So many cameras... I'm paralyzed, need some guidance

Covy

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The architecture I'm looking at is the following:

  • ESXi VM (Or HP DL380 Gen7) Server
  • Frigate Software
  • Home Assistant Software
  • Doorbell (already purchased Amcrest AD410)
  • POE Switch
  • Cameras

The last part is the stickler for me. I've looked at a LOT of cameras. I think I've landed on Amcrest, but I'm looking at about 7 cameras. I want good quality images both day and night. I've landed on the Amcrest IP8M-T2669EW-AI and IP5M-T1179EW ( think). I don't want to spend a TON of money and I do want to wire this all up before summer ends. Preferably all at once.

So - probably like many, I want the best, but can't afford the best. Are there better options? Should I go with the non-AI version in some areas and not in other areas (and why?)

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.
 

mat200

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The architecture I'm looking at is the following:

  • ESXi VM (Or HP DL380 Gen7) Server
  • Frigate Software
  • Home Assistant Software
  • Doorbell (already purchased Amcrest AD410)
  • POE Switch
  • Cameras

The last part is the stickler for me. I've looked at a LOT of cameras. I think I've landed on Amcrest, but I'm looking at about 7 cameras. I want good quality images both day and night. I've landed on the Amcrest IP8M-T2669EW-AI and IP5M-T1179EW ( think). I don't want to spend a TON of money and I do want to wire this all up before summer ends. Preferably all at once.

So - probably like many, I want the best, but can't afford the best. Are there better options? Should I go with the non-AI version in some areas and not in other areas (and why?)

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.
Welcome @Covy

What do you want to accomplish with cameras?
Functionally accomplish?

Bird watching?
Talking to your dog?
 

wittaj

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See this thread on the importance of focal length over MP and recommendations based on distance to IDENTIFY.

You are looking at budget cams not on ideal MP/sensor ratio and will struggle at night.

 
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Don't chase megapixels, chase sensor size. There is a direct relationship to the size of the sensor, the resolution and the ability to produce good video in low light that includes motion. A nice still shot can be made with just about any camera IF the shutter, exposure time, is slow enough. Problem is if the shutter speed is below 1/60 second all you'll get is blur when motion happens. Here's a list of appropriate sensor sizes versus resolution for good low light vision cameras.

Disclaimer - These sizes are what the manufacturers advertise and may, or may not, be the true size of the sensor in the camera.
720P - 1/3" = .333"
2MP - 1/2.8" = .357" (think a .38 caliber bullet)
4MP - 1/1.8" = .555" (bigger than a .50 caliber bullet or ball)
8MP - 1/1.2" = .833" (bigger than a 20mm chain gun round)


The current crop of cameras with good night vision -

Review - 8MP 1/1.2" sensor full color camera


Dual Sensor 4K

5442 Reviews

Review - Loryata (Dahua OEM) IPC-T5442T-ZE varifocal Turret

Review - OEM IPC-B5442E-ZE 4MP AI Varifocal Bullet Camera With Starlight+

Review-OEM 4mp AI Cam IPC-T5442TM-AS Starlight+ Turret

Review IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED (Turret, Full Color, Starlight+)

Review: IPC-HDBW5442R-ASE-NI - Dahua Technology Pro AI Bullet Network Camera

2231 Review
Review-OEM IPC-T2231RP-ZS 2mp Varifocal Turret Starlight Camera

3241T-ZAS Review
 

Covy

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Welcome @Covy

What do you want to accomplish with cameras?
Functionally accomplish?

Bird watching?
Talking to your dog?
Functionally they would be for security. So, I guess it would be people-watching :) I'm sure if I saw a coyote or something else go by a camera I would check that out as well, though. One of the security issues, for example, often (maybe 1-2x per month), the side door on my garage is mysteriously open. It is closed and dead-bolted, usually. I would definitely like to find out what is going on there.
 

Covy

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I did check out the focal length post and some of the reviews, but now I feel even more lost. lol. Mostly because I feel like the cameras I chose are the wrong ones and now I will have to look at everything again, which is daunting.
 

wittaj

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The cameras are recommended in that focal length thread based in distance, coupled with the reviews @sebastiantombs posted represent what many of us believe represent the best value for the dollar in terms of price and all around performance.

The amcrest cameras you are looking at represent consumer quality budget cameras. They are made by Dahua except with lessor quality sensors and material. They are certainly better than any consumer cloud based camera like Ring and arlo, but the Dahua OEM models we suggested will provide the best overall quality.
 

Covy

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The cameras are recommended in that focal length thread based in distance, coupled with the reviews @sebastiantombs posted represent what many of us believe represent the best value for the dollar in terms of price and all around performance.

The amcrest cameras you are looking at represent consumer quality budget cameras. They are made by Dahua except with lessor quality sensors and material. They are certainly better than any consumer cloud based camera like Ring and arlo, but the Dahua OEM models we suggested will provide the best overall quality.
ok, I will start there. I have Arlo currently and they aren't great, but do work. Very poor for detection unless you want to detect everything.

Other question, If they are variable focus, is that focus internal and automatic? What would Frigate do with them, if they did that automatically? Sorry for the very newbie questions, my first foray into cameras (that are not crappy Arlos)
 

wittaj

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These will blow arlo away lol

Varifocal are a set it and forget it. They do not zoom in and out and track like a auto track PTZ does. You set the focal length for the distance you want to cover and then it is focused to that field of view.
 

Covy

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These will blow arlo away lol
ha. I did know that much at least :) I took those down a while ago as they were more of a nuisance than anything else.

Varifocal are a set it and forget it. They do not zoom in and out and track like a auto track PTZ does. You set the focal length for the distance you want to cover and then it is focused to that field of view.
ok, gotcha. I'm thinking I probably won't need that, then, as most of the focus would be in the initial 10-15 feet, but I will keep reading.
 

wittaj

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Yep if your IDENTIFY Is 10-15 feet then 2.8 or 3.6mm focal length will be fine provided you do install these more than 8 feet high or so.
 

ThomasCamFan

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We were all in your shoes at some point. Deciding what to buy is difficult because the low risk choices (good performers) are expensive. Especially because we all desire high megapixel cameras and good models are budget killers.

The message most of us try to get across to newcomers is that although the affordable high pixel count cameras look stunning in the day, the bad guys often come at night.

These intruders will look like translucent globs after sun goes down. You will see a ghostly thing moving around but it is often impossible to identify them. If they stand still and pose in front of the camera then good images are possible. But they don't tend to stop for security camera selfies.

The Amcrest 5MP POE cameras are tempting choices for us penny pinchers. Low cost, decent daytime quality. But skip the 8MP models, especially if you intend to use them outdoors where the lighting is not optimized.

And for the record, I have some of the 5MP IP5M-T1179EW in my installation. Good images during the day and they are "satisfactory" at night with additional yard lighting. I use the bargain priced Amcrest 5MP turret cams for observation and have alternate cameras strategically mounted for identification purposes.

Here's what I propose for your budget system evaluation. Pause the full installation. Instead, buy one of the 3.6mm (not 2.8mm) IP5M-T1179EW cameras. They are inexpensive and there's usually some place around the house where they can be used with good results. EDIT: And this camera can be hacked to run Dahua firmware which provides IVS functions (Tripwire and Intrusion detection). IVS prevents false alerts that are experienced with Amcrest's basic motion event function.

Install the IP5M-T1179EW cameras at a critical location and observe their daytime image quality. You will be impressed. Next perform your night time tests; Have someone pretend to be a bad guy. Record them as they move around the area. If you like what you see then either you have extraordinary lighting conditions or only care to observe rather than identify.

The goal is to determine if budget choices will work for you.

- Thomas
 
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Mike A.

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Also keep in mind going into this new is that whatever you think your requirements are now, where you end up may be quite a bit different. That's probably more typical than not. Most of us who have been around cams for a while have been through the toss the first mistakes that we bought thing so you're going to get recommendations for cams that may be a little more than what you think you need and expensive initially but will serve you well going forward pretty much no matter where you end up. e.g., The vari-focal cams. They provide a lot of flexibility and can be moved and effectively used for a variety of locations/purposes. I've shuffled things around in my system many times as I've added new cams with better capabilities, or locations/views didn't work out as I expected, decided that I wanted something different, etc. Also good to start with one of those to better understand what you really need for given locations/applications.

Two other general comments:
  • On-board AI is great to have and will save you a lot of aggravation dealing with false triggers.
  • Don't go out and buy a bunch of 2.8mm cams thinking that they're what you want because they give you the greatest field of view. Very rarely the best way to go.
 

Covy

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Yep if your IDENTIFY Is 10-15 feet then 2.8 or 3.6mm focal length will be fine provided you do install these more than 8 feet high or so.
Yes, they would be installed in the soffits on the outside, the one in the garage may be much, much lower as it would be watching the interior of the stairs from the basement.
 

Covy

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Also keep in mind going into this new is that whatever you think your requirements are now, where you end up may be quite a bit different. That's probably more typical than not. Most of us who have been around cams for a while have been through the toss the first mistakes that we bought thing so you're going to get recommendations for cams that may be a little more than what you think you need and expensive initially but will serve you well going forward pretty much no matter where you end up. e.g., The vari-focal cams. They provide a lot of flexibility and can be moved and effectively used for a variety of locations/purposes. I've shuffled things around in my system many times as I've added new cams with better capabilities, or locations/views didn't work out as I expected, decided that I wanted something different, etc. Also good to start with one of those to better understand what you really need for given locations/applications.
Understood, makes a lot of sense.

Two other general comments:
  • On-board AI is great to have and will save you a lot of aggravation dealing with false triggers.
  • Don't go out and buy a bunch of 2.8mm cams thinking that they're what you want because they give you the greatest field of view. Very rarely the best way to go.
I feel like these 2 are very important. #1 - I know that with the onboard AI, I can use it within HA. What else would it be good for that Frigate doesn't do by itself? What is the advantage of having both? #2 - Seems like this is the most common theme in the post, which means I will move away from the Amcrest AI camera listed above, most likely.
 

Covy

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We were all in your shoes at some point. Deciding what to buy is difficult because the low risk choices (good performers) are expensive. Especially because we all desire high megapixel cameras and good models are budget killers.

The message most of us try to get across to newcomers is that although the affordable high pixel count cameras look stunning in the day, the bad guys often come at night.
Good point.

The Amcrest 5MP POE cameras are tempting choices for us penny pinchers. Low cost, decent daytime quality. But skip the 8MP models, especially if you intend to use them outdoors where the lighting is not optimized.

And for the record, I have some of the 5MP IP5M-T1179EW in my installation. Good images during the day and they are "satisfactory" at night with additional yard lighting. I use the bargain priced Amcrest 5MP turret cams for observation and have alternate cameras strategically mounted for identification purposes.
Satisfactory may not be too bad in some of the locations. And - I was certainly swayed by the price point since the system I have planned is already over $1k. That probably sounds like pennies, but not so much for me.


Here's what I propose for your budget system evaluation. Pause the full installation. Instead, buy one of the 3.6mm (not 2.8mm) IP5M-T1179EW cameras. They are inexpensive and there's usually some place around the house where they can be used with good results. EDIT: And this camera can be hacked to run Dahua firmware which provides IVS functions (Tripwire and Intrusion detection). IVS prevents false alerts that are experienced with Amcrest's basic motion event function.

Install the IP5M-T1179EW cameras at a critical location and observe their daytime image quality. You will be impressed. Next perform your night time tests; Have someone pretend to be a bad guy. Record them as they move around the area. If you like what you see then either you have extraordinary lighting conditions or only care to observe rather than identify.

The goal is to determine if budget choices will work for you.

- Thomas
Makes a ton of sense. thank you.
 

mat200

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Functionally they would be for security. So, I guess it would be people-watching :) I'm sure if I saw a coyote or something else go by a camera I would check that out as well, though. One of the security issues, for example, often (maybe 1-2x per month), the side door on my garage is mysteriously open. It is closed and dead-bolted, usually. I would definitely like to find out what is going on there.
If you need to ID people, you will need to determine the area you need to ID as the further out you need to ID the tighter the FOV needs to be ..

See the DORI section of the cliff notes ..

If you need low light image capture, try to get larger sensors for the resolution .. ( see the posts by others above .. )
 

The Automation Guy

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I would also suggest that you play around with the IVPM Calculator. You can change the address to your actual location and then overlay an exact model of a particular camera you are considering. This will give you a graphical representation of the coverage area as well as the DORI zones (how close an object needs to be in order to Identify, Recognize, Observe, or Detect a person). I wouldn't guarantee that it's 100% accurate, but it's close enough to really help you pull together all of these concepts that we have talked about and it's close enough that I've used it to correctly determine which camera model was appropriate for each of my specific goals/needs. The free version doesn't allow you to save anything and you can only place two cameras at a time, but it is still a valuable tool to use to help plan where to place cameras and what focal length is appropriate for your goals.

I'd suggest picking something like the Dahua IPC-HDW5442T-ZE to start out with on the calculator because it is a variable focal length camera. You can then change the field of view to make it more narrow or wider and see how the DORI numbers change. Those numbers will extend as you reduce the field of view. It will immediately show that while you will want some wide view cameras as an "overview" of your yard, you'll probably also need to supplement these cameras with cameras that have a more narrow field of view. For example, you'll need more than just an "overview" to be able to identify people the entire length of your driveway and not just the 15' closest to the camera. There may be other important locations that are more than 15-20' away from a camera as well that will need different camera coverage.

Then go back and try some of the other camera models listed in sebastiantombs post in the calculator to see how they are different and are appropriate for some goals/locations and not appropriate for others.
 
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looney2ns

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Buy once, cry once.

Going from Arlo garbage to something like the 5442 series of Dahua cams will be like going from a toy Tonka truck to a Ford F350.
I'd also suggest buying one IPC-HDW5442T-ZE to start and test with. Get your feet wet so to speak.
Setup a test rig with an 8'2x4, 5gal bucket, some rocks for ballast, and test each location for a minimum of 24hrs to see what works and what doesn't.
If you are mounting cameras indoors, then you can go with something less expensive like this Review-OEM IPC-T3241-ZAS 2mp AI Lite series Varifocal | IP Cam Talk
or if you don't need audio this: Review-OEM IPC-T2231T-ZS Ver 2, 2mp Varifocal Starlight Camera | IP Cam Talk

Baby steps is best when designing a survlience system.
 
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