NOTE: this post has been superseded by our newest post 10 Recommended IP Cameras 2019.
Here are our camera picks for 2018. 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 number, 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 in meters.
- 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.
- Varifocal – most lenses have a fixed focal length, whereas varifocal lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes motorised), to adjust the field of view. A focal length of 2.8mm is very wide-angle; 4mm is standard; 8mm is moderately telephoto.
- PTZ – Pan, Tilt, Zoom – motorised remote control of the camera’s horizontal and vertical angle, and focal length.
INEXPENSIVE OUTDOOR BULLET: HIKVISION DS-2CD2042WD-I
Hikvision has a huge range of IP cameras, with quite a few outdoor bullet-type models at very good prices. This particular models offers a good all-round feature set, with 4 MP resolution, great low-light sensitivity, PoE support and 30-meter IR night-vision. It’s also great value, retailing at around $100.
These cameras (a 3 MP version and a 5 MP version respectively) are capable of delivering far higher image quality than the multitude of basic cheap outdoor bullet cameras on the market, due to their high-quality optical system that employs a varifocal lens with P-iris. In addition, these models feature great low-light performance, 50m IR night-vision, audio (separate microphone required) and PoE. Pricing is approximately $350 and $430 respectively.
BASIC OUTDOOR DOME: VIVOTEK FD8366-V
Vivotek is an established manufacturer of high-quality CCTV products. They have a very large product range that includes dozens of dome-type cameras, but this model stands out for its small size, comprehensive feature set and good value. Notable features include 15m IR night-vision, 2 MP resolution, good low-light sensitivity, PoE, and a built-in microphone. Retail price is around $300.
For a fully-featured high-resolution outdoor dome camera, these models are ideal. The latter features a higher-resolution sensor (5 MP vs 3 MP), but apart from this the specifications are similar: each has a varifocal P-iris lens, 30m IR night-vision, great low-light performance, and a built-in microphone. These cameras are ideal for commercial installations, and will provide excellent quality video. They cost approximately $680 and $790 respectively.
With Axis, you can expect a high-quality product, and the M50 Series doesn’t disappoint. The M5065 model is available in United States, Canada and Japan, while the M5055 is sold in the rest of the world, but the specifications for both models are almost identical. PTZ dome cameras can be bulky, but these are impressively small and discreet, with a diameter of just 130mm (5″). Features include a 2 MP sensor with varifocal lens, full 360º pan range, 5x optical zoom, and a built-in microphone. The cost is around $650.
INDOOR COMPACT: DAHUA TECHNOLOGY IPC-C35
This new model from Dahua is certainly more sleek and attractive than most competing models from other manufacturers, and has a great feature set too: 3 MP resolution, 10-meter IR, WiFi, built-in microphone (with high-quality AAC audio support) and speaker for two-way audio. This camera features a 2.3mm fixed lens, giving an unusually wide viewing angle of 120º, which is perfect for typical home use in a moderately-sized room. It’s great value at around $80.
INDOOR COMPACT: HIKVISION DS-2CD2432F-IW
This camera was on last year’s list, but it’s still a great option with a comprehensive feature set, including 3 MP resolution, good low-light performance, 10m IR night-vision, built-in microphone and speaker, PoE and WiFi, and retails at around $110.
INDOOR PAN/TILT COMPACT: AMCREST IP3M-941W
This is a great basic compact pan/tilt camera for home use, offering 3 MP resolution, WiFi, 10m IR night-vision, and a built-in microphone and speaker for two-way audio. Great value at $90.
OUTDOOR PANORAMIC: DAHUA IPC-PFW8601-A180
This impressive camera uses three separate 2 MP image sensors to produce an ultra-wide 4096×832 3.4 MP composite image that covers a complete 180º view, with none of the usual fisheye-type distortion that is typically evident from panoramic cameras. The stitching of the images from the three sensors is done entirely in-camera, with the camera delivering a single ultra-widescreen video stream. Additional features include excellent low-light performance, 30m IR night-vision, PoE and audio input/output for connecting an external microphone and speaker. It has a high-spec waterproof rating, and a wide working temperature range of -40ºC to +60ºC (-40ºF to +140ºF), making it perfect for outdoor installations in harsh environments. It retails at around $950.
OUTDOOR PTZ DOME: SUNBA 601-D20X PoE
For an outdoor camera with PTZ, this offering from Sunba has an outstanding feature set: 2 MP, 350m IR night-vision, 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 standard-power PoE.
We hope this list helps you choose cameras for your own CCTV system based around our Mac NVR software SecuritySpy. If you have any questions about cameras, or about anything related to SecuritySpy, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help!