Subscriber Discussion

Is This An Unobtrusive Camera? Avigilon Microdome

Camera looks cool but the installation does not. Such a small camera but you have to mount it to an ugly electrical box. I also hope whoever installed that camera used rigid conduit with a ceiling flange to hang that box and not EMT! You wouldn't want it falling on someone.

I haven't seen this camera in the wild yet, but per their website, could the below drawing be the reason for the larger electrical box?

How long is the cable? Can it be extended? Presumably that 'encoder' unit was mounted in that electrical box?

Here's a picture of the camera and the attached unit:

unobtrusive (uhn-uhb-troo-siv) — adj

not noticeable or conspicuous


Uhhh...from the pic it looks like a something out of District 9.....

But maybe the perspective of the photo is misleading?

What diameter is the camera and the housing?

at approximately the size of a golf ball I would say it is pretty unobtrusive... people can't post a pic of their installs without getting ragged on? judging by the painted box and a shiny blank it looks like it replaced an existing camera...


How much more 'unobtrusive' is it that a typical minidome? The entire camera is not much larger plus does not require the pigtail and attached unit, e.g.,


both the minidome and microdome are unobtrusive... however the microdome has a smaller footprint on the mounting surface than the minidome...

But the minidome does not need any other space for the secondary unit. I think it's an interesting tradeoff, but the 'golf ball' reference ignores the 'pez dispenser' attached to it.

when installed correctly isn't the "pez dispenser" out of site? the finished install leaves something approximately the size of golf ball on the mounting surface... the design is clever...

I don't think it's so much about 'correct' or 'incorrect'. It's more that certain installation spots are either more or less conducive to hiding a 'pez dispenser'.

btw, here's an example of an IQinVision camera in a similar mounting setup. While 'obtrusiveness' is somewhat subjective, clearly that IQ camera takes a smaller footprint overall than the OP example:

That looks a lot more professional and unobtrusive! Thanks John.

john I agree... what I mean by "correct" is the same as what you are calling "condusive"... a location that has the availability of concealing the "pez dispenser"...

Nobody's hating on the install, Keefe... it's just that the picture purports to be showing off this "unobtrusive" camera, that thanks to its particular mounting method, is anything but.

Why not pick a camera that can mount to a standard electrical box or something that can thread onto standard pipe thread rather then jerry rigging the camera to a electrical plate and stuffing that box inside the electrical box? In my opinion this installation looks unprofessional and ugly and no mater how unobtrusive the camera is it doesn't make up for how ugly the electrical box looks.

The customer might have only wanted to pay for "ugly"!!!

Nice one, Marty.

I was thinking about the Sony DH110 myself as being a better option. The IQV also looks a lot better.

The Avigilon with the box does look obtrusive.

For those interested in 'unobstrusive' / attractive form factors, last year we discussed the 'Pulse' minidome:

I think the issue here is the subjective nature of the word 'unobtrusive' as a descriptor.

I think we can all agree that the camera itself, mounted in the manner it is intended to actually be unobtrusive (i.e. pez dispender can be effectively hidden), is pretty unobtrusive. At least in comparison to most other non-covert surveillance cameras for commerical use.

However, the install the orginal poster shows is far from the optimal type of install where the small, golf ball-sized form factor can actually be unobtrusive.

With that enormous electrical box attached to the small form-factor camera, most non-avigilon dealers would be hard-pressed to call the install itself unobtrusive.

Not to mention.... Retail joints with cameras hanging from 15 foot poles over every register are not really going for 'unobtrusive' anyway, imho.

Since this solution (register coverage in big box retail) is tough to accomplish with super high ceilings, most opt for more 'aesthetic' solutions (like the IQInVision camera John posted) than slapping a really small camera to a really big steel cage when they have to hang stuff from poles.

If you look in my twitter pics, you will see this microdome from Avigilon next to a golf ball the day we got it a few weeks ago. We have installed one in a drop ceiling and one outside a front door for a residence and both worked out well as we could hide the "pez" out of view. I did make a recommendation to the product team to have the wire disconnect from the pez when installing so you don't have to drill a hole the size of the pez to install it.

When I saw that tweet I also said to myself that's not right, why not a 2mp dome -- wrong application and the micro has a fixed lens unlike the domes that have a 3-9mm vari with auto focus and auto zoom.

Paul, you are the world's most reasonable Avigilon dealer :)

lol thanks John, I try to tell it like it is. We are an open systems integrator as we have in the past year installed Exacq, Onssi - Sony, Mobotix, Axis--but we have been happy with Avigilon and will continue to lead with it.

If you were at ASIS, did you notice the large holes that Avigilon had to drill in order to mount the Micro Dome on the pillars of their display? The pillars appeared to be extruded aluminum square posts. You could see that they had to drill (read hole saw) huge openenings to insert the "pez" into the pillar void. The holes were so large that they had to mount the camera off to one side in order to find material to fasten the camera to. This left large gaps around the camera base. I think the hole drilled was actually larger than, or very close in size to, the size of the camera base.

Btw, here's Avigilon's ad next to the actual camera.

Avigilon shows just the lens and imager but is that a camera? Certainly not the camera that they sell, which is the one on the right above.

Is this materially misleading? Look at our conversation above and the impact the other 'invisible' half has on its use.

I curious how, or if, this compares to Axis's marketing of the M2014. I do not know what materials are sanctioned by Axis and what is not, but just about all copy that I have seen do not show the "cigarrette box" that you need for it.

Axis M2014

Jonathan, good point.

Compare how Axis and Avigilon market these cameras.

Avigilon has gone to significant lengths to obscure that the mandatory secondary unit exists.

Secondly, Avigilon is running ads (all over the place) calling it the "world's smallest HD dome camera" and then showing only part of the camera directly underneath it. The main claim of the ad is its size, but they leave out half of the camera, misleading viewers on the main claim.

I don't see it as missleading as that is the only part of the camera that is visible when installed

I would not necessarily be ready to raise holy heck, but I would be somewhat annoyed if I ordered that Avigilon microdome and found out it had that dongle piece that's almost as big as the camera itself. It might not affect all installations, but could affect some.

Avigilon has a good product backed up by a GREAT marketing team. Their marketing team is certainly trying to avoid displaying the secondary unit that is required to operate the camera. Not really a huge deal in my book but they should clearly convey the fact that there is a secondary unit that may or may not be possible to obscure.

Agreed. Good point. Part of what makes the marketing so great is that it pushes ethical boundaries that other manufacturers would be reluctant to cross. I do not agree with the approach, but it is certainly effective.

Ironically, Axis has a far smaller microdome than Avigilon's, if all you are doing is counting the head unit. Alas, Axis did not choose to market it like Avigilon did.

the average person is going to refer the visible part on the ceiling as a "camera" regardless if part of the camera is hidden above a ceiling tile, sheetrock or crammed into a four square box... most manufacturers don't show the pigtails or whips that are associated with the cameras in their marketing, quite frankly because it doesn't make for good marekting because it isn't appealing to see... i remember when i first saw the "pez dispenser" i was surprised, then you realize it will be hidden and you get over it... if you can't hide it then it is the wrong camera for your application...


"If you can't hide it then it is the wrong camera for your application."

Certainly, but that does not mean it is OK to market your camera's super small size and then hide half of it in the advertisement that's being done. That's the point.

If you are going to market size, be truthful about size. If you are going to market image quality, be truthful about image quality.

The "pez dispenser" as you call it is clearly documented in cut sheet and manual. What is the issue?

So people now need to check page 2 of the PDF spec sheet or the user manual to find out there's another half of a product hidden in the advertisement (pitching its size) and the product page?

What you are saying is, essentially buyer beware. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, as Avigilon partner. However, the US FTC approaches this differently:

"The FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising in any medium. That is, advertising must tell the truth and not mislead consumers. A claim can be misleading if relevant information is left out or if the claim implies something that's not true."

The ad makes a claim about it's size and then leaves out half the camera in the image below the claim.

Agree with Keefe L

sold and installed about 10 of them

no even one single complain
honestly do not understand what is a big deal to talk about that stupid "pez dispenser"

I have a question for the people installing these cameras. After you drill a 1" hole in the drywall/ceiling tile to hide the little box is there enough substrate to adequately secure the camera? The camera is only 2" wide and the hole needs to be 1" so your only left with 1/2" substrate on each side to mount the camera to. You can't exactly use toggle bolts or drywall anchors. How are you securing these cameras?

I done with ceiling tile

usual way

through camera ->tile->wood

Ceiling tile wouldn't be any issues as you can get backing behind it. Installing it on Drywall wall where you can't put any backing behind it. What would you do? Have you come across this yet?

To Duncan

Did not come across yet but not much worries, couple drywall screws and inserts should be fine

Really ceiling tile isn't an issue at all as you don't even have to drill a hole for connector if you mount it close to the edge. You simply put it to the side and make connection above. It's other materials that it is a little difficult to install as mentioned previously. The good thing is it is so small you only need a couple anchor points the bad thing is it is tough to cover the hole and even tougher to adjust. That being stated our guys are 10x more efficient at putting them in now and actually like them. To begin they were much more frustrated.

Perhaps there is a more descriptive label than the catchy yet 'stupid "pez dispenser"'.

Notice how you yourself refer to the appendage as the "pez dispenser" twice even tho you are clearly annoyed by the term...

Here's why: Take a look at the cut sheet diagram, everything has a label from the camera to the lowly LED.

Everything except for "that big-ass box".

Deny you looked in vain for the approved Aviglon euphemism and then reluctantly employed the "Hononism"...

Maybe it's just the world's largest cable assembly...


I can say we have several of these and they are quite a nuisance to install. The dome barely covers the hole you have to drill to fit the POE injector & electronics through... I would prefer a camera that has all the electronics together and simply inserts & mounts to a single gang electrical box with a nice rectangle cover & then maybe a dome sticking out of that. These are also hard to adjust. It's a novel concept but not great in the field from an installation perspective. I will say they are fairly inconspicuous when installed properly though and they do have a good picture.

This is a major advantage to the Axis P12 series: yes, the interface box is larger (it also has built-in SD recording and alarm I/O connections), but the camera module plugs into it via RJ12 (6-pin), meaning you can run the wire through a very small hole... AND that wire is 8m long, meaning you don't need a huge octagon box to hide the connection behind a golfball-sized camera.

Ironically, we spent quite a bit of time designing and perfecting a small tubular "housing" for the P1214-E model, to mount them discretely under large patio umbrellas... and not a month after that job was completed, the M12/M20 design came out, almost identical to our design...

Ignore the Gorilla Tape holding it on - this was a test fitting. Client LOVED the design, BTW... as did the Australian manufacturer of these super-heavy-duty umbrellas.

For those that have installed these microdomes: Would it be a benefit to have the dome and video unit in two separate pieces, even if you had to terminate the video cable at the camera end?

Instead of drilling a 1" hole to cram the unit through, you could drill a 0.25" hole and fish it through. Would this help?

Also, the length of the cable between the camera and the video unit appears to be fairly short compared to other /similar/ offerings, like the Mobotix S14 and the Axis P12/M20.

I demoed micro dome today to customer
loved image quality and ordered 4 units right away

Today, tens of thousands of HD surveillance cameras were sold in North America. Unless you have some specific feedback / insights beyond they 'loved image quality' please refrain from announcing your deals on IPVM.

Point of interest: I was chatting with one of our suppliers the other day, who is also an Avigilon dealer... we were talking small cameras and he brought one of these out to show me. I pointed out the issue with the need for a large hole for the "pez dispenser" and how the camera ball barely covered it. He said he hadn't noticed that before, and agreed that it could be rather tricky.

I guess that makes him an anomaly as an Avigilon dealer...

A real Avigilon dealer would have told you to STFU...

I know, weird, right?

Did you get him to actually say the words "pez dispenser"?

Or did he just use the something like "unit" or maybe to stick with their metaphor, "golf bag"?

John you may be onto something here, much like the hallowed namer of the "bullet" cam...


Yes the camera itself is unobtrusive as far as cameras go I don't think that secrecy was in mind when hanging this little gem. Seems like the efficient set up for the scene but people definitely know what is literally up.