Subscriber Discussion

Outdoor Camera Recommendation

I am looking for suggestions for camera manufacturers and models I should consider for outdoor application, fixed dome, true day/night or built in IR, min 720p, true WDR, vandal resistant, auto remote back focus, POE/POE+ power for camera and heater.

My questions revolve around should I go with 1080p or 720 p (720p/lower res generally better in low light), built in IR or separate IR illuminator or no IR (lighting will be acceptable in most cases, I don't have actual light level numbers to provide here, I am thinking about requiring some form of IR for those locations which are darker).

Distance to objects will be 20-100 feet depending on location, mounting height typically 12'-15', views are of sidewalks and vehicles.

I don't want to eliminate a good manufacturer, for example, if they have a model that meets all of the specs but does not have integrated IR and I spec's integrated IR. Or I don't want to specify too high with everything if that eliminates good cameras.

Who do you trust when they say they have true WDR? Has a separate IR illuminator been more of a pain than it is worth as far as installation and its associated costs, not to mention the aesthetic issues? Has integrated IR worked out well? Do you typically decrease the specified IR distance by a certain amount because manufacturers like to stretch their numbers?

I would like to stick with manufacturers that the major integrators in the area support such as AXIS, Bosch, Panasonic, Pelco and Sony, so as to have options and to keep out the trunk slammers. I have my thoughts and I have been doing this for many years, but if someone else has suggestions, they are welcome to tell me. I don't want to become so set in my ways that I automatically say that "I have been doing this for x years, I know what I am doing" and I shut out all contradictory information. I want to get out of my comfort zone and maybe hear some things I previously didn't want to hear such as manufacturer or model x is not that good, or you should really take a look at manufacturer/model y. I realize that the integrator used and the local support available play a large part in the success of a project, but I am just talking about the camera in this discussion.

Is there a target price or max price you are willing to pay? The range in outdoor IR/WDR camera pricing is wide, say from ~$300 to ~$1500. Guidance here would help.

I am looking at the higher end of 1000-1500, but as I stated I am willing to consider the lower to mid end in pricing if people have had good experiences and they overcome my fear of them being of not too good of quality or support.

Given that you are open to paying for premium products and have already mentioned a number above, I'll just focus on others. Samsung, Dahua and Hikvision have all been doing well in our tests and are lower priced. For a full featured, bigger brand, high performance alternative the Samsung Wisenet IIIs are worth considering.

For those areas where you have some outdoor street / parking lot lighting, you probably will do best with just a modern, quality, true D/N camera. Integrated IR is better for things relatively close range in near darkness. See our Super Low Light vs Integrated IR Shootout.

As for true WDR, it's getting to the point where all manufacturers have models with true multi-exposure WDR, so it's not a huge differentiator now. Make sure the models use multi-exposure (most manufacturer SEs can verify that).