New Best 4K PoE Security Camera in 2021?
Today on the hookup I’m going to put my previously highest rated cameras up against some newly released cameras from annke and reolink to see if we’ll have some new champions in 2001 or if the Reolink RLC-410 and the Annke C800 can remain my top recommendations, spoiler alert: This thing is so good.
Over 400,000 people have watched my PoE camera showdown videos where I end up recommending the Reolink RLC-410 camera as the best budget option, and the Annke C800 for the best value in 4K PoE cameras. It’s been over a year since my last video and it’s time to update the list for 2021.
Here are the cameras I tested in this video from least expensive to most: First with an MSRP of $49.99 is the RLC-410-5MP, a 5 megapixel bullet camera from reolink that also comes in an identical turret form called the RLC520 , next for $59.99 is the more recently released Annke C500 which is also 5 megapixels and is available in turret form or a bullet form called the B500. Then we’ve got a brand new release from Reolink, a 4K PoE camera called the RLC-810A with an MSRP of just $84.99, just like the rest of the cameras if you prefer the turret form factor you’ll look for the the RLC-820A instead, oh, did I mention it has on device person and vehicle detection, for $84.99… Well, we’ll see if it’s able to beat my previous recommendation for the best value in 4K cameras, the Annke C800, which seems to have settled at a price of $109.99 after some issues with supply and demand.
Based on comments and feedback I did a few things differently in this video than my last ones: First, in my other PoE camera showdown videos I mostly left the image adjustment at the factory default settings because that’s what I think most people will end up using. In this video I tweaked the settings of each camera to maximize their chances of scoring well. Specifically, I turned on and tuned the Wide Dynamic Range option on all the cameras which lightens shadows and reduces highlights, and I also adjusted the brightness and contrast for to increase definition in the details as much as possible without losing overall image quality.
For the encoding, I used H265 for all the cameras except for the Reolink RLC-410 because it doesn’t support H265. All of the bitrates were capped at 6144bps, and the frames per second were limited to 15 on all cameras even though the Reolink cameras support much higher framerates, specifically 25FPS at 4K resolution on the RLC-810A and 30fps at 5 megapixels on the RLC410.
Another criticism that I got on my previous videos was that shifts in cloud cover created slightly different conditions for each camera, giving some an unfair advantage, so for this round I installed all the cameras at the time, so there is no difference in shadows or sunlight for any of the tests except the nighttime IR test that specifically needed to be done individually so the infrared lights wouldn’t interfere with one another.
Both 4k cameras record video in 16:9 widescreen format with resolutions of 3840×2160 while the 5 megapixel cameras are 4:3 with resolutions of 2560×1920.
Lets start out the tests by looking at the field of view of each camera. In security cameras the field of view is determined by two main components: The image sensor size, and the lens focal length. Larger sensors and shorter focal lengths will lead to greater field of view but in general, larger field of view is associated with less overall detail and clarity because you are squeezing more physical area into each pixel in the video. In that regard I’m not exactly comparing apples to apples this test. The Annke C800 has a 2.8mm focal length compared to the 4mm focal length of the Reolink RLC-810A. Their sensor sizes are nearly identical, so as expected, the Annke has a significantly greater field of view than the Reolink.
For the 5 megapixel cameras, the same is true where the Annke C500 has a 2.8mm focal length compared to the RLC410’s 4mm length. However, the RLC410 has a larger image sensor which actually results in a greater field of view despite the longer focal length.
In the field of view category the Annke C800 easily earns a point for the 4k cameras, while the Reolink RLC410 just barely edges out the Annke C500 for the 5mp value cameras.
Next lets talk about daytime clarity. This is an area that Reolink cameras have always excelled. All the Reolink cameras I’ve ever tested have had amazing sharpness and detail for the price point and these cameras are no exception. To test clarity I held up a sign with 144 point font and 72 point font at 25 feet and 50 feet and then walked towards the camera for approximately 40 feet.
As you can see, the Reolink 4K camera absolutely blows the Annke out of the water in this category. Not only is the sign text clearly legible, but my facial definition is significantly better at 50 feet, and as I get to closer to the camera it only gets better. The picture on the C800 isn’t bad, it’s actually pretty good, but next to the Reolink the colors look washed out and details are blurry. Some of the differences can be accounted for by the longer focal length of the Reolink, but overall the difference is staggering at any distance.
For the 5megapixel cameras the Reolink also produced a sharper and clearer image though not as dramatically different as the 4k cameras. Predictably, both of the 5 megapixel cameras struggled at 50 feet and neither produced a legible image of the large or small text.
Clarity during movement is a bit more subjective, but in general none of the cameras had any issues with ghosting or streaking during the day. So for daytime video quality the clear winner is the Reolink in both the 4K category and the 5 megapixel value category, though again, the differences between the 5 megapixel cameras were slight compared with the differences between the two 4k cameras.
Next was nighttime clarity, which I’ll break down into two categories: Infrared Night Vision, and Nightime Low Light Color Vision.
Starting with the infrared LEDs on and the cameras in black and white mode, I tested each camera separately with all of the house lights off. The tests had to be done separately so that infrared lights from one camera wouldn’t influence the picture of the others.
You can see that the surprising winner of this test is the 5 megapixel reolink which had the greatest clarity and definition throughout the entire range of the tests.
The two 4k cameras had very different images, where the digital noise reduction on the reolink resulted in a smeary blurry image, the annke C800 image was really noisy despite having digital noise reduction enabled. The worst performer in this category was the Annke C500 which was both washed out and noisy, it almost looks to me like its own infrared lights are too bright for its auto exposure settings. Between the two 4K cameras the quality outside of 30 feet was similar, but closer to the camera the Reolink RLC810A had amazing definition, unfortunately I can’t look past the fact that there was noticeable ghosting in the Reolink 810A during movement, which means I’ve have to narrowly give this category to the Annke C800 for the 4K cameras. However, in the 5 megapixel category the Reolink RLC410 is the clear winner.
At this point in the test I was starting to feel like the RLC410 was going to easily keep my recommendation for the best budget camera, but it’s clearly not designed for color night vision. To test low light color performance I turned off the infrared LEDs and forced each the cameras into color mode.
It turns out the blown out image of the Annke C500 was because the small image sensor is extremely sensitive. This color image is from the C500 and it was taken with absolutely no lights on outside my house, all the streaks you can see are from light coming out of my neighbor’s windows. In contrast, the exact same conditions produced this image on the Reolink RLC410. The Reolink RLC-810A did a better job than the C800, but the Annke C500 is the real star of the show when it comes to low light color performance, which is surprising considering it has the smallest image sensor of any of the cameras tested.
When adding just the ambient light from my Christmas light display the color night vision performance in all the cameras increased dramatically, but the Annke C500 still outperforms the rest by a significant margin. If you’re looking for a color night vision camera for under $50, look no further, the C500 is for you, but for me, it’s not one of my must have features… although I have read that turning off the infrared LEDs on your cameras will stop spiders from building their webs in front of them, so that’s worth looking into.
Anyways, for color night vision the C500 is the clear winner for the 5 megapixel cameras, while the Reolink RLC810A narrowly edges out the victory over the Annke C800.
The last category is customizability, the web interface, and the app interface. The Annke cameras are made by Hikvision and as a result have the same web interface as all other Hikvision cameras. While you can install Hikvision firmware updates with a little bit of know how, the firmware on the Annke site isn’t as recent as Hikvision’s version and it shows in the fact that they the web interface still doesn’t fully support chrome without downloading a plugin. Reolink on the other hand manufactures their own cameras and uses their own unique firmware. The Reolink web interface is intuitive and responsive and works perfectly with chrome and firefox. The Reolink app is the best of any PoE camera manufacturer that I’ve used, and my favorite part about it is it works even after blocking the cameras from the internet, so you can use it securely by connecting to your home network with a VPN and then managing your cameras with their app, no cloud involved.
In this category the Reolink cameras are massively superior to the ones from Annke, to the point where I’d almost consider using them without a centralized NVR like Blue Iris, which is something I never thought I’d say.
So, after all is said and done, as long as you aren’t specifically looking for color night vision, you still just can’t beat the value of the Reolink RLC-410-5MP, and it will continue to be my recommendation for the best budget PoE camera. As for 4K cameras, the RLC-810A is incredible, not only is the video quality one of the best I’ve ever seen, but it’s only $85. Also, one of the main complaints I got about the Annke C800 was the lack of a microphone, which the RLC-810A has, and I haven’t even talked about the fact that it has on device person and vehicle detection. Unfortunately I haven’t figured out a way to use the person detection triggers with blue iris, but it does work in conjunction with the Reolink 8 channel NVR or by using an internal microSD card and the Reolink phone app. Even without considering person detection the Reolink RLC-810A is by far the best value in 4K cameras available today and is now my official recommendation. If you’ve already got Annke C800s I wouldn’t suggest going out and replacing them, but for new setups and additions I can’t recommend the RLC-810A enough.
Inevitably people in the comments are going to say I’m a shill or that Reolink is paying for my endorsement, and I can assure you that isn’t true. In fact, the only money I make on cameras is from affiliate links, so ultimately it doesn’t matter which camera you buy as long as you buy it using my affiliate link, in fact if you buy a more expensive camera I’ll make more from it, but I’m telling you in this case you don’t need to spend more. I’ve tested 4K cameras well into the $500 range and I’ve never seen one perform better than the RLC-810A, the whole reason I started this channel was to help people get the most for their money, and I’m not about to sell out and suggest products that I don’t honestly think are great just to make a few bucks.
That being said, thank you so much to my awesome patrons over at patreon for your continuing to support this channel and my unbiased reviews. 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 and consider subscribing, and as always, thanks for watching the hookup.