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 **** ** **/*** ******.
  • *** ******** ** *** ******* ***** *** ** ************ **** *** dummy ******* *** ******* ***** **** *** ** ******* ***** the ****** ** ****** *** ****.
  • ******** *** ** *** ***** ******* ****** **** ********** *********** (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, *** ***** ** **** *******. *** *** ***** ** *** middle ** *** ***** *** ** ***** ******* **** **, labeled ** "********", ****** ******** ******* ** ** *** **'* being *******. *** ******* *** ** ***** ** **** **** a **** ***** ******* *** ********* * *** **** **** a ******.

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

Vivotek 3MP 180 Wall Mount Camera Tested on Feb 28, 2017
Purpose-built wall mount panoramics have become an attractive niche to cover entranceways. In 2013, we bought and tested Vivotek's 1MP...
Dahua 4K HD Analog Cameras Announced on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog has been gaining popularity (even if Axis hopes otherwise). Last year, HD analog's max resolution doubled from 1080p to 4MP (see our 4MP...
Uniview (UNV) IP Cameras Tested on Feb 22, 2017
"We're #3," in China says Uniview (UNV). While the company significantly trails Hikvision and Dahua in total sales, one notable difference is that...
Hikvision Ezviz Mini 360 Plus - $80 Autotracking Camera Tested on Feb 21, 2017
Autotracking, integrated IR, local storage, full HD, cloud access: $80. That is the claim of Hikvision EZVIZ's new Mini 360 Plus. But for this...
Hikvision PanoVu Multi Imager Tested on Feb 08, 2017
Hikvision has entered the multi-imager market with their 180° PanoVu DS-2CD6986F-H, an 8MP, 4-imager model equipped with ~1/1.8" imagers and...
Axis 15MP Multi-Imager Tested (Q3708-PVE) on Feb 07, 2017
Axis continues to expand in the multi imager market, adding to a segment started with the 33MP Q3709. We bought the Q3708-PVE and tested it...
LAST DAY - Camera Course Winter 2017 on Feb 02, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Invisible IR Camera Tested (Vivotek) on Jan 30, 2017
Integrated IR is everywhere in surveillance, from high-end long range cameras to even the lowest cost models. But this IR usually comes with a...
WDR Shootout 2017: Low vs High Cost Cameras on Jan 24, 2017
Multi-exposure WDR was once only available in expensive cameras but in the past few years, this capability has become available even in sub $200...
Geovision Launches Direct Cloud Offering on Jan 18, 2017
Add cloud, subtract integrator. Geovision has launched myGVcloud, an offering that allows consumers to buy cameras and cloud services directly...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Last Day Save $50 - IP Networking Course on Mar 30, 2017
Last Day to Save $50 on the May IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
Dahua Manager: Lots of Backdoors Beyond Dahua or Hikvision on Mar 29, 2017
A Dahua technical manager has fired back at criticisms of Dahua's backdoor, posting publicly what many at Dahua have privately been saying for the...
$10,000 Free VMS Licenses For New Dealers IPConfigure on Mar 29, 2017
Another gimmick or a real deal? The company that brought 'Unlimited' Enterprise VMS License for Just $32,000 and a cannon to ISC West are back with...
Genetec and Axis Power Comcast's SmartOffice on Mar 29, 2017
Comcast has more than 20 million subscribers and $80 billion in revenue. Now Comcast is partnering with Genetec and Axis to deliver a...
IP Cameras Lose Buy America Protection on Mar 28, 2017
IP Cameras have lost the US government's 'Buy America' protection as the Security Industry Association (SIA) successfully lobbied the government to...
2Gig Intrusion Megatest (GC2 & GC3 Panels Tested) on Mar 28, 2017
2Gig is one of the most widely used intrusion systems, with two product lines that are the main offering of many alarm companies, huge national...
Anixter Favorability Results on Mar 28, 2017
Anixter's direct sales and integrator anger about it has been in the news recently: Anixter / Bosch Sells Direct to Amazon Anixter Touts...
Chinese Government Spies on Churches With Video Surveillance on Mar 27, 2017
The Chinese government is using video surveillance to spy on churches in China, reports UCANews, explaining: The [Chinese government]...
Hanwha Wisenet X Tested on Mar 27, 2017
Hanwha has released their latest generation, the Wisenet X series, powered by their new Wisenet 5 processor. This new series claims improvements...
Burglar Alarm Sirens Guide on Mar 27, 2017
Sirens are used to alert users to an alarm condition. In this note, we examine how to choose, locate, and install alarm sirens, including Siren...

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