Here are our camera picks for 2017. They are listed 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 CCTV software for the Mac.
Some abbreviations used below 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 resolution isn’t everything: the optical quality of the lens system is also extremely important.
- 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. Usually the manufacturer will specify the maximum useful range of the IR.
- P-Iris / DC-Iris – These features allow the camera lens to automatically adjust its aperture size, based on the amount of incoming light. P-Iris is more sophisticated and will give better results than than DC-Iris, but both are far better than a Fixed-Iris lens, especially for outdoor applications.
- Vari-Focal – most lenses have a fixed focal length, whereas Vari-Focal lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes mechanically), to adjust the field of view. A focal length of 2.8mm is very wide-angle; 4mm is standard; 8mm is moderately telephoto.
INDOOR / OUTDOOR DOME: VIVOTEK FD8164 / FD8164V
Vivotek has so many different dome camera models that it’s difficult to choose one, but the FD8164 makes our list due to its simplicity, low cost and useful feature set. It has a 2.1 MP sensor, 15-meter IR, a built-in microphone, and great low-light performance, all for an impressively low price of $260. The FD8164V is the same camera in an outdoor vandal-resistant housing, which retails at around $340.
OUTDOOR DOME: VIVOTEK FD9371-HTV
The FD9371-HTV is a significant step up from the basic dome model above. With a 3.1 MP sensor and high-quality Vari-Focal lens, this camera provides excellent image quality. The ability for the lens to focus electronically (rather than a fixed-focus lens, or one that has to be adjusted manually), combined with the P-Iris feature, ensures high optical quality, and the excellent low-light performance and 30-meter IR allows the camera to operate effectively in low-light conditions. At around $550, this camera is good value considering the excellent feature set.
INDOOR COMPACT: HIKVISION DS-2CD2432F-IW
There are many indoor compact cameras on the market, but this model stands out due to its comprehensive feature set: 3.1 MP resolution with good low-light performance, 10-meter IR, built-in microphone, PoE and WiFi – all for just $130. This is a very versatile camera that is suitable for a wide range of indoor application, for both home and business use.
INDOOR COMPACT: AXIS M1065-L / M1065-LW
This is another good choice for an indoor compact camera, with 2.1 MP resolution, a built-in microphone and speaker for two-way audio, good low-light performance, and 10-meter IR. The M1065-L (ethernet model with PoE) costs $300 while the M1065-LW (wireless model) costs $270.
OUTDOOR BULLET: DAHUA IPC-HFW1320S / IPC-HFW2320R-ZS
For an inexpensive basic outdoor bullet camera, Dahua Technology has many (perhaps too many) options. The IPC-HFW1320S features a 3.1 MP sensor, 30-meter IR, good low-light performance and PoE, all for an incredibly low price of $85. The IPC-HFW2320R-ZS has the same basic specifications, with the addition of a more sophisticated Vari-Focal optical system with electronic focus, and costs around $150. Both would be an effective addition to any CCTV system that requires fixed outdoor cameras, however in our opinion, the IPC-HFW2320R-ZS is worth the extra money.
OUTDOOR BULLET: ZAVIO B6330
This camera has exceptional features that will provide higher image quality than the above Dahua models, mainly due to its superior optical system. This camera features a motorised 2.8-12mm lens with electronic focus and P-Iris. These are important feature that you just won’t find in budget bullet cameras. Combined with the 3.1 MP sensor, PoE, 50-meter IR and extremely good low-light performance, this camera is perfect for demanding outdoor CCTV applications. It retails for around $400, which is great value.
INDOOR PAN/TILT: AMCREST IP2M-841
For a simple inexpensive indoor camera with pan/tilt for home use, this model is ideal. It features 2.1 MP resolution, WiFi, 10-meter IR and a built-in microphone, and retails for just $90.
OUTDOOR PAN/TILT/ZOOM: SUNBA 601-D20X PoE
For an outdoor camera with PTZ, this offering from Sunba has an outstanding feature set: 2.1 MP, 350-meter IR (yes, 350!), 20X zoom (4.7mm – 94mm), PoE and an audio input port. Its $330 price tag is far lower than similar offerings from other manufacturers. Note that there are two versions of this camera: one with PoE and audio, and one without, so you should make sure to get the right one for you. Also note that this camera requires your switch or PoE injector to support the high-powered PoE+ standard, not just the normal PoE standard.
INDOOR / OUTDOOR BOX: SAMSUNG SNB-7004
With the proliferation of camera form factors that include integrated lenses, box cameras have somewhat fallen out of favour. Still, for flexibility and sheer image quality, a good box camera is hard to beat, and this is a good example: with a 3.1 MP sensor, good low-light performance, built-in microphone and P-Iris support, this camera would make an excellent addition to any high-quality business or commercial CCTV system. Rather than having to manually adjust focus on the lens, the camera’s motorised focusing system ensures accurate focus and easy setup. Lenses are sold separately, and we would always recommend using one from the same manufacturer as the camera body, to ensure compatibility. The camera body costs around $450 and a Samsung Vari-Focal P-Iris lens costs around $150.
INDOOR / OUTDOOR PANORAMIC DOME: AXIS M3007-PV / M3027-PVE
These cameras feature a 5 MP sensor with a fisheye lens that has an extremely wide 187° viewing angle (by comparison, an angle of 100° would be considered very wide for a standard CCTV camera lens). They can provide images in a number of ways: either as a complete large 360° overview, 180° panorama, and/or four quad images, with each quadrant acting like a separate camera that you can digitally pan/tilt/zoom (these viewing options are perhaps best demonstrated by some example videos). The M3007-PV is indoor-only and has modest low-light performance, so it would be best suited to large indoor environments with good lighting (e.g. retail stores and warehouses). The M3027-PVE features better low-light performance, and is waterproof and IR-sensitive. The M3007-PV costs $490 and the M3027-PVE costs $630 – both are excellent innovative cameras.
For a complete list of network camera that work with our SecuritySpy video surveillance software, please see the SecuritySpy list of supported cameras. Feel free to post a comment below with your own recommendations!