This is the dome version of the Dahua IPC-HFW2300R-Z zoom bullet I recently reviewed. What makes this one interesting is that it’s a small mini dome allowing for more discretion than it’s bullet sibling. It uses the same Aptina sensor Dahua used in their higher end costlier line of products making this more of a bargain compared to their vari-focal models.
- 1/3” 3 Megapixel Aptina CMOS sensor
- H.264 dual-stream encoding
- 30fps @ 1080P (1920 x 1080) or 20fps @ 3MP (2048 x 1536)
- 2.8-12mm motorized zoom lens
- Day/Night IR Cut Filter
- IR LED advertised working distance 20m
- IP66 Rated Outdoor Bullet
- Powered by PoE (8.5W max) or 12VDC
- 3D Digital Noise Reductions
- Digital Wide Dynamic Range and Backlight Compensation
- Working tempertures -30°C ~ +60°C, at less than 95% RH
- Smartphone apps available
Overall, this is an impressive camera with very good image quality and decent low light performance. This may be the smallest zoom or varifocal outdoor vandal dome I’ve ever reviewed.
Installing it is similar to any dome, remove the cover and attach the base with 3 included screws. It has a simple pigtail with 12V and PoE jacks. This is a 2-axis dome, meaning it should be mounted parallel to the ground, like under an eave, a ceiling or using a wall mount. Once mounted, you can easily rotate the lens assembly and tilt it. Then go back to your desk or laptop and adjust the lens and focus with a click of a button.
One problem mini domes is they can’t be set too close the edge of the dome because doing so would block some of the IR LEDs at best, at worst case could cause IR reflection issues. Most mini domes limit this movement to avoid this. On this camera, you can go right to the edge, because it has two larger LEDs that are on the side of the lens furthest from the edge. This is genius because it puts the LEDs closer to the center of the dome and further away from the lens to eliminate IR light bleed. Good to see camera manufacturers putting more effort into the design rather than the status quo, specially on the lower end of the price range.
This is what the web interface looks like when you first log in. There’s options to take a snapshot, manually record, chose a stream and you can chose the aspect ratio which should be automatic, but it’s not as with other cameras.
Just wanted to show you the zoom/focus controls from the live view since I missed that in the bullet review. You click on the plus sign icon at the bottom, now in orange. It opens up the Zoom and Focus controls on the right. So you can use this like the zoom feature in a PTZ camera, albeit slower as it’s intended more as setup aid than as a speed-dome.
To configure the camera, click on the Setup tab across the top. Using the menu on the left, under Network you can do things like change the IP address of the device. I’ve shown some of these screens in the bullet review, so let me a cover a new one, DDNS. This is Dynamic Domain Name Service. If you intend on accessing the camera directly from the internet, you may want to setup an account with a DDNS provider. Dahua provide this service but the camera supports others, in the screenshot below you can see noip.com is supported. If you have more than one camera or device using DDNS, you only need specify it on one device. This then updates DDNS to reflect any changes in your external IP address which is most cases can change. If you want to know your external IP address, Google made it easy, just type – what is my ip address in Google.
Under the camera menu are two items, Conditions and Video. Conditions is where you control image like brightness, contrast and such. Also this is where you set wide dynamic range (WDR) or backlight compensation (BLC) options as well as noise reduction.
The right most tab is Zoom and Focus, my favorite for these new cameras. You slide the Zoom slider to about where you want it, wait for the camera to zoom in to the desired location and automatically focus. This actually worked very well, one of the best I’ve use. Even got good focus at night with poor light.
Under the Video settings you set the resolution and frame rate. There are 2 streams. The main stream is your typical high resolution stream you want to record. If your NVR, NVR PC or smartphone app allows it or even if you just want to use the web interface, the Sub Stream comes in handy by providing a lower resolution and frame rate stream to reduce network bandwidth, for example for remote viewing from your smartphone.
The Overlay tab is where you set what text you want displayed on your screen, like date, time, location name. One thing you can do to mitigate privacy concerns is to mask out parts of the image which are private. They provide 4 boxes you can move around the image to block the area.
If you want to trigger events like send an email alert or ftp video on motion detect, you can set this up under Event, Video Detect. You can draw the area you want the camera to look at to detect motion and the sensitivity.
The next menu item is Storage. Since this camera does not have an SD card slot, you can have it record to an FTP server. I tried the NAS option but did not work, was grayed out. I have used the FTP feature and it does work quite well, although harder to manage than an NVR solution. The FTP tab is where you setup the FTP server info, IP address, user/password and such.
The FTP tab is where you setup the IP address, username and password of your FTP server. I used a WD My Book Live Edition NAS to test this out.
The next menu item is System. Most importantly this is where you set the time and daylight savings time settings. I use the NTP server that was defaulted to on the camera and that worked well, kept accurate time.
Under the Log menu, you can view activity on your camera, who logged in, parameter changes and such.
Now onto the images. I mounted the camera with the lens set at 2.8mm wide angle under the eave of my garage. Also mounted in my backyard and set the lens at both ends of the range. As before, you can click on the image to see the full size 3 megapixel image straight from the camera.
This is a day shot in the backyard, color balance is quite good and it’s a clear and sharp image. This is with WDR off and you can see the strong contrast from the patio cover.
This is with WDR turned on and set to 50. The shadows get lighter with more detail revealed.
Zooming in about half way on the slider provides a nicer field of view for my case. The narrower the field of view, the more detail is available to identify someone. Also barrel distortion is virtually gone.
I zoomed it all the way in so you can see how far it can go. This zooms in a little more than other 2.8mm-12mm vari-focal cameras I’ve previously tested. Also, Dahua has their HLC feature on this camera that darkens the image at night to help in capturing license plates.
At night, the camera does pretty well and actually somewhat even light with a hotspot in the center. Average for other mini domes, not as good as the sibling bullet, but still very usable.
Using WDR mitigates this issue a bit making the darker edges more evenly lit. This is with WDR set to 20.
Now onto the front of the home, the driveway. Different lighting situation. This is with WDR off, color accuracy is good, none of the over-saturation I see some other brands. The shadows are there, but not as dark as other brands.
Turning WDR on to 20 lightens the shadows a bit, but not sure if it’s necessary as the Aptina sensor has good dynamic range without having to use WDR.
At night, I want to show what happens if you leave this camera in Day mode at night. Actually quite good. Not sure if this was my permanent camera, if I would use B&W. You do get a little more noise, but the color makes the image look better and things like plate numbers come out better because there’s no IR reflecting back.
This is the same shot, but in Night mode, IR LEDs on and B&W. Not sure if it’s better. Like to get your feedback on this. The lights are the street light across the street and two 60W equivalent bulbs in the porch lights.
I uploaded day and night videos to YouTube. You must click on the gear icon and select 1080P quality and then click on the icon with 4 corners to see the video full screen. The night video were extracted from Milestone XProtect NVR software, the day video was extracted from FTP server.
For a motorized lens/zoom mini dome, this camera has good clarity, decent low light performance, good color accuracy and clever IR LED design. I found the camera as low as $199.99 with free shipping from Wrightwood Surveillance, it’s definitely worth trying one out.
The pluses for this camera are;
- Price & Value
- Easier install without dealing with focusing and vari-focal lenses at the camera
- Very good low light performance in color
- 3MP, 1080P or 720P resolution
- Day/Night IR Cut Filter
- Ability to record to FTP
The shortcomings for this camera are;
- 2-axis limits mounting options
I don’t have a link to Dahua’s website for this camera because it’s so new it’s not on there yet.