What's The Lowest Cost Outdoor IP Cameras?

For outdoor, minimum specification is IP66 (e.g., no IP54, quasi-outdoor allowed). What's the lowest cost options available? Please share make/model and estimated price. This came up as a point in our recent review of Axis' M20 offering.


With regards to Axis MP, the least expensive (before the M20) appear to be the M3114-ve and the M1114-e, both of which are closer to $600, about 50% higher than the M20.

We have just released the "L-Series" 1080p cameras with a reduced stream rate of 15fps but still onvif compliant. The LR7022 is an IP66 external camera in that range with integrated IR LEDs that has an MSRP of $265 (£173 UK).

You can find 1080p and 3MP IP66 cameras for $120-$150 on Alibaba in small quantities (usually with fixed lens). For a little more you can get a varifocal lens (so, still under $200). Order about 50 and most of the "factories" (I put that in quotes because I estimate 50%+ of all the sellers are just middlemen) will silkscreen your name/logo on for free.

They have a warranty, though it's not cost-effective to ship a single camera back for repair, you'd usually batch up failed units. ONVIF compliance is spotty, though more are starting to add it in.

I've purchased a few for some tests and a couple of friends who wanted a dirt-cheap camera. Image quality "OK", not stellar, but pretty decent with a fair amount of exposure control. They all support h.264, and usually MJPEG streaming. Some have audio or alarm I/Os.

Jason, thanks.

Brian, I would avoid Alibaba like the plague. I just can't imagine the savings would not be offset by increased support costs, reliability risks, etc. I understand the desire to rebrand/reskin but you know my opinion on that :)

Btw, ACTi's lowest cost MP outdoor model is the D71, with an online price under $250. I am trying to check with a number of vendors to get a range.

I agree Alibaba can have its risks, however if you're trying to find the "lowest cost", that's probably it. So now, scale up from there to find lowest cost with lowest overall risk, and you're probably around $350 dealer/ $400 street price for a basic 1080p camera.

Brian, my original post shows a significantly lower price without the risks; 3 year warranty supported in the US by our own branch office with stock, tech support, repair centre etc. LILIN may well not be a well known brand in the US but with over 30 years behind us (14 in Los Angeles) we are a viable alternative and a lower price option worthy of consideration?

I'm trying hard not to be too promotional but I think we are very valid in relation to John's original question

Jason a direct equivalent to the camera you posted can be found for around $130 (plus shipping, which obviously decreases per unit as quantity goes up) on Alibaba.

Yes, I would not recommend that you just randomly buy stuff there without doing a little research. My point is that ~$130 is the lowest possible price that I can find for a decent 1080p camera. Your post shows an MSRP of $235. How is that lower? Or are you saying your dealer price is 50% of your MSRP?

Jason, don't worry. Brian has stock in Alibaba (kidding :)

In terms of 1080p outdoors, ACTi has a 3MP outdoor dome (D72) that has online pricing under $300. Even with just Lilin and ACTi, you already have 2 examples of 'real' manufacturers at notably lower prices than Brian is citing.

I am beginning to suspect Axis has a weakness in this specific area. I am sure there are other manufacturers with similar sub $300 offerings.

Sorry Brian, my price reference was in relation to the $350/$400 street price you quoted for the lowest cost/lowest risk, not the Alibaba option!

Our MSRP pricing follows the norms for the US market with discounts for dealers and distributors.

Sorry Brian, my price reference was in relation to the $350/$400 street price you quoted for the lowest cost/lowest risk, not the Alibaba option!

Ahh, gotcha. Sorry for the confusion. I was putting that out there as a rough example (I had a link to one camera for ~$435 that John deleted) which was just some random online security/CCTV reseller.

Finding the lowest-case basic camera hasn't really been something I've had a ton of call for in the past, so I probably don't know the *best* options.

John, you may want to limit your research to manufacturers which have a US presense. I get e-mails every day from Asian supplier offering IP cameras at crazy prices. I don't think these are particularly meaningful in regard to the current market pricing dynamics, although may be indicative of what's to come. ACTi's D31 bullet may be the current low price leader for an outdoor IP camera.

Bill, we do limit our research to products that have their own support/sales or partnerships with established OEMs/distributors (e.g., Dahua).

It might be a neat experiment to track down and test a few super low cost cameras from Alibaba but I would never compare them straight up to the likes of ACTi, Lilin, Vivotek, etc. The cost is a lot lower for suppliers on Alibaba because the services are a lot lower so it's risky to compare head to head.

*chuckles* Well John, you did ask for the "lowest cost options available" with the only restriction being IP66 or better. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for ;)

Most of Dahua's IP cameras are outdoor rated. The only exception is the box cameras and the 1.3MP indoor dome. We have the smaller domes and bullets priced retail in the 240-250 range. Of course distributors and installers get a better undisclosed price than that.

Looking at the other top names in the industry (I checked Sony and Panosonic), the Axis M20 is the lowest priced outdoor rated camera by far.

It's interesting to note that the ACTi camera provides a mechanical IR cut filter and IR illuminators for a much lower price. The street price of the ACTi D64 is probably right around or even slightly lower than the Axis M20. That adds a Varifocal lens with a lower f-number (in addition to IR and true day/night).

This makes ACTi fairly compelling for outdoor use. True day/night cameras cost double or better from the big names from what I am seeing.

Hikvision has outdoor bullets and dome cameras with integrated IR, 1.3 MP and 3 MP resolution, IP 66 rated, IR cut, PoE/12VDC, fixed lens (few options) priced less than 150 eur (about 215 USD) for end user (domes are more expensive, but not significantly).

John: "It might be a neat experiment to track down and test a few super low cost cameras from Alibaba" - well - I have done this with about 7 manufactuers early last year and lets just say that they are generally able to put out a analogue camera beating video but that is about it - I would not trust them to last more than 1 year - the worse brackets ever - shoddy builds - thin metal joints on bullets that will become brittle after a year, loose bits and pieces like on sunshields, flaky web interfaces with funny options, the ugliest designs possible (they must have invested thousands of hours to be able to make the camera look that bad) and lens with really odd problems like "holes" in the depth of field (near objects in focus, mid objects not, further objects in focus ) and centre blurriness but sharp edges - the list goes on.

On top of this was the the fact that they were not even significantly cheaper then the quantity pricing of Hikvision/Dahua/Lilin/ACTi - so whats the point? Quality is uncertain so have to order less - but orders less and no cheaper then a large reliable manufactuer with <1% DOA and <2% RMA.

The way I see it is that small companies must innovate - exploitating their agility to make something better and different - not try and make something that is a but worse and a tiny it cheaper then their giant rivals with massive testing/validation labs. For example - how about a IR dome with the IR illuminators outside the bubble (separately attached or embedded in the shell) to eliminate IR reflection completely? All they want to do is copy off each other with identical enclosure designs to make a buck today and do something else tomorrow - Gueriila Warfare is effective but Guerrila Commerce -- much much less effective.

Bohan, thanks, that's great feedback!

This too I agree with you, "On top of this was the the fact that they were not even significantly cheaper then the quantity pricing of Hikvision/Dahua/Lilin/ACTi - so whats the point?"

"small companies must innovate - exploiting their agility to make something better and different" - here are some examples of what I mean (we don't have agency for these but I am really wishing we did):

An IR outdoor bullet camera with their (Push Video) built-in push to mobile alert feature that sends video to their EagleEyes mobile app with popup alerts (but for some reason no PoE - sigh... they can never get everything right can they...) - MSRP ~$300

this one really caught my attention (but not outdoor - crying...): a IR dome with a integrated PIR sensor for accurate motion detection (including a PIR on the shell of a dome camera - what a brilliant idea) and the same Push Video feature - MSRP ~$300