ACTi E33 5MP IR Bullet Review

This is the first 5MP cameras I’ve tested. This builds on the new ACTi theme of having 1, 3 & 5MP sensors across their various cameras styles. This looks and feels just like the E32 (3 MP) camera I recently reviewed but has the extra pixels. It’s about $30 more than the E32 and for those needing the extra resolution, $30 is a small price to pay


Main Features

  • Day and night function with mechanical IR cut filter
  • Built-in f4.2  mm / F1.8 Megapixel fixed lens
  • 15 fps at 5MP (2592 x 1944)  or 30fs at 1080P resolution
  • Selectable H.264, MPEG-4, MJPEG compressions with dual streaming
  • Weatherproof IP66 rated casing
  • WDR ( Wide Dynamic Range)
  • Digital Noise Reduction
  • Video Motion Detection
  • Powered by PoE Class 2

The camera is a traditional style IR bullet camera identical in appearance to their E31 and E32 siblings. What’s different is they now include an odd pigtail out the back with an RJ45 jack. My guess is most people will use the included conduit adapter and run an Ethernet cable into the back of the camera for a weatherproof connection. Also included in the box is the mount which was previously charged extra for, the sun shield and a focusing tool to turn the lens without getting your fingers in the way.

The image quality is good both day and night. There’s more noise than what I’ve experienced with the E32. This is common as you increase pixel density, in general it becomes less sensitive to light.

The WDR is considered their basic version, it did well at reducing glare from headlights and seeing in shadows where other cameras just show dark blobs. ACTi also sells the D33, basically the same camera but without WDR at a lower price but if you are using this to capture images outdoors where you have a lot of bright lights, the small premium for the E33 is worth it.

As with all ACTi cameras, you are entitled to you use their NVR software for free for up to 16 cameras and is amazingly good. They also include an IOS app but for those with Android phones, you can choose from many apps that work well with ACTi cameras.

This is what the web interface looks like when you first log in. The 5 MP image will be overwhelming but you can control the display by using the magnifying glass with minus sign to reduce the image size so you can see the entire picture on your screen. You can also select to view the live video in full screen mode and an icon to take a snapshot. If you are viewing the camera on a slow internet connection, you can also select stream 2.

Clicking on the wrench/screwdriver icon takes you to the cameras setup screens. The Video selection allows you to configure most of what’s needed including motion detection, WDR, noise reduction, day/night options, and in the screen below, resolution and compression for each stream.

This tab is where you set the exposure options.

This tab is where you set the camera to email or ftp snapshots or video.

Now onto the images, how well does this camera perform. As with other tests, I set this camera up with a maximum exposure of 1/30th of a second. This is fast enough to capture motion yet still provide decent low light images.

I mounted the camera at the front of my garage, under the eave. With the 4.2mm lens, it was able to provide coverage wide enough for the front of the home but remain effective at being able to ID people about 35′ away. As with my other reviews, click on the images below to see the full size image, straight from the camera.

I happened to catch an unexpected rainy day. You don’t get the contrasty shadows but even under the trailer, were many non-WDR cameras would struggle, you can still make out detail.

I moved the cameras to my backyard where it’s harsher conditions, more shadows and it did pretty well

At night the contrast is good, the low light capability is decent. There’s more noise here than the E32 but the image is still good overall, with good dynamic range.

Here’s a shot in the backyard at night. There’s some light from a few landscape lots, but overall a darker place than my driveway. Definitely more noise but a usable image.

I took a day and a night video using the ACTi NVR software and posted on YouTube. View it at the highest resolution you can which is 5 MP by clicking the gear icon underneath the video and selecting “original”.   Unfortunately, the video does have some points where motion is not perfectly smooth. This is a just released camera and I’m sure ACTi will work to get these minor kinks out.

The street price on this camera is under $400 and it represents a good value. If you need a decent outdoor 5MP camera and you don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with a more expensive camera, this is may be for you.

The pluses for this camera are;

  • 5MP resolution – no substitute for resolution
  • Day and night function with mechanical IR cut filter and IR LEDs
  • WDR
  • Free NVR software that’s quite good
  • Selectable H.264, MPEG-SP, MJPEG compressions with dual streaming

Drawbacks for the camera include;

  • a minor glitch with the video freezing for a split second when recording which may be a bug with their NVR software rather than the camera.
  • more noise is present here than in their 3MP camera

Recommended for those needing to protect their homes or business that need a high resolution quality commercial grade camera.

Spec sheets, manuals, overview are available here



56 Responses to “ACTi E33 5MP IR Bullet Review”

  1. 1 wolf
    April 8, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Thanks for the review very nice and detailed, I already have the kcm5611 and I love it much more then my geovision ip cameras.
    I now need a few outdoor camera that will be placed in a shady tree area that has lots of Sun light too, so I need something with extra heavy wdr capabilities so it shouldn’t trigger motion every time the tree shakes.
    World have any good recommendations for me?

    • 2 networkcameracritic
      April 9, 2013 at 8:51 am

      The closest new cameras to the KCM-5611 are the new E44 and E84 cameras that are really close to shipping. As for motion trigger when trees shake, just put your motion detect zones so they are not in the path of the tree. If you can’t do that, use an external PIR motion detector.

  2. 3 Ryan
    April 9, 2013 at 12:51 am

    Seems like there is a lot of artifacts in the video… The increased MP seems useless if the output isn’t clear. To me, the 1.3 Dahua is far superior to this in price and performance.

    As always great review!

  3. 4 SM
    April 10, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Always find your reviews to be thorough and insightful. Apologies for the slightly off topic question – I have several ACM-1231 ACTi cameras that use the old style mount on a wall. I am considering upgrading them all to the E44 (given my positive experience with the KCM-5611 sensor). I see that the E44 now comes with an integrated mount. Do you know if it will also be possible to mount the E44 on the old style ACM wall mounts? Thanks again.

    • 5 networkcameracritic
      April 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      Don’t know as I’ve had my E44 on order for about 2 weeks not, no camera. I’m sure they will have them at the ISC West show and I’ll be there tomorrow and let you know.

    • 6 networkcameracritic
      April 12, 2013 at 8:15 am

      I was able to hold an E44 in my hand at ISC West and the integrated mount is the only way to mount the camera. No threaded hole of a traditional CCTV mount. More and more cameras are coming this way. What was interesting is that while the E32,E33 I reviewed had very short pigtails that are not that usable, the less expensive D32, D33 has longer pigtails, maybe 18″ long. I confirmed that the only different between the E & D series is WDR. Also, side by side, the D32 is small and different looking than the E32. The E44 has been delayed into mid-May.

      • 7 SM
        April 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm

        Thank you for the follow up and insights. It’s unfortunate that they are making the upgrade path for existing customers a little more challenging. Perhaps I will use another KCM-5611 instead to avoid having to change the mount which is on the second story of a house.

        One more question. Did you get a chance to evaluate the E44 picture quality at ISC (albeit briefly)? If so, I’d be curious on your preliminary take versus the KCM-5611. Although I know the sensors are supposed to be the same, my understanding is the E44 will use H.264 High Profile versus what I presume is a baseline H.264 profile in the KCM-5611. Would there be a difference in picture quality or just file size? I am also eager to better understand the likely practical difference between the advanced WDR in the KCM-5611 and the basic WDR of the E44. Thanks again.

  4. 9 Brandon Taylor
    April 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    On the zoomed in shots, the background (especially the leaves) look almost like a watercolor painting rather than an image. Is the just an artifact of over-processing? Or an issue with focusing at further distances? It does seem to defeat the purpose of having a higher resolution if you cant take advantage of the extra pictures because of the blurring effect that seems to be going on.

    • 10 networkcameracritic
      April 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      It’s focused on closer objects, so that may explain it. Also, in testing the Axis 5MP dome, it sort of has the same thing but results are different, yet no more detail is available in that section of the image, so it must be related to field of focus and noise reduction treating that noise. You get the phenomenon when you take a picture with a digital camera, looks good printed but when you “pixel peep”, you see the post processing effects of it trying to reduce noise and sharpen the image at the same time. I did this a while ago with the 4MP ACTi camera, people complained people 2 blocks away looked as you described. It happened that I took the same picture with my Nikon D90 with 12MP and decent optics and it was about the same when you pixel peeped.

      • 11 Brandon Taylor
        April 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm

        Are there ways to disable some of the processing to see how it compares? I know how pictures look when you start looking down at the pixel level but compared other static or video cameras it seems way over processed. Most images will look “pixelated” but this one doesn’t because of the crazy blurring. I mean if 4 pixels and up blurring together to effectively only have one pixel of information, then the 5mp looses its benefit. I think focus may be part of it, but even up close objects have some of the same look. Not sure if it is mostly the wide angle lens of the GoPro camera, but everything looks so clear and sharp on those at all distances. I guess that is the biggest complaint about the camera is that the image doesn’t seem sharp. But at least it is one step to getting cheaper multi-megapixel cameras that aren’t too expensive.

        • 12 networkcameracritic
          April 16, 2013 at 1:58 pm

          The issue is the camera is focused on an area that makes most sense which is the area where it’s able to ID someone. When I’m done with the current review, I can remount the camera and focus it so it brings those trees in sharper at the expense of closer in focus. I can also turn off WDR and noise reduction. All cameras have post processing artifacts on tiny detail like that with no way to turn them off, even our Mobotix D14 cameras.

  5. 13 jay
    April 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm


    Aa bit off topic but I didn’t see a category that fit my question. I have been reading all your reviews on Dahau, Foscam, ACti and Axis. Can you provide overall choice that meets these criteria

    1) Need a camera for living with a good wide view. I want to put the camera on the back wall and see teh entire living room, down the hall and the right. I really liked the Mobotix demo on youtube with that wide panoramic view. Perfect? I would like your opinion on the best sub $400 and above $400 camera. I like the DOME cameras from Dahua but there is no engine to remotely turn them east to west, correct? I’m wondering if a bullet camera will have wide enough view as well.

    2) What is your opinion on the best driveway camera. Faces clear at 20 or 30 ft.

    Let me just finish by saying this a great blog. Thank you.

  6. 14 Andreas
    April 12, 2013 at 5:14 am


    first of all I would like to express my gratitude for the work you put into your great reviews and critics. You helped cure a major headache I got when tasked with selecting a camera setup for a customer of mine. Thank you.

    When accepting the task I was totally unaware of the lack of information about networked cameras. After expanding my web search from Germany to the UK – I’ve been there recently and expected to find plenty of profound information on this topic since the ratio of cameras per capita on that island seems to be at least 50:1 – I had almost given up.

    Reading your review and watching the videos of the Acti cams – which I favor at the moment – I would like to add to what Brandon Taylor already mentioned: Why do some parts of the videos almost look like paintings / comics? I am looking at the Acti E33 5MP IR Bullet – Day Video. I think the picture is crisp and well lit and makes an overall good impression – but the objects on the other side of the street and the flowerpot (I guess on your neighbors yard) look like they have beeen sketched or drawn. Technically it reminds me as if these pics have been S-Splined. Judge for yourself: http://www.americaswonderlands.com/digital_photo_interpolation.htm features a pretty nice comparison of interpolation techniques. Take a look at the samples with PhotoZoom Pro 2 which uses S-Spline interpolation.

    This effect could still be caused by MPEG4 or h264 compression – in what format and quality setting did you grab the pictures and videos? Is Mjpeg on lowest compression producing similar visual results?

    What I need to rule out before buying 15 of those cameras is: did the manufacturer cheat by mathematically enhance / brush up the picture to look higher detailed than what the hardware sensor of the camera is actually capable of?

    What would you propose how to analyze this? The first thing that comes to my mind is to photograph a board (the one you look at when taking an eyesight test, ie: http://www.brille-kaufen.org/sehtest/images/sehtest-landolt-ringen.jpg) from the same position with the 2,3 and 5 MP device and then “pixel peep” for the differences in the smallest distinguishable features. That should at least give an idea of the optical resolution capabilities of the sensors.

    Again, you are doing a unprecedented job and I might be splitting hairs here – still I think it is an interesting experiment.

    Best regards,

  7. 15 Lee
    April 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Have this camera, curious what settings you have set your at. Noise in incredibly high at night. Unusable in fact with any motion in the evening. My Dahua 2mp dome is crisp clear in the evening with very little if any detectable noise.


    • 16 networkcameracritic
      April 16, 2013 at 8:33 am

      If you want low noise at night, get the 2MP dome from ACTi, the E84 is specifically made for low light performance. Generally, the higher the pixel density on a chip, the poorer the low light performance. If you need 5MP, you can introduce external IR illumination to lower noise.

  8. 17 Lee
    April 16, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I just might add an IR panel as today, after some fiddling with focus, the day time resolution is very good, impressed. I can read a plate from a stationary car 45′ away at full resolution. Still some minor tweaking to do. Thanks for the reply.

  9. 18 Jack
    April 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Did you use Blue Iris to record?

  10. 20 Lee
    April 17, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I can add that the daytime video is very good, not sure what happened with the water painting effect as posted here, I do not have any of that. The night video however, wow, as bad as some of my analogs.

    • 21 networkcameracritic
      April 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      I get the same watercolor effect on an expensive Axis camera. The reason is that there are constantly moving in the wind, the reflection of sun light on the tree and bound to have some motion blur. Add post processing to that and you have a weird effect. I would imagine if you don’t have a tree like that, you will never see that.

  11. 22 Lee
    April 17, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Well, wanted to add up a link to my night video. There are also other videos on there also from this camera. Day is very good. My friend who is in the business even said this is not what he expected, granted he deals in thousand dollar cameras all day long. He was impressed with the Dahua 2mp dome night video though. :) I will be contacting ACTi tomorrow on the noise concern of this camera.

    • 23 networkcameracritic
      April 18, 2013 at 8:15 am

      That video is about right. You can tweak it a little bit, but it is what it is, not advertised as their low light camera like their E44 is. Check out the review I just did on the Axis 5MP dome, it has very good low light capability. ACTi does have a low light 5MP cameras in the works in their I series, but it won’t be ready until later this year. The other choice is to get an external IR illuminator to work in conjunction with the E33. I added one to another camera and it made a big difference.

    • 24 Peter
      May 11, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Wow, thats not great noise IMO.

      But wait, is that a firetruck during the night? hihi action packed for sure compared to what normally goes on..

  12. 25 Lee
    April 18, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Any recommendations on a decent IR panel?

    • 26 networkcameracritic
      April 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

      I tried some inexpensive ones from eBay that worked really well for a few months. “Decent” ones like from Raytec can be pricy (maybe twice as much as the camera) but will likely last a long, long time. Maybe others can chime in and recommend a IR illuminator that’s decent for a good price.

  13. 27 Lee
    April 19, 2013 at 12:35 am

    OK, about to do a happy dance here. ACTi sent me a BETA firmware to address my noise concerns:
    Video below is at 1/5 shutter. Noticeable noise improvement. With some IR help it appears we have a winner.

    New firmware 6.03.15

    Old Firmware

    • 28 networkcameracritic
      April 19, 2013 at 7:50 am

      Glad to hear you worked it out. I’ll be at their offices today to pickup a camera and they said they were testing a new firmware release and see if they’ll give it to me today. It’s a new camera, any camera manufacturer goes through the same thing until people complain and they fix bugs.

  14. 29 JD
    April 19, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Great reviews. Very informative.

    My question is this: I’m looking for a 1 megapixel (720p or higher), wireless N, night-vision, 30 fps or higher, outdoor camera, preferably with Edge storage (but not required), from a manufacturer with at least average customer service. Cost matters. I’ve not really found anything that fits this description. Are you aware of any cameras that fit this profile, and if so, what might you suggest? Thank you.

    • 30 networkcameracritic
      April 19, 2013 at 8:19 am

      You can see my Brickcom review, a really good 720P outdoor camera with really good WiFi at a really high price. The problem is most cheap WiFi outdoor cameras like you see on eBay and such don’t have good enough WiFi radios to work well outdoors, assuming you have your WiFi router indoors. They may be strong enough to connect but the signal is weak and they get drop outs and add to that megapixel bandwidth and it’s a losing battle, not to mention it may slow down your WiFi network for other things. If you have an outlet nearby, maybe in an attic is to try Powerline. That’s what I’m doing for myself at one location, just waiting for a PoE injector I ordered. The way it would work is I plan on putting a Powerline adapter by my router, then one where the camera is and then using PoE injector piggybacked on the Powerline adapter that has an outlet on it. The injector is unusual in that it plugs directly to it like cell phone wall charger so it doesn’t look like a mess of wires and I’m using a 1′ Ethernet cable between the Powerline adapter and the injector. Powerline if you are not familiar uses your house A/C wiring to carry a 200Mbps signal. I’ll take a picture and post it when I’m done. This opens up the entire world of PoE cameras.

  15. 31 Marc Kaufman
    April 20, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    I just put up an E33 where I had previously had an ACM-1231. I live in a rural area, and there are no house lights or street lights. At 8:30PM I was watching the feed, waiting for it to get dark. But it IS dark outside. Low light performance is really great.

  16. 32 Lee
    April 24, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Any idea what PSU this requires? Says 12volts, but that is all it gives in the install manual. I’m going to have to move mine, still too much noise in the evening with decent shutter speed, so looking to go 9′ closer, but this puts it out of reach of my 16 port POE switch and I have a 8 port gigabit switch in the garage that would work, but not POE.


    • 33 networkcameracritic
      April 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      I only use PoE for power so not sure what’s needed for 12v. A long time ago, they used include 12V power supplies but I guess not that many people used it.

      As for night noise, have you tried their latest firmware, supposed to reduce noise and it just came out today, not on the website yet so for now, you can get it from me HERE

    • 35 Marc Kaufman
      April 27, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Just get a single port POE injector. Fry’s sells one from Trendnet for $30.

  17. 40 Lee
    April 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    After I posted above I picked up this one from Amazon

    Works great. Had to as I realized this camera does not accept a direct PS, that was my other multi pixel camera.

    So far a good camera, conduit mounted, solid. Night time is still lacking but I have monster IRs waiting to be installed. I am also looking into 6mm lenses so if someone has any options on quality 6mm glass…..

  18. 41 KHL
    May 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm


    I am interested in building a wireless CCTV system using HD cameras.
    When designing wireless network, bandwidth usage is very important factor
    to consider.

    I would be most appreciated if you can measure the bandwidth usage on this camera
    while IR is turn on (night viewing and recording).

    The reason is to find out what is the usage during the day compares to night,
    using compression H.264.

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,

    • 42 networkcameracritic
      May 5, 2013 at 6:47 am

      You can specify how much bandwidth to use, the lower the amount, the worse the image quality. Usually you want to run about this camera at about 4-8Mbps.

  19. 43 Richard
    May 8, 2013 at 7:24 am

    I bought this camera based primarily on this review. Thanks. I do have some network questions if anyone can help.

    I created a separate Camera network to avoid overloading my Internet network by putting two Ethernet adapters on my NVR computer. The first ( is connected to my router, and from there to the Internet. The second ( is connected to a PoE switch, which feeds my camera ( I have not bridged the two adapters.

    I am running Acti NVR software and it works perfectly. It pulls from the camera and makes the info available on my internet Network. Now I would like to get time-lapse stills from the camera. I don’t see any way in the NVR software to program a schedule of stills, but the camera itself has the ability to send stills through either FTP or HTTP CGI. The problem is, the camera is not on the internet, it is only attached to my NVR computer through the switch. I have tried to configure Filezilla Server on my NVR computer, but have been unable to get the camera to talk to it. So the question is, what how can I connect my camera to either FTP or HTTP CGI. Is there a low overhead HTTP CGI solution? Would it help to bridge my two network adapters? Any other ideas? If I am forced to give the Camera network internet access, is there a solution that does not require three routers? Thanks.

  20. 44 Bruce
    May 12, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Thanks for the review, this has been a helpful site. As you’ve stated elsewhere, windows seems to be a necessity with most of these cameras. I’m fine with running windows in a VM for admin tasks but I mostly use OSX, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. With this camera (or most others) is if fair to assume that I should be able to grab live video and still images from the built-in web server? I don’t really need nvr functionality, I would just like to be able to view a remote property I own from time to time.

    WRT this review, now that they have improved the night noise, is the e33 (5mp) now the no-brainer choice over the e32 (3mp). We all like more pixels and it seems like a tiny upgrade cost.

    • 45 networkcameracritic
      May 12, 2013 at 10:43 am

      Surprisingly, these newer ACTi cameras do work with non-IE browsers like Safari but they are not perfect at this yet, but does work.

  21. 46 Brian Lewis
    November 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I’m trying to determine the best IP cameras to get for complete security around my new home. Can I email you a few pictures to get your comments? Was thinking of using the E33 outside for driveway and the E72 on the front porch and just inside the front door, as well as possibly other areas around the house given the E72 seems better suited for wide angle recordings while the E33 with higher resolution would be best for the long driveway.

  22. 47 Rj Gill
    November 15, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Great Review Buell!! Got 3 of these from Wrightwood. Haven’t tested them yet..Huge size difference between these and Hikis.. Great staff at wrightwood..very fast shipping..

    Will install in a week or so.. still waiting on license pack for synology

  23. 48 Rj Gill
    March 14, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Hey Guys so i installed my cameras.. but it seems like I am getting a lot of noise.. is there any settings that you guys recommend for E33 ..should I follow up with Acti.. what can i do here to improve..

    http://i59.tinypic.com/2h3za6t.jpg <<< Acti E33

    http://i57.tinypic.com/2zydjx2.jpg <<<Hikvision DS2CD2032I

    Both are on latest firmware..

    • 49 networkcameracritic
      March 14, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Tough to compare the areas as the Hikvision has a more confined space and reflects back better. But if I were to compare the Hikvision to an E32, same 3MP, I would say that they are pretty comparable with noise, but the 5MP E33, not so much. The higher up in pixels you go, the more light is needed to get a clear noise-free image. You can add more lighting, porch lights, security lights would help. There’s IR illuminators that can help too.

  24. 50 kyle
    March 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Hey guys,

    I just recently got the E33 and after playing with it for the past few days, I feel like my night time image just doesn’t look as clear as yours. What do you think?


    • 51 networkcameracritic
      March 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      Seems good for the E33. Things you can try is play with the AE Reference Target under Video/Exposure, lower the number, less noise, but darker image, try 100. Also, set WDR lower or off.

      • 52 Kyle
        March 24, 2014 at 6:29 am

        Thanks for the response. I found a nice setting for the *night* time, during the day those settings completely white out the picture hehe.. I wish there was an event to switch settings at night. I changed the Exposure mode to manual and set the Exposure gain to 100 and shutter speed to 1/5 which produced a really nice picture at night. But like I said during the day it’s just all white. I will give those settings a try tonight.

        Thank again!

        • 53 Kyle
          March 24, 2014 at 7:18 pm


          After doing some research on ACTi’s website, it is possible to setup an event to switch the Exposure mode and shutter speed. I set that up today and the camera did switch when it went into night mode and should switch back when the camera switches back to daytime.

          Here is a picture from tonight.


          Thanks again for the awesome reviews!

  25. 54 Lee
    January 3, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Any suggestion on a compatible tighter lens? Say 12mm?

  26. 56 MichaelLitchfield
    July 8, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Looking at purchasing these cameras but have a general question. I saw in one post the E32 or 33 had been installed upside down without the sunshade. I would also be installing mine upside down. Now for the question. If upside down can the sunshield be installed on the then top (camera’s bottom)between the mounting bracket and the camera?

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