Start out by looking in the WiKi in the blue bar at the top of the page. There's a ton of very useful information in there and it needs to be viewed on a computer, not a phone or tablet. The Cliff Notes will be of particular interest although the camera models listed there are a generation old at this point. The best way to determine what kind of camera you need in each location and where each location should really be is to buy one varifocal camera first and set up a test stand for it that can be easily moved around. Test using that, viewing using the web interface of the camera, during the day and at night. Have someone walk around behaving like a miscreant and see if you can identify them. There is also information for choosing hardware and securing the system along with a whole bunch of other good stuff.
Don't chase megapixels unless you have a really BIG budget. General rule of thumb is that a 4MP camera will easily outperform an 8MP camera when they both have the same sensor size. Reason being that there are twice as many pixels in the 8MP versus the 4MP. This results in only half the available light getting to each pixel in an 8MP that a pixel in the 4MP "sees".
A dedicated PC doesn't need to be either expensive to purchase or to run. A used business class machine can be had from eBay and various other sources. The advances made in Blue Iris make it easily possible to run a fairly large system on relatively inexpensive hardware whiich also makes power consumption low, as in under 50 watts in many cases. The biggest expenses turn out to be hard drives for storing video and a PoE switch to power the cameras and, of course, the cameras themselves.
Rule #1 - Cameras multiply like rabbits.
Rule #2 - Cameras are more addictive than drugs.
Rule #3 - You never have enough cameras.
Quick guide -
The smaller the lux number the better the low light performance. 0.002 is better than 0.02
The smaller the "F" of the lens the better the low light performance. F1.4 is better than F1.8
The larger the sensor the better the low light performance. 1/1.8" is better (bigger) than 1/2.7"
The higher the megapixels for the same size sensor the worse the low light performance. A 4MP camera with a 1/1.8" sensor will perform better than a 8MP camera with that same 1/1.8" sensor.
Don't believe all the marketing hype no matter who makes the camera. Don't believe those nice night time captures they all use. Look for videos, with motion, to determine low light performance.
Read the reviews here, most include both still shots and video.
Rule of thumb, the shutter speed needs to be at 1/50-1/60 or higher to get night video without blurring.
The 5442 series of cameras by Dahua is the current "king of the hill". They are 4MP and capable of color with some ambient light at night. The 2231 series is a less expensive alternative in 2MP and does not have audio capabilities, no built in microphone, but is easier on the budget.
Review-OEM Loryta IPC-T5442T-ZE Varifocal 4mp camera (Dahua)
IPC-T5442T-ZE Varifocal from @EMPIRETECANDY 4MP WDR Turret Varifocal Network Camera Review unit courtesy of Andy (@EMPIRETECANDY) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Andy's ipcamtalk vendor forum: link Andy's AliExpress store: link Andy's Amazon store: link Andy's Email: kingsecurity2014...
Review - OEM IPC-B5442E-ZE 4MP AI Varifocal Bullet Camera With Starlight+
All, thanks to Andy (@EMPIRETECANDY ) we have a new 4MP AI camera for testing. This camera has been provided by Andy in exchange for a fair and honest review. This camera is using the OEM model number of IPC-B5442-ZE which is the equivalent of the Dahua IPC-HFW5442-ZE for reference. The IPC-B...
Review-OEM 4mp AI Cam IPC-T5442TM-AS Starlight+
Dahua OEM IPC-T5442TM-AS from EMPIRETECANDY 4MP WDR Turret AI Network Camera Review unit courtesy of Andy (@EMPIRETECANDY) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Andy's ipcamtalk vendor forum: link Andy's AliExpress store: link Andy's Amazon store: link Andy's Email: kingsecurity2014 (at)...
Review IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED (Full Color, Starlight+)
Dahua OEM IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED from EMPIRETECANDY 4MP WDR Turret AI Network Camera Review unit courtesy of Andy (@EMPIRETECANDY) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Andy's ipcamtalk vendor forum: link Andy's AliExpress store: link Andy's Amazon store: link Andy's Email: kingsecurity2014...
Review: IPC-HDBW5442R-ASE-NI - Dahua Technology Pro AI Dome Network Camera
Hey, this is a wonderful forum, and since I’ve recently purchased a new set of Dahua cameras, I thought I’d share my thoughts and opinions. This camera is the IPC-HDBW5442R-ASE-NI, and it’s actually the fourth camera from Dahua that I’ve purchased for my house over the years. Prior to this, I...
Review-OEM IPC-T2231T-ZS 2mp Varifocal Starlight Camera
Updated 12/11/19. Edited for clarity. Dahua OEM IPC-T2231T-ZS from EMPIRETECANDY 2MP WDR Turret Varifocal Network Camera Review unit courtesy of Andy (@EMPIRETECANDY) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Andy's ipcamtalk vendor forum: link Andy's AliExpress store: link Andy's Amazon...
Welcome to the forum Sodium1. I only recently joined this forum, but I started this adventure about 3 years ago, but only in the 'dreaming/planning' stage. Recently installed my first dahua security system and have been extremely happy with the results. Joined this forum off a friends advice, and haven't looked back! Wonderful people here, full of knowledge, advice, professionalism, and lots of 'no sugar coating' answers as well. Read the wiki, ask questions, re-read the wiki, and then ask more questions. It will save you lots of money and many, many mistakes. Again, welcome and have fun!