Dummy Camera Shootout

Author: Derek Ward, Published on Oct 23, 2013

Despite strong opposition from most in the industry, dummy cameras continue to be one of the top selling security products online. Right now, a dummy camera is currently the #2 top result for "surveillance camera" on Amazon.com. But how realistic are they really? In this report, we put seven of the most popular models head to head against each other and compare to real cameras to answer just that.

For starters, the image below contains only one real camera. Can you guess it correctly?

******* ****** ********** **** **** ** *** ********,***** *************** ** ** *** ** *** *** ******* ******** ******** online. ***** ***, * ***** ****** ** ************ #* *** ****** *** "************ ******" ** ******.***. *** *** ********* *** **********?** **** ******, ** *** ***** ** *** **** ******* models **** ** **** ******* **** ***** *** ******* ** real ******* ** ****** **** ****.

*** ********, *** ***** ***** ******** **** *** **** ******. Can *** ***** ** *********?

[***************]

Key ********

**** *** *** *** ********:

  • ******************* **********, ****** ******* ***** ****** ** ******(*** #* ************ ****** ******* ** ** **** *******) *** among *** **** ********* ******* ** *** ********, ****** ** the *********** ** ********* ***** *** *******, ** **** ** the *** ** * **** ******* ** ******* ***** ******* of ******* ****** ***** ** ***** *******.
  • *** ******** *** *** ***** ** *** ****** ****** **** away *** **** **** **** **** ***** *******, ***** ****** surveillance ******* **** *** **** ******** ****** *** **** ****.
  • ** ***** **** *** ***** ****** ******* **** **** ********* due ** ***** ******* ************ *** ********* ****. **** ******* were **** *********, ****** ********* ********* ***** **** *********. ***** box ******* **** ***** *********.
  • ******* **** **** ******** **** * **** ***** ******* **** the ****** ****** **** ********* **** *** **** **** ****'*.
  • ******* **** ** * *******, ** *** ****** ******* ***** batteries ****** *-* ***** ** ***, *** **** ****** ** not **** ** **/*** ******.
  • *** ******** ** *** ******* ***** *** ** ************ **** the ***** ******* *** ******* ***** **** *** ** ******* under *** ****** ** ****** *** ****.
  • ******** *** ** *** ***** ******* ****** **** ********** *********** (less **** $** ***), ***** ******* ******. **** *** **** from ***** ******* *** *** ****** ** * *** ****** than ** * ******** *********, *** ****** **** ****** ** real ** ************ ********* *******.

*******

*** ** *** ***** ******* **** ** **** **** **** below $**, **** **** ***** $**. *******, ******* *** *** necessarily ****** *****. *** *******, *** ** *** **** ********** cameras ** *** **** **** **** ****** *****:

** ********, *** **** ********* ***** *** *** "********" ********* brick ****** ($**.**), ***** ** ***** **** ********** *** ** *** ***** size ******** ** **** *******, *** **** ** ***** *******.

***************

********* ********, ** ** *** ********* *** *** ** ***** cameras, ** ***** ********* ***** ** ************.

*******, ** ***** ** **** ** ******* ***** *******, ***** are ***** *** ***************:

  • **** *** *** ******: ******** *** ****** *** ***** ** practically ** ********** ************ ******* ********* *****, ****** **** *** most ******* ********** * ****** ** *** ****. **** ****** turned *** ** ** ********* ** *** ****** ** ***.
  • *** ****** ** **** *******: ***** *** **** ******* **** far **** ********* *** ********* ** ************* **** **** ******* than *** ******.
  • ******** ********: ******* ******* ****** ** ******* **** *** ****** makes ******* **** ** ******* *****, **** ****** *** ****, or ***** ****** **** ********* ** *********.

Physical ******** *****

***** *** *** ******** ******** ******. ** **** ****** **** up ** **** ****** ** **** ********* *** ****** ** the ******* ****** *** *** *** ******** ********* *** ********** of ****.

***** ** *******

***** *****

***** *** *******

***********

***** *** ***** *********** ** *** ***** ******* ******* **** cameras. *** ****** ***** *** ***** ***** ******* ****** ** users *** ***** ***** *** ****. ********* **** ***** ** see ******.

** *******

***** ** ****** ******* **** *** **** ********** ** *** form *******. *** ******* ********** ******* **** *** ***** ****** cameras *** *** *********** ** ** **** *** *** ********** (or **** *******) ** *** **** **** *** ***** ******.

*****

*** ***** **** ******* **** **** ***** ********** **** ******** to **** *** **** ******. *** ******* ** *** ***** dome ** *** ***** *** ***** **********, *** *** *********** gooseneck *** ** *** ** ***** ******, ***** *** *** fool **** *****.

*** *******

*** ******* ***** ******* *** *** *** *******, ********* *** to ***** ************* ******* ****. **** ** ***** ****** **** had ******* ****** ******* ***** ** *** *** ** *** camera, *** ***** ** **** *******. *** *** ***** ** the ****** ** *** ***** *** ** ***** ******* **** it, ******* ** "********", ****** ******** ******* ** ** *** it's ***** *******. *** ******* *** ** ***** ** **** from * **** ***** ******* *** ********* * *** **** than * ******.

Motion ********* *************

***** ** * ***** ***** ************* *** *** ***** ******* on ******. *** ********** ***** ** ~*** **** ***** ** rapid ******, *** **** ******** ******* **** **** ** ****** quickly. **** *********, *** ******* *** **** *** *****, ****** a ****, ******** *****. *******, **** ***/**** ****** *** ************ larger **** *** ****** ******** **** ***** *******.

Comments (20)

"The housing of the dummy dome on the right was quite convincing, but its articulated gooseneck has no way to route cables, which may not fool some users."

I have a functional PTZ with that exact same gooseneck, which does in fact have a cable running through it.

How the heck do they get it through the joint in the middle? Interesting point!

Dummy Camera Shootout - I thought you guys were kidding?????

We never kid, Luis.

Which one gives the best image? :)

Can I get one with a warranty? Should I step up to IP housing or stay with older technology analog housings?

Seriously, no one with an in-house counsel or any access to knowledgeable legal advice would EVER hang a dummy camera.

We hear this a lot, but we've heard absolutely no verifiable claims of dummy cameras truly creating liability. The Rape Under A Dummy Camera story is most common, and it's based on a lawyer's speculation, not an actual case.

I know someone who got sued over a "dummy" camera, but then it turned out it was a fake summons to a non-existent court. ;)

Was it because an aggressive mime was lassoing innocent bystanders with an imaginary rope?

For those interested, as of right now, nearly half (~49%) of respondents can't spot the real camera in the image at the top of the post. And the UniquExceptional (top seller on Amazon) is indeed fooling more people than the others.

For a while, I've also been against dummy cameras. However:

  1. What's the difference between a dummy camera pointed in the "wrong" direction (missing the action), and a real one pointed in the wrong direction?
  2. What's the difference between a real camera that is broken and a dummy camera?
  3. What's the difference between a real camera that isn't recording and a dummy camera?
  4. What's the difference between a real camera that isn't focused on the action and a dummy camera?
  5. etc. Real cameras frequently don't cover the action as desired.

No difference between the real and the fake in those examples Michael, but I don't think anyone's goal for their CCTV system is covered under those points. It is kind of like saying there is no difference between a Ford Focus out of gas and a Maserati Granturismo with no gas because neither one gets you where you need to go. I make sure my cameras point and cover what I want them to and that they are up and running so our cameras frequently cover the action desired.

I save and clean up some of the cameras and lenses that have to be replaced to use for this sort of application. If you wire them up as if they were going to work (power and signal) and terminate the ends that should go back to the recorder/power supply in an electrical box or into the ceiling or wall the illusion is pretty convincing. They look like real working cameras for even less than new dummy cameras.

We certainly avoid them because one of the techniques we use to help protect our own staff from claims of abuse or bad behaviour when dealing with a grumpy passenger is to deal with them under a camera. A dummy camera may help de-escalate situations but in practice, the best form of defence against vexatious claimants is to have vision. Dummy cameras alas, don't provide vision (I should know, I've been in the business several months now).

I thought all Foscam cameras were dummies, or at least for dummies :)

Foscam is really at the bottom of the barrel, but I did not know they literally manufactured dummy cameras. That said, it looks pretty realistic, and since many people know the Foscam brand, it might have more of a deterrent effect.

so, I can see which most people chose as the real camera but which one is the real thing?

Camera #2 is the real camera, which is a Q-See QCN7001B IR Bullet.

News flash!

HDcctv Alliance has just awarded the UDC4silver the first full compliance certification of its ver2 spec! Stating that all features of the UDC4silver are fully supported and at the same TCO as IP...

Half seriously tho, maybe John can spare one to send over there for compliance testing, to see what they do with it...

C

Theives cover up dummy camera while real camera records everything:

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports on IR

Dirty Dome Camera Test on Nov 28, 2016
Dome cameras are the most widely used type professionally but many note that dirt, dust, rain, and scratches can cause image quality problems,...
Hanwha Wisenet P 4K Bullet Tested on Nov 21, 2016
Hanwha Techwin (formerly Samsung) continues their push into H.265 cameras, now with the high-end P series, including 4K resolution and smart...
Longse vs Dahua and Hikvision Tested on Nov 16, 2016
For many, even $100 cameras are too expensive. That is where spam king Longse comes in with their relentless offer of ~$20 cameras. In our past...
Samsung Wisenet Q 4MP Tested on Nov 03, 2016
The 4MP trend continues, now with Hanwha Techwin / Samsung in their latest Wisenet Q series. We bought one of these models, the QNV-7080R, to see...
Sony 35mm Super Low Light Camera Tested on Oct 31, 2016
Sony is making a big push for their SNCVB770 camera, touting its low light capabilities that they claim can deliver true color in pitch black...
IR Camera Reflection Test on Oct 17, 2016
All that might stand between good video and bad in your IR dome is a ring of foam rubber, keeping infrared from reflecting into the lens....
Bosch First Starlight 1080p Camera Tested on Oct 13, 2016
Bosch has released their first 'Starlight' 1080p camera, the Flexidome IP starlight 7000 VR. We tested this new dome against competitive super low...
4 Biggest Low Light Problems on Oct 10, 2016
100 integrators told IPVM what their biggest problems were with low light images. The most commonly cited themes were: Limited IR Range Uneven...
Axis 4MP Camera Tested (M3046-V) on Sep 28, 2016
Axis has brought 4MP to its camera line in the new M3046-V, the highest resolution model in their revamped M30 series. We bought and tested this...
Nest Cam Outdoor Tested - Analytics Strong, Installation Weak on Sep 23, 2016
After years of claiming an outdoor model was "coming", addressing their biggest user demand, Nest has finally released their Outdoor Camera, an...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Sony IP Camera Backdoor Uncovered on Dec 06, 2016
A backdoor has been uncovered in ~80 Sony IP camera models, attackers can remotely enable telnet on the camera, and then potentially login as root,...
Milestone Favorability Results on Dec 06, 2016
In our second installment of manufacturer favorability results (first was Pelco), we turn to Milestone. 100+ integrators rated and explained what...
XiongMai Master Password List Emailed By Chinese Spammer on Dec 05, 2016
XiongMai created an international uproar as their devices drove massive botnet attacks of major Internet sites. After pledging to recall cameras...
Hikvision Cloud Security Vulnerability Uncovered on Dec 05, 2016
A security researcher uncovered a critical vulnerability in Hikvision's global cloud servers. This vulnerability allowed an attacker to remotely...
Door Operators Access Control Tutorial on Dec 05, 2016
Doors equipped with door operators, specialty devices that automate opening and closing, tend to be quite complex. The mechanisms needed to...
Pelco Favorability Results on Dec 02, 2016
This is the first in a series of studies of manufacturer favorability. 100+ integrators rated and explained their views of each manufacturer. We...
Hikvision CEO Declares 'We Do Not Cut Rates" on Dec 02, 2016
Hikvision has led another press trip to China, and this time Hikvision's CEO is sharing insights into their competitive strategy, including...
Network Security Audit App (March Networks) Examined on Dec 01, 2016
Verifying one's video surveillance devices are locked down against common cybersecurity vulnerabilities is increasing important, as hacks using...
FLIR Acquires Drone Manufacturer For $134M on Dec 01, 2016
FLIR has acquired Prox Dynamics, a Norwegian maker of small military-grade drones, for $134M.  FLIR president Andy Teich provided additional...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact