A short while back I reviewed the Dahua IPC-HFW3200C that was an excellent 1080P surveillance camera at a low price. For about $15-20 more, Dahua offers the IPC-HFW3300C, identical in every way to the IPC-HFW3200C, but has the option of 3 MP resolution (2048 x 1535). The sensor is a little larger to accommodate the extra pixels. Image quality remains the same during the day or night.
The extra pixels comes at the 4:3 aspect ratio vs. the HDTV 16:9 aspect ratio in 1080P mode (the camera can do both). The penalty for being in 3 MP mode is the maximum frame rate is 15 fps compared to 30 fps in 1080P mode. It depends if you can take advantage of the extra pixels. In my case, looking over my driveway, I can certainly take advantage of the extra pixels to provide better coverage and more likely be able to recognize someone in the video. You can tell from the video I captured that 15 fps is still very fluid motion.
The camera looks identical to its 1080P brother.
- 1/2.8” 3 Megapixel progressive scan Sony Exmor CMOS
- High-performance TI DaVinci series DSP
- H.264/MJPEG video compression and JPEG image capture
- Supports dual-stream encoding
- Max 15 fps at 3 MP (2048 x 1536) & 30 fps at 1080P resolution
- Support true Day/Night with an IR Cut Filter
- Built-in 3.3~12mm varifocal/F1.4 Auto Iris lens
- Built-in IR Illuminators with a working distance of 20m
- Supports Alarm I/O
- Support up to 32GB Micro SD card for local storage
- IP66 Water-proof protection
- Powered by PoE or 12V/24V
- Smartphone apps available
I don’t want to duplicate the review for the 1080P version so I’m leaving out the section on the web interface and the camera pigtail as it’s the same.
Now onto the images, how well does this camera perform. I mounted the camera at the front of my garage, under the eave. With the varifocal lens starting at 3.3mm, it was perfect for viewing the entire front of my home. While at that wide of an angle, you still can not ID someone across the street, it was very effective as people approached my front gate or driveway. As with my other reviews, click on the images below to see the full size image, straight from the camera.
Now onto the low light night performance. This time there’s three scenarios, the first is how you would likely use it, with IR lights on. Because there’s a street light across the street, the camera would not automatically shift to night mode so I had to set it to a scheduled time to cut over. This is what it looks like with IR lighting in night mode with no other lighting other than the street light across the street.
This is late at night but my front porch lights are on and it just so happens there’s some additional lighting from holiday lights, albeit not sure how much they contribute. This is in day mode, color but no IR illumination.
Lastly, with no other lights other than the street light across the street in day mode (no IR illumination), you can see it’s pretty dark. This is similar to the 1080P sensor and not really practical, especially since it has very nice IR illuminators.
Again, many of the same issues about setting the exposure mode, using their IOS and Android apps, their poor support and writing to SD or NAS is the same. If you write to SD or NAS, you can use their free CMS software PSS to view several camera together and view the recordings it made. While I was not crazy about the interface on PSS, it does work and did I say it was free.
I uploaded day and night videos to YouTube. The problem is while the video was recorded at 3 MP (2048 x 1536), when I uploaded it to YouTube, it cropped the image down to 1080P (1920 x 1080) so you will see actual resolution from the camera, but in real life, you would see 50% more content. To see the videos in its 1080P resolution, you must click on the gear icon and select 1080P resolution and then click on the icon with 4 corners to see the video full screen.
I did run into a slight problem with this camera I want to note. If you record to a NAS or SD, the video is in their proprietory DAV format. You have to use their player tool to view the video and it works fine as expected. When you convert the video to AVI, using Windows Media Player all you see is black, no video. If you use a different player to view it like VLC or DIVX it plays fine. When I copied the video to my Mac, it showed the video fine but had extra black section of video which was weird. There may be a glitch in the conversion from 3 MP to AVI files or this could be a Windows Media Player bug, not sure.
The pluses for this camera are;
- Price – don’t know where else you can get a camera this good for this price
- 3 MP at 15 fps or 1080P at 30 fps (specs say 20 fps at 3 MP but it’s wrong)
- IR Illuminators that work well, even coverage even at wide-angle
- Varifocal auto-iris lens that’s sharp and clear
- Sony Exmor sensor has excellent daytime quality and performs well in low light
- Smartphone apps – everyone wants to access their cameras from smartphones these days
The shortcomings of the camera are;
- Poor customer support. Luckily it works well without much to complain about.
- Can not take advantage of 3 MP mode on a Dahua NVR
The camera is recomended for those that want a really good camera at a bargain price and are savy enough to figure things out on their own and don’t need much support and are OK with buying products from China.
Click here to go to the company web page for the camera