Testing $29 ONVIF IR IP Chinese Camera

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 08, 2014

The #1 IP camera problem is cost, as unique IPVM survey results show. Rectifying that is critical.

Last month, we received a (spam) email offering IP cameras, with integrated IR and ONVIF support for $29.90 from Wodsee.

We get hundreds of Chinese manufacturer spam emails monthly but this was, by far, the lowest price we have ever seen for IP cameras. Too good to be true? Perhaps, but too cheap to not try.

Wodsee immediately upsold us to the PoE version for $10 more but still at less than $40 for such a camera, it was hard to pass up so we bought 2 of them - the 720p version for $39.90 and the 1.2MP one for $49.90. Add in $33 to ship it directly from China and a week later, we had them.

Here's what they look like in our test setup (from left to right, Dahua, Wodsee 1.2MP, Wodsee 720p and Hikvision):

Given even 'cheap' IP cameras cost $100 or more, seeing how well one at less than half that price would work is important.

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Comments (39)

One of problems we detected in low price IP cameras is that about 3-9 months after it is installed, the PoE will be damaged.

How can we evaluate the PoE circuit quality?

Luis, that's a good question, and one I considered as well. I'm not sure how we can easily test this without simply letting the cameras run indefinitely to see if they fail (which I plan to do).

When you say "low price IP cameras" are you referring to something this low cost or one of the more mainstream lower cost options?

Ethan, until now I found that problem in lower cost cameras at price like $140.00 - $300.00

Did your experience involved failure of the camera, or were you indicating that you have lost POE switches or injectors that you attribute to flaws within the POE circuitry of inexpensive cameras?

Neat tests. I understand some of these companies will go to great lengths to win business, even sending you pictures of their factory or employees if you ask.

I have had great results with Chinese cameras. I have been installing $20 analog cameras the past year with no problems to my budget customers. I also use a Chinese DVR that’s branded to my company. I had to go through several companies before I found a few that have quality products but for low cost cameras they cant be beat. I did one commercial job where I installed 32 700 TVL dome cameras that cost me $11.20 each! My customer is very happy. I haven’t tried the $150 from China cameras yet but I would be willing to bet they would be as good as some of the high end name brand cameras we pay over a grand for.

What I have learned is alot of the mainstream manufactures are just rebranding china made goods. Let me give you a prime example.

I was looking to upgrade my CCTV installation monitor a few months ago so I looked at this model sold by SnapAV under their wirepath brand.

Dealer cost on this model is $347

I found the same unit on Aliexpress for $169.99 with free shipping

Exact same unit. The real model number is STEST 894. Snap just purchased from China and rebadged it.

The unit I purchased works flawlessly!

By the way I have nothing against SnapAV. I love their products!

Sometimes what you're buying cheaper are the ones that haven't gone through quality control or extended testing, or maybe came out of a batch that didn't meet specs. I'm not saying that happens all the time, and that sometimes it isn't the exact same thing. But it's not always the exact same even if it looks the same.

You are absolutely correct. You do have to sample China brands to get good ones.

Hi,

You mentioned the 700TVL Dome for $11.20. Is that CCD or CMOS??

CMOS

How is the quality compared to Sony CCD??

"results in continuous reboots" - Reboots of what, the camera or the VMS? I have seen instances of both.

So it claims to be ONVIF but is not listed by ONVIF? I'd be worried about something like their electrical safety rating also be falsified. I have seen cheap off brand power strips go up in smoke with minimal load. I wouldn't say they'd be ok to use by anybody.

Reboots of the camera. I'll clarify that.

Also: what electrical safety rating? These aren't exactly UL listed. They're CE and FCC "approved" according to the specs, but neither of those are truly safety ratings.

My recommendation is to do the same thing they do at IPVM. Test the camers. They are so cheap you can buy many different models for a few hundred bucks. At my office I have a camera wall with several different models Chinese models that I run 24/7. If they work for me. They will work for my customers.

Warranty period for Wodsee camera? 1 year?

Here's what the invoice said:

I am not sure how much faith to put in that. At that price, I would presume if it breaks, you just buy a new one...

Funny thing about this is that the included paperwork says one year, not two.

What is a "turt dome" and how does it relate to one being "turnt"?

Turret. It generally refers to the type of dome consisting of a sphere you can rotate any which way.

It does not relate to being turnt, though.

We originally planned to test a Zmodo camera (the ZH-IXA15-WC from Amazon - we paid $59, currently it's $79) prior to this test, in a low cost indoor test similar to this one. However, after receiving the camera and setting it up (Ip'ing, looking at features and web UI, etc.), the camera became unreachable (couldn't ping or access it) the next day, and we were unable to resume testing.

Tech support was helpful and friendly, but their efforts were in vain. At least they laid out how to send it in and get a replacement for free.

@Ethan, I think you'll find that the CE ceritification is more restrictive than the UL certification. Ther certification process is very expensive and time consuming. The only question I would have is the validity of the claim. Any company that goes through certification is provided a certificate from an approved certifying agency; you can ask for a copy of the certificate from the manufacturer to make sure. Then to make sure it's not a fake, call the certifying company to verify. But then again for a $30 camera, who cares?

We have been watching the Chinese brands for a few years and we bring in one or two units a year to evaluate. I have to admit that they are getting better in terms of image quality and build. Obviously, reliability is another issue which is why we really haven't deployed them.

This is the kind of report that brings value to IPVM's service. It saves us from having to evaluate them ourselves.

Ed, Thanks.

If you or anyone else has recommendations on less known low cost options to test, please share.

What I think is most interesting is just how cheaply a reasonably functioning IP camera camera can be produced and considering Wodsee is actually making a profit at these prices. Adding some advanced features and impoving existing ones will not add significant hard cost to the camera. Should this be worrying for the manufacturers of popular IP cameras or is this or are the markets they serve insulated from cheap imports with no support structure? I would think second tier manufaturers who are stuck in the middle are most vulnerable.

I agree, second tier manufacturers are most vulnerable. It's squeezing out players without high end or niche optimized offerings.

I do think it is worrying even to popular IP camera manufacturer. Wodsee itself is irrelevant to companies like Axis but the overall trend of Chinese good enough cameras is a real threat to them competing in the value line market segment (e.g., the M30s).

That said, I do not believe they can or will develop many advanced features, as that gets very expensive and requires specialized skills that can be difficult to acquire.

On the other hand, even with what they have, combine that with directly spamming selling to dealers online and it's not surprising to see why they can grow their business.

Two years ago during a discussion with a "major IP camera manufacturer" personal friend regarding margins in his business, he said there was nothing in the way with selling then-current HD cameras in the $130USD street range. He is a true manufacturer so, yeah, I would think OEMs and other middlemen are getting squeezed. At least until 4K, H.265 or whatever the next "big thing" is.

I'm not an integrator but I would think at this price point, ease and speed of installation becomes a bigger factor. Time = $$$

Snowman

As far as physical installation, the only major challenge I see with these domes is the giant PoE connector. Stashing that somewhere is bound to be a pain.

Configuration may be a problem, but since there are so few options to actually change, I'm not sure how much longer they'd take to set up than other cameras. Set resolution and bitrate, and that's about it. It's not like the image adjustments do very much.

Though, you do have to config each camera individually. There's no bulk setup, and even for those VMSs which we could add them to via ONVIF, config was still done on the camera. If they get their ONVIF implementation improved...it could be a whole different story.

I would imagine their NVR's are compatible with their IP cameras.

That's a good point. They do have NVRs and the marketing email said $39 for a 4 channel one. I just emailed them to order one. We'll do a follow up test on that.

Wow, that's cheaper than any DVR's. I'm sure shipping cost is higher than that.

It'd be interesting to see if that NVR can send email notifications upon alarms, either in form of snapshots or better video clips.

Update: the NVR is ordered and should arrive after Chinese's New Years (mid Feb).

I've always did wonder what the quality was on these cheap Chinese cameras. Thank you for doing this test.

"Choose WODSEE, Choose bright eyes !!!"

uh... so their spam worked. that kinda sucks, but I also like the string. :)

Well, it was the 'best' spam out of the hundreds we have received last year if only in that it offered products that we were interested in and disclosed a price that was quite attractive.

Most either lack a price or are offering analog cameras at prices that are low but not really newsworthy.

Take a walking tour of the Wodsee CCTV factory production department

The motion video quality is anything, but good.

Ethan- why did you use a 3MP Hikvision camera (set to 720p)? The low light performance would be better and the price would show betetr as well. The 1.3MP model is DS-2CD2012-I and sells thru authorized channels for under $140

Not so sure that chinese cctv cams are worse than others about power consumption or poe standard.
The only bad point is that there are less settings than others. You then cannot manage brandwith consumption...

Hello, Everyone!

In general, it's question about how much we evaluate picture quality and some features and how much we/customers are ready to pay for it! There are customers and needs where price has higher priority than quality - customer is almost always right! :)


Can anyone by this time who tested (or has installed project) longer than 1 year can comment more about Wodsee or some similar super low cost brands stability and reliability? It would be great to have some very low cost option for few cases!


It's much easier for customer to accept quality (even it's not so good) neither fact that after few month camera breaks down.
Everyone has warranty cases and it would be acceptable if these super low cost cameras would have higher damaged percentage, but if this number goes significantly higher than it's not worth it!

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