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.
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.
The camera comes pre-set with the static IP address 192.168.1.108, so if your network uses a different subnet (i.e. the first three letters of the IP address), you will need to follow our instructions on how to set up network cameras with a fixed IP.
Dahua supplies some Windows software for IP setup, but on Mac OS X you will need to do it manually. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult, and needs to be done only once. Most network cameras these days use DHCP to automatically obtain an IP address when first connected to a network, which makes setup much easier, but some manufactures such as Dahua still use static IP addresses.
Once set up, the web interface is comprehensive, easy to use and works well on Mac OS X web browsers:
There is a decent amount of detail due to the 3 MP sensor, and there are comprehensive controls such as brightness, contrast and saturation in order to fine tune the picture, however beyond this the quality is disappointing. There is a distinct lack of sharpness, partly due to the optics not being up to the task of resolving fine detail, and partly due to compression artefacts. The image is muddy and everything beyond a metre or so looks slightly out of focus. The maximum H.264 bitrate that the camera can produce is 8192 Kbps, which is rather meagre for a 3 MP 20fps video stream, and results in noticeable image degradation.
There are four different lens options available for this camera: 2.8mm, 3.6mm, 6mm and 8mm – here we are testing the 2.8mm option, which gives the most wide-angle view, however there is significant barrel distortion, especially towards the edges of the frame, resulting in a significant fish-eye effect. This will no doubt be less severe with with the longer focal length lenses.
Initially, there was also some haze in the image. Upon closer inspection, we found fingerprints on the inside of the window that lets light through to the lens. While this was an annoyance that shouldn’t have passed quality control, it wasn’t too difficult to open the casing and clean the window from the inside, and this did fix the haze. We would suggest that users closely inspect the lens window before putting the camera into service.
At just $120 (GBP £80 / EUR €105) This is an inexpensive camera with a good feature set, but the video quality isn’t nearly as good as it should be.
- Compact size
- Good feature set, including night-vision and a built-in microphone
- Well-designed web interface that is compatible with OS X web browsers
- Comes pre-set with a static IP rather than using DHCP, making setup awkward
- Image quality is hampered by poor optics and limited compression quality
- Objects beyond a metre are out of focus, and the camera’s focus cannot be adjusted
Note: SecuritySpy is our Mac NVR software product, which will enable you to easily set up an effective video surveillance system in your home or office. It works with thousands of cameras, so there is always one to suit your requirements. Please feel free to email us with any questions.