Here are our network camera picks for 2020. 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 require a separate power supply. This is very useful for easy installation and ongoing reliability. All the wired Ethernet (i.e. non-WiFi) cameras on this list support PoE, but note that the larger “speed dome” cameras typically require the higher-powered PoE+ standard.
- 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 – These lenses allow you to zoom in and out somewhat (sometimes manually, sometimes motorised), in order to adjust the field of view at installation time. 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.
For purchasing IP cameras, we recommend B&H Photo Video – they are a reliable, established outlet. Amazon is another option, however there are many “grey market” cameras sold on Amazon (e.g. cameras designed for the Chinese market only, but sold into the US against the manufacturer’s rules), which should be avoided due to potentially foreign-language user interfaces, lack of firmware upgrades, and lack of support from the manufacturer.
BASIC OUTDOOR DOME: DAHUA TECHNOLOGY N44BN52
This compact outdoor Dome camera from Dahua is a good inexpensive ($180) camera for covering an outdoor area. 4 MP resolution and good low-light sensitivity, combined with 20m night vision and a built-in microphone, provide all the basic features necessary to make an effective addition to any CCTV system. And it works in temperatures down to -40° C (–40° F), making it ideal for extreme environments. Continue reading