect a power adaptor. One notable feature of this camera is the size of its image sensor, which, at 1/2.7″, is larger than the 1/3″ or 1/4″ sizes typically seen in IP cameras. Larger sensors almost always equal higher-quality images, due to lower noise and higher dynamic range.

Build Quality

The casing and mount are all made from plastic, which gives the camera a bit of a cheap feel. In addition, the rear cap (which can be removed to reveal a status light, SD card slot and reset button) is a little too easy to unfasten, so in an install I would be inclined to use glue or tape to ensure it doesn’t fall off accidentally. However the camera and mount are well-designed, allowing secure mounting and flexible positioning.

Vivotek IB8168 Network Camera

Vivotek IB8168 Network Camera

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Review: Foscam FI9800P IP Camera

Despite a history of producing cheap cameras of questionable quality, Foscam has recently released some very promising models. Their cameras are popular with our customers due to their low prices, so we are very keen to investigate the new models on offer from this long-standing manufacturer.


The Foscam FI9800P is a compact outdoor 1 MP network camera with night-vision, built-in wireless communication, and audio input (microphone not included). Most waterproof outdoor cameras on the market do not have WiFi, so this is an unusual set of features that makes this camera particularly suited for installations where running ethernet cabling would be problematic.

Another nice feature is the mechanical IR-cut filter, which will filter out infrared light during the day while allowing it to pass through to the sensor at night. Having the IR-cut filter in place during the day results in better colour reproduction and image clarity. Many low-cost cameras with night-vision do not have an IR-cut filter, and this results in unfocussed images with bad colour reproduction in daylight.

Foscam FI9800P IP Camera

Foscam FI9800P IP Camera

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Review: Dahua IPC-HDW4300C IP Camera

Dahua Technology has been a major player in the IP camera market for the last few years, and their current lineup of cameras boasts many impressive models at very reasonable prices. Their outdoor bullet cameras in particular are very popular, and we frequently recommend them to our customers.


The IPC-HDW4300C is a compact outdoor dome camera. While there are a bewildering number of dome cameras on the market, this one stands out from the competition due to it’s comprehensive feature set, which includes 3 MP resolution, PoE (power-over-ethernet), infrared night-vision and built-in microphone. It’s rare to see an outdoor camera with a built-in microphone, so this feature alone makes the IPC-HDW4300C unusual. In addition, this camera has impressive low-light sensitivity, at 0.01 lux for colour and 0.005 lux for black and white. This, combined with the camera’s built-in infrared illumination, makes the camera suitable for outdoor locations where lighting is poor.

Build Quality

Due to the camera’s all-metal construction, it feels very solid and no doubt will be very durable. It’s compact in size, measuring just over 10cm (4″) across the base, and 9cm (3.5″) tall from base to dome.

Dahua Technology IPC-HDW4300C IP Camera

Dahua Technology IPC-HDW4300C IP Camera

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Review: Foscam C1 HD Wireless IP Camera

There is a wide variety of network cameras on the market, and Foscam is firmly at the lower end, producing inexpensive cameras for home use. Unfortunately, due to reliability issues, we officially support only a handful of their cameras in our Mac video surveillance NVR software SecuritySpy. However, Foscam cameras are very popular with customers due to their low cost, and they have certainly improved in quality recently, so we are continuously reviewing this situation and adding support for new Foscam cameras wherever possible.

Foscam has just released a new camera, the C1, which offers a nice set of features at an amazing price (and hopefully spells the end of their horribly confusing model numbers!). For just USD $80 (GBP £54 or EUR €70) you get 1 MP resolution, WiFi, built-in infra-red LEDs for night vision, and audio. Here’s our take on it:


The camera is very compact, measuring just 7cm (2.7″) wide and 12cm (4.7″) tall when fully extended. It’s powered by a USB cable from a small USB power adaptor. This is a useful feature, making it easy to replace the cable or power adaptor when required – for example, if you need a longer cable than the 2m (6.5′) one provided.

Foscam C1 with Magic Mouse for size comparison

Foscam C1 IP camera with Magic Mouse for size comparison

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Home Video Surveillance Setup

A frequent request we receive from our users is for a quick and easy overview of what is required to set up a home video security system. Our SecuritySpy Installation Manual is a great place to start, as it provides information on all the topics involved, however for many users the selection of available IP cameras can be bewildering, and the setup can be daunting. Therefore, we have created this guide to provide clear and easy-to-follow advice that can be used by anyone – technical or not – to create a highly effective video surveillance system for their home.

What you will need:

  • A Mac, such as a Mac mini or iMac.
  • An ethernet switch or router
  • Ethernet cables (if using wired setup)
  • SecuritySpy – our Mac software that lies at the heart of your CCTV system, recording video and triggering events upon motion detection.
  • 4 IP cameras.


  • If you already have a Mac: approximately $700
  • If you need to buy a Mac mini: approximately $1300

1. The Mac

Most users already have a Mac in use at their home, and if you just need a few cameras you can simply run SecuritySpy on your existing Mac without significantly affecting its performance. For this purpose a Mac mini, iMac or Mac Pro is perfect (you can also use a MacBook, however due to the fact that recording will only take place when the Mac is awake and at home, a laptop is less suitable than a desktop for this purpose).

For more than 4 cameras or so (at 1 MP resolution each), the processing power becomes significant and you will probably want to use a dedicated Mac for your home video security system. For this purpose a Mac mini is perfect: small, inexpensive and powerful, a basic dual-core Mac mini is capable of recording up to 8 cameras (the previous-generation quad-core models are about twice as powerful, so consider obtaining one second hand if you need between 8 and 16 cameras).

2. The Network

Your Mac will be connecting to the cameras over a wired (ethernet) or wireless (WiFi) network. Wired ethernet offers much greater reliability and performance than WiFi, so we recommend using it wherever possible. If this is not possible, then WiFi will provide an adequate solution provided that the devices aren’t too far from the wireless access point.

If connecting the cameras using ethernet, use a high-quality switch (for example a Netgear GS105 or GS108), and connect the Mac, cameras and internet router all to this switch using ethernet cables.

3. The Cameras

Go for trusty manufacturers such as Axis, Canon, Samsung and Vivotek. If you are confident with network setup, also consider Dahua Technology or Hikvision. Beyond our 10 Recommended IP Cameras 2015 blog post, here are a few suggestions for network cameras that are easy to set up and will work well in a home setting:



Axis M1034-W or M1054: these compact low-cost cameras sport good features sets, including night-vision, audio, and a 1 MP resolution. The M1034-W has WiFi capabilities while the M1054 is wired only.






Samsung SNH-P6410BN: this is a small low-cost camera with high image quality and a great feature set including WiFi, night-vision, audio, and a maximum resolution of 2.1 MP.



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CaptureSync Case Study – Trio Iguaçu

Trio Iguaçu is a talented group of musicians, playing a delightful blend of tango and bossa nova music. We set up a recording session with them in order to produce promotional videos for the trio, as well as to demonstrate the power and flexibility of our CaptureSync multi-camera video recording software.

CaptureSync is software for the Mac that records video and audio from multiple cameras simultaneously, with all feeds synchronised together and saved to a single QuickTime Movie file. CaptureSync is perfect for recording interviews, scientific experiments, psychological research, musical performances, market research, lectures and presentations.

The setup consisted of one main camera to capture the whole group, as well as three auxiliary cameras to provide close-up views of each musician. These close-up views are useful for analysing playing technique or for editing in Final Cut Pro in order to produce an edited movie that switches between multiple camera angles.

Main Camera

As the quality of the group view was the most important, we used a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera with a 35mm lens. This camera provides high-quality 1920×1080 resolution 30fps video via HDMI, which can be recorded by CaptureSync using Blackmagic HDMI input hardware. As we were using a Mac Pro computer, we used the PCI version of their Intensity product, which is part of a range that also includes Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 HDMI-input devices.

Nikon D3200 DSLR

Nikon D3200 DSLR Camera

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10 Recommended IP Cameras 2015

Since our initial 10 Recommended IP Cameras post, network cameras have been improving steadily, with many new models released. Therefore it is time to update the list with our picks for 2015. As before, the cameras listed here are in no particular order (they are quite varied in terms of cost and feature set, which makes them difficult to rank as a “top 10″ list), however they are all cameras that, due to their impressive features, we recommend to our customers for use with our SecuritySpy video surveillance software for the Mac.

Some abbreviations used below for camera features are as follows:

  • MP – Megapixels – the number of millions of pixels in the image sensor. The higher this value, the more detailed the image, but note that optical quality of the lens system also makes a huge difference, so resolution isn’t everything.
  • PoE – Power-over-Ethernet – when using a PoE switch, the camera draws power over the ethernet cable and therefore doesn’t need a separate power supply. This is very useful for easy installation and ongoing reliability.
  • IR – Infra Red – some cameras include Infra Red LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) for night vision.
  • PTZ – Pan Tilt Zoom – mechanical movement of the camera that can be controlled by SecuritySpy.

Dahua Technology IPC-HFW4100S


For a simple high-quality 1.2 MP outdoor bullet camera, this model is ideal. It features PoE and good night vision thanks to its bright IR LEDs, and it is outstanding value at only USD $100. Minor downsides include the lack of audio, and somewhat awkward initial setup (due to pre-set static IP addresses – but we have instructions for the setup in these cases). For a higher-resolution model, have a look at the 2.1 MP IPC-HFW4200S or the 3.1 MP IPC-HFW4300S. Continue reading

A Field Study Using CaptureSync

In a now-famous experiment initiated by the Washington Post, world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell performed undercover in a busy metro station. Using a priceless Stradivarius violin, Bell performed music that he normally plays in front of large concert audiences around the world. The result? Hardly anyone paid much attention to the violinist, or tossed many coins into the open violin case by his feet. The experiment provides a fascinating insight into the importance of context in our experiences of the events around us.

The performance was recorded, but only by a single low-quality camera. What if we wanted to record the experiment properly, from multiple angles, in order to analyse every aspect of the event and people’s reactions? This is the kind of task that CaptureSync is perfect for, and the setup of this hypothetical recording is detailed below.


Firstly we will consider the layout of the space, and where the best camera angles will be:

Subway Layout

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How To Achieve Effective Motion Detection

SecuritySpy’s motion detection algorithm employs many techniques in order to accurately detect real motion events while minimising the rate of false-positive detections. But besides an effective algorithm, there are many choices about the setup and configuration of your video surveillance system that will help achieve reliable motion detection – these are outlined below.

1. Camera Angle

How you position and point the camera, as well as the focal length of the lens (how wide-angle it is) makes a big difference to the effectiveness of motion detection. The key points to consider are as follows:

  • The activity you want to capture should be relatively large in the frame. Don’t use a camera with a very wide-angle lens, as this will make objects and people appear very small – too small to trigger motion detection or make out any important features such as faces.
  • Point the camera downwards and don’t include any sky in the frame. At certain times of the day the sun may glare into the camera which would impair the its ability to render the scene with good enough definition, and may even damage its sensor.
  • Include just the area you want to capture in the frame; don’t include any irrelevant areas as this simply wastes the resolution of your camera.

Here is an example of a bad camera angle for motion detection:

Bad Camera Angle

Bad Camera Angle For Motion Detection

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Adding Live Video To Any Web Page

This tutorial will show you how to add live video from SecuritySpy to your own web page. This does involve editing the HTML of your web page, but it’s relatively simple. Our favourite tool for this is TextMate.

Firstly, you must set up SecuritySpy for remote monitoring, so that it can be accessed over the internet. Next, create a special user account in SecuritySpy that only has permission to view the camera that you want to use. Finally, determine the camera number for the camera in question (this is shown in the Device map window in SecuritySpy, accessible via the Window menu).

Three methods for embedding the video feed into a web page are outlined below. In the HTML examples shown, the address of the SecuritySpy system is “”, the port is 8000, and the camera number is 1. The authentication is “user” and “pass” for the username and password; you should substitute the actual username and password for the account you set up.

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