Better Than Mobotix - Your Top Picks For Oilfield/Industrial Cams On 3G/4G Connections?

Hello everyone,

I’m looking to my fellow users for help here. I’m pretty new to the site, and to the surveillance field in general, but have been very impressed with the breadth and depth of the knowledge that I’ve seen on the site and its forums, so maybe you can point me in the right direction. My company’s emphasis is in oilfield automation, and as a small part of that we offer surveillance cameras for well and disposal sites. The sites are connected to the internet almost exclusively via 3G/4G cellular modems, and we make the live camera feeds viewable in our web app and mobile apps.

When I started, the company was using cheap wireless Foscam cameras for these installations and was spending an inordinate amount of time on troubleshooting wireless connectivity issues and outright hardware replacement, which wasn’t surprising. I and others on the IT team advocated for better cameras, and one of our salesmen saw a competitor using Mobotix cameras. We read a few good things about them which pushed our CEO/CFO into wanting us to adopt them. I’d already been testing Axis cameras internally and was impressed with their ease of setup, but I was sort of overruled. I just wish I’d been a member here at the time so I’d have had access to more honest opinions about Mobotix and their offerings.

Now there are a lot of things to like about the Mobotix cameras (M15d’s in this case), especially when you compare them to extremely low-end equipment like Foscam. They’re built like tanks, can record to an internal SD card, don’t require a NAS, tend to produce a quality recorded image, and I don’t doubt that they’ll stand up to the harsh conditions found out in the field, but I just haven’t been impressed with their software or ease of configuration. Features we don’t need, like VOIP communications, or the ability to actuate a door opening with an additional module, just serve to inflate the MSRP. Also, their bandwidth usage in the Live View, even in MXPEG mode @ 640x480, still seems a bit high. Why they refuse to create and sell a $600 outdoor bullet cam that looks like a pair of binoculars with a hood on is beyond me. And while they’re at it, simplify the configuration settings. It just seems like they made a strong product 5 years ago and have been grasping at euros ever since.

Regardless, we’ve got several Mobotix cameras in the field now, but I’d really like to pivot to something else, if possible, before we’ve gone too far to turn back. What are some of your recommendations for cameras that can meet the following requirements?:

  1. IP66 and above for weatherproofing, as corrosion on these sites can be a problem due to hydrogen sulfide and other airborne contaminants.
  2. Operating temperature range of at least -30° to +60° C (-22°F to + 140°F)
  3. Can store event footage to a shared folder on the onsite automation computer (generally has a 1TB SSD), or within the folder structure of an affordable VMS application on that computer, so that higher-quality footage is retrievable in the event of an onsite incident.
  4. Reliably streams a live feed in MJPEG (or better) format with low bandwidth usage. A single stream goes to our servers, and we distribute it from there to the website and web apps, so the camera itself doesn’t have to be capable of handling multiple simultaneous viewers.
  5. Features an accessible API so that we can better integrate live feeds, and possibly playback of recorded footage, into our web and mobile applications.
  6. Captures good low-light footage. IR/0-lux capability is not required, as these sites are generally lit fairly well at night for safety reasons.
  7. PoE-powered, with less than 10w draw.
  8. Includes or is compatible with a free or relatively inexpensive VMS system. We have a DVR application that was developed in-house, but it was left in about a 90% production-ready state by the developer, so it’s a bit unstable and has pretty simplistic functionality.
  9. Bullet cam versions for certain outdoor areas, wall or ceiling-mount domes for covered sign-in screens, and outdoor hemispheric versions for site overviews are all form factors that we could use.
  10. Straightforward setup, configuration, and firmware upgrades.
  11. Ability to utilize standard pole mounts, as the Mobotix mounting surfaces are so large (in order to house their optional expansion modules) that you can’t use universal pole mounts with them. The mounting base of the camera (108mm x 108mm / 4.25” x 4.25”) is larger than the mounting surface of most pole mount brackets, so it overlaps on 2 or more edges. Of course you can buy the $120 Mobotix-branded bracket, but that’s ridiculous.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide!

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