Best Budget IP Cameras – 2019 Recommendations

Best Budget IP Cameras - VueVille

Looking for an affordable budget IP camera that won’t fall apart after a few months, doesn’t spy on your family and doesn’t cost a bomb in ‘subscription’ fees every month? Yes I have been there too.

The market is awash with cheap generic Chinese IP cameras that are super cheap but are probably more trouble than they are worth.

If you have just started researching and already feel like giving up, don’t worry we have got you covered. Your time is valuable, so we have separated the wheat from the chaff for you. Here’s our hand-picked list of the best budget IP cameras for 2019.

Best Budget IP Cameras – 2019 Recommendations




A quick note: This article may contain affiliate links from Amazon and/or other platforms. This is how we pay the bills and ensure an ad-free distraction-free experience for you. If you click on one of these links and then purchase something, we will receive affiliate income for referring you. This goes towards the costs of hosting and running this website and does not cost you anything extra. Thanks for understanding! Also note that Hikvision and Dahua do not consider certain platforms including Amazon as an authorised seller, so we recommend B&H Photo who are authorised resellers of Hikvision and Dahua products.

Features

  • 4MP or 5MP models available, CMOS image sensor
  • 80° Viewing Angle
  • Infrared LEDs for night vision with 30m range
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) on RLC-410
  • Dual band WiFi with 2T2R MIMO antenna (802.11ac 2.4 and 5.0 GHz) on RLC-410W
  • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported
  • IP66 weatherproof rating


Reolink is a solid mainstream brand that makes both budget and advanced IP cameras. The RLC-410 is a tried and tested model that is now in its third year. The RLC-410 and 410W variant are entry-level outdoor IP camera models. Unlike most cheap IP cameras which are made of plastic, these cameras have a full metal body. Both have on-board microphones and local storage by way of the on-board SD card slot. The only difference between them is that 410 is PoE-only and 410W is WiFi-only.

The camera can be easily ceiling mounted and comes with elbow joints. There is a true IR cut removable filter (ICR) to ensure excellent night time videos and faithful colour reproduction during the day. Noise reduction and back-light compensation are also available. Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) which is a premium feature is predictably absent on these cameras.

One of the features that budget IP cameras miss out on is our beloved built-in NVR feature. I am happy to report that both the RLC-410 and RLC-410W have the built-in NVR feature. This feature is great if you are just starting out and have a single camera or do not have a dedicated NVR. So you can set up the camera to do basic motion detection, and it will overwrite older videos automatically. But do note that Reolink cameras do not support advanced motion detection methods.

However the camera doesn’t support continuous recording to the on-board SD card, which is fine because its not something I recommend anyway. You will just end up wearing out the SD card sooner. SD cards are best suited to intermittent motion detection clips being written, rather than continuous data recording. The cameras can instead record to a Reolink NVR or any 3rd party NVR or software that supports the ONVIF standard and RTSP protocol.

PROS:
  • 4MP or 5MP, very good image quality
  • On-board storage and built-in NVR features
  • Email notifications and push alerts
  • Great value for money
  • Works with any 3rd party ONVIF-compliant device such as Synology and QNAP NAS

CONS:
  • No audio/alarm connections
  • Viewing angle of 80° is low
  • Ethernet connection needed for initial setup
  • No WDR
  • Lacks advanced motion detection methods
  • Can’t have both PoE and Wi-Fi

Smart Home Checklist

  • Local storage available: Yes
  • Cloud reliant: No
  • Battery backup: No
  • Smart home compatibility: ONVIF, RTSP
  • Subscription fees: None

Check price on Amazon

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Features

  • 5MP CMOS sensor
  • 33-98° Viewing Angle with 2.7-12mm Motorized Zoom
  • 30m IR night vision
  • SD card slot, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Wi-Fi model available: RLC-422W
  • IP66 weatherproof rating


The RLC-422 has been continuously improved by Reolink and took the crown of best value dome IP camera in our annual IP camera rankings.

Belying its budget-friendly pricing, the RLC-422 sports a 4x motorized vari-focal lens, which is really a premium feature. The camera also has a built-in NVR feature and together with the SD card slot, you can forego an NVR if you wish.

The motion detection feature is a bit lacking as it supports only simple MD, but it does support zones and you can adjust the sensitivity in each zone. However advanced motion detection methods that would help cut down false alerts are not available. The Reolink mobile app is stable and lets you live view all your Reolink cameras simultaneously and access the built-in NVR feature of the timeline. The mobile app is a high quality affair and I use it daily as one of our baby monitor apps.

The camera has a metal body and is IP66 weatherproof and IK10 vandal proof. In case you cannot conveniently wire the camera up at your installation location, you can get the Wi-Fi version – the RLC-422W which supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Unfortunately, Reolink does not make a model with both PoE and Wi-Fi features.

PROS:
  • 5MP sensor, good image quality
  • Easy to use with clear setup process
  • Great value

CONS:
  • No audio support at all
  • No WDR
  • Lacks advanced motion detection methods


Smart Home Checklist

  • Local storage available: Yes
  • Cloud reliant: No
  • Battery backup: No
  • Smart home compatibility: ONVIF, RTSP
  • Subscription fees: None

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Best Budget Outdoor Turret IP Camera: Dahua IPC-HDW4431 (PoE)


Features

  • 4MP CMOS sensor with WDR
  • 104° Viewing Angle
  • 30m IR Range
  • True hardware WDR
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP67 weatherproof, IK10 vandal-proof rating
  • SD card slot on-board
  • Audio & alarm in/out on mini-dome model


The Dahua IPC-HDW4431 family comes is many different variants but all of them have the same core specifications of 4MP sensor, 104° field of view, PoE, SD card slot, great weatherproofing, H.265 encoding, and advanced motion detection. How do they differ? Only in their size and shape, IR range, and audio features:

  • Dahua IPC-HDBW4431E-AS: Mini-dome with audio and alarm in/out and 30 metres IR range
  • Dahua IPC-HDW4431EM-AS: Turret with onboard mic but no audio or alarm in/out and 30 metres IR range
  • Dahua IPC-HDBW4431F-AS: A smaller mini-dome with onboard mic but no audio or alarm in/out and 20 metres IR range
  • Dahua IPC-HDB4431C-AS: An even smaller mini-dome with onboard mic but no audio or alarm in/out and 20 metres IR range

So depending on whether you need the audio and alarm in/out connections or prefer an on-board mic, and the available space you have, choose one of the models above. If you don’t want audio features at all, check out the IPC-HDW4431M model.

PROS:
  • Very good image quality
  • Good value for money
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Its quite rare to find a turret with local storage and a mic onboard

CONS:
  • No audio/alarm connections on the turrets
  • No full duplex 2-way audio support


Smart Home Checklist

  • Local storage available: Yes
  • Cloud reliant: No
  • Battery backup: No
  • Smart home compatibility: ONVIF, RTSP
  • Subscription fees: None

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Features

  • 5MP CMOS sensor
  • 2.8-12mm motorized vari-focal lens
  • 33°-98° Viewing Angle
  • 60m IR Range
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE 802.3at)
  • IP66 weatherproof rating

The 4MP Reolink RLC-423 of 2017 has been upgraded to 5MP for 2019. When we first reviewed it, we were very impressed with the quality and features that Reolink managed to cram into this PTZ at a very affordable price.

But this is a budget PTZ camera – it doesn’t have auto tracking or advanced motion detection, on-board storage/SD card, alarm connections or WiFi. But for the asking price, these are not deal-breakers at all.

Check out our review of the 4MP RLC-423 PTZ here:

1 Review: Reolink RLC-423 4MP PTZ IP Camera

Review: Reolink RLC-423 4MP PTZ IP Camera

While I have owned and reviewed quite a few outdoor IP cameras and pan-tilt indoor cameras regular readers will note ...

User rating:
8.5
PROS:
  • Very good image quality
  • Fast panning/slewing speed of up to 180°/second
  • Great value for money
  • 30 fps is available at 4MP resolution
  • There is an audio in socket

CONS:
  • No alarm connections
  • No SD card slot for local storage
  • No Wi-Fi option
  • Slow focus speed relative to PTZ speed
  • No advanced motion detection methods


Smart Home Checklist

  • Local storage available: No
  • Cloud reliant: No
  • Battery backup: No
  • Smart home compatibility: ONVIF, RTSP
  • Subscription fees: None

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Best Budget Indoor IP Camera: Amcrest ProHD IP3M-941B (Wi-Fi)


Features

  • 3MP CMOS image sensor
  • 90° Viewing Angle, Pan-Tilt
  • 10m IR range
  • Built-in mic and speaker, half-duplex
  • Ethernet port, Wi-Fi
  • Audio and alarm in/out
  • SD card slot

Read Amazon user reviews


While Amcrest’s outdoor IP cameras are decent yet uninspiring, their indoor IP cameras such as the Amcrest ProHD 1080p Pan-Tilt WiFi Camera (IP2M-841B) are very reasonably-priced and well-made. Amcrest has this unique blend of high-quality hardware, reliable software, and great after-sales support.

The IP2M-841B that I still use as one of our baby monitors has now been succeeded by the IP3M-941B. It has an Ethernet port, WiFi, built-in InfraRed LEDs for very good night vision, clear 2-way audio with mic and speaker, built-in SD card local storage, and on top of all this, very good low-light performance. One downside is that the pan-tilt motion is not super quiet.

Amcrest has smartphone apps for both iOS and Android. 4 hours of free cloud storage comes free with every Amcrest camera, with more storage available on the purchase of a subscription. The camera does not need an Internet connection to be set up or for functioning normally.

PROS:
  • Great image quality and 3MP resolution
  • 90 degree viewing angle, with Pan-Tilt
  • Very clear and loud two-way audio with mic and speaker built-in
  • WiFi and RJ-45 Ethernet port, so can use a PoE injector
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Built-in NVR feature, support for SD card, NAS, NVR, FTP and Cloud storage locations
  • Home Automation compatible with ONVIF and RTSP support, works with any NVR also
  • Audio and alarm in/out connections
  • Very good value for money


CONS:
  • Audio is half-duplex only, you cannot hear and speak simultaneously
  • Smartphone apps could be better – free Amcrest apps lack basic features such as push notifications
  • Still no model with both PoE and Wi-Fi, unlike Hikvision


Smart Home Checklist

  • Local storage available: No
  • Cloud reliant: No
  • Battery backup: No
  • Smart home compatibility: ONVIF, RTSP
  • Subscription fees: None

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Best Budget Indoor PTZ IP Camera: Amcrest IP2M-846E (PoE) & Amcrest IP2M-846 (Wi-Fi)


Features

  • 2MP 1080p CMOS image sensor
  • 34.5°-116.5° Viewing Angle, Pan-Tilt-Zoom
  • 30m IR range
  • Ethernet port, PoE or Wi-Fi models
  • SD card slot
  • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported


You can use outdoor PTZs indoors, but they have one major drawback: size. Indoor cameras should be discreet and unobtrusive, outdoor PTZs are anything but this. That’s why the Amcrest IP2M-846 is so brilliant – its a small indoor PTZ camera that you can tuck away in a corner of any room.

Armed with a 2MP sensor, it has a motorized varifocal lens with 34.5°-116.5° viewing angle. Night vision is provided by EXIR LEDs that have a 30m range. It also has an SD card slot that works will with the built-in NVR feature.

The Amcrest IP2M-846E is a PoE-only model and the Amcrest IP2M-846 is only Wi-Fi enabled.

PROS:
  • Very good image and audio quality, PTZ
  • PoE or Wi-Fi available
  • Built-in NVR feature
  • Support for ONVIF & RTSP
  • On-board microSD storage, pre-record and post-record feature

CONS:
  • No audio or alarm connections
  • No PIR sensor
  • No model with both PoE and Wi-Fi

Smart Home Checklist

  • Local storage available: No
  • Cloud reliant: No
  • Battery backup: No
  • Smart home compatibility: ONVIF, RTSP
  • Subscription fees: None

Check Price on Amazon

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What to look for in a budget IP camera

  • Power source – Ethernet port preferable with PoE (Power over Ethernet) support, internal battery good for power backup purposes
  • Wireless – Most cheap IP cameras have only Wi-Fi support. The better IP cameras have an Ethernet port as well. Unless your Wi-Fi camera is very close to your router, you are bound to suffer from drop-outs and poor video/audio. In a bind, you can use Wi-Fi but for security critical purposes, do not use Wi-Fi. PoE make Ethernet an even better choice as you can run just one cable to the camera.
  • Continuous Video Recording instead of just automatic event triggered or manual recording. This requires a storage medium though, like an NVR which adds to the cost.
  • Software features – Built-in NVR feature, advanced motion detection methods to reduce false alerts, push notifications to smartphone apps
  • Local storage – A microSD card slot is great for recording motion detection clips in addition to continuous recording to an NVR or DIY NAS NVR.
  • Audio – Microphone built-in would be a nice to have, full-duplex capability is superb but hard to find in a budget IP camera
  • Advanced features:
    • API available for interfacing with home automation controllers such as the Vera Plus or Fibaro Home Centre
    • Full duplex 2-way audio support, built-in mic or audio and alarm connections
    • PIR sensor to reduce false alerts

I set up our dream DIY smart home combining the best of home security and home automation, all without sacrificing my family's privacy. Let me show you how you can set up your very own smart home too!

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