ACTi makes some unique cameras in the marketplace that distinguish themselves. Most of their cameras use the same 1/3″ CMOS sensor with 1.3MP resolution. The value proposition with the 1231 is that it’s a commercial quality outdoor, day/night, vari-focal lens (about 4X zoom), megapixel camera with built-in IR illuminators at a price point that many other companies sell simple cameras without many of these features. Ideal for small businesses or home owners that want an affordable true outdoor camera. The camera retails for $619, but street price seems to be around $550.
Having worked with ACTi on getting this camera setup, I can vouch that it’s not as easy as some other brands like Axis, but still intuitive. The manual is not as well written as others, but they provide very detailed “how to” guides in their FAQ section which fill the voids in their manual.
The image quality out of the box is not that good and would lead you to believe this is not a good camera, but after some tweaking with the assistance of their tech support, the image quality is pretty good for the price point, certainly worth considering if you need an outdoor camera.
I also had problems with vari-focal (manual zoom) and focusing. It’s not documented, but you need to loosen the knobs by turning them counter-clockwise to make the adjustments and then tighten them up again.
Here’s a sample screenshot of the configuration screens which is similar in format to Axis, but without the built-in help functions Axis provides.
Here’s an image taken during the middle of the day. Color and sharpness are good
Here’s an image taken at night, very dark except for a Malibu lights in the potted plants. It’s a little grainy, but you can see the advantages of having IR illuminators. The thing to note is that this is set at 1/30th/sec shutter speed minimum which would cripple most cameras without illuminators. This is important because many reduce shutter speeds to ridiculous long exposures making for a very clear night scene but impossible to capture a moving object.
The conclusion is that this camera is a good value for those looking for an outdoor camera. The features you need in an outdoor camera are. extra resolution because you are trying to cover a larger area than indoors, lighting, has to work day or night which means an IR CUT filter in mandatory, you need to be able to zoom in to focus in on what you are trying to capture and you need it work in all weather. For this, the camera delivers. Also, being a popular commercial camera, I’ve found that it works with many surveillance camera software products out there. Currently, I’m using it with BlueIris and it’s working great.
The pluses for this camera are;
- 1.3 MegaPixel resolution (4 times that of CCTV camera)
- Excellent Acti Tech Support
- Vari-Focal lens at 3.3 to 12mm (almost 4X zoom)
- Built in IR illuminators, good for about 50′
- Automatic IR CUT filter (suitable for day or night with IR)
- Can send emails or FTP video or images
- Powered by PoE or an included power adapter
The shortfalls of this camera are;
- Documentation can be better
- Does not have built in storage, like an SD card
- this camera works as well for home surveillance as it does for large business, very versatile, priced right and unique in that the other major camera manufacturers have nothing completely like this.