Finding the BEST 4K Security Camera with PoE and ONVIF under $200April 22, 2020
Today on the hookup I’m going to put these 8 4k PoE security cameras through their paces and show you why, after countless hours of testing, I’ve decided that this camera from the relatively unknown brand Annke is the best value in 4K security cameras by a significant margin.
In my last PoE security camera video I tested all different resolutions of cameras under $150 and ended up recommending the Reolink RLC-410 as my favorite overall camera. The RLC-410 is still an extremely solid camera at a great price, and I’ve recommended to countless people. BUT it’s only 5 megapixels, and I’ve started to wonder if more pixels is more better… Which brings me to this video which features only 8 megapixel cameras, commonly called 4k resolution. Here are the cameras I’m going test in this video least expensive to most expensive, links to the exact cameras I tested are down in the video description:
First is the $69 HView E-800-D turret camera, next is the $89 Annke C-800 turret camera, then the $108 Amcrest 24-93-EW Dome camera, then the $109 Amcrest 24-99-E which I have in both the 4 millimeter focal length and 2.8mm focal length varieties, then we’ve got the $149 Hikvision 2-CD-23-85-FWD, the $169 Camius 8-28-A spotlight bullet camera, and finally the $199 Dahua HFW-28-31-T motorized varifocal bullet camera.
You may notice that popular brands like Reolink, Lorex, and Swann are absent form the list, this is because their 4K cameras don’t support the ONVIF standard and therefore can only be used with their own NVRs, and not with PC based NVRs like Blue Iris. If you are looking for a stand alone 4k security camera bundle I’ve also made a comparison video between the three top selling packages on amazon, but only ONVIF cameras will be included in this video. Ubiquiti’s also makes a 4k camera, the G4 Pro is that I didn’t include in this video because of its $450 price tag, which is just too much to pay for a single camera in my opinion.
The first thing we’re going to look at is field of view. When you look at a camera listing, it’s pretty common for it to list the focal length of the lens, which generally correlates with the field of view, but it’s not the whole story. There’s some complex math that you can do to determine the effective field of view using the focal length, sensor size and lens shape, but the general idea is that field of view is a function of sensor size divided by focal length. Larger sensors and lower focal lengths will yield larger field of view.
To get a feeling for each camera’s field of view I attempted to line up the left side of the image with the corner of the sidewalk so I could compare how far into my neighbors yard the right side would reach. You can see that the Amcrest dome camera had the greatest field of view, even though it has the same 2.8mm focal length as some of the other cameras, and the dahua had the second largest field of view even though it’s minimum focal length is 3.7mm. This suggests that the Dahua has a significantly larger image sensor than the rest of the cameras, which also becomes evident in our nighttime footage later on. You can see that the least expensive camera, the hview, has roughly the same focal length as the Dahua, but the lowest field of view, indicating a significantly smaller image sensor, which is somewhat expected considering the dahua is the most expensive cameras and the hview is the cheapest.
Generally speaking, we would expect cameras with a lower field of view to have a better, clearer image because each pixel needs to represent less space in the physical world, but that not always the case. To test daytime clarity I marked locations on the ground at 10 feet, 25 feet and 50 feet and I held up a sign with 150 point and 72 point font. At 25 feet the Annke and Hikvision produced the clearest images. It’s tempting to say that the hview image is the best if you only consider the 150 point font, but the 72 point font is definitely more legible with the Annke and Hikvision, not to mention the hview is distorted due to it using a 4:3 image sensor to produce a 16:9 widescreen image. You can also see the downfall of varifocal cameras here where some chromatic aberration is visible in the dahua image, in fixed focal length cameras the lens is tuned for one specific focal length, but a varifocal lens needs to be able to be adjusted, meaning it might not always be in a sweet spot. All things considered though, the dahua image is actually REALLY good considering how wide the field of view it has, and it doesn’t suffer from the field of view and clarity trade off visible with the Amcrest dome, which struggled to produce legible image of the 150 point font from just 25 feet.
At 50 feet the results were similar, if not more exaggerated. The Annke and Hikvision still produced the best images, but the 72 point font is no longer legible. In the image from the Amcrest Dome camera you can barely even tell there is text on the sign. The dahua and hview produced comparable images, which is bad news for the hview considering its low field of view. As a comparison, I adjusted the varifocal dahua’s zoom to be similar to the hview’s, and it produced this impressive image at 50 feet, though there is still some chromatic aberration.
I repeated these same tests at night, both with an without infrared illumination.
An increasingly popular and desired feature of cameras is something called color night vision. Cameras are able to produce color images in very low light situations by increasing their shutter duration, sensitivity and gain. The downside to this mode is that moving objects create streaks due to the slower shutter speed. In the color night vision test the Annke and Hikvision performed the best, followed by the two Amcrest cameras and the the Dahua. The Amcrest dome camera performed the worst by far in this test. And even though the camius gave some middle the road results it has another trick up it’s sleeve if you want color night vision. In addition to its infrared LEDs the camius also has two ultrabright white LED spotlights that can be activated by motion to provide a significantly better color night vision experience.
More commonly, cameras use infrared LEDs for their night vision which allows to maintain faster shutter speeds and prevent streaking. In the IR test the dahua performed the best with its large image sensor, then the 4 millimeter focal length Amcrest, then the annke, Hikvision, and the camius. You’ll also notice that the hview shot doesn’t match the rest, and that’s because for some reason I kept magically disappearing from the night time footage, probably due to errors in video compression, which leads me to my next topic.
4k footage requires a ton of hard drive space, and recording 9 4k streams 24/7 will kill a hard drive really fast without proper compression. All these cameras have the option to use the more traditional h264 compression standard, or the significantly more efficient h265 compression method, but not all h265 is compatible with every NVR. That being said, the hview was the only camera that I had issues with. Not only was it’s h265 encoding completely incompatible my blue iris NVR software, but even using h264 the footage was unreliable and multiple times during my testing I randomly disappeared from nighttime footage. For this reason alone, I wouldn’t recommend the hview to anyone, despite its low price. None of the other cameras I tested had issues with their compression.
Along with compression type, each camera has tons of other options and the web based interfaces are more user friendly than ever before. The Hikvision and annke are fully compatible with the chrome browser without plugin or adobe flash, and the Hview and Dahua offered live view in chrome once flash player was activated. The settings on the Amcrest cameras can be adjusted in chrome, but live view is only available in internet explorer, or after downloading and installing their chrome addon, which feels more like a separate browser to me than a chrome addon. The camius was the only camera that required internet explorer to run, which is disappointing, because it also offers the most customizability and options.
For ease of initial setup, the dahua, camius, and annke cameras were set up from the factory using DHCP, so they join right to the network using a compatible subnet. The rest of the cameras come from the factory with a static IP which means you’ll need to be able to access the 192.168.1.x subnet to be able to configure them. Not an impossible task, but a bit annoying. For the Amcrest cameras, you can also set them up using the Amcrest app which allows you to scan a QR code to access the camera via P2P.
Which leads me to my next point: As ironic as it is, security cameras have historically been some of the most vulnerable IoT devices. If you’ve ever set up a security camera using an app, and then accessed that camera from outside your network without setting up port forwarding on your router, you are likely using P2P, whether you know it or not. Unfortunately, using P2P means that your camera needs to be communicating with the manufacturer’s P2P server at all times, which is a bad plan for security, and a vulnerability in your network. How serious is it? Serious enough that the United State Department of Defense can no longer do business with contractors that use Dahua, Hikvision or any of their OEM subsidiaries. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use them, but it’s a good idea to block their outbound traffic with your network’s firewall, in fact you probably shouldn’t use P2P regardless of the manufacturer.
So, as I mentioned at the beginning of this video, after countless hours of testing, the Annke 4k turret camera came out significantly ahead of the rest in overall value, with both the best daytime clarity and the best color night vision, all for just $89. So if you’re looking for a great all around camera at a great price the Annke is the easy choice, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the important features of the other cameras that I will personally be taking advantage of. The Dahua’s motorized varifocal lens makes it perfect for mounting on my second story roofline where I’ll be able to adjust the zoom as needed to account for the large viewing distance and even though the camius spotlight camera didn’t perform quite as well as the Annke it has the added benefit of a motion based spotlight which will go perfectly into my dark side yard that has no other lighting.
If you want audio from your security camera, unfortunately neither the Dahua nor the Annke have built in microphones, so you’ll need to look elsewhere. Out of all the cameras the camius had the clearest audio, and it also includes 2-way audio, though only only through the RXCamView phone app, but the Amcrest audio was acceptable as well. The hview’s audio was choppy and terrible, but I think I already mentioned that there is no reason to every buy this camera.
The last question is whether the increased file size and price is justified by the increased image quality associated with 4k cameras? Comparing footage from my previous video to this one tells a pretty convincing story. The reolink RLC-410 produced this image from 25 feet and when compared to same image taken with the 4k Annke, not only isthe field of view significantly wider, but in general the image is crisper and the text is more legible… so it really comes down to a question of price. The RLC-410 costs around $43 these days compared to the $89 Annke, and even though the Annke produces a much higher quality image, I can’t tell you whether it’s worth over twice the price, because that’s a personal decision based on your own budget.
If you have a high quality 4k ONVIF camera that I missed, make sure to let me know down in the comments so I can check it out. Thank you to all of my awesome patron over at patreon that enable me to buy products and make videos like this one to help you make the best choices for your situation. If you’re interested in supporting my channel please check out the links in the description. If you enjoyed this video please hit that thumbs up button so the youtube algorithm will share with other people. Please consider subscribing, and as always, thanks for watching the hookup.