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Computer Geek, But Surveillance Noob. Please Help!

XrayDoc88

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Hello Everyone! I live in Colorado. I stumbled upon this website after trying to educate myself about the best IP camera systems. I already have a 1 Gbps PoE switch and a quality NAS system with Milestone Arcus software. I wish to purchase 4 outdoor PoE cameras. Some of my roof eaves are level and some are angled with the roof line. I want to do the installations myself. My initial research led me to believe that I wanted dome or bullet Hikvision cameras. I'm a quality nut, so I was even considering 5 MP or 8 MP cameras. Then I learned about the whole US/China/Western Region nonsense and the problems buying actual US hardware. I looked on the Hikvision website for their approved list and even contacted a few of them. They seem to be only wholesale distributors that won't sell hardware to me. Hikvision doesn't actually list approved retail dealers. Plus, it is aopparently quite easy to brick your expensive Hikvision camera with the wrong region firmware update. Now after scouring posts on this website, I am utterly confused on the best way to proceed.

1. Is Hikvision worth this headache? Should I buy hardware from B&H Photo or choose another brand?
2. I looked at Nelly's website. Is NSC their "house brand" of equipment? Would you recommend it? Do you know the actual manufacturer?
3. Do you have other preferred brands for IP cameras?
4. I read that I should avoid dome cameras, but they look so cool! What is the drawback of the dome style? Isn't a dome camera basically a turret style with a plastic dome cover?
5. If I mount to an angled eave and don't add some type of angled spacer, do I have to use a bullet style camera in order to be able to "rotate" the image level? Or do dome or turret cameras have the ability to be adjusted level even when they're not mounted level?
6. I'm not certain I need a PTZ camera, but have considered getting one just to have that capability. Would you recommend these?
7. Why are the PTZ cameras lower resolution? Most seem to be 2 or 3 MP.
8. For the non PTZ cameras I was considering fixed focal length, mainly due to cost. Is this a mistake? Should I be getting the variable focus variety?

Sorry for the long post, but I am a complete Surveillance Noob!
 

mat200

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Hello Everyone! I live in Colorado. I stumbled upon this website after trying to educate myself about the best IP camera systems. .. Now after scouring posts on this website, I am utterly confused on the best way to proceed.
..
Welcome XrayDoc88,

Don't worry, it takes some time to figure things out.

Perhaps it would be good to ask yourself what you want the security camera system to do for you.

What do you want to accomplish with a security camera system?
  • Is the day time more of a threat? or night time? If night time look at the starlight models referenced here, if day time the 4K cameras work well. If a combination get both starlights and consider good 4K cameras. ( this is imho of course )
  • See what happened?
  • Potentially ID suspects? Locate cameras less than 8 feet high and close enough to get a potential ID'able facial image. ( please see the ID distance list )
  • Help deter criminal activities? Mount your cameras in obvious locations.
  • Keep an eye on your car parked in your drive way? in the street?
  • Potentially ID cars which suspects maybe using?
  • Watch of other activities, wild animals, your dogs, your cats, birds,..
  • License plate captures? For successful license plate captures you may need to dedicate a camera to it as it requires camera tuning adjustments which makes the overall picture darker.
  • While you are thinking about these issues, you will need to look at potential camera installation locations and measure the distance to the potential suspect and determine if you are within the ID distance. You may need a camera with a better "zoom".

It's easy to get swamped with information here, so I wanted to share some notes with you

Please check out @giomania 's notes:
Dahua Starlight Varifocal Turret (IPC-HDW5231R-Z)

I have also made notes which are a summary of a lot of the reading I've been doing here,:
Looking for some advice and direction!

Have fun joining us here.
 

c hris527

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Hey Doc,
Welcome to the site, Do some reading here before you buy. B&H photo is a solid company but pricey. I have done a LOT of business with Nellys and you cannot beat the support, If you are uncomfortable and need hand holding with support, Nelly's is Great. I have worked with them on a few projects. Nellys are Hikvision for the most part. If you want Dahua, EmpireCandy is your guy here, lots have bought from him with good reviews. Relax read up and do not get overwhelmed.
 

c hris527

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So are the NSC cameras OEM Hikvision? Are they intended for the US market and are the warranties and firmware upgrades solid? Thanks.
I would say for the most part yes, They have a few different lines but the majority of their stock is oem hik. They are in the vendor section here and you can ask them or call them, they have no problem talking to you about product lines, warranty and support.
 

XrayDoc88

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Thank you for the replies. It will take me quite some time to finish going through mat200's links. This hobby can really get complicated! Can anyone just provide some quick easy answers to questions 4-8?
 

c hris527

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Domes usually have the IR lights surrounding the lens in a ring pattern. This causes issues with reflection from the IR lights when activated at night bouncing off surfaces causing a clouding pattern, lots of examples here from that. They can usually be remedied by re aiming. The turrets provide a way better solution by separating the lens and ir device on the cam.
Domes and turrets have less limited mobility that say bullets as far as getting the correct angle, If you want to mount that way they do make wedge spacer or mounts, I know the dahua domes I have on my house needed to be level to get the correct line of sight, I have a dome mounted vertically to the siding on my house and it does just fine for my needs but I will never by another dome again, I will replace them with turrets next time. As far as PTZ's go, they have their place but cost wise you might be able to cover the same area with two decent varifocal cams. Do not get caught up in the megapixel thing, Lots of exzamples on the hows and the why's on how 2mp cams with larger sensors blow the doors off the cheaper 4 mp cams. Fixed lens cams do have their place and I use them when they fit the need, VR cams give you flexibility but do cost more. generally wide angle cams will cover a wide area but almost never give you the money shot when you need it as so many people have learned.
 

mat200

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7. Why are the PTZ cameras lower resolution? Most seem to be 2 or 3 MP.
Hi ZrayDoc88,

With a PTZ which is actively controlled you actually do not need more pixels as you can zoom into the focus you need to get the appropriate ID image, however you do need to have better low light performance as you maybe zooming beyond the range of your IR LEDs.

If you are very interested in PTZ cameras do take a look at the starlight versions of those. Some very nice options there.
 

tangent

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Resist the urge to mount cameras too high if you can. Bald spot cams aren't very useful. If mounting them high is unavoidable, aim them far enough away and zoom in enough to actually get some detail. A front door camera that's 5-7' off the ground is highly recommended, or again ZOOM and target facial captures 10' from your door.
 

looney2ns

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Hello Everyone! I live in Colorado. I stumbled upon this website after trying to educate myself about the best IP camera systems. I already have a 1 Gbps PoE switch and a quality NAS system with Milestone Arcus software. I wish to purchase 4 outdoor PoE cameras. Some of my roof eaves are level and some are angled with the roof line. I want to do the installations myself. My initial research led me to believe that I wanted dome or bullet Hikvision cameras. I'm a quality nut, so I was even considering 5 MP or 8 MP cameras. Then I learned about the whole US/China/Western Region nonsense and the problems buying actual US hardware. I looked on the Hikvision website for their approved list and even contacted a few of them. They seem to be only wholesale distributors that won't sell hardware to me. Hikvision doesn't actually list approved retail dealers. Plus, it is aopparently quite easy to brick your expensive Hikvision camera with the wrong region firmware update. Now after scouring posts on this website, I am utterly confused on the best way to proceed.

1. Is Hikvision worth this headache? Should I buy hardware from B&H Photo or choose another brand?
2. I looked at Nelly's website. Is NSC their "house brand" of equipment? Would you recommend it? Do you know the actual manufacturer?
3. Do you have other preferred brands for IP cameras?
4. I read that I should avoid dome cameras, but they look so cool! What is the drawback of the dome style? Isn't a dome camera basically a turret style with a plastic dome cover?
5. If I mount to an angled eave and don't add some type of angled spacer, do I have to use a bullet style camera in order to be able to "rotate" the image level? Or do dome or turret cameras have the ability to be adjusted level even when they're not mounted level?
6. I'm not certain I need a PTZ camera, but have considered getting one just to have that capability. Would you recommend these?
7. Why are the PTZ cameras lower resolution? Most seem to be 2 or 3 MP.
8. For the non PTZ cameras I was considering fixed focal length, mainly due to cost. Is this a mistake? Should I be getting the variable focus variety?

Sorry for the long post, but I am a complete Surveillance Noob!
3- Dahua Starlight Varifocal Turret (IPC-HDW5231R-Z)
4-Domes have all sorts of reflection issues, and it gets worse as they age. Just don't.
5-See #3, it'll work.
6-Get everything else in order, then decide on the PTZ at the end.
7-If you care anything about night vision, 2mp is plenty. The higher the megapixels, the worse they are at night.
8-See #3.
 

XrayDoc88

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3- Dahua Starlight Varifocal Turret (IPC-HDW5231R-Z)
4-Domes have all sorts of reflection issues, and it gets worse as they age. Just don't.
5-See #3, it'll work.
6-Get everything else in order, then decide on the PTZ at the end.
7-If you care anything about night vision, 2mp is plenty. The higher the megapixels, the worse they are at night.
8-See #3.
OH MY GOSH! I just watched some videos about the 2MP vs 4 MP Dahua cameras. From those examples it looks like the 2MP is clearly the way to go. But how can I purchase that with my OCD? I need the best! :)
I was considering 5MP or 8MP models. 2MP just seems like the resolution is so low. Since that camera came out in 2016, I wonder if there are any improved Dahua models available now, or if it is still the champ? Thanks!
 

fenderman

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OH MY GOSH! I just watched some videos about the 2MP vs 4 MP Dahua cameras. From those examples it looks like the 2MP is clearly the way to go. But how can I purchase that with my OCD? I need the best! :)
I was considering 5MP or 8MP models. 2MP just seems like the resolution is so low. Since that camera came out in 2016, I wonder if there are any improved Dahua models available now, or if it is still the champ? Thanks!
so buy the 5mp and 8, know you have more res, then wonder why your night vision sux...
there are dahua low light 6mp cameras...they run about 325...there is also no turret model..6 Megapixel - Dahua Technology
 

XrayDoc88

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I was just trying to be funny. I can sleep at night if the 2MP is the better performing choice. Paying less money would also be very nice. Is the night vision problem pretty universal among any brand camera with higher res? I saw some 12MP models for lots of money. I would think most important installations would all want the best night time performance.
 

fenderman

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I was just trying to be funny. I can sleep at night if the 2MP is the better performing choice. Paying less money would also be very nice. Is the night vision problem pretty universal among any brand camera with higher res? I saw some 12MP models for lots of money. I would think most important installations would all want the best night time performance.
important installations put proper lighting in...many folks have that ocd disease so they buy the 12mp because bigger is better...then they just live with it...
 

mat200

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OH MY GOSH! I just watched some videos about the 2MP vs 4 MP Dahua cameras. From those examples it looks like the 2MP is clearly the way to go. But how can I purchase that with my OCD? I need the best! :)
I was considering 5MP or 8MP models. 2MP just seems like the resolution is so low. Since that camera came out in 2016, I wonder if there are any improved Dahua models available now, or if it is still the champ? Thanks!
There is a 8MP+ starlight model which just came out.... so yes, if you have the funds you can get this...

8MP Starlight+
IPC-HF8835F - Dahua Technology
 

XrayDoc88

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Oh, I think I may have misinterpreted that 4MP vs 2MP shootout video. I thought they were both "Starlight" models. Was it actually a demonstration of a 4MP non starlight vs. a 2MP starlight? If so, starlight is clearly more important than pixels. Also, I've noticed on the Dahua website that some of their newest models that are still "coming soon" don't mention starlight. Is the "STAVIS CMOS" sensor the same thing as a starlight model, or should I only purchase a camera with starlight in the name?
 

looney2ns

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OH MY GOSH! I just watched some videos about the 2MP vs 4 MP Dahua cameras. From those examples it looks like the 2MP is clearly the way to go. But how can I purchase that with my OCD? I need the best! :)
I was considering 5MP or 8MP models. 2MP just seems like the resolution is so low. Since that camera came out in 2016, I wonder if there are any improved Dahua models available now, or if it is still the champ? Thanks!
If there where, you would see us talking about them.
Here is a newer version, thats just a tick better.
Dahua Starlight IPC-HDW5231R-ZE 800 meter capable ePOE

If you care about ID'ing someone after dark, forget the higher megapixels, unless you want to install lots of light.
 

tangent

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Oh, I think I may have misinterpreted that 4MP vs 2MP shootout video. I thought they were both "Starlight" models. Was it actually a demonstration of a 4MP non starlight vs. a 2MP starlight? If so, starlight is clearly more important than pixels. Also, I've noticed on the Dahua website that some of their newest models that are still "coming soon" don't mention starlight. Is the "STAVIS CMOS" sensor the same thing as a starlight model, or should I only purchase a camera with starlight in the name?
It's simple physics. If you search you can find posts with pretty pictures that go into more detail.

The sensor size matters more than the number of pixels. When you increase the number of pixels without making the sensor bigger and adding optics with a bigger aperture the result is less light hitting each pixel of the sensor. The net result on higher megapixel cameras is often just more noise. Zoom in to 100% on the image from a cheap pocket sized point and shoot camera and then do the same with a DSLR of similar resolution. The effective resolution of the camera with the tiny sensor is less once you zoom out enough to reduce the noise.

Higher resolution cameras can be useful in full sunlight and in very bright indoor applications, but it's easy to be deceived by the allure of more pixels.

The Dahua Starlight IPC-HDW5231R-Z/Dahua Starlight IPC-HDW5231R-ZE excel because the sensor is large, the number of pixels isn't too high, and the aperture is huge. The result is a pretty clear image, but that still doesn't mean you should run it in color at night in most cases unless you like blurry pixelated images.
 

Philip Gonzales

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It's simple physics. If you search you can find posts with pretty pictures that go into more detail.

The sensor size matters more than the number of pixels. When you increase the number of pixels without making the sensor bigger and adding optics with a bigger aperture the result is less light hitting each pixel of the sensor. The net result on higher megapixel cameras is often just more noise. Zoom in to 100% on the image from a cheap pocket sized point and shoot camera and then do the same with a DSLR of similar resolution. The effective resolution of the camera with the tiny sensor is less once you zoom out enough to reduce the noise.

Higher resolution cameras can be useful in full sunlight and in very bright indoor applications, but it's easy to be deceived by the allure of more pixels.

The Dahua Starlight IPC-HDW5231R-Z/Dahua Starlight IPC-HDW5231R-ZE excel because the sensor is large, the number of pixels isn't too high, and the aperture is huge. The result is a pretty clear image, but that still doesn't mean you should run it in color at night in most cases unless you like blurry pixelated images.
I think it's good to run color on at least one overview cam. That way you can get the color along with the details. I imagine if someone has red hair they may be easier to identify or the color of their car, etc.
 

tangent

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I think it's good to run color on at least one overview cam. That way you can get the color along with the details. I imagine if someone has red hair they may be easier to identify or the color of their car, etc.
Sure. I was just doing my part to debunk the notion that it's generally appropriate to run starlight cams outdoors in the dark in forced color mode. We see a lot of awful color screenshots at night posted here.
 
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