Detecting wildlife with Dahua cameras

tigerwillow1

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I'm starting this thread to be a resource for people wanting to use Dahua IP cameras to monitor and view wildlife. If you're among the majority of users who want your cameras to ignore detection of cats, dogs, and other animals, you are fortunate that the newer cameras do this quite effectively, and the rest of the post is of no use to you. (Edit 10/16/22 - I added some 5-week test results in posts #40 and #41).

If you do want your Dahua camera to detect wildlife and animals with IVS I'm sharing what I've learned and hope others can expand the information. I'm in a rural area and keeping track of predator animals is every bit as important as keeping track of predator people. The result of the new human and and vehicle detection features is that those who want to detect animals are locked out from using the newer cameras. The user interface has a setting that plainly appears to shut off the human and vehicle filters for IVS, however it does not shut them off. There is no configuration setting on the newer cameras to enable IVS detection of animals. The list of camera models below that do and don't detect animals includes only those I have personally tested.

Cameras that cannot detect animals with IVS:
5442 zoom
5442 fixed focus with current firmware
5842 zoom
color 4k-x

Cameras that do detect animals with IVS:
(My firmware is pretty old, newer firmware might defeat animal detection)
5231E
5231-ZE
4231E
4231EMP-ASE
5442TM-AS (fixed focal length, only with older firmware)
4431M (chinese market camera)
4431K (chinese market)
4431R-Z (chinese market)

Conclusion #1: If you want the most sensitive image sensors, with one exception you're out of luck. So what's the best to do for animal/wildlife detection?

1. If you need it to work only with good daytime lighting, almost any of the cameras can give a good result. The lower end 4MP cameras in my experience do a small bit better than the 2MP starlights. If you need longer focal lengths, the 5231 zoom is the better choice, its field of view being 34 to 97 deg. The only exception would be a 4431 with the 12mm lens, horizontal FOV 24 deg, but likely no longer available.

2. If you need it to work in dim lighting or at night, forget the lower end 4MP cameras. The 2MP starlights are the minimum of what is useful. During the day, the image from a fully-zoomed 5231Z is a slight bit better than a digital zoom from the 6mm 5442 covering the exact same area. As the 5231Z is zoomed out, a digital zoomed 6mm 5442 begins to have better picture quality for the same view area. At night, a 6mm 5442 clearly does better than the 5231Z at any of its zoom settings.

Conclusion #2: The very best you can do for low light and night is the T5442M-AS with older firmware, and it has no significant liability compared to a longer focal length 2MP starlight. Its low light image is considerably better than the 2MP startlights, and it gives better daytime resolution. There are however 2 real drawbacks: (1) Because of the larger image sensor, even the 6mm 5442 is fairly wide angle at 56 degrees, and (2) Security and other enhancements will be lost with the older firmware.

If both best image quality and detection are required, you could use 2 cameras side-by-side, like a 4k-x with a 2MP starlight for the IVS triggers. The old-school motion detection on the newer cameras does detect animals, and shadows, and blowing grass to the point of being close to useless.

The remainder of the post covers what can be done with the best solution, the T5442M-AS. (Caution: It may or may not apply to the T5442M-ASE, which I have not tested.)

Firmware version: I have tested 8 firmware versions with the T5442M-AS (and didn't brick it!). The two newest versions that detect animals with IVS are
DH_IPC-HX4XXX Volt_MultiLang_PN_Stream3_V2.800.0000000.8.R.190902.bin and General_IPC-HX4XXX-Volt_MultiLang_PN_Stream3_V2.800.0000000.10.R.191118.bin . All of the versions .11.R and newer do not detect animals. Observationally I believe the .8.R firmware is the best of those I tried. For the most sensitive detection turn "Anti disturb enable" off.

Focal length: If you don't need a narrower FOV than the 56 degree 6mm lens, you're set with 3 good focal length options available. For a tighter FOV a longer lens is needed. I had a false start with this thanks to what I believe is an error in the T5442M-ASE data sheet, which says the lens mount is M12. By my measurement the lens mount is actually M16, which has horrible lens availability compared to M12. I found a chinese source on ebay and have ordered a 8mm lens, but that will take some time, and there's the possibility it won't fit in the camera case even if it has the correct barrel.

The best solution of course would be for Dahua to allow turning off human/vehicle detection with IVS. I'm hoping but not holding my breath.

Pictures of the T5442M-AS board and lens:

5442_fixedFocal_lensFront (Large).jpg5442_fixedFocal_lensSide (Large).jpg

While I had it opened up, I bridged the 12 volt power input diode (upper left) to power a 4 watt external IR illuminator:

5442_fixedFocal_IR-hack (Large).jpg
 
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Mike A.

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You know that I'm interested since we've talked some about this before.

One workaround that I've done is to use a PIR motion sensor to trigger the cams. That's worked very well. But not as simple as it reads. A lot involved getting from here to there (Hue outdoor sensor to Home Assistant using the BI integration to the cams and to trigger some other things to let me know there's motion out there. ) Not something worth doing just for that but pretty easy if you already have the pieces in place.

Another thing that I've done is to use a 2231 looking at a specific area with regular motion sensing and set up in a way that doesn't generate many falses to trigger better cams as a group. I'd forgotten that the 5231/2231 have IVS. I may have to try that instead.

Both of the above let me use the 5442T-ZEs and Color4K-X better for wildlife independent of the limitations of their IVS.

Would be so much easier if Dahua would give us a pet/animal filter along with the rest. Other cheaper cams have filters like that. One of the few things that really works pretty well with a crappy little Wyze cam that I have.
 
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tigerwillow1

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Oddly, a moth just set off the IVS on one of my 5442T-ZEs. :idk:
My 4k-x trips IVS a few times a day from blowing grass and stationary bushes, never for a deer, cat, coyote, etc. To balance the negativity, I find it incredibly good at person and vehicle detection. The bottom of my driveway is about 200' from the camera, and it catches every teeny-weeny car, person, and bicyclist going by, and with digital zooming I can usually make out the car make and model, and recognize people I already know.
 

Mike A.

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Yes, positives for humans/vehicles are 100% as far as I've seen.
 

wittaj

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My 4k-x trips IVS a few times a day from blowing grass and stationary bushes, never for a deer, cat, coyote, etc. To balance the negativity, I find it incredibly good at person and vehicle detection. The bottom of my driveway is about 200' from the camera, and it catches every teeny-weeny car, person, and bicyclist going by, and with digital zooming I can usually make out the car make and model, and recognize people I already know.
Have you tried adjusting the sensitivity or do the global config?
 

tigerwillow1

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Have you tried adjusting the sensitivity or do the global config?
Yes on the sensitivity, no on the global config. The false trips are few enough that it's not a hardship for me.
 

tigerwillow1

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Here's an example from this morning of why I'm such a pest wanting to detect animals:
Capture.JPG Capture1.JPG

I'm starting to wonder if I should just give up on any new cameras. This morning one of the 5231s picked up a frog, coyote, rabbit, and squirrel. The side-by-side 5442 with old firmware caught only the rabbit. Even the 5 year old chinese market cameras trip IVS for the other animals. The rub is I couldn't tell what the frog was until I looked at it on the 5442's recording, where it was quite clear. Kind of dammed if I do, damned if I don't.
 

wittaj

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Yeah, I certainly agree with you on the newer cameras should have ability to turn off object detection for human and vehicle so that you can detect animals. Or maybe add 4 legged check box lol.

I think the newer cameras indirectly show how Dahua doesn't cater to the homeowner and they are focusing towards firmware improvements for human and vehicle detection as that is probably 99.9% of their business market.
 

wittaj

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Actually I was wrong above re the moth tripping IVS. I got more alerts later and went to look why. Found regular motion detection was turned on. I know I didn't change that. I've had that happen several times on different IVS cams which is why I went to check it. Not sure why it does that.
If you are using BI, we have seen that happen with the PTZ. We turn the sensitivity way down and just a block or two so if it turns on it won't do anything.
 

wittaj

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It's an issue with BI. Do the workaround above and you will be fine.
 

wittaj

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It is some sort of bug and it does it to those of us with the Dahua PTZ. I am only using onvif triggers and not BI motion and it will turn MD on. If I take the PTZ off of BI then MD stays off, but as soon as it is added back in it turns it back on.

First I have seen it with a fixed cam, but it must have pulled over. I will check my 5442 now.
 

wittaj

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No in the camera GUI Motion detection screenshot you posted above, set the time period of as small as it will allow, the sensitivity for as low as it will allow, and then a block up in a corner or someplace obscure so that when it turns back on in the camera, it is basically not triggering for anything.
 

Mike A.

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Ahhh... Got it. Thanks.

Back to the thread now... Anything else, I'll make another thread and continue there.

ETA: That does seem to have stopped it. Box still gets checked but no alerts. I've deleted my posts re this to try to clean up the thread.
 
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ludshed

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I’m in a similar situation; country surrounded by wide open pastures with only light sources being the moon. I picked up a couple of the thermal hybrids to test out and they work quite well. In 10 years have never had deer, in the last month these bastards have ravished my orchard!
 

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tigerwillow1

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.....deer, in the last month these bastards have ravished my orchard!
At my place, anything you don't want eaten has to be fenced. The recommendation is 8', but I've found they are usually too lazy to try 6' or higher. I'm playing with the 5442 settings a lot, and right now IVS will pick up deer and squirrels, but not rabbits. Makes no sense to me. I've never thought about the thermal cameras as an option. Too bad the 4k-x isn't good with animals because it's darned good with just moonlight.
 
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