What Happened To Cctvforum?

I used to find CCTVForum to be quite interesting. Though I still think it's better than LinkedIn groups, it's bizarrely become dominated by Dahua.

What's up with that? Anyone actively using CCTVForum or use to?

I always found CCTVforum to have a preference with certain products.

It's always Dahua, Exacq and Avigilon.

Now, it's gotten even more extreme. In the IP section, 7 of the 14 most recently commented posts are specifically on Dahua.

I stopped going because there are a few people, which I won't name, that are constantly trolling trying to convert people to Avigilon just so they can meet thier sales quotas. Got tired of listening to them tell everyone how great Avigilon is and how bad every other product is.

I can kind of understand the swing toward Dahua - I used to be decidedly anti-standalone-DVR, greatly preferring PC-based systems for a number of reasons, but the largest one probably being just the really short feature sets and horrid menus, OSDs and controls that plagued pretty much every standalone I'd ever used (read: had foisted upon me to support). I mean, let's face it, your average standalone has traditionally been a major pain in the arse to use, amirite??

That all changed when I was given a small Dahua DVR to evaluate by another long-time forum member who originally joined up looking for help in selling a bunch of surplus equipment he'd come into, and eventually moved into reselling new gear - mostly Dahua-made - under his own label. I was very impressed with the features, flexibility, and power of the unit vs. the price point, and was quite pleasantly surprised by the intelligent layout and friendliness of the menus. I introduced the unit to my own boss... and we're now carrying the brand as a low-cost alternative to the usual Vigil systems we work with. Yeah, it's that good. Not an outright replacement for a Vigil in most cases, but definitely a viable option when a customer doesn't want to drop $3000+ on a fully-loaded system.

Said reseller had always been active in the forum, giving out plenty of free support and advice, even to people who weren't buying from him. For some strange reason, a lot of those ended up subsequently buying from him. And then recommending him and his site. Eventually he even placed paid advertising on the site.

And then, proving yet again that no good deed goes unpunished, the admin decided that all these recommendations MUST mean that people were shilling for him (it didn't help that some of his other advertisers - who did nothing more than pay for banner ads; no participation in the actual forums - were starting to complain about the way everyone else was recommending this one other advertiser over them), and aforementioned reseller and several other normally-very-active users (myself included) were banned from the site.

So most of what's left now are DIYers who still like the Dahua but aren't allowed to mention the one particular brand (if you type in his brand name, the system will auto-replace the text with "Dahua"), and the Avigilon gang who would never recommend a Dahua in any form anyway.

And yeah, those Avigilon fanboiz get pretty tiresome, like Duncan says - at least if I recommend someone look at a Vigil, I'll try to list and describe specific features that will apply to them... the usual Avigilon sales pitch seems to be, "Just try it, you never go back, I promise!" Any discussion about Avigilon support of other camera brands inevitably turns into, "Just use Avigilon cameras, then you have no problems."

I read/posted there for a while, but then it just seemed to devolve into something that was no longer overly informative or worth the time.

It seemed to have a really over the top stance on pretty much anything that could be remotely considered any kind of a "promotion", you can't link to anything, etc. Just a hostile environment that wasn't worth the effort.

Wait, what about the 50% Dahua threads and the ongoing Avigilon reps pestering people? Evidently that's not promotion?`

At some level, I can sympathize with the regulars taking over. They are the ones putting in the time and energy to respond, keep discussions going, etc. I don't think it's good overall but it make sense.

John - you make a good point, and those are partial examples of what seemed (to me) to be unpredictably odd enforcement of various things. When a community like that operates in a manner that makes it hard to know for sure if your efforts put forth in offering help are going to be met with praise or scorn you start to just say "eh, why bother...". Or, at least I do.

John, I've found that the vast majority of the discussions there are in the "Need help choosing system" vein. While there are occasionally some valid questions posted, I'm not interested in helping DIYers install PTZs so they can spy on their neighbors.

Carl, there's an easy solution to that, just recommend Dahua - done and done :)

The reason why its overran by Dahua is the owner of that forum has a sticky post right on the top of the the discussions which states "Where to buy Dahua DVR's" So naturally, the whole place has become plagued by end users who try to buy a camera or two directly from Alibaba in China trying to get the cheapest deals possible and demand personal tech support directly from Dahua in China, who never really intended on the brand "Dahua" to be marketed in the USA in the first place.

I use to be on there a few times a week but just lost interest to most of the topics and have moved away from dvr based systems which i thought seemed to dominate the topics. On another topic - I think it would be cool to setup a section on your site John where you pose an application/or challenge and have people submit video or jpegs from cameras solving that problem -- might be tough to manage and verify lux levels etc but just a thought.

Paul, do you have an example of that? I am trying to read license plates in a vehicle entrance 20 feet wide, 20 feet from the camera? Or?

maybe its gets more into the design approach like:

describe and document with images how you design a system to cover a T or X interesection hallway

do you cover entrance/exit doors from outside or from inside facing out and why and show images with the kind of detail you recommend

for license plates do you have cameras covering the plate and then a 2nd camera covering a wider view (what we recommend)

parking lot -- 500ft x 1000ft with a 3 story building -- cameras on roof, 2nd foor, 1st floor, on light poles covering back toward the building etc

I think this gets into the details of how people design systems but I'm not sure how many will share unless you tie money or something to the questions -- maybe giving that person that submits the best recommendation or answer gets some love on the site where if someone did a search on license plates cameras it would link to your site saying this company had the recommended solution in this space or something --- but im sure u want to guard agaisnt advertising brands/integrators but im sure something could be worked out

I can only speak for myself here, but I have been using primarily Dahua based gear, both analog and IP, for the past few years now. I have purchased 100% of it from two different USA based resellers. We have used some other brands of a analog cameras from time to time, but for the most part, we exclusively sell and install Dahua based DVRs and NVRs. We are not a high volume installer. We aim for the more difficult situational projects. Ones that are more complex than throw up a few cams so I can watch my birdfeeder.

I probably have a login at that forum that I created at one point looking for advice. May have posted a few times before running across a very helpful and reliable Dahua dealer that goes above and beyond helping his customers. I am always amazed when emails in the middle of the night are answered in minutes. Phone calls are personally answered by the owner who actually knows his products well. If he doesn't have what you need, he can usually get it quickly.

So when I see people openly dismissive about the product or their dealers here in the USA doing great work, it usually really upsets me. If anyone would like to know who my preferred dealer is, message me and I would be glad to share. I don't want people to think I am his employee or salesperson. I just know that when I was starting out in the industry, I wish I would have started with him as my dealer vs the other garbage or overpriced stuff I started with.

Gary, thanks for the thoughtful feedback. The issue here is about a forum becoming dominanted by a single manufacturer, regardless of who that manufacturer is (Dahua, Hikvision, Axis, Sony, Mobotix, Avigilon, etc.). If you get good support, than it makes a lot of sense to use Dahua. Feel free to share you dealer's name publicly if you want. Also, you can share a link to your own site by adding it to your profile.

Paul, that's a very interesting idea. I started a new discussion so we can talk about the details.

I know exactly who Gary is talking about - the same person I mentioned in my post 'way up at the top. Shout out for Nelly's Security and Sean Nelson.

What happened to the forum? I found this one. I found the information invaluable so far in comparison. I always try to find good sources of information. I generally don't have the time to spend with multiple forums. I try to find the best one that fits my needs. I'm also part of an audio list serve that gives great instruction and email/forum for the professional audio world. I have looked at other forums in this field as well, but many times they have information regarding what product to buy instead of unbiased solutions to problems.

Eventually, you must move from an unbiased approach to a specific product for given situations. This is closely related to your reviews on low light cameras. In audio, however, there are many more products available that all do the same thing well, such as microphones. There is always much to discuss in regards to integration issues and infrastructure issues regarding audio/video where products never need to be mentioned, only the core principals of audio design.

On more difficult projects this can be the case with CCTV. It is physically easy to install products whether good or bad. The benefit to knowledge is following best practices and sound design approaches. There are many good installs that don't seem to provide good survellance. For instance, the entrance monitors in retail drug stores when that is the only entrance camera available and it's built into the monitor. I love looking at the monitor during the day knowing there is no way in hell they will make a positive ID with the wide SD FOV provided by the cameras with no WDR. It might deter the hesitent from stealing, but does nothing to the determined.

Thanks again for providing a great forum.


maybe this is a topic for another thread, but I would love to see some Dahua product reviews and maybe the usual brand review in IPVM. We are starting direct with them and I am worrying about a few things, on the other hand the price can not be beaten.

Things I worry about:

1) Technical Support

2) Easy downloads of manual and other technical documents

3) Easy downloads of firmware and other software

4) Accuracy of specifications

5) NVR capabilities: it seems they upgrade them all the time, and it seems now even the 16 ch. can record @1080p in all channels. But how do we confirm this?

On the other hand it seems this is a very reasonable suggestion for resi projects and it is at the right price so that you can convince a small customer to change from analog to megapixel.

Anyway, I hope others are interested in this as well.

Harris, I'd like to test Dahua and we had some discussions about this a few months ago.

My two main concerns:

- Which Dahua do I test? Do I test official Dahua that is evidently banned in North America or do I test one of their OEMs? If so, which one? Is the product quality of all the OEMs the same? If not, what if we pick a 'good' or 'bad' one?

- We still do not have any contact at Dahua. I'd really like to have a technical contact so that we hit issues or find negative things that they have a fair chance to respond.


John, I think we can keep it simple if we want. Here is my opinion regarding your 2 problems:

1) If I were you I would only test a few official Dahua cameras at the beginning. Once you have done a few tests and you also have an opinion about the brand then - only if there is big interest - you might try to compare a few Dahua OEMs to see if there is any difference between them and any difference between OEMs and official Dahuas. The Dahua IP range is not that big (about 15 cameras) and it mainly consists of 3-4 models that are "repeated" with differet resolution specs.

2) I will try and help you with the contact at Dahua. As I said we can buy direct since we operate in a very small market. We are new though with them and we will just send our first order soon so I am not sure if they care at all about us - anyway by trying to contact them through us or on your own directly we will find some answers to my questions above which are important. I see this as a secondary test after you have tried their performace so that you can evaluate the brand support and general responsiveness and as I said get some of the answers to my questions above which are I think are important to any integrator.

The interesting thing about Dahua is that Asmag lists them at $345m and as the 4th biggest CCTV company so they are not small by any means. This of course does not prove anything but my take is if their ip cameras and NVRs do the job at about 70-80% compared to the "best" brands but at 1/3 of a price then Dahua should be considered a very serious proposition for almost anything but the high-end and specialized projects.

I really look forward to your tests and opinion if you proceed with this.

Would be really interesting to see some IPVM-grade tests of some of these cameras. On our latest big job, we used a bunch of the 1080p mini-domes in well-lighted areas where we previously would have used CNB VCM-24VFs - they're essentially the same cost, and while they're fixed lenses and don't do nearly well with low light, they do have some WDR capability, and of course, I can custom-adjust the resolution on each camera (or just dial them down to D1 to save bandwidth and storage).

I haven't done a side-by-side, but some of the samples I've seen, even at D1 output, they seem to be a lot cleaner than the CNB going through DVR encoding.

I think a Dahua test would be popular and would like to do it. We have to solve those 2 questions above - (1) 'which' Dahua brand to test, and (2) who in Dahua can we speak with to verify tech details.

Sean could probably help you with that, he seems to have a good repoire with them.

I will say this about the Dahua IP cams; they aren't the same level of the high end cams, such as Axis, Sony, or the like. They don't have as sophisticated of a feature set. However, they also don't have near the price tag either. I don't want to give away too much pricing info (ruining integrator margins), but $550 range for a 3MP Dome with a damn nice image. We are currently testing this particular cam for a small apartment complex project where low lighting is an issue. As with most MP cams, light is an issue, but can be somewhat mitigated with playing with shutter, gain, etc.

The interface is easy to use and is common (for the most part) across the whole product line. Same goes for DVR/NVR systems. They all look the same, which is nice for integrators.

We also used this same cam for an LPR project and it worked well for that project as well. It took some tweaking of settings to get the shot we wanted, but I think just about any brand would require that.

The main reason why we use the Dahua brand gear is;

1) price

2) best dealer we've found (Nelly's)

3) quality


Curious about your statement about the Dahua North America ban? Care to elaborate?

Harris, I am open to testing 'official' Dahua cameras but I am not sure how to get them officially. I am a little nervous about buying them on eBay as I have no idea if it's 'real' or 'old', etc.

Btw, Dahua is not 4th in reality. That list is missing Pelco, Sony, Panasonic plus Bosch and Honeywell's video business alone are likely bigger than Dahua. That said, I still want to test Dahua. They are an important up and coming global player.

Gary, to the best of my knowledge, you cannot sell Dahua branded cameras directly in North America. It has to go through distributors who rebrand the cameras.


My understanding, is that they OEM in the USA as a preference. I have never seen anyone claim that they are banned from selling their products in North America. I would think if that were true, it would prevent them from OEMing in the USA as well. I have been told that their largest dealer in the USA is IC Realtime. I would highly reccomend, however, that you (or anyone else looking for Dahua items) should contact Sean at Nelly's. He has immense knowledge of his products and is very open about any issues and works very quickly to help in any way he can. I'm sure he could let you know if there are any deviations in his products vs ones sold in Asia under the Dahua brand. I don't think there are any, but that is just my guess. The pics, specs, and apps are all the same as the Dahua site. All the tools, firmware, etc are all from China. However, Sean does actually go a step further and provides manuals as well as other supporting items in each package. You would be pleasantly surprised at how far he goes to support his clients.

Gary, I talked to Sean earlier in the day and we are going to see what we can do.

When I say banned, I don't mean Dahua cameras, I mean Dahua branded cameras, i.e., you have to buy through a North American rebrand of Dahua. That's still very different from essentially every other major manufacturer in America.

John, I have sent you an email earlier. I discussed with my guy at Dahua about this and he is expecting your email - you can Skype him as well.

Harris, thanks. I cannot find your email. My email address is john@ipvm.com.

I did get in touch with Dahua and am speaking with Mrs Ice.