Best Outdoor IP Camera – 2021 Recommendations

Picking the right IP camera for your DIY Smart Home is tough, I know. Your time is valuable, and what you need is solid, well-researched, actionable advice that you can use right now.

Since 2015, VueVille has built up a reputation for providing exactly that sort of buying advice. And I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

So I have created this brand new up-to-date list of the best outdoor IP cameras for 2021 and here are my top picks:

BEST BUDGET
Reolink RLC-520A
5MP
Smart motion detection
IP66 weather-proof

BEST OVERALL
Hikvision DS-2CD2385G1-I
8MP
Advanced motion detection
IP67 weather-proof

BEST PTZ
Reolink RLC-423
5MP
Basic motion detection
IP66 weather-proof


I separated indoor IP cameras into its own guide. 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 – 2021 Recommendations Summary

Here’s a handy summary of all our outdoor IP camera recommendations for 2021, split by use case:

CameraForm FactorMPConnectionMotion DetectionPrice
Reolink RLC-520A
Turret5PoESmart
Hikvision DS-2CD2385G1-ITurret8PoESmart, Advanced
Amcrest IP8M-T2499ETurret8PoESimple
Amcrest IP8M-2496EBullet8PoESimple
Hikvision DS-2CD2185FWD-ISDome8PoESmart, Advanced
Amcrest IP8M-2493EDome8PoE/WirelessSimple
Reolink RLC-522Dome5PoESimple
Reolink RLC-423PTZ5PoESimple
Amcrest IP4M-1053EWPTZ4PoESimple


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How to use this IP camera buying 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. It contains all the frequently asked questions about IP cameras.

All the cameras I recommend in this article are DIY cameras that are not cloud-reliant or even Internet-reliant. None of them are crippled by their manufacturers to make you pay a monthly fee.

While I 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 I have done with our DIY home security camera setup.

Also if you want to just start with any one of these cameras, you can always continue using them in your future setup that also supports open industry standards such as ONVIF and RTSP.

How to choose an IP camera if you are new to DIY

I created the EasyDIY/ProDIY framework to help you choose the best system for your needs:

  • EasyDIY: Check out the Best All-in-one DIY Security Camera Systems with Smart Security
  • ProDIY:
    • Want to start with a single IP camera that can do everything, and maybe expand later with an NVR or NAS NVR? Awesome, that’s how I started! Pick a camera with on-board storage (SD card slot) from the recommendations below.
    • Want to start with a NAS as an NVR, with the freedom to add IP cameras later? Awesome, any camera recommended below will work for you! Skip down to the recommendations below.

How to choose an IP camera for an existing NVR

  • If your existing NVR doesn’t support ONVIF, choose the same brand IP Camera as your NVR.
  • If your existing NVR supports ONVIF, any camera recommended below will work for you.

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Recommendation Methodology

IP cameras come in all shapes and sizes. There are a few ways we can categorize them:

  • By location – outdoor or indoor.
  • By form-factor: bullet style, dome style, mini-dome/turret/eye-ball or PTZ

So I will split this 2021 Best IP Camera round-up into two posts: outdoor/indoor camera. In each post, I will also cover the best cameras of each form factor.


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Best IP Cameras – My 2021 Recommendations

Best Budget Pick: Reolink RLC-520A DONE

 


Features

  • 5MP CMOS image sensor
  • 80° Viewing Angle
  • 30m/100ft IR night vision
  • PoE, ONVIF & RTSP
  • IP66 weather-proof
  • Metal body
  • Smart motion detection

Check price on Amazon

I started reviewing Reolink products in 2017 and have been impressed with the consistently high quality yet affordable products they have put out. Reolink continues to be our favourite for budget-friendly outdoor IP cameras in 2021.

The only thing that they have been really lacking is any form of advanced motion detection. But all that changes in 2021. Reolink has now launched a slew of models that have smart motion detection. I would place these person and vehicle detection features between basic and advanced motion detection that Hikvision and Dahua have had for ages. Yes other brands such as Nest and Arlo also have smart detection but those require rely on the cloud for this to work – no Internet connection means no smart motion detection.

Reolink not only does the smart detection locally but importantly does this without asking you to pay a monthly subscription fee. That’s huge and kudos to Reolink for bucking the trend here.

The RLC-520A is a turret style camera. 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. All Reolink standalone IP cameras including the RLC-520A have this feature. It’s 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 or smart motion detection, record to NVR/FTP or the onboard SD card, and it will overwrite older videos automatically.

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:
  • Very good video quality
  • On-board storage and built-in NVR features
  • Smart motion detection and push alerts
  • Great value for money
  • Works with any ONVIF-compliant NVR/NAS NVR/Blue Iris

CONS:
  • No WDR
  • No audio/alarm connections
  • Lens not wide-angle
  • Smart detection alarms not recognised by Synology & QNAP

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

Best High-end 4K: Hikvision DS-2CD2385G1-I DONE

 

Features

  • 4K 8MP CMOS image sensor
  • 102° viewing angle
  • 30m/100ft IR night vision
  • True 120dB WDR
  • PoE, ONVIF and RTSP supported
  • IP67 weather-proof rating
  • Metal body
  • SD card slot on-board
  • Smart and advanced motion detection

Check price on Amazon

Hikvision was the first IP camera brand that I bought when I started my DIY home security camera journey. These cameras are absolute workhorses that just keep going on and on.

Over the years, the Hikvision product range has undergone many changes. While they have launched retail-focused brands like EZVIZ, the models sold under the Hikvision brand are the best premium options.

The Hikvision DS-2CD2385G1-I is Hikvision’s main 4K turret camera for 2021. It sports a DarkFighter branded CMOS sensor that can put out UltraHD 4K video at 20 fps. This means it can produce colour images and video down to 0.016 lux. Not bad at all. When the light level goes further down, you have EXIR LEDs to maximise low light performance. True 120dB WDR helps to bring out detail in the shadows both at day time and at night.

Just like the Reolink & Amcrest above, the Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I also has onboard storage. If you add an SD card (up to 128GB), the camera can work in a fully standalone manner. It can record motion detection triggered clips and snapshots straight to the SD card without requiring a PC, NVR or anything. There are no alarm/audio connections available.

Unlike most Hikvision cameras, this model is IP67 weather-proof rated.

PROS:
  • 4K resolution
  • On-board storage and built-in NVR features
  • Email notifications and push alerts
  • Great value for a high-end camera
  • Works with any ONVIF-compliant NVR/NAS NVR/Blue Iris
  • Advanced motion detection works with Synology and QNAP NAS

CONS:
  • No audio/alarm connections
  • No built-in mic

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

Best Overall 4K Turret: Amcrest IP8M-T2499EW DONE

 

Features

  • 8MP Starvis CMOS sensor
  • 112° Viewing Angle
  • 50m EXIR night vision
  • True 120dB WDR
  • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported
  • IP67, IK10 weatherproof rating
  • Metal body construction
  • SD card slot on-board
  • Built-in mic

Check price on Amazon

The Amcrest IP8M-T2499E is very similar to the Dahua IPC-HDW4831EM-ASE. In fact I think its the very same camera, rebranded by Amcrest. Apart from the Sony IMX274 Starvis sensor, the camera has an incredibly powerful 50m IR range and an on-board microphone.

There are two models available – one with the 2.8mm lens and another with a 4.0mm lens.

PROS:
  • Superb 4K video quality
  • Great value for money
  • Quite rare to find a turret with local storage and a mic onboard

CONS:
  • No advanced motion detection
  • No audio/alarm connections
  • No full duplex 2-way audio support

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

Best Overall 4K: Amcrest IP8M-2496EB DONE

 


Features

  • 4K 8MP CMOS image sensor
  • 112° viewing angle
  • 40m IR night vision
  • True 120dB WDR
  • PoE, ONVIF & RTSP supported
  • IP67 weatherproof
  • Metal body

Check price on Amazon

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.

Amcrest cameras are actually rebranded Dahua cameras. While Dahua doesn’t really support retail customers, Amcrest is purely targeted at retail customers like you and me. And the cost is about the same. So why not go for something that you can buy with 100% peace of mind with a full warranty and the ability to return to Amazon if you don’t like it.

While Amcrest cannot match the price points that Reolink hits, they differentiate their products by adding a few premium features without a huge price tag. Features like 4K and true 120dB Wide Dynamic Range (WDR).

There are two versions of this IP camera with the only difference being the colour of the enclosure. If you want a more discreet look, go for the black version (IP8M-2496EB), whereas the white version (IP8M-2496EW) is more conspicuous and so works better as a deterrent.

The Amcrest is powered by a Sony Starvis image sensor and Ambarella S3LM chipset that can put out UltraHD 4K video at 15 fps. At the same time, true 120dB WDR helps to avoid washed-out scenes in bright daylight. Bumping the resolution down to 3MP will result in a max frame-rate of 30 fps. Personally, I am happy with 15 fps as it reduces the disk space required and so extends the hours of video recorded.

Just like the Reolink above, this Amcrest also sports onboard storage. So pop in an SD card (up to 128GB) and the camera can work in a fully standalone manner. It can record motion detection triggered clips and snapshots straight to the SD card without requiring a PC, NVR or anything. This built-in NVR of the Amcrest can be accessed through a web browser or the Amcrest mobile app. The same app also delivers push notifications to your smartphone.

If you need audio or alarm connections, consider the Amcrest IP8M-2493EW.

PROS:
  • 4K resolution
  • On-board storage and built-in NVR
  • Email notifications and push alerts
  • Great value for money
  • Easy to use with clear setup process
  • Works with any ONVIF-compliant NVR/NAS NVR/Blue Iris

CONS:
  • No WDR
  • No audio/alarm connections

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

Best High-End 4K: Hikvision DS-2CD2185FWD-I(S) DONE

 

Features

  • 8MP CMOS sensor
  • 102° viewing angle
  • True 120dB WDR
  • 30m IR night vision
  • SD card slot, PoE, ONVIF & RTSP supported
  • IP67, IK10 weather-proof rating
  • Metal body

Check price on Amazon


The DS-2CD2185FWD-I(S) is the latest iteration of Hikvision’s high quality dome cameras. Having tried various alternatives, I still find myself returning to Hikvsion cameras for their no-nonsense performance, reliability and great price-point.

What makes this IP camera high-end? For starters, it can do 30 fps at 8MP resolution. It has advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing detection, intrusion detection, unattended baggage detection, and object removal detection to reduce false motion detection alerts. You also get 120dB WDR, low-light colour vision, and audio/alarm connections.

PROS:
  • Great 4K video quality
  • Advanced motion detection support
  • H.265+ encoding, true WDR
  • Built-in NVR & SD card slot
  • Audio and alarm in/out

CONS:
  • Viewing angle could be a bit wider
  • No microphone
  • Audio not full-duplex

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

Best Overall 4K Dome: Amcrest IP8M-2493E DONE

 

Features

  • 8MP CMOS sensor
  • 30m EXIR night vision
  • True WDR, 10Mbps bitrate
  • SD card, Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Audio & alarm in/out
  • ONVIF & RTSP protocols supported
  • IK10, IP67 weather-proof
  • Metal body

Check price on Amazon

Last year, Dahua featured prominently in this guide. But this time around you won’t find any Dahuas here. The reason is that Amcrest cameras are just rebranded Dahua cameras. While Dahua doesn’t really support retail customers, Amcrest is purely targeted at retail customers like you and me. And the cost is about the same. So why not go for something that you can buy with 100% peace of mind with a full warranty and the ability to return to Amazon if you don’t like it.

The Amcrest IP8M-2493E is a great camera for the DIY enthusiast. You get a brilliant 4K camera with the latest Ambarella S3L33M chipset and true 120dB WDR capability, a wide-angle lens and on-board SD card storage.

This is one of the very few dome cameras to feature audio in/out and alarm in/out interfaces without costing an arm and a leg. However the audio is not full-duplex, check out the Vivotek models at the end of 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. The only drawback versus Dahua cameras is the lack of advanced motion detection such as trip wire, intrusion detection, face detection etc.

By the way, it works with Alexa too (not that I would use it that way)!

PROS:
  • 8MP, superb image quality
  • True hardware-based WDR
  • Audio and alarm in/out
  • SD card for local storage
  • Built-in NVR
  • Works with Alexa

CONS:
  • No microphone
  • Audio not full-duplex
  • No advanced motion detection

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

Best Budget Pick: Reolink RLC-522 DONE

 

Features

  • 5MP CMOS sensor
  • 48-94° Viewing Angle with 2.7-8mm Motorized Zoom
  • 30m/100ft night vision
  • SD card slot, PoE, ONVIF & RTSP supported
  • IP66 weatherproof rating
  • Metal body

Check price on Amazon

The RLC-522 replaces the RLC-422 which was first released in 2017 by Reolink. At the time, the camera sported a hitherto unseen resolution of 5MP in the budget camera range. The camera has been continuously improved by Reolink and it is still one of the most affordable dome IP cameras for 2021.

Of course you can still run the camera at 2MP, 3MP or 4MP resolutions also. The 3x 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 rated.

The RLC-422W Wi-Fi only version has been discontinued. Not a big loss in my opinion. The only time I recommend Wi-Fi cameras is when you cannot conveniently wire the camera up at your installation location & you have another wired camera covering the same viewing area.

PROS:
  • Very good image quality
  • Optical zoom
  • Easy to use with clear setup process
  • Works with ONVIF NVR & NAS NVR
  • Great value

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

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

Best Budget PTZ: Amcrest IP4M-1053EW DONE

 

Features

  • 4MP CMOS sensor, 120dB WDR
  • 5.3-64mm motorized vari-focal lens
  • 5-58° Viewing Angle
  • 100m IR night vision range
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE 802.3at)
  • IP66 weatherproof rating

Check price on Amazon

The Amcrest IP4M-1053EW PTZ was launched last year and has become a popular affordable PTZ that has a lot of the features Dahua has. For a PTZ, the 4MP sensor is plenty fine. You also get up to 30 fps at 4MP with true 120dB WDR. There is an SD card slot and you get an incredible 100 metres Infrared night vision range. Also of note is the extreme magnification possible, but the downside being a lack of wide angle viewing.

Just like all other Amcrest IP cameras, this PTZ also works with Alexa.

PROS:
  • Very good image quality
  • Great value for money
  • 30 fps is available at 4MP resolution
  • There is an audio in/mic
  • SD card slot for local storage
  • Works with Alexa

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

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

Best Overall PTZ: Reolink RLC-423 DONE

 

Features

  • 5MP CMOS sensor
  • 2.8-12mm motorized varifocal lens
  • 33°-98° Viewing Angle
  • 60m/200ft IR Range
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE 802.3at)
  • IP66 weatherproof

Check price on Amazon

I first reviewed the 4MP version of the Reolink RLC-423 in 2017 and were very impressed with the quality and features that Reolink managed to cram into this PTZ at a very affordable price. In 2020 Reolink launched the 5MP version of the same camera and it is still a great deal in 2021.

No it still doesn’t have auto tracking or advanced motion detection, on-board storage/SD card, alarm connections or WiFi but as I said last time round, these are not deal-breakers for those who are after their first PTZ for home use.

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

8.5
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 ...
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
  • Slow focus speed relative to PTZ speed
  • No advanced motion detection methods

Check price on Amazon

 
 
 

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Best Outdoor IP Cameras for specific purposes

Best IP Camera with LED Floodlight & Siren DONE

Amcrest ADC2W: 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.



Best Battery-Powered Outdoor IP Camera DONE

Reolink Argus 2:

Wire-free or battery operated Wi-Fi cameras became mainstream a couple of years ago and I started reviewing them on VueVille. 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 family is the best battery powered outdoor camera out there right now. The Argus 2 has a 1080p Starlight 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 or ONVIF. But it does support colour night vision, 2-way audio, solar charging, and supports Google Voice Assistant and Alexa.

The other new models for 2021 include the Argus Pro, and the Argus Eco which is the only bullet-style battery powered camera I have seen.



Check out our detailed review below:
8.1
Review: Reolink Argus Wire-free Security Camera

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. ...

Smallest Outdoor PoE IP Camera DONE

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 DONE

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. 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.


Netgear Arlo Essential: 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 Outdoor Wire-free Camera: In the past, Blink went the Netatmo route and did away with monthly subscription plans but without local storage. After Amazon has acquired Blink, they added a local storage option but you have to buy the Blink Sync Module 2 hardware. Again these are battery powered cameras and so won’t meet the high standards of image quality, availability and reliability we expect at VueVille.




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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 4MP resolution. This is to ensure an increased chance of positive identification of faces, especially at night. 4MP is recommended as it costs no more than 3MP models these days and you can also fall back on the 2MP(1080p) or 3MP 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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Conclusion

The wide range of outdoor IP 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!

A quick note: This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and then purchase something, we may receive a fee. This does not cost you anything extra. Also note that Hikvision and Dahua do not consider certain platforms including Amazon as an authorized seller platform. So if you need warranty support please purchase from authorized resellers of Hikvision and Dahua products in your country.

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I am Daniel and VueVille is where I document my DIY smart home journey. I focus on 100% local-processing and local-storage because that’s the only way to secure my family’s safety and privacy. Oh and I don’t like monthly subscriptions!

12 Comments
  1. Are there any wifi cameras that have advanced motion detection? I haven’t been able to determine from your great information which cameras have this feature.

  2. So many of the “Check Amazon” links end up at a page with “Currently Unavailable”. Will there be a late year update to this page? I’ll be buying before the end of the year 🙂 Thx!

    • Thanks for the heads-up – are you based outside the US by any chance? Which Amazon store do the links take you to? Because when I check the links, they are all working. I use a geolocation software to identify the visitor’s country and then redirect the links to the correct Amazon store. Unfortunately the linked product may not be available on your local Amazon store.

  3. The inability to highlight text on this website is very frustrating and seems completely pointless from a security or copyright standpoint. Anyone who wants to steal your text is still going to do so — you’re only annoying regular visitors like me. It is especially important to be able to search for some of the complex camera part numbers and terms you list here with simple functions like highlight/right click/google. I am discouraged from following your otherwise helpful advice because of this fundamental design choice.

    • Apologies and thanks for letting me know. I have disabled the copy-protect feature now. It was a knee-jerk reaction to several otherwise respectable websites copying my content and refusing to acknowledge or credit me. It is extremely frustrating to spend hours writing content and then have it blatantly ripped off by inconsiderate people. Even DMCA take-down requests don’t always work.

      • Thank you. I enjoy the info you provide and it is now much easier to use the site (searching for more info, right-click opening more tabs to your other articles, etc.) For items you have linked to store pages I will be sure to click your link before a purchase.

  4. Hi and thank you for such a wonderful website. I have purchased my TP-Link NAS and HomeSeer via your recommendations and links and am loving the system. My home came with Hikvision-essce cameras. Chinese firmware and many features not working, etc. I am on a mission to replace them (I have 8 external cameras of this type).

    I have mini-dome type and I see that the Dahua IPC-HDBW1431E above looks promising. But I wonder about configuring motion detection to work with Surveillance Station. I know you loved the Hikvision cameras, but also know that the connectivity between them and SS was a bit weak where motion was concerned. Has this improved with the Dahua line? I would like to define regions to watch for motion, and regions to ignore (plans that sway in the wind). Possible? Thank you in advance.

    • Thanks for the kind words! QNAP’s & Synology’s Surveillance Station apps can only detect simple motion detection triggers (as opposed to line crossing, people counting etc.) from IP cameras including Hikvision / Dahua. You can still define the regions that should trigger the alert. Check out this article where I have QNAP Surveillance Station, HomeSeer and my Hikvision cameras all talking to each other seamlessly to give me reliable region based motion detection. The beauty of using Surveillance Station is that HomeSeer need not support your cameras and in fact all you need is a virtual switch per camera.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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