Hikvision and Dahua are two of the most popular IP camera brands among DIY enthusiasts. Most of my cameras are from Hikvision, but that’s more due to my lack of experience when I first got into DIY CCTV.
Often when I saw recommendations being made online, it went like this: “Just go for Hikvision”. So you can understand when it came to pulling the trigger, I was leaning towards them.
Dahua was also mentioned but there were definitely fewer people using them compared to Hikvision. There didn’t seem to be any particular reason other than Hikvision being a bit cheaper. So after 4 years of using these IP cameras, I am going to compare the latest 2020 models.
Hikvision vs. Dahua – the Stories behind the Brands
You’re probably no stranger to Hikvision if you have been dabbling with DIY security cameras for some time. Hikvision is a surveillance equipment manufacturer based in Hangzhou China. They primarily cater to professional installers and are not interested in retailing to the general public. But still they made a splash in the DIY space because of their affordable DIY IP cameras with powerful features. Like 3MP sensors which were unheard of in mainstream IP cameras in 2014 when I bought my first IP camera, the Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I.
A couple of years ago, they launched their retail brand EZVIZ. Confusingly, EZVIZ used to be the name of their cloud app as well. Anyway the EZVIZ models are dumbed down versions of the Hikvision cameras and are not worth spending any money on. That’s why I am focusing on the main Hikvision brand.
According to IHS, 53% of all security cameras shipped in 2015 were network (or IP) cameras. While Hikvision is the world leader in IP cameras with a global market share of 17% forecast in 2017, Dahua comes in second with a forecast of 5.5%.
The biggest concern I have with Hikvision is not so much about their cameras, but who owns Hikvision. The Chinese government owns at least a partial stake in Hikvision. This creates a few ethical and moral quandaries. The US government has also banned Hikvision and Dahua from all federal government bodies (along with Huawei and ZTE) through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed into law in 2019. This also includes all the OEM/white label/private label brands – which makes up most of the security camera market.
From a technical standpoint, you should treat any security camera (Chinese or not, banned or not) the same way – with maximum suspicion that they may be ‘dialing home’ to their manufacturers servers. So lock them down using Virtual LANs (VLAN) and strict firewall rules like I have in my DIY home security camera system.
Dahua is an OEM who are best known for their 2MP Starlight ultra low-light cameras. Of course, they have a full lineup of products just like Hikvision.
Lorex is now owned by Dahua. Dahua cameras are also re-branded by Amcrest, Honeywell, Panasonic, Bosch and many others. What these brands do is usually rebrand the Dahua camera by sticking on their logo and slightly changing the firmware to add/remove some features. For example see our recent Hikvision vs. Amcrest comparison. Some brands even selfishly remove ONVIF support so that the camera works only with their own product range.
Just like Hikvision, Dahua are also partially owned by the Chinese government. So all the concerns I raised above with Hikvision apply to Dahua also. Their cameras and OEMs are also banned under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
Of course I don’t let that stop me from buying Chinese cameras – instead, I lock down all my security cameras tighter than Fort Knox using my Unifi USG hardware firewall.
Dahua and Hikvision cameras have historically had very similar features, so this is going to be an interesting comparison.
8MP IP Camera Duel – Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I vs. Dahua IPC-HFW1831E
I will look at the 8MP IP cameras as these are quickly becoming affordable for DIY fans like us. From Hikvision, I picked the DS-2CD2085G1-I model from the Darkfighter series. For the Dahua, I picked the popular IPC-HFW1831E.
From the consumer’s point of view, price is an important factor in deciding which competing models are actually comparable. So I have tried to balance the features and price of the cameras that I have picked for this comparison.
The most common sensor in DIY IP cameras is a 1/3″ progressive scan CMOS sensor. However the Darkfighter series Hikvision has a much larger sensor at 1/2″. But the Dahua is even better with a slightly larger sensor (1/1.8″).
Let’s put that into perspective – the highly rated $1300 prosumer Canon Legria HF G25 video camera also has a 1/3″ sensor, albeit at 3MP.
The size of the sensor has a huge bearing on the low light ability of a camera, whether it be a camcorder or a security camera. The larger the sensor, the greater its ability to gather light and so do well in low light conditions. But as you cram in more and more pixels into the same size sensor, they get smaller and smaller, which adds noise. Noise is the bane of low light video and reduces the detail that you can get out of your video.
So while security camera manufacturers have pushed pixel count from 4MP to 8MP, they have not increased the sensor size. However both the Hikvision and Dahua 8MP models have true 120dB Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) to help improve video quality.
How about low light performance? You would expect the Dahua to be better thanks to the larger sensor. But the Hikvision can go down to an astounding 0.014Lux, while the Dahua can go down to 0.08Lux. That’s at an f-stop of f1.6 and 1/30s exposure (shutter speed). Even though both manuacturers like to advertise even better low light levels at 1/2s exposure, I wouldn’t go any lower to avoid blurry videos.
But the Dahua does have a 50m night vision range, whereas Hikvision tops out at 30m.
Both cameras have fixed lenses available at different focal lengths – 2.8mm, 4mm and 6mm.
Moving on to the enclosures, both cameras have metal bodies and are weather-rated for IP67. But Hikvision has IK10 vandal protection as well.
So on the hardware front, I think the Hikvision gets the edge.
The cameras both have an RJ-45 Ethernet port, and Power over Ethernet (PoE).
Surprisingly the Dahua IPC-HFW1831E has dispensed with a microSD card slot. Neither have Wi-Fi and alarm in/out ports are missing too.
Clearly Hikvision wins here.
Let’s get the basics out of the way, both cameras support ONVIF and RTSP, the two most important features you should look for in an IP camera so that you can integrate it into your DIY Smart Home Automation System.
ONVIF ensures that your camera will work with standards-compliant equipment from 3rd party manufacturers (like dedicated NVRs, NAS NVR software or PC NVR software like BlueIris).
RTSP allows even non-ONVIF equipment (such as software) to access the security camera’s video stream. Examples are video players like the popular VLC player.
When it comes to features, one striking difference is that the Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I has a max bitrate of 16Mbps vs. the 8 Mbps of the Dahua IPC-HFW1831E. This shouldn’t be an issue though, I’m quite happy with the 6Mbps stream from my Hikvision cameras.
This bit rate provides sufficient quality while extending the number of days I can store on the QNAP NAS that I use as my DIY NVR.
In previous generations, only the Dahua had the ability to provide video streams at three different resolution. Now the tables have turned. Hikvision has caught up but Dahua has gone back to having 2. Note that the more expensive Dahua models still have video streams with 2 different resolutions.
Both cameras support basic motion detection as well as advanced motion detection techniques (intrusion detection and line crossing).
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of these advanced motion detection methods in reducing false motion alerts.
Hikvision has added face detection, abandoned object and missing object detection. But the Dahua IPC-HFW1831E does not have these features.
Clearly Hikvision wins here.
So as you can see the Hikvision and Dahua are both capable IP cameras but have enough differences between them to warrant a closer look. Hikvision has closed the gap with Dahua on features vs. where they were 4 years ago when I first bought a Hikvision.
So I would pick the Hikvision over the Dahua for the extra low light capability, SD card slot, and smart motion detection at a very attractive price point. You can get all of these features in a Dahua also, but you will have to pay more (see the Dahua IPC-HFW4831T-ASE).
Also check out the other recommendations on our best outdoor IP cameras list.
Where to buy
- Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I at B&H Photo (Authorised retailer) or on your local Amazon website.
- EmpireTech rebrands the Dahua IPC-HFW1831E – buy from your local Amazon website.
Full Comparison Table
Here’s a summary in a nice and easy table:
|Feature||Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I||Dahua IPC-HFW1831E|
|Product line||Darkfighter series||Pro series|
|Hardware features||Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I||Dahua IPC-HFW1831E|
|Sensor||1/2" 8 Megapixel Progressive Scan CMOS||1/1.8" 8 Megapixel Progressive Scan CMOS|
|Night Vision||850nm IR, Black & white night vision, IR cut filter with auto switch|
|IR Range||30m (92 feet)||50m (164 feet)|
|Minimum illumination||Color: 0.008 Lux @ F1.2 (AGC ON), 0.014 Lux @ F1.6 (AGC ON), B&W: 0Lux with IR on||Color: 0.08Lux @ F1.6, B&W: 0Lux with IR on|
|Lens Type||Fixed type|
|Lens Field of View (FOV)||H (2.8/4/6mm): 102°/78°/50°|
V (2.8/4/6mm): 55°/43°/27°
|H (2.8/4/6mm): 111°/87°/55°|
V (2.8/4/6mm): 59°/47°/30°
|DC 12V power||Yes|
|Dimensions||70 × 68 × 171 mm (2.8″ × 2.7″ × 6.7″)||179.9mm×69.3mm×62mm (7.08”×2.73”×2.44”)|
|Power usage||<6W (IR ON)||<7.8W (IR ON)|
|Operating conditions||30 °C to +60 °C (-22 °F to +140 °F), humidity 95% or less (non-condensing)||30° C ~ +60° C (-22° F ~ +140° F) / Less than 95% RH|
|Interfaces||Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I||Dahua IPC-HFW1831E|
|Ethernet port||RJ-45 (10/100Base-T)|
|SD Card||Yes (128GB max)||No|
|Software features||Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I||Dahua IPC-HFW4831E-SE|
|Encoding||Main stream: H.265/H.264|
Third stream: H.265/H.264
|Max Resolution||3840 × 2160 (8MP) @ 20fps||3840×2160 (8MP/4K) @ 30fps|
|Max bitrate||16 Mbps||8 Mbps|
|Simultaneous streams||3 (Main/Sub/Third)||2 (Main/Sub)|
|3D Noise Reduction||Yes|
|Built-in NVR||Yes||Yes but no microSD card slot|
|Network storage||NAS (Supports NFS, SMB/CIFS), FTP, ANR||NAS, FTP, Local PC|
|Max users||Up to 32 users||Up to 20 users|
|Alert events||Hikvision DS-2CD2085G1-I||Dahua IPC-HFW1831E|
|Simple motion detection||Yes|
|Line crossing detection||Yes|
|Abandoned/Missing object detection||Yes||No|
|Scene change detection||Yes||No|