Best Outdoor IP Camera 2018 Recommendations

Our annual roundup of the best outdoor IP cameras to buy has become a very popular resource for those who want to create their own DIY security camera system. We have received many emails from readers with compliments and further questions about IP camera selection. We are just so happy that we have been able to help you in some small way. So once again we have invested many hours of research to create a brand new up-to-date list of the best outdoor IP cameras for 2018.


2017 was a great year as we saw new entrants in the IP camera market such as Amcrest and Reolink maturing and introducing innovations such as affordable 4 Megapixel resolution and wire-free cameras that do not need a cloud subscription. 2018 looks to be the year 4MP cameras go mainstream and we start dipping our toes into 5MP, 6MP and even 8MP cameras! We still think 3 MP is more than good enough for most people. At the same time, there are even more dodgy companies trying to flood the market with cheap poorly built cameras. So it has never before been so important to do your research before buying.

As always, at the end of this article, you will find our recommendations for specific purposes and thoughts on the other popular security cameras which didn’t make the cut.

Best Outdoor IP Camera 2018 Recommendations List

So here’s a handy summary of all our outdoor IP camera recommendations for 2018, split by form factor:

AwardCameraMegaPixelsWiFiPoEPrice
Best Outdoor Bullet IP Camera 2018
Best Value Reolink RLC-410S 4MP

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Best Value Wi-Fi Reolink RLC-410WS 4MP

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Great Value Dahua IPC-HFW4431E-S 4MP

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Great Value Reolink RLC-411S 5MP

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Great Value Dahua IPC-HFW4831E-SE 8MP

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Enthusiast Choice Dahua IPC-HFW2421R-ZS/VFS-IRE6 4MP

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Enthusiast Choice Vivotek IB9381-HT 5MP

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High-End Dahua IPC-HFW8331E-Z 3MP

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High-End Axis M2026-LE Mk II 4MP

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High-End Dahua IPC-HFW5831E-ZE 8MP

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AwardCameraResolutionWiFiPoEPrice
Best Outdoor Dome IP Camera 2018
Best Value Reolink RLC-422 5MP

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Best Value Reolink RLC-422W 5MP

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Enthusiast Choice Dahua IPC-HDBW5831E-ZE Dahua IPC-HDBW5631E-ZE Dahua IPC-HDBW5431E-ZE 8MP
6MP
4MP

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High-End Vivotek FD9381 5MP

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AwardCameraResolutionPoEPrice
Best Outdoor Mini Dome IP Camera 2018
Best Value Dahua IPC-HDW4431 4MP

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Enthusiast Choice Dahua IPC-HDBW4631 6MP

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High-end Mini-dome AXIS M3037-PVE 5MP

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CameraResolutionWiFiPoEPrice
Best Outdoor PTZ IP Camera 2018
Reolink RLC-423 5MP

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Dahua SD6C430U-HNI 4MP

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A quick note: This article may contain affiliate links from Amazon and/or other platforms. I don’t like ads and I’m sure you don’t either. So this is how we pay the bills and ensure a distraction-free experience for you, my dear reader. If you click on one of these links and then purchase something, I 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 your understanding! Also note that Hikvision and Dahua do not consider certain platforms including Amazon as an authorised seller, but personally I don’t mind the often lower costs.
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What to look for in an outdoor security camera

Every year IP camera technology advances and you get more features for your money. But what exactly should you be looking for? The most important must-have features to look for in an outdoor security camera are:

  • Video Resolution – at least 3MP resolution. This is to ensure an increased chance of positive identification of faces, especially at night. 3MP is recommended as it costs no more than 2MP models these days and you can also fall back on the 1080p setting if you want to reduce bandwidth usage and disk space usage.
  • Field of view – at least 80 degrees horizontally. This depends on the focal length of the camera lens. The shorter the focal length, the wider the field of view. Ignore diagonal measurements, what matters is horizontal field of view.
  • Night vision – Should at least have InfraRed LEDs for night vision with an auto IR cut filter to avoid false colour in the daytime.
    Every camera I recommend in this article has an auto IR cut filter.
  • Weather proofing – Expressed in IP ratings, the first digit is the solid ingress rating and the second digit is the water ingress rating (higher is better always). An X instead of a number indicates a product is unrated for that component. An IP weather-proof rating is preferable, IP66 is the standard for good security cameras. Vandal resistance is expressed in the IKXX rating and is good to have in high traffic areas.
  • Should not be Internet or Cloud reliant – Can the security camera function without an internet connection? Do you have to pay a monthly subscription for core features such as recording video clips, storing them, accessing them later on, for motion detection? I only recommend cameras that do not need an Internet connection to function, are not cloud reliant and have the ability to write video clips and images to a local device such as an NVR, a NAS, or SD card. This is because for something as critical as home security, your camera should be able to record and store clips without requiring anything more than just a power source. Get a UPS and you can keep your cameras running even if an intruder cuts your home’s power supply.
  • RTSP stream capable so that third party apps such as camera viewers and Home Automation controllers can access the camera video stream.
  • ONVIF compatibility so that you can connect it to an NVR like the Amcrest which can support any ONVIF compatible camera.
  • Software features – Motion detection, Email alerts on motion detection

The nice-to-have features to consider are:

  • Wireless – Support for WiFi and/or Bluetooth if you have to install the camera in a spot you can’t run an ethernet cable to. But really I do not recommend going with only wireless cameras for your whole network – Wi-Fi is not that reliable.
  • Continuous Video Recording instead of just automatic event triggered or manual recording. 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 – in the form of a microSD card slot, or internal flash storage. A built-in NVR function is a plus.
  • Motion detection method – PIR motion sensor is preferable to cut down on false alerts
  • Power source – Ethernet port preferable with PoE (Power over Ethernet) support, internal battery good for power backup purposes
  • Audio – Microphone built-in would be a nice to have, full-duplex capability is superb but very rare
  • 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
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How to use this guide

Choosing your own DIY IP cameras can be overwhelming, so if you are brand new to this, it’s a good idea to first read up on IP camera basics. I wrote an in-depth IP camera buying guide for this reason – it contains all the frequently asked questions about IP security cameras.

All the cameras we recommend in this article are DIY cameras – none of them are crippled by their manufacturers to work as advertised only if you pay a monthly fee or have an active Internet connection. If you start with one of these cameras, you will always be able to continue using them in your future setup, as long as you ensure all the pieces in your future kit support open industry standards such as ONVIF and RTSP (hint every decent manufacturer who is not out to fleece you does). While we do recommend sticking to one single brand for convenience and maximum compatibility, thanks to the ONVIF and RTSP standards you can mix and match as we have done with our DIY home security camera setup.

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Recommendation Methodology

IP cameras come in all shapes and sizes. The most common way to categorise them is location – outdoor or indoor. Another common way of differentiating between them is by form-factor: bullet style, dome style, mini-dome/turret/eye-ball or PTZ. Your choice of camera will depend ultimately on a few factors such as the location of installation and how visible you want the camera to be.

Bearing this in mind, we will split this 2018 Best Outdoor IP Camera round-up into outdoor/indoor camera posts and within each post, by form-factor.

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Bullet style IP cameras

This is the most recognisable type of security camera – the classic bullet shape. This also makes it a natural choice for a home CCTV system as a very visible deterrent. If a burglar sees one of these, he knows its not worth risking jail time to break into your house. But do make sure that you have got multiple cameras covering your entry/exit points and that your bullet cameras are high up and out of reach of vandals, because a well-aimed missile can potentially knock it off target.

Great Value: Reolink RLC-410S & RLC-410WS


Features

  • 4MP CMOS image sensor
  • 80° Viewing Angle
  • Infrared LEDs for night vision with 30m range
  • 120dB WDR
  • Ethernet port with Power over Ethernet (PoE)- RLC-410S
  • Dual band WiFi with 2T2R MIMO antenna (802.11ac/b/g/n, 2.4 and 5.0 GHz)- RLC-410WS
  • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported
  • IP66 weatherproof rating

I started reviewing Reolink products in 2017 and have been impressed with the consistently high quality yet affordable products they have put out. In fact I would say that Reolink is our current favourite for budget IP cameras. The RLC-410S has a few variants, both the RLC-410S and the RLC-410WS have local storage in the form of an on-board SD card slot. The difference is that the 410S is PoE-only and 410WS is WiFi-only. Both have onboard microphones.

This is a tried and tested model that is now in its second year. The camera can be easily ceiling mounted and comes with elbow joints as opposed to the ball and socket joint that Hikvision bullets use. 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 backlight compensation are also available.

One of the features I look for and often fail to find in budget cameras is our beloved built-in NVR feature. So imagine our surprise to find that both the RLC-410S and RLC-410WS 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. Another interesting feature is an automatic reboot timer which will restart the camera at a time you determine.

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.

PROS:
  • 4MP, very good image quality
  • Onboard 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 WDR
  • No audio/alarm connections
  • Viewing angle of 80° with the standard 4mm lens
  • Ethernet connection needed for initial setup
  • Needs computer to be kept on for continuous recording feature
  • No model with both PoE and Wifi

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Great Value: Dahua IPC-HFW4431E-S (Also re-branded as FLIR/Lorex/EYEsurv/Geovision)


Features

  • 4MP CMOS sensor with 30fps
  • 87° Viewing Angle with 3.6mm lens, 6mm lens optional
  • 40m IR range
  • H.265 encoding, 120dB WDR
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP67 weatherproof rating
  • Metal body construction


Improving on the previous 3MP Dahua IPC-HFW4421S, the IPC-HFW4431E-S pairs a 4 megapixel sensor with some impressive hardware. An interesting feature of these cameras is their ability to provide 3 separate video streams simultaneously, not 2 like most other cameras in this price range. True 120dB WDR has been retained, and is one of those key features that differentiate these Dahua cameras from the more budget oriented Reolink and Amcrest cameras.

The Infrared lamps are very powerful and have a claimed range of 40 metres. The Dahua DH-IPC-HFW4431 continues in Dahua’s fine tradition of a ton of advanced motion detection methods such as face detection, and abandoned/missing object detection which even Hikvision or other similar brands don’t have. H.265 encoding is now available and lets the camera store more footage in the same disk space. This is especially useful if you plan on using the on-board SD card slot.

PROS:
  • 4MP, good image quality with 10Mbps bitrate
  • 120dB true WDR
  • Advanced motion detection like tripwire / intrusion detection
  • Smart features such as abandoned/missing item detection, and Face detection

CONS:
  • No audio/alarm connections

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Great Value:Reolink RLC-411S


Features

  • 5MP CMOS sensor with 30fps
  • 2.8-12mm motorized zoom with 33-98°viewing angle
  • 30m IR range
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP66 weatherproof rating
  • Metal body construction


Reolink has upped their game once again and set the bar for affordable IP cameras – 5 Megapixel resolution! The RLC-411S is a brand new model with motorized zoom that can magnify your scene by 4 times optically, no digitally. Optical zoom means the video quality doesn’t suffer when you zoom in and you can zoom in from the smartphone app.

The 5MP sensor provides a maximum resolution of 3072×1728 at 20 fps. The RLC-411S supports SD cards, so you can record motion detection clips locally. As usual Reolink doesn’t make models with both Wi-Fi and PoE (just like Amcrest), but gives you a choice between a PoE or Wi-Fi model. The RLC-411S is a Power over Ethernet model, so can be powered by a PoE switch that supports the IEEE 802.3af standard. Since the camera needs only 10W of power, you don’t need the higher power IEEE 802.3at standard which most PTZ cameras need. The RLC-411WS model supports only Wi-Fi and not PoE. It does however have an Ethernet port, so you could use a PoE splitter if you want to retain the option to switch to Wi-Fi at will.

PROS:
  • 5MP, very good image quality
  • Motorized 4X zoom auto-focus lens with good horizontal field of view
  • SD card support, built-in NVR feature

CONS:
  • No advanced motion detection methods
  • No audio/alarm connections

View on Amazon

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Great Value: Dahua IPC-HFW4831E-SE (Also re-branded as FLIR/Lorex/EYEsurv/Geovision)

Features

  • 8MP 4K STARVIS CMOS sensor
  • 112° Viewing Angle with 2.8mm F1.6 lens
  • 40m IR range
  • H.265+ encoding with 10Mbps bitrate, SD card support
  • Advanced motion detection including face detection
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP67 weatherproof rating
  • Metal body construction

The first 8MP camera I am featuring in our reviews, the Dahua IPC-HFW4831E-SE can provide true 4K resolution – that’s 4x 1080p resolution! The maximum frame rate drops to 15fps at 4K, but is a full 30 fps at lower resolutions. It also has very good low light ability thanks to its Starvis sensor with a large F1.6 aperture. The extra bright twin EXIR LEDs with a range of 130 feet (40m) also helps.

The camera can provide up to 3 simultaneous streams at different resolutions unlike most other brands which can do only 2. H.265+ encoding is the future and Dahua supports it on all its premium models including this one. H.265+ is an optimized implementation of H.265 and provides even greater bandwidth savings (70% over H.265). This means you can save more footage in the same amount of disk space. When you have multiple high-res IP cameras all recording 24/7 to your NVR, disk space quickly becomes your most precious resource! That’s why even H.265 helps if your camera and NVR support it.

If you don’t want an NVR or need additional backup storage, there is an SD card slot which supports cards up to 128GB. You can use this to store motion triggered clips and snapshots.

When it comes to software features, in addition to simple motion detection the camera has the usual advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing (tripwire), intrusion detection. You can define up to 4 separate zones to monitor for each method. But this being a premium camera, it also supports abandoned object detection and face detection! Privacy masking is also present to mask off areas you don’t want to be recorded.

Dahua has both iOS and Android apps but I would use an app like tinyCam Monitor or Imperihome to view all our cameras in one place. This is why I insist upon RTSP or at least mJPEG support for cameras to be considered in this round-up.

When it comes to protection from the elements, the camera has IP67 rating and lightning protection upto 4kV.

PROS:
  • 8MP, brilliant image quality and low light ability
  • 130 feet/40 metres IR range using EXIR LEDs
  • Up to 128GB SD card supported
  • IP67 weather protection & lightning protection
  • Advanced motion detection like tripwire / intrusion detection
  • Smart features such as abandoned/missing item detection, Face detection and Audio detection

CONS:
  • No audio/alarm connections
  • Digital WDR, no true WDR
  • No onboard microphone

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Enthusiast choice: Dahua IPC-HFW2421R-ZS/VFS-IRE6 (Also re-branded as FLIR/Lorex/EYEsurv/Geovision)

Dahua IPC-HFW2421 - Best Outdoor IP Camera 2018 - VueVille.com

Features

  • 4MP CMOS sensor
  • 35-100° viewing angle with 2.8-12mm motorized lens
  • 60m EXIR LED range
  • True hardware WDR (120dB)
  • SD card, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP67 weatherproof rating
  • Metal body construction


The Dahua IPC-HFW2421R-ZS pairs a 4 megapixel sensor with motorized vari-focal lens and true 120dB hardware Wide Dynamic Range (WDR). The vari-focal lens go from 2.7mm to 12mm and provide a very healthy viewing angle of 100° at the wide end. The -ZS version has motorized zoom and auto focus whereas the VFS model is not motorized. If you need to frequently adjust the focal length go for the -ZS version, otherwise the -VFS variant will do.

Another standout feature of this camera are the 4 powerful EXIR LED lamps that have a claimed range of 60 metres. When you have this much illumination, the Smart IR feature becomes so important. Think about this scenario: you have set up this camera to monitor the far end of your backyard and at max blast, the IR lamps do a great job. Now what if you suddenly want to zoom out to check out something else in the scene? Maybe a suspicious movement nearer to the camera? If the IR LEDs don’t compensate for the closer object, it will get washed out. Smart IR will automatically reduce the IR LED light output depending on how close the object is to the camera lens. This is a great feature and I use it on most of our cameras.

PROS:
  • 4MP, good image quality
  • 120dB true hardware WDR
  • SD card for local storage
  • Built-in NVR, Advanced motion detection like tripwire / intrusion detection

CONS:
  • No abandoned/missing item detection, Face detection and Audio detection
  • No H.265 encoding support
  • No microphone
  • No audio/alarm connections

More Details

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Enthusiast choice: Vivotek IB9381-HT


Features

  • 5MP 1/1.8″ CMOS sensor
  • P-Iris, varifocal lens with 45-84° viewing angle, remote focus
  • 30m IR range
  • H.265+ encoding, SD card support
  • Advanced motion detection including face detection
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP66 weatherproof & IK10 vandal-proof
  • Metal body construction


I have featured Vivotek previously in our articles – they are a Taiwanese brand aimed at enthusiasts and professionals. They make a wide range of very high-quality products. This particular model is the newer version of the model I featured last year’s. It retains many of the excellent features such as the large 1/1.8″ sensor, vari-focal lens, auto P-iris, motorized focus, etc but adds 5MP resolution. It can do 30fps at the max 5MP resolution.

The lens are vari-focal but not motorized, meaning you need access to the camera to adjust the zoom level. However remote focusing is possible so that you don’t have to mess around too much at the camera installation location, especially if its up a high wall or pole!

The Vivotek IB9381-HT supports H.265+ encoding just like the Dahua IPC-HFW4830E-S. True Wide Dynamic Range is supported – Vivotek calls this WDR Pro. This essentially means that it uses hardware enhancement to extend the dynamic range of the image, instead of software algorithms. This is why I call it true WDR (not software simulated).

One standout feature in particular is the camera’s full-duplex 2-way audio ability. Most cameras that can do 2-way audio are only half-duplex, they can send audio only in one direction at a time, like a walkie-talkie. So conversations over a half-duplex camera are like, well, using a walkie-talkie, not fun at all and frankly ends in frustration! But since this camera is full-duplex, you can use it like a real intercom. It has external inputs that will let you hook up the camera to a powered microphone and powered speaker.

SD card storage is provided, Vivotek doesn’t mention a max size but 128GB should be fine. Power over Ethernet is supported and the camera enclosure is rated IP67, which is really as good as it gets. IK10 vandal protection is a bonus. If you want extra weather protection (temperatures below -40 C), go for the IB9381-EHT model which features a built-in heater (requires IEEE 802.3at PoE).

PROS:
  • Superior 5MP image quality with true hardware WDR
  • 2-way full duplex audio with mic in and speaker out
  • IP66 weather protection & IK10 vandal-proof
  • SD card slot

CONS:
  • Vari-focal lens not motorized
  • No alarm connections
  • Limited viewing angle at wide end of lens

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High-end: Dahua IPC-HFW8331E-Z (Also re-branded as FLIR/Lorex/EYEsurv/Geovision)

Features

  • 3MP STARVIS CMOS sensor
  • 31-101° viewing angle with 2.7-13.5mm F1.4 motorized lens
  • 50m EXIR LED range
  • True hardware WDR, H.265+ encoding with 10Mbps bitrate
  • SD card, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Audio and 2x alarm in/out
  • IP67 weatherproof rating, IK10 vandal-proof
  • Metal body construction

What! A high-end IP camera with only 3MP resolution? Hold on – let me explain. This camera has almost everything you would expect in a high-end camera: low-light sensor, motorized lens, wide angle, long IR range, H,265+ encoding, 140dB WDR, SD card storage, audio in/out and 2x alarm in/out. 3MP is plenty enough for most of us even though camera manufacturers are pushing out 5MP, 6MP, 8MP and even 12 MP cameras. So I wouldn’t let this stop you from considering this camera.

What other advanced features does it have? Apart from simple motion detection, tripwire, intrusion detection, and abandoned object, it supports face detection, people counting and heat maps! Its one of those rare cameras that can do 60 fps framerate. So when you slow down video to analyse it for say numberplates, you have more frames to analyse than you would with 20 or 30 fps cameras.

PROS:
  • 3MP, very good image quality
  • Motorized vari-focal lens
  • 120dB true WDR
  • Audio and alarm in/out
  • Advanced motion detection like tripwire / intrusion detection
  • Smart features such as abandoned/missing item detection, Face detection and Audio detection
  • SD card for local storage, PoE
  • Built-in NVR

CONS:
  • No microphone
  • Audio not full-duplex

View on Amazon

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High-End: Axis M2026-LE Mk II

Features

  • 4MP CMOS sensor with WDR
  • 130° super wide viewing angle with 2.4mm fixed lens
  • 15m range EXIR LED
  • SD card, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP66 weatherproof rating, NEMA 4X, IK08


Axis is a Swedish IP camera manufacturer that prides itself on its top quality IP cameras. They are well known in professional circles but have never been aimed at the DIY enthusiasts before. However with this model, Axis is squarely targeting you and me.

The Axis M2026-LE Mk II is a fixed lens camera with a 4MP sensor. It has a very wide viewing angle of 130° thanks to its 2.4mm lens. The camera body is very discreet with a max length of just 7 inches.

This camera is not intended to be laden with features, yes it has H.265 and true hardware WDR and an SD card but its really intended to be part of a system.

On the weatherproofing front, IP66 is present as expected but it also has IK08 rating and NEMA 4x which makes it corrosion-resistant, water-tight and dust-proof. Needless to say, this is one tough critter that can withstand any weather condition you can throw at it.

PROS:
  • Very good 4MP resolution
  • 130° super wide viewing angle
  • 15m range EXIR LED
  • SD card, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP66 weatherproof rating, Nema 4X, IK08

CONS:
  • No audio/alarm connections
  • No microphone
  • Not true hardware-based WDR
  • Audio not full-duplex

View on Amazon

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High-end: Dahua IPC-HFW5831E-ZE (Also re-branded as FLIR/Lorex/EYEsurv/Geovision)

Features

  • 8MP CMOS sensor
  • 40-110° viewing angle with 2.7-12mm F1.6 motorized lens
  • 50m EXIR LED range
  • Digital WDR, 10Mbps bitrate, H.265 encoding
  • SD card, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Audio and alarm in/out
  • IP67 weatherproof rating
  • Metal body construction

The Dahua IPC-HFW5831E-ZE has a monster 8MP sensor with motorized vari-focal lens. The vari-focal lens go from 2.7mm to 12mm and provide a very healthy viewing angle of 110° at the wide end.

The high-end Dahua cameras have an amazing range of features and is one of the very few to boast of audio in/out and alarm in/out interfaces. However the audio is not full-duplex.

The camera also supports the latest H.265 and H.265+ encoding standards to make it very future-proof. When it comes to advanced motion detection, tripwire, intrusion, abandoned and face detection are supported.

PROS:
  • 8MP, superb image quality
  • Audio and alarm in/out
  • SD card for local storage
  • Built-in NVR, Advanced motion detection like tripwire / intrusion detection

CONS:
  • No microphone
  • Not true hardware-based WDR
  • Audio not full-duplex

View on Amazon

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Dome style cameras

Dome IP cameras are meant to be used in areas where the camera is within reach and could be physically attacked by an intruder. The dome cover protects the camera so its difficult to knock the camera off or to dislodge it. Moreover any decent dome camera will have vandal-proof certification, expressed in the IK standard.

Best Value: Reolink RLC-422 & RLC-422W

Features

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


The RLC-422 is a new model released in 2017 by Reolink. The camera sports a hitherto unseen resolution of 5MP in the budget camera range. Of course you can still run the camera at 2MP, 3MP or 4MP resolutions also. The 4x motorized vari-focal lens are also a surprise at this end of the market. Kudos to Reolink for introducing such advanced features in such an affordable package!

The camera has a built-in NVR feature and together with the SD card slot, you can operate the camera in a standalone manner. No NVR needed unless you want a secure storage location for motion triggered clips or 24/7 continuous recording. 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 app is of high quality and I really like it as 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. 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
  • Lacks advanced motion detection methods

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Enthusiast choice: Dahua IPC-HDBW5831E-ZE (Also re-branded as FLIR/Lorex/EYEsurv/Geovision)

Features

  • 8MP CMOS sensor
  • 2.7-13.5mm motorized vari-focal lens
  • 50m EXIR LED range
  • True hardware WDR, 10Mbps bitrate
  • SD card, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Audio and alarm in/out
  • IP67 weatherproof & IK10 vandal-proof rating
  • Metal body construction

The Dahua IPC-HDBW5831E-ZE is a great camera for the DIY enthusiast. Just like the Reolink above, it has a motorized vari-focal lens but has an extra-wide viewing range of 40-110°. The 3 EXIR LEDs equip the camera with excellent night vision up to 50 metres away.

This is one of the very few dome cameras to feature audio in/out and alarm in/out interfaces. However the audio is not full-duplex, check out the Vivotek models in this article if that’s what you need. The camera also supports the latest H.265 and H.265+ encoding standards with a very high 10Mbps bitrate. When it comes to advanced motion detection, tripwire, intrusion, abandoned and face detection are supported.

There are two other variants of this camera: the 6MP Dahua IPC-HDBW5631E-ZE and the 4MP Dahua IPC-HDBW5431E-ZE.

PROS:
  • 8MP, superb image quality
  • 2.7-13.5mm motorized vari-focal lens
  • True hardware-based WDR
  • Audio and alarm in/out
  • SD card for local storage
  • Built-in NVR, Advanced motion detection like tripwire / intrusion detection

CONS:
  • No microphone
  • Audio not full-duplex

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High-End: Vivotek FD9381

Features

  • 5MP CMOS sensor with WDR
  • P-Iris, Motorized varifocal lens with 45-93° Viewing Angle
  • 30m IR range
  • 2-way full duplex audio
  • SD card slot, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP67 weatherproof rating
  • Metal body construction


The FD9381 is the latest iteration of Vivotek’s super high quality dome cameras. This camera has a motorized vari-focal lens with automatic P-Iris to generate crystal clear images under any lighting condition.

It is also one of the few dome cameras to have 2-way full duplex audio capability. Using the mic in and speaker out connections, you can hook up a powered mic and speaker to create your own intercom system.

On the software front, this camera has something unique in the form of audio detection. A 3 year warranty rounds off the package and signals the craftsmanship of this camera.

PROS:
  • Superior image quality with P-Iris and WDR
  • 2.7-13.5mm motorized vari-focal lens
  • H.265 encoding, true hardware-based WDR
  • SD card for local storage
  • Audio in/out and full duplex 2-way audio
  • Audio detection

CONS:
  • No alarm connections
  • Viewing angle could be wider
  • No on-board microphone
  • No smart detection features

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Mini-dome/Turret/Eye-ball style cameras

Great Value: Dahua IPC-HDW4431


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
  • Built-in mic on turret models


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

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Enthusiast Choice: Dahua IPC-HDBW4631


Features

  • 6MP CMOS sensor with WDR
  • 98° 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
  • Built-in mic on turret models


The Dahua IPC-HDBW4631 is the 6MP version of the 4431 model we saw above. There are two variants in this famly and both have the same core specifications of 6MP sensor, 98° field of view, PoE, SD card slot, great weatherproofing, H.265 encoding, and advanced motion detection. So how do these differ? Only in their size and audio features :

  • Dahua IPC-HDBW4631E-ASE: Mini-dome with audio and alarm in/out
  • Dahua IPC-HDW4631EM-ASE: Turret with onboard mic but no audio or alarm in/out

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.

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

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High-End: Axis M3037-PVE

Features

  • 5MP CMOS sensor with WDR
  • Panoramic wide-angle lens with up to 360° coverage
  • 2-way full duplex audio with built-in mic and speaker
  • SD card slot, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • IP66, NEMA 4X, and IK10 rating
  • Metal body construction


One of the most common queries I get is about cameras with full duplex 2-way audio capability that can be used outdoors. Our recommendation for 2017 was the D-Link 2330L, but D-Link has now discontinued this model. Fear not, for I have unearthed a gem in the form of the Axis M3037-PVE!

As you can see from the features list, this is a full-featured camera. The only notable omission is on-board IR, but if you are going to install this at your front door as an intercom, you would have external lighting anyway. So this is not a deal-breaker in our opinion.

PROS:
  • Amazing panoramic views and great 5MP resolution
  • SD card for local storage
  • Audio in/out and full duplex 2-way audio
  • Audio detection
  • 3 year warranty

CONS:
  • No onboard Infrared LEDs
  • No audio connections
  • Only H.264 encoding

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PTZ IP Cameras

Best Value: Reolink RLC-423

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

I reviewed the 4MP version of the Reolink RLC-423 in 2017 and was very impressed with the quality and features that Reolink managed to cram in at a very affordable price for a PTZ. Now in 2018 Reolink is bringing out the 5MP version of the same camera. No it doesn’t have auto tracking, advanced motion detection, it still doesn’t have an on-board SD card, alarm connections or WiFi but as I said last time round, these are not dealbreakers for those who are considering their first PTZ for home use.

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

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:
8.3
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

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High-end: Dahua SD6C430U-HNI

Features

  • 4MP CMOS sensor
  • 4.5-135mm vari-focal lens, 30x optical zoom
  • 100m IR Range
  • H.265 encoding
  • Auto-tracking
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE 802.3at)
  • IP66 weatherproof rating

So you have played around with beginner PTZ models and now want to go up one level to the exciting world of auto-tracking PTZs. I have just the camera for you – the Dahua SD6C430U-HNI. This PTZ can identify a person from over 270 metres according to Dahua! The auto-tracking feature is super cool as you can see in the video below:

If you want 4k resolution, check out the Dahua SD6AE830V-HNI model which has a 12MP STARVIS sensor and 200 metres IR range.

PROS:
  • Brilliant high resolution PTZ
  • Fast panning/slewing speed of up to 240°/second
  • H.265 encoding, 120dB true WDR
  • Advanced motion detection including face detection
  • Audio and alarm in/out
  • SD card slot for local storage

CONS:
  • No Wi-Fi option

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Best Outdoor IP Cameras for specific purposes

Best Battery-Powered Outdoor IP Camera

Reolink Argus:

Wire-free or battery operated Wi-Fi cameras became mainstream in 2017 and I started reviewing them on VueVille too. I wouldn’t recommend using only battery powered cameras in your DIY security camera system because they are not a 100% reliable. Batteries will run out, or fail at the most inopportune moment. But as a secondary camera covering areas already covered by mains powered or PoE cameras, wire-free cameras are an excellent choice.

Based on our testing and review over many months, the Reolink Argus is the best battery powered outdoor camera out there right now. It has a 1080p sensor and coupled with with PIR motion sensing and SD card storage, its a perfect DIY camera. Being battery powered, you can’t really expect it to support RTSP but Reolink has mentioned that they are working on it.

Check out our detailed review below:

Review: Reolink Argus Wire-free Security Camera

I'll admit it - I have never been a fan of battery powered security cameras and have stayed away from them in the past. ...

User rating:
8

Smallest Outdoor PoE IP Camera

Axis P1224-E Outdoor Pinhole Camera: If you are looking for the smallest yet high quality PoE IP camera that is rated for outdoor use, you will struggle to find anything better than the Axis P1224-E Outdoor Pinhole Camera. The sensor unit is 20.0 mm (0.8 in) in diameter and is IP66 weather-proof. It is made of NEMA 4X-rated aluminium casing. 720p resolution is available with a very wide 145° horizontal viewing angle. H.264 and Motion JPEG are also supported.

The sensor unit is connected to the main electronics unit by an 8 metre (26 feet) cable. This makes it easy to position the sensor unit wherever you want even if its exposed to the elements.

The main unit has a polycarbonate casing and measures 104 mm (4.1 in) x 18 x 76 mm (3 in) x 31 mm (1.2 in). It has an SD card slot for local storage.

Thermal IP Camera

AXIS Q1931-E Thermal IP camera: If you have a long boundary to protect, there is something better than blanketing the scene with PTZ cameras and Infrared illuminators – thermal cameras. FLIR made thermal cameras popular with their handheld devices but how can you integrate thermal imaging into your IP camera network? That’s where Axis thermal cameras come in.

The AXIS Q1931-E is just like any other Axis IP camera and you can use all the usual motion detection techniques such as line crossing but on a thermal image. So you don’t need to change anything about the rest of your system, this camera just fits right in.

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The ones that didn’t make the cut

Netatmo Presence: Netatmo made a splash when they moved from weather stations into home security by launching the Netatmo Welcome, their first indoor security camera. They then followed it up with an outdoor camera, the Netatmo Presence. The standout feature of these cameras is their groundbreaking video analysis software which can detect people, animals and vehicles with startling accuracy.

While the Welcome has face recognition, the Presence has only face detection. Make sure you understand the distinction to avoid disappointment – recognition is recognising and putting the right name to the right person, whereas detection simply detects that a person is in the frame. The Presence has a feature that no other security camera has – a built-in floodlight in addition to its IR LEDs.

However for all its innovative features, it is reliant on the Netatmo servers to function as promoted. It can store clips locally but you cannot access them without an Internet connection. It does support IFTTT so you could link it to your home automation system.

Nest Cam & Nest Cam IQ Outdoor Security Camera: Last year our observation was that Nest had crippled their cameras by forcing you to pay for a cloud service to make use of their pretty good hardware. What’s new in 2018 is a model called the Nest Cam IQ. With the IQ, Nest has caught up with Netatmo and can now detect people and faces. This is all good but the basic restrictions remain – there is no local storage so if your internet is disabled by the intruder, your camera records nothing. That’s a pretty dumb camera if you ask me. So nope I cannot recommend this camera unless you have the same area covered by proper security cameras that are not cloud and Internet-reliant.
Oco Pro: Since I first looked at Oco cameras, they have refreshed and expanded their product portfolio. I still do not like the fact that the cameras are designed to tie you into a monthly cloud subscription if you want to access recorded clips. Even though there is an on-board SD card slot, you cannot access those clips unless you have a cloud subscription.
Netgear Arlo: Netgear Arlo has been around for over 3 years now. The latest model range consists of the battery powered Arlos and the more traditional PoE powered Arlo Q Plus. Only the battery powered models are suitable for outdoor use but again they are cloud-reliant which is a pity.
Blink XT Outdoor Wireless Camera: Blink has has gone the Netatmo route and done away with monthly subscription plans but there is no local storage. So again these cameras require an Internet connection to be of any use and are cloud reliant. Now the breaking news here is that Amazon has acquired Blink. Amazon’s own Cloudcam security cameras are cloud reliant, so it remains to be seen what will happen to Blink’s zero monthly fee promise.
Blink-XT - Best Outdoor IP Camera 2018 - VueVille.com
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Conclusion

The wide range of cameras above should give you a good overview of the freedom and flexibility going Pro-DIY brings you. Have I missed a camera that really ought to be on this list? Please leave a comment below – I love hearing from you!

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Acknowledgements: Images are copyright of Amazon
3 Comments
  1. I’m looking at purchasing a Wired IP POE style camera system. I see some cameras can do “audio”. Is it possible to record both the audio and video together. I have noisey neighbors and would like to be able to use the camera system to record that sound (loud music, barking dogs, etc).

    • Yes the cameras with microphones or audio input connections can record a video clip with audio. Check your local laws regarding recording audio outside your home, as some counties do not allow this.

  2. Hi, I am wondering what you think of some of the HikVision dome cameras? I have been looking around and, for example, the DS-2CD2185FWD-I(S) 8MP network dome camera seems to have some good specifications, much like some others on your list. The price seems ok too.

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