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:

Size

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

Foscam C1 IP camera

Foscam C1 IP camera

Setup

The camera is fairly simple to set up once you know that it uses the non-standard port 88 for its HTTP communication. Simply plug it into your ethernet switch or router using an ethernet cable, and the camera will automatically obtain an IP address using DHCP. Use our Network Device Finder Mac software (make sure to specify port 88 for the network search) or Foscam’s IP Camera Tool Windows software to locate the camera’s IP address.

The camera can then be set up in SecuritySpy as follows:

Foscam-C1-Setup

 

Make sure to specify both port numbers as above, enter “admin” for the username and leave the password blank. Click OK and SecuritySpy will connect to the camera and display the live H.264 video stream.

To further configure the camera’s settings (network settings, date and time overlay, frame rate, compression quality etc.) you will need to use Safari and download and install a plugin. Foscam provides instructions on how to do this, but basically you need to follow these steps:

  • Use Safari to connect to C1 camera
  • Click the link Plugins are not found, click me to download
  • Locate the plugin package plugins.pkg in your Downloads folder
  • Right-click on the package and select the Open option
  • Go through the installation process, then quit and reopen Safari
  • Log on to the camera using admin as the username, with no password

Image Quality

The quality of the video produced by the C1 is really not bad. Here’s an example (click to enlarge):

Foscam C1 image

The sharpness is not great, which is partly due to the H.264 video compression, but ultimately a limitation of the cheap optics. Saturation and contrast are surprisingly good, and the camera effectively adjusts to different lighting conditions.

There is significant barrel distortion that is very noticeable towards the edges of the frame, resulting in a mild fish-eye effect. However this is partly because the lens is very wide-angle (covering 100° horizontally), which is a very useful feature if the camera will be used in a tight space such as a room or hallway of a house.

At night, the built-in infra-red LEDs automatically turn on and provide adequate illumination up to around 5m away.

Unfortunately, the audio quality is rather poor – the camera barely picks up a normal conversation a few meters away.

Summary

This is a good little camera for home use, at an amazing price. To go from “good” to “great”, Foscam only needs to increase the optical quality, which I think most users would gladly spend a little more money on.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Physically small
  • Good feature set including WiFi, night vision and audio
  • Decent video quality, considering the price

Cons:

  • Very poor microphone sensitivity
  • Cheap lens with significant barrel distortion and average sharpness
  • Limited night vision range

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.

25 thoughts on “Review: Foscam C1 HD Wireless IP Camera

  1. Michele

    Is it possible with SecuritySpy to use the built in PIR sensor? How can you set up in SecuritySpy? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. bensoftware Post author

      Hi Michele, this particular feature is currently not supported in SecuritySpy 3.4.7. We’ll see what we can do for a future update.

      Reply
  2. Ronald

    I bought the C1 and it generally works well with SecuritySpy.
    It takes some time (about half a minute!) to get the image transmitted though. Is there a way to get the image any faster? (before the thief grabs it 🙂

    Ronald

    Reply
    1. bensoftware Post author

      Hi Ronald,

      Thanks for your feedback. Do you mean that there is a delay in the video stream, so that events happening in front of the camera are seen on the Mac only after 30 seconds? In this case, the Mac may be having trouble keeping up processing the incoming video frames. Try turning down the frame rate of the video stream in the camera’s settings pages. A frame rate of 5-10fps is reasonable for general-purpose video surveillance. Does this fix the problem?

      Reply
      1. Ronald

        That seems to work, though the Mac Mini is not very busy with your application (about 10% CPU).
        Do the other parameters like “Key Frame Interval (10-100)” and “Variable bitrate (yes/no)” also play a role in optimisation with your application?

        Thanks!

        Reply
        1. bensoftware Post author

          Hi Ronald, 10% CPU usage is very low, indicating that your Mac is in fact not overloaded, and perfectly able to keep up with the incoming video. So the other possible reason that it’s the network being too slow to transmit data at full rate, leading to this delay. This is especially likely if the camera is connected wirelessly. To increase network speed, move the camera and wireless access point closer together, or connect the camera using wired ethernet instead. Or you might simply decide that the lower frame rate is fine and stick with that.

          A good key frame rate is 20 or so, and I always prefer variable bit rate, so that the camera can adjust the encoding bit rate to different scenes and lighting conditions while maintaining a good visual quality.

          Reply
  3. Martino

    after reading this review I bought this camera and I feel good but I only have one problem. the audio. SECURITY Spy does not receive audio from the camera! can you help me?

    Reply
    1. bensoftware Post author

      As mentioned in the review, the audio level is rather low so you may have to turn up your Mac’s speakers to hear it. In the Camera Status window, do you see the audio level and a small speaker icon next to the camera? If so, this means that audio is coming through OK. Click the speaker icon to hear the live audio.

      Reply
  4. Ryan

    I have two C1 cameras, and both pick up good audio. I use ipcamviewer on Android and BlueIris on my Windows PC.

    Reply
    1. Janitha

      Can any one confirmed me do it have play back option ,,after dwnlode the application,can I recode to the phone & view it later

      Reply
  5. Steve Proctor

    Thanks for the review! Picked up a C1. Pretty nice but the mounting bracket sucks. It be ok if I was gonna mount on the ceiling but mine are vaulted. I wanted to mount it to my wall but when you do you are very limited to the way you can move it. Up and Down, and if you rotate it left/right then the camera and video is sideways. Other then that, it seems to work pretty well on my SS Server.

    Reply
  6. Janitha

    Hi

    I bought focecam c1 plug and play camera , its good and working fine, just want to verified what all I have to do for unothorised users to stop using and viewing it ,I mean as in example Foce Cam compnay might have acsece to view it from where ever they want ,

    How can I stop it ,pls help me

    Reply
    1. Ben Software Post author

      In theory, any camera manufacturer could put a “back door” into their products, so that they could view them remotely. It’s unlikely – and I don’t think that Foscam has done this – but it is possible in theory.

      What you can do is set up the camera’s IP settings manually and don’t enter a router (gateway) IP address or DNS address (or, if the camera requires these, use fake ones like 0.0.0.0). These values are not required for communication over the local network, but they are required for the camera to connect to any server on the internet, so by doing this the camera won’t be able to communicate beyond your local network.

      Reply
    1. Ben Software Post author

      Sorry I don’t have any specific information about how secure or otherwise Foscam cameras are, compared to other brands.

      Reply
  7. Michael

    I’m trying to set up a Foscam C2 with Security Spy using the exact settings above but I am only getting the blue screen “Communication error”. 🙁

    Obviously my camera has a different IP, username and password but everything else is entered exactly the same. I figured that the Foscam C2 would work with the same settings as the C1 espeically since the C2 is listed as being compatible here:

    http://www.bensoftware.com/securityspy/helpcameralist.html

    Any ideas how I can connect my C2 to Security Spy? I just learned of this software and it looks like exactly what I need (I’m migrating away from a Synology Surveillance Station which the C2 works fine with FYI).

    Reply
    1. Michael

      Should have also confimred that I’m running the latest (just downloaded tonight) version of Security Spy (3.4.10) and my Foscam C2’s firmware is up-top-date (1.11.1.6_2.72.1.18).

      Reply
      1. Ben Software Post author

        Hi Michael, have you tried specifically entering 88 for both the HTTP port and the RTSP port setting in SecuritySpy? Unfortunately this camera uses non-standard ports, so they have to be entered manually.

        Reply
        1. Wendy Silva

          I’m having trouble as well. I have a C1 and get “communication error”. I can’t get on the web setting because Safari for Mac won’t recognize the plug in. I’m trying hard not to get too frustrated.

          Reply
  8. Paul

    I have the Foscam R2 camera and can’t get it to work with SecuritySpy (V4 – just upgraded). Is it the case that this needs to be set to port 88 as well? If it does it kind of ruins it for viewing externally via port forwarding (I have more than one camera, although only one of these so far).

    Reply
    1. Ben Software Post author

      We haven’t tested this one yet – it’s possible that is requires port 88 for RTSP communications, so try this as the RTSP Port setting in SecuritySpy. This shouldn’t affect your port forwarding: generally you will hook up all your cameras to SecuritySpy, and then just have a single port forwarding rule in your router to allow external connections into SecuritySpy, which then provides viewing for all your cameras in one place.

      Reply
  9. rob westerveld

    I am also having troubles with my new Foscam C1 v2. I have tried different settings without any luck, continue getting the communication error. The Foscam C1 v1 works like a charm.

    Reply

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