GOOD, BETTER, BEST For Residential Outdoor Night Vision Cameras

For DIY shopping lists for outdoor neighborhood security cameras, we want to offer GOOD, BETTER, BEST recommendations.

The only two requirements of the cameras/NVR are:

  1. very reliable H.264 RTSP stream >=15 fps and >= 720p resolution
  2. infrared night vision

So I'm hoping this forum's subjective judgement can skip to the bottom line recommendations with gut-level tradeoffs across all the other aspects in FOV, video quality, night vision range, aesthetics, mounting ease, reliability, etc...

  • GOOD: budget-conscious residential minimum of a single exterior camera
  • BETTER: 2 exterior cameras at a residential price point < $500 total.
  • BEST: 2-6 exterior cameras at a money-is-no-object quality and aesthetics.

For example, our initial take on BETTER is captured in this draft Amazon shopping list

I'm not entirely sure what you're asking for here. Are you looking for hardware recommendations? Do you need recording onsite, or just streamed to your cloud service only? How important is cost vs reliability? Who will perform the setup? Who will be installing? These are things that are very crucial when designing a system.

No on-site storage is required only because we can buffer a couple days worth of video on a separate device we'll include.

Cost is important for the GOOD, but BETTER and BEST can weigh reliability higher.

Setup will be done either DIY or handyman/contractor skills, so the out of box experience is ideally consumer level. No network configuration is required since not ports will be open or forwarded.

For residential best, you might want to include an IR PTZ, under the presumption that someone who is super security conscious would want the capability to zoom out farther and track, e.g., we've tested the relatively low cost Hikvision IR PTZ and Dahua IR PTZ

That looks excellent for shared/communal locations that may need to adjust PTZ remotely occasionally. I've added that Hikvision to the recommended list. Thank you.

While I agree that high end residential clients do want a PTZ, you will need more than handyman level abilities.

Here are the quick answers that I recommend to DIYers:

1 cam: Nest Cam, cloud based, although indoor only models, needs to be protected from weather.

1-6 cams: Lorex System (owned by FLIR) from Costco, 4-6 outdoor cams with IR lighting, DVR/NVR & software, $400-$900. Analog or IP models available. I advise that while this is lot of hardware for the $, the software/user experience is less than ideal and the lowest price business model includes other, less than desirable attributes, which I might go into if they are interested hearing about.

Money does not matter: AXIS cameras with Exacq software and Exacq server. For a cloud based system AXIS Cameras with Eagle Eye Networks NVR/Bridge. Or for those that I think might be interested because of some very unique functionality, Mobotix camera system with Raytec LED lighting and NAS.

Your advice might not be well received by the OP, since he is the CEO of his own cloud service. He is looking for hardware recommendations to sell with his own service.

That said, your suggestions, otherwise, would be very sound advice.

Yes, we aim to support all video sources but narrowed the candidates with the requirement #1 for reliable H.264 RTSP stream >=15 fps and >= 720p resolution.

It doesn't matter whether the cameras/NVRs have a competing cloud service as long as they provide access to their H.264 video streams (e.g. Nest Cams don't)

Thanks in advance for your recommendations. We've started an open sourced repository of mustache-templated RTSP paths and MAC OUIs for the streams of each make and model at

I missed that detail, assumed a complete system, as Carter's question asked for cameras/NVR.

On related subject, there's more to doing a DIY install than I thought.

I recently had the personal experience of me, installing a DIY system on my home, using an Eagle Eye Networks 304 bridge with qty 3 Hikvision EXIR 3mp bullet cameras. I was surprised at how complex and time consuming this turned out to be, compared to what I had anticipated. The physical installation was EZ, but where I got bogged down was having to get into the Hikvision cameras (Hikvision documentation sucks IMO) to change some settings related to IP address and ONVIF settings, then having to work with CenturyLink (always time consuming) to get static IP addresses, then having to upgrade my Centurylink service because uploading video streams for real time live viewing, search & playback, for qty 3, 3mp cameras, requires approx 10Mbps upload for this combination of cameras. If I was willing to settle for qty 1 720p camera, this would probably have removed many of the issues related to this due to minimal bandwidth requirements and avoiding having to deal with CenturyLink. Or if I did not use a cloud based service, and stored video onsite to an NVR, this would probably have been less trouble to set up...but I wanted a cloud based system.

Those static IP, network admin, and massive video uploads are the problems we're trying to eliminate so that the user can simply install the camera or NVR and have it work on any network without opening or forwarding any ports.

What were the ONVIF settings you had to change?

If you want a plug-and-forget-it solution, you are probably going to have to create it. I don't think it exists, outside of your competition.

Agreed. Which ONVIF settings changes did you have to change?

To-date we've been able to use the H.264 RTSP streams without any settings changes. i.e. we'll use whatever encoding settings are on those streams even though we'd prefer something in the range of 512kbps, 15 fps, at 720p resolution.

I needed to find the IP address of each Hikvision camera, get into the camera admin setup, locate and enable ONVIF. Since I’m not a tech this was a challenge for me.

Oh good, those issues are no problem. We automatically find the IP address of a camera or NVR by recognizing its MAC address and then confirm the model via a simple probe. Thanks.