Ranking The Lowest Cost Outdoor Cameras 2015

By Derek Ward, Published May 14, 2015, 12:00am EDT

Outdoor cameras can be expensive. In our last study of this segment, the variation amongst manufacturers for their lowest cost outdoor cameras was nearly 10x.

In this new analysis, we examine 13 manufacturer products (ACTi, Arecont, Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, D-Link, FLIR, Hikvision, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Vivotek), breaking down the following:

  • Fixed Focal Outdoor IP Cameras (lowest to highest)
  • Fixed Focal Outdoor HD Analog Cameras (lowest to highest)
  • Varifocal Outdoor IP Cameras (lowest to highest)
  • Varifocal Outdoor HD Analog Cameras (lowest to highest)
  • The 4 Major Competitive Trends / Differentiators

Lowest Cost Fixed Focal Outdoor IP Models

Below are the least expensive IP camera models from major manufacturers. Cameras are listed from lowest to highest price, with form factor and resolution also listed:

Lowest Cost Fixed Focal HD Analog Outdoor Models

In 2013, IP was the only viable option for HD video. However, now analog HD (HDCVI/HDTVI) cameras have become common, at prices well below even the lowest IP equivalents. Outdoor models can be found for $30-60, a reduction of 60-70% compared to competitive IP models.

Lowest Cost Varifocal Outdoor IP Models

Many integrators prefer to use only varifocal cameras, not fixed lens. The list below reflects the lowest cost varifocal models from each of the manufacturers above:

Based on these prices, varifocal cameras are on average two to three times the cost of fixed lens models.

Lowest Cost Varifocal Outdoor HD Analog Models

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The cost savings for HD analog was even more significant with varifocal than for fixed focal.

Competitive Analysis

There are four notable trends here:

Majors Ignoring the Market

In the two years since our last look at this segment, Axis and Avigilon have not added any lower cost models (though Axis and Avigilon decreased prices modestly on many models). Both of their lowest cost models remain remote head units, while others have introduced compact bullet or dome models. Others, such as Sony and Arecont, simply have not come down in price in this segment. 

Others More Aggressive

Meanwhile, low-cost competitors Dahua and Hikvision have gotten more aggressive. Both were priced at $200+ in 2013, have dropped prices 50% or more, down to the ~$100 mark. FLIR and Samsung have also released models close to these price points, and others such as ACTi, Bosch, and D-Link have released substantially less expensive cameras.

Integrated IR Prevalent

Integrated IR Illumination is also more widely available in most camera models, with 6 IP cameras and all HD analog modes listed having integrated IR. However, we recommend users field test these lower cost options, as IR range is routinely overstated by manufacturers, especially at these price points.

HD Analog Lowest Price

Most of the lowest cost HD analog outdoor models listed are at or below ~$60, with HD analog having tested well in our previous testing, with similar image quality noted between comparable MP IP and HD analog cameras. Included are links to individual HD analog tests:

Using the Camera Finder

Using the IPVM Camera Finder and BestMatch, users can compare lowest cost options between other factors, such as lowest cost PTZ's, lowest cost panoramics, lowest cost indoor cameras and so on. If there is a particular camera application you would like us to cover in future updates, let us know in the comments.

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