IR illumination has increased in popularity, with built in IR becoming a common feature in low-cost models. But when low light needs exceed the relatively short ranges of these cameras (usually 100' or less), users have historically been left with few options aside from high-priced external illuminators. And for those cameras without IR, even for short range, the cost of those illuminators can now be more than the camera itself.
However, a new crop of low-cost illuminators has hit the market, claiming wide illumination angles and long ranges (400'+) at rock bottom prices, under $100 as well as short-range models for under $20.
We bought 5 of these IR illuminators from Amazon for a total cost of under $200, shown below:
We put them to the test and see how the performed in these categories:
Range: Did illumination reach specified ranges or fall short?
Angle: Did illuminators suffer from bright center hotspots or evenly cover the field of view?
Features: How do these illuminators compare to pro models in featureset?
Camera Performance: How did these illuminators work with different Arecont, Axis, Hikvision and Sony cameras?
While I am sure there is some benefit to IR illuminators of 2015 IP cameras having greater light sensitivity than 2015, the IR models we tested in 2010 were bad all around, including extreme hotspotting. Here's a video from the 2010 test;