Low Cost Professional IP Cameras Comparison

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Oct 23, 2011

"Too expensive" is probably the most frequent complaint about IP cameras. While IP cameras have clearly come down in price in the last few years, they are still, on average, notably more expensive than analog cameras. Though it is becoming easier to justify MP cameras, price remains a barrier for many. Add in economic problems around the globe and real pressure exists to minimize spending on surveillance.

You can get really cheap IP cameras for about $100 but these are typically consumer level products that are rarely acceptable for professional deployments. We did a series of tests on these cameras last year and while some were impressive for their price, none of them were truly a professional option.

Professional Features at Lower Prices

We wanted to focus on finding IP cameras that provided professional features at lower prices than available from the big brands (e.g., Axis, Sony, Panasonic, Pelco, etc.).

To qualify these cameras, would need to meet a number of fundamental criteria:

  • Box cameras that supported varifocal or exchangeable lenses. While cube cameras are cheap, they generally do not provide sufficient deployment flexibility to be used professionally.
  • Dome cameras: Professional users like domes for their aesthetic low profile.
  • Outdoor use option: If the cameras can only be used indoors, it is a big constraint.
  • H.264: MPEG-4 and especially MJPEG have fallen out of favor among professionals.
  • Megapixel: SD only is no longer acceptable for professionals.
  • Day/Night support: Low light imaging is important and color only cameras are generally not enough.

Our Comparison

In this report, we review low-cost or lesser-known manufacturers. Over the past few months, we have reviewed in detail the pricing and key feature sets of a dozen suppliers.

Manufacturers Included

Here are the dozen manufacturers included with a link to our detailed review of each one:

There are many lower cost, less well known Asian manufacturers. We selected the ones we did based on integrator feedback and availability for direct branded sale in the US. We only analyzed manufacturers whose products were available for sale under their own brand and therefore excluded pure OEM providers.

We have included common low-cost manufacturers ACTi, Arecont, and Vivotek in the comparison as a comparison against other less known manufacturers can be judged. We have also included pricing comparisons to market giant Axis as a reference for mainstream pricing.

Inside the Pro section, we provide recommendations for interesting products in these lines and overall low-cost leaders.

"*** *********" ** ******** *** **** ******** ********* ***** ** cameras. ***** ** ******* **** ******* **** **** ** ***** in *** **** *** *****, **** *** *****, ** *******, notably **** ********* **** ****** *******. ****** ** ** ************** ** ******* ** *******, ***** ******* * ******* *** ****. *** ** ******** problems ****** *** ***** *** **** ******** ****** ** ******** spending ** ************.

*** *** *** ****** ***** ** ******* *** ***** $*** but ***** *** ********* ******** ***** ******** **** *** ****** acceptable *** ************ ***********. ** *** ******* ** ***** ** ***** ******* **** ******* ***** **** **** ********** *** ***** *****, **** ** them **** ***** * ************ ******.

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

** ****** ** ***** ** ******* ** ******* **** ******** professional ******** ** ***** ****** **** ********* **** *** *** brands (*.*., ****, ****, *********, *****, ***.).

** ******* ***** *******, ***** **** ** **** * ****** of *********** ********:

  • *** ******* **** ********* ********* ** ************ ******. ***** **** cameras *** *****, **** ********* ** *** ******* ********** ********** flexibility ** ** **** **************.
  • **** *******: ************ ***** **** ***** *** ***** ********* *** profile.
  • ******* *** ******: ** *** ******* *** **** ** **** indoors, ** ** * *** **********.
  • *.***: ****-* *** ********** ***** **** ****** *** ** ***** among *************.
  • *********: ** **** ** ** ****** ********** *** *************.
  • ***/***** *******: *** ***** ******* ** ********* *** ***** **** cameras *** ********* *** ******.

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

** **** ******, ** ****** ***-**** ** ******-***** *************. **** the **** *** ******, ** **** ******** ** ****** *** pricing *** *** ******* **** ** * ***** *********.

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

**** *** *** ***** ************* ******** **** * **** ** our ******** ****** ** **** ***:

***** *** **** ***** ****, **** **** ***** ***** *************. We ******** *** **** ** *** ***** ** ********** ******** and ************ *** ****** ******* **** ** *** **. ** only ******** ************* ***** ******** **** ********* *** **** ***** their *** ***** *** ********* ******** **** *** *********.

** **** ******** ****** ***-**** ************* ****, *******, *** ******* in *** ********** ** * ********** ******* ***** **** ***** manufacturers *** ** ******. ** **** **** ******** ******* *********** to ****** ***** **** ** * ********* *** ********** *******.

****** *** *** *******, ** ******* *************** *** *********** ******** in ***** ***** *** ******* ***-**** *******.

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

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

** ****** ** *** ********** ******* ** **** ** ***** cameras, **** ****** **** ** *** ******, ******* *** ** a *********** *******. ****: ** **** *** ****** *** ***** quality ** *** ****** ***** ****** ************* *********** ******. ** believe, **** * *** ** *** ******-***** ***** **** *** worth ******** ***.

  • ******: ** ***** *****, ****** ****** ***. *******, ***** ****** beware **** ***** ****** *** ******** **** **-***** ***** ******, as ******* ** **** ****** ** **** **********. ** *** lens ******** ** *** **********, ***** ******* ********* ** ******* lessened. ****, ** ** *** *****, ***** ***** ***** ************ are *** ** ****** ** ******, *** **** **** ***** support.
  • ***, *-****,***********: ***** ** ****** *** ** ***** ********* ****** *** as ******* ********, ** ***** **** ******** *** *** *******. First, ***** *******, ***** *** ** *** ** ******, ***** to ** ***** **** ******* ** *** ******** *** ********* spec'd *******, *** **** ***** **** ***** *************. ******, ** have ***** ***** ********* ***** ******* ** ***** ***** **** end *****, *** ****, *** **********, **** **** *** ***** by ****.

****** *********** ***** ********* ** *** ******** ****, *** ******** stand *** ** ***** **** ***** ****** **** ****** **** away ****. ***** ************* *** ****** *** ******. *** ********** surveillance, ** ***'* ******* **** *** *********, **** *** ******** exception ** ********* ***** ******** ********* *-* *******. ***** **** of ***** ***** ** ***** *******, ****** **** **** *******, and ***** ***** ****** ***** ** *** *** ** ** being * **** ****** *** ************ ***.

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

*** *** **** ****, ***** ** ****** ************* ** ****** about *** ***** ** ***** ***********. ***** *** *** ************* that *** ********* ***** *** ***** ****** ******* ** **********. There *** * ******* ** ******** ***** ***** *** ** worth * ****, *******:

  • *** ********* **** **: ****** ***-******** * *.*** *********** ******* ****** **** *-**** **** *** dual ** ************. ***** ************ *** ***** ** ***** ** to ***, ****** ***** ************** *** ********* **********. *****, **** model ***** ** ***** *** ***** ******* * ****** **** greater *****, ***** **** **.
  • ******** ******** **********: ***** ******* ******* **** *****-** ******** ********** may ** ********** ** ********'* **********. **** ****** ** ***** line *** ********* **** ***** ** ***.** ******** **********. **** coupled **** ***** ******** ****** *****, ************ ** ******** ** be ******, ******* *** *** ** **-** ********* ***** ******* on *** *** ******. ******** **** *** ******** ****** **** biult-in ** ***-** ** **********, ***** *** ** ****** *** remote ***** **** * *** ****** ****** ** * ****** camera.
  • *********** *** ********: ***** ****** ** *** *********** **** ** capable ** **-*********** *** *****. **** **** ** ** ******* interest ** *** ******** ** *******. *** ***** ******* * camera ** ********* ** * *** ***** ****** *** *** as ** ***** *****, ** **** ** ******, *******.

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

**** ** ***** ************* *** ******* *******, **********, *** **** in ***** ****. ** *****, *** ******** ** **** ****:

  • ****: *** **** ** ****** **** ** *****, **** *** the ****** **** ******* ***** ***** **** *** ******, ** multiple ***********, ** ** *** (** ********** *** ****** ** resolution).
  • *******: ******* *** ****** ***** ** *** ********* ****** ** cost *****, **** *** ** *** ****** ******-***-***** ***** ******. Their **** ** ***** ******* ****, **** ** ****, ** resolutions ** ** ****. **** **** **** ***** ******* **** their ************ **** ** ***° *** ***° *******, ***** ******* of **** *** ** *** ******* ** * ****** *******.
  • ********: ******** ****** * ***** **** ** ** *******, ********* video ******* *** ****, **** *********** ** ** ***. *** most ******* ******* ** ***** **** ** *****-** ******** ********** in * ****** ** ******, **** ******** ******** *** **.
  • ***: *** *** ** ****** **** ****** *** *****, **** multiple ****** ** **** **** ******. *** ** ******* ***** users ****** ** * ******** ******, **** **** *** **********.
  • ******: ****** ******* *** ** *** ******** ***** ** *** the ************* ** **** ******, **** ** ** **** *** models, *** ******* **** *******. ******* **** *** ************* ******. However, ****** *** *** ** *** ***** ********* ********* ******* we **** ****, *** $*** *.*** **** **** ******.
  • *-****: ***** * ****** ** ***** **** ** **** ****, D-Link's **** ** **** **** ********** ** *********** *******, *** they **** ******* *** *****, **** ******** ******* ** **** form ******, ********* ** ** *.*** **********.
  • ******: *** ****** **** ** **** *****, *********** **** ****** with **** ******* ****, **** ** ****, ****** ***, *** bullet **** *******. ********** **** *** ** *.***.
  • ******: **** ******** * ***** ****, ****** **** ******* *** dubious *********** ** ****** *** **** **** ******* * ********* camera ** **** ******. **** ** *** **** ** *****-****, as ****.
  • ***********: *** *********** **** ** ********* **** ** ***** *** cameras, * ****** **** *****, *** ****** *** ******* *****. Most ** *** **** ** ******** **********, **** * ***** box ****** *** *** **** ******.
  • *********: ********* ******* * **** **** ** ** *******, **** multiple ******* ** *** **** *******, *** *********** ** ** 5MP. *** **** ** ************ ********* ******* ** *** *******, since ***** *** **** ****** ** *** **** **** *** same **** ******, **********, *** ***** *****, **** *** **** difference ***** *** ****** ** **** ** *** ******.
  • ******: ******'* **** ** ********** *******, **** ******* ** ***** dome, ***** ***, ****, *** ****. **** **** **** ***** panoramic ******* **** ****. *********** *** ********* ********* ** ** 2MP.
  • *******: ***** *** ***** *** ** *** ***-**** *******, ******* has ******* *** ******** **** ** **** ******, **** **** options *** *** **** *******, ** * ******* ** ***********, as **** ** ********* *******.

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

*** ******* ********* **** ***** ******-***** ****** ** ******* ** often *** **** **** ********* **** ***'* ****** *** ********, if ** ***. ***** *** ***** ** **** **** ***** somewhat, *** *** *** ** ***** ******* ******* *****, ******. A ***** ******** ** **** ************'* *****-***** *******:

  • ****: **** *** **** ****** ********* ** ***** ******* *** a *** *****, ***. **** ** * ****** ** ***** and *** *** ****** *** ****** ** ***** *********.
  • *******: ******* ** **** ****** ********* ** *** *********. ********* their ********* *********, ****** **** ******** ******* ** **** *******, only ******* *** *** *******. ** ******* ****** *** ********* ONVIF-compliant.
  • ********: ******** *** ****** ***** *****-***** *******, ********* ****** ********* and *****, ** **** ** ******-***** *** *** *** ******, such ** **** *** ********. *** ****** **** ** *****-*********.
  • ***: *** *** ******** ******* **** *****-***** ****. ********* *** Genetec **** **** ******* ****** ******* *** ***** *******, ***** with * **** ** ***** *** *********. *** ** * strong ********* ** *****, *** *** ****** **** ** *****-*********.
  • ******: ****** *** ******* *****-***** ***********, **** ******** *** ******** being *** **** *** ******** ** ****. *********, *** **** is *** *****-*********, *** ****** *** ******* **** ***** ** added ** *** *** ** ****.
  • *-****: ******* *** *-**** ******* ** ******* ** * ****** number ** ***/*** ********. ******* *** ****** ****** *** *****-*********.
  • ******: ******* *** ****** ******* ** ***** ******* ** ********* limited, *** **** ***** ** **** ***** ******** *** ****. Edimax ****** ** *****-********* ***** ** ****** ** *** *** of ****, *** ** ******* ****** ******* **.
  • ******: ****** *** ******* *****-***** *******, ** ****. ******-***** ** lower-cost **** **** ** ********, **** ****, *** **** ******* them, *** *********** ** ***** ******* ** *******. ***** ** currently *** *********.
  • ***********: *********** *** ************ **** ***** *** ********* *******, *********, and ********, *** *** ******** ** *** **** ** *****-*********.
  • *********: ********* *** **** *****-***** ******* **** *** *******, **** major *** *****, ****** ***** ***** **** ** *** ****** firmware. *** ******* *** ****** ****** *** *****-*********.
  • ******: *** ****** **** *** **** ********** **** * ******** number ** ****, ****** *****, *** ********* *********, ****, *** Synology. ***** ** ********* *** *********.
  • *******: *** ******* **** ** ******* ********* ** * **** list ** *** ************. ***** ** **** *********.

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

*** *** ******** **********, ** **** ******** * ***** *** camera *** ** ******* **** ****** ** **** ** *.*** resolution **** **** ************, ***** ** **** ***** *** *** most ****** ******* *** ***** *** ********** ** *****. ***** box ******* **** **** ************ ******* ** ****:

  • *******-****:~$*** ******, ********* *.*** **-***** ****
  • ***************:~$*** ******, ** **** ********
  • **********-*****: ~$*** ********* ****** *******, ** **** ********
  • ***********: ~$*** ********* ****** *******, ** **** ********
  • ***********: ~*** ********* ****** *******, ** **** ********
  • *-*******-****: ~$*** ********* ****** *******, ********* *.*-*** **-***** ****
  • *********** ***********: ~$*** ******, *.*-**** **-***** **** ********
  • ***********-*******-*: ~$*** ********* ****** *****, ** **** ********
  • ***********: ~$*** ********* ****** *****, *** ***** **-***** **** ********
  • *************:~$*** ******, *.*-**** **-***** **** ********
  • *********:~$*** ******, ********* *-*** **-***** ****

******** **** * **** (*** ***** ***** ** *** ******* one) **** **** ** **********, ~$***, ***** ** *** ******* above, *** ****** ** ***** ** ******, **** ****** * 20% ***** ********* **** *-****, *** **** ****** **********. **'** included *** **** ***** *** **********. ****** ***** ** ** less **** **** *** ***** ** ****, **** *-**** ****** in ** ***** **% *****.

**** **** ****** *** ****** ** *** ***** *** *******. Inclusion ** **** *******, *** ******* ******** ** ***** **** to * ***** ***, ***** **** ***** ******* ******* ** they **** **** ******* *** ***** $***.

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

**** ** ***** ************* ******* * **** ******** *** ******* use, ****** **** ** **** *****. ** *** ***** ***** this *** *** *******, ** **** **** ** ******* ****** camera, ***** ********* ** ** *** **** ***** *****, **** a ******* ******* *** ** * ********* **** ******.

**** *****, ** **** **** *** ****** *** ******, ** their ******* *** ***-****, *** ************* **** *********, *** * fair **********. ****** ********* ** ******* *****, ****** *********** *** Brickcom *** ********** ****-******.

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

Nest Cam Outdoor Tested 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...
Milestone Ends Development of "Enterprise" VMS on Sep 22, 2016
Milestone 'Enterprise' was one of the first enterprise video management software offerings, selected by many early adopters of IP video. However,...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
Totally Wireless IP Camera (IPVideo Corp NomadHD) on Sep 21, 2016
Wireless battery powered cameras have been a surveillance pipe dream for years, limited by camera power consumption, battery technology, and...
Tagged RFID Object Search Recorded Video on Sep 20, 2016
Video analytics has gotten fairly good at tagging people in video, but it does not solve the problem of finding items like specific merchandise or...
Camera Course September 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training exists...
PTZ Camera Guide 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras remain critical parts of many surveillance systems, especially in large security operations. Because of this it is important...
Milestone Kills Go, Slashes Express Pricing, Launches Enhanced Version Free on Sep 12, 2016
Milestone is shaking up the industry again with enhanced free software and a major price drop. 6 years ago, Milestone launched their first free...
Axis / Canon Launch 20MP Avigilon Rival on Sep 12, 2016
For years, Avigilon has essentially owned the 'super high resolution' single imager market. And Axis has resisted, most famously in 2012, when...
Hikvision 4K Camera Tested on Sep 09, 2016
Hikvision is the most common choice for low price entry level products but they are also competing with low light models, smart CODECs, WDR...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Nest Cam Outdoor Tested 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...
ACTi Refuses Race To The Bottom, Shifts To Solutions on Sep 23, 2016
The original low cost IP camera disruptor was ACTi. Back in the 2008 - 2010 time frame, Taiwanese manufacturer ACTi challenged the Western and...
You Get Robbed, Canary Will Pay You Up To $1,000 on Sep 22, 2016
Canary is trying to break the status quo in DIY security, first by raising over $40 million, and now a revamp of their monthly services package...
Milestone Ends Development of "Enterprise" VMS on Sep 22, 2016
Milestone 'Enterprise' was one of the first enterprise video management software offerings, selected by many early adopters of IP video. However,...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
Access Control Course Fall 2016 on Sep 22, 2016
IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry. Unlike manufacturer training that focuses only on a small part of the...
Totally Wireless IP Camera (IPVideo Corp NomadHD) on Sep 21, 2016
Wireless battery powered cameras have been a surveillance pipe dream for years, limited by camera power consumption, battery technology, and...
Axis Launches IP Speakers on Sep 21, 2016
First, Axis introduced an IP horn, then it was video intercoms, and now it is Networked Speakers? While IP-based Public Address systems are not...
Tagged RFID Object Search Recorded Video on Sep 20, 2016
Video analytics has gotten fairly good at tagging people in video, but it does not solve the problem of finding items like specific merchandise or...
FLIR and Geovision Join the Hikvision Price Cut Race on Sep 20, 2016
Hikvision's price cuts are clearly a trend setter. After numerous and increasingly large cuts, the destructive cycle is accelerating. Last month,...

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