Budget IP Cameras, Good Idea?

You get what you pay for…

There is no IP surveillance camera that is reliable, with good picture quality and processing speed that is also inexpensive. The camera that is “cheap” will be deficient in one of these four categories: reliability, picture quality, light processing and processing speed.

IP Video Camera Reliability – there are many parts to a camera and not all parts are created equal. All “budget” cameras use cheap components to lower the price. Lens, processor, NIC, IR LEDs, housing and mounts are all parts that can be “cheapened” to meet pricing constraints. With cheap parts these cameras with physically break and/or not be accessible on the network when you need them the most.

IP Video Camera Picture Quality – There is more to picture quality than just resolution. Things like light response, frames per second, shutter speed, day/night mode, IR correction, compression, WDR. Budget cameras will usually not perform well in one or more of these categories. A budget camera may have a great picture when things are not moving but will often be unusable when the subject is moving. Nighttime video quality also lacks with budget cameras.

IP Video Camera Light Processing – High end cameras will be able to represent colors regardless of light source (day). Budget cameras are deficient in this ability and images may appear white out. During the night budget cameras with either under or over represent IR light causing a white out image or no image at all.

IP Video Camera Processing Speed – All video cameras need a processor to convert an image from electrical to digital and vise versa. Cheap processors will result in a “hung” camera meaning that it will not response to access requests and will require a hard reset. Often a camera will market all the bells and whistles be forget to mention the camera is not equipped with a processor that can continuously handles the needs of the cameras processes.

 The Bottom Line – “budget” cameras work well as a deterrent to crime but will often produce a recorded image that that is lacking. I find budget cameras over promise and under deliver every time. 

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