outdoor cameras

Top 5 Outdoor Cameras for 2020

It’s a dangerous world out there. These days, you need to do everything possible to keep your home secure. In this handy little guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know if you’re buying a outdoor security camera.

How Do Outdoor Security Cameras Work?

Wireless cameras transmit video data through a radio transmitter. The data is then collected and stored, either via cloud storage or a built-in device. A wired camera works in much the same way, except that the signal is sent to the storage device via wires instead of radio signals.

Infrared LEDs (or IR LEDs) detect the photons that escape an object or animal as it emits heat. These photons are then converted to electrons, which can then, in turn, be processed into visible images, even if the camera itself is surrounded by total darkness.

Some security cameras are small and designed to be hidden in inconspicuous places, while others are placed outside of the house, often with window stickers detailing their presence. This is supposed to act as a deterrent to would-be intruders.

Quality of the Footage

High quality video is an absolute must. It is possible that an arrest and conviction could be obtained from your footage, as well as lost items being tracked down and returned to you. However, this will only be the case only if the footage is clear enough to fully identify the culprits.

You will also want a camera with a wide field of view (FOV), especially if it is covering a larger area with lots of hiding places (e.g. the back garden or driveway). The FOV is determined by the focal length of the camera lens and the size of the image sensor.

A security camera capable of capturing 80 degrees or more is usually considered to be a ‘wide angle’ security camera. The term ‘super-wide angle’ generally means that the camera can capture up to 180 degrees, while ultra-wide angle (usually IP or CCTV) can capture as much as 360 degrees. It goes without saying that the greater the FOV, the higher your chances are of capturing a suspect on film.

Two-way audio is also recommended. This enables you to receive and transmit audio through the camera. On the fun side, two-way audio will allow you to interact with family pets on your breaks from work. On a more serious note, it will also be possible for you to deter burglars verbally before they even enter the house.

What’s Better, 4K or 1080p?

All digital video files have set dimensions; these are named according to the number of pixels in the image. 1920 X 1080p (or simply ‘1080p’) tells us that the image is 1,920 pixels wide and 1,080 pixels high. This is also known as ‘high definition’ or ‘HD’ and provides a very good quality image.

The term ‘4K’ refers to a frame that is 4000 pixels wide (or greater). When dealing with this level of image quality (also known as ‘ultra HD’ or ‘UHD’), resolution is measured by width instead of height.

UHD contains almost 4 times the number of pixels as regular HD. Accordingly; UHD specializes in establishing ultra-fine detail that would be missed by even the best HD cameras.

On paper, then, 4K would seem the better choice. It is the superior technology, after all.

It should be noted that cost becomes a factor when it comes to data storage. However most cameras have a 7-day rolling overwrite of all footage stored.

How Does Motion Detection Work?

There are two main types of motion detector available for home security cameras.

The first, software-based motion detection, works by comparing pixel changes between successive frames. The system is activated when a significant amount of pixels is altered within the stationary image (indicating movement).

The second, PIR, seeks out body heat. So when the ambient infrared levels change (indicating the presence of a person or animal), the system springs into action.

Both types of camera do not record constantly. Instead, the ‘record’ function is only activated when movement is detected.

Is Motion Detection important?

Motion detectors constantly scan for movement, alerting you instantly if they capture any. Without this feature, you’d be constantly checking your video feed, which is impractical, not to mention boring!

False alarms can be a pain, however. Remember that the camera doesn’t know the difference between a burglar and the family beagle – and will notify you of the presence of both with equal insistence. Annoyed by this, many users deactivate the motion sensors on their security cameras, something that they can soon regret.

A better tactic by far is to set ‘motion detection zones’ within the home and ensure that they are kept clear when you aren’t at home.

Cameras with PIR sensors actively seek out body heat, meaning that they are less likely to be activated by slight, inconsequential movements and more likely to pick up a human presence in the home as a result.

Wired Cameras Vs. Wireless Cameras

Both wired and wireless cameras have benefits and drawbacks.

Wired cameras are very reliable and supportive of larger systems. However, installation can be difficult and can take rather a long time. They are also vulnerable to power outages. However, wired cameras are proven and effective as long-term security solutions.

Wireless cameras, on the other hand, are easier to set up and install. They can be easily removed as well, making them ideal for renters. On the negative side, they can be susceptible to radio interference (which happens when signals get crossed).

Wireless cameras are also dependent on a wireless signal (which, as we all know, is never 100% reliable) and they can still be vulnerable to power outages. In some cases, wireless cameras can even be hacked. Additionally, wireless cameras also tend to be smaller, which limits the amount they can view.

Installing a Camera

Compatibility

Most modern security systems are compatible with other smart products, especially phones, as this allows the user to receive alert messages whenever something aberrant is detected. Many systems are also compatible with light switches, pet food dispensers and doorbells, among other things.

The more ‘high-end’ systems even feature facial recognition software.

Lesser models, however, can suffer from bad app interfaces, poor video quality and shoddy overall build quality, so it really pays to shop around.

Compatibility with other home systems is important to some users, so we’ll take a look at a few examples over the next couple of sections.

Home Smart Products

Alexa

Love her or loath her, Amazon’s Alexa is one of the market’s leading smart hubs. Just as Alexa can connect to most of your household gadgets, she can also be placed in charge of your home security system via app or voice control.

Systems such as ‘Circle 2’ or ‘SimpliSafe’ are readily compatible with Alexa – and there are a lot of others, too.

Nest

Nest are a company that specialises in smart, interconnected home devices. Their product lines include a ‘smart doorbell’ as well as thermostats and smoke alarms. Their indoor and outdoor security cameras are state-of-the-art and often (though not always – be sure do your research) connect to all their other products.

cortana

Cortana

Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana can also be used to run your home security system in much the same way that Alexa can. In fact, if your security camera is compatible with Microsoft products, the chances are that they are also compatible with Cortana herself.

google assistant

Google Assistant

If Cortana isn’t your thing, Google Assistant can also be used to run your home security system.

Be aware of compatibility issues, however. Just because something works with Nest or Google Assistant, it does not follow that it would work with Cortana or the various Apple products available. Before you buy, be aware of what you want your home system to do and you’re your purchases accordingly.

User-Friendly Apps

Controlling your camera via an app can be an easy and efficient process, provided the app is well designed.

An app that alerts you to any motion or sound detected by the camera is pretty much what you’re after, but other functions such as two-way-audio and the ability to instantly create and share images in real time can also be very useful.

Generally, the more customizable the app is, the more likely it will be to fit seamlessly into your life.

As a final point, if you are already using Alexa, Google or Apple smart home products, be sure to check that your camera and/or home security system are compatible with them.

Not everything fits everything else, and it would be a waste or time and money to blunder into the marketplace without double-checking this first.

Waterproof vs Weatherproof?

If you’re buying an outdoor security camera, it is important that your camera be weatherproof. Pretty much all outdoor technology (such as two-way-radios) is given an IP rating. This is a score from 1 – 6 (‘0’ or ‘X’ meaning none at all) that details just how hard wearing and waterproof your device actually is.

The first digit refers to how vulnerable the device is to intrusion (i.e. from dust, dirt or small objects.

An intrusion rating of 1, for example, simply means that you can hold it safely and that it is safe from objects greater than 50mm in diameter. A rating of 6, on the other hand, means that it is probably vacuum-sealed and therefore totally dust proof.

For second digit (or ‘moisture’) ratings, 1 tells us that the device is effectively protected against rain or condensation. 8, on the other hand, means that the device can be fully submerged in water, even at significant depths.

IP ratings

Data Storage

Data storage is an important consideration when buying a home security camera.

Basically, there are two types of data storage. Internal, whereby the data is transferred to an SD card or external, where the data is saved to the cloud.

How much data your camera stores, as well as file size, are important factors. Storage space isn’t unlimited, after all.

The higher the image quality, the more space will be required to store the video. The more video is taken, the greater the amount of storage space required. So, if your camera stores a lot of high quality footage, it could end up costing you more money.

With some cameras, you can view 24+ hours of stored footage, whereas others only store footage once the camera is activated.

Cloud Storage Vs. Card Storage

there are two major ways to store security camera footage.

With cloud storage, the encrypted data is stored via the Internet and is accessible to you anytime you have access to the network.

With card storage, Footage, images and photos are stored on an SD card, depending on the size of the memory on the card and how often it is triggered, data can be stored for 7-10 days, with the first recorded data being overwritten when the storage is full. 

One thing to keep in mind is to be absolutely sure that the cards will work with your particular camera. The two main types of SD cards are SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) and SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity). SDHC cards have the capacity of between 4Gb and 32Gb, where SDXC cards have a capacity over 32Gb. Choosing the right card and capacity is vital if your not going to opt for cloud storage.

Make sure you purchase the right physical sized card for your camera, as they come in 3 different sizes:

  • Standard SD cards: SD SDHC, SDXC – 32 x 24 x 2.1-1.4mm.
  • MiniSD cards: miniSD, miniSDHC – 21.5 x 20 x 1.4mm.
  • MicroSD cards: microSDmicroSDHC, microSDXC – 15 x 11 x 1mm

A majority of the cameras on the market use Micro SD cards, but check the instructions on your camera so that you purchase the correct camera.

Alternatively, online storage is efficient and usually safe. However, there are still security concerns. Data storage systems can be hacked, as can pretty much anything on the Internet if the hacker is clever and determined enough. To avoid this, you should go with a trusted, well known brand that employs up-to-date encryption technology.The biggest risk, perhaps surprisingly, is the user’s account, rather than the site itself being compromised through careless activity online. Create a strong password and update it regularly.

It is possible to get a limited amount of free online storage space, usually as part of an overall deal. For longer video history, greater storage space and a broader selection of supported cameras/systems, you may have to pay a monthly fee for storage.

As always, be sure to identify your specific wants and needs, find a product in your price range that suits you and then research it thoroughly before making your purchase.

Hopefully this guide is a good place to start. Stay safe!

1. Victure Security Outdoor CCTV Camera

This outdoor camera would be a welcome addition to any home security setup. A sleek, modern design, a host of useful features and a very fair price tag are what make this one worthy of consideration.

The camera utilises PIR (Passive Infrared) motion detection, which means that it is less likely to be activated by small, inconsequential movements (such as leaves blowing in the wind). When the camera is activated, it captures everything in 1080p, or high definition.

The camera itself is perfectly capable of filming at night and the night vision mode will enable you to see a range of up to 15 metres clearly, even in pitch dark.

Among many other great features are the storage options. Footage can be stored either on a micro SD card (up to 128GB) or via cloud storage (with the first month available for free).

  • [Weatherproof]-IP66 rating ideal for outside use and keep recording in the ever-changing outdoor environment
  • [HD 1080P]-Video Resolution 1920*1080, the 36*850nm infrared night vision see in pitch dark up to 50 feet. 110°wide-angle lens delivers clarity picture in any direction, provides nice, clear & colorful image in the daytime.
  • [Motion Detection]-With this security camera, notifications will sent to your smartphone once motion is detected.
  • [Two-Way Audio]-An integrated mic and high-power speaker allows you communicate easily.
  • [Micro SD/Cloud]-Victure outdoor security camera supports up to 128GB Micro SD card. Encrypted security cloud storage service is also supported. 

The camera itself makes use of two-way audio, which enables you to talk to (or ward off!) anybody you can see outside your home. For this, the system has an integrated microphone and anti-noise speaker.

The Victure Security Outdoor Camera has an IP rating of IP66 (making it more-or-less weatherproof) and an FOV (field of view) of 110 degrees, which classifies it as ‘wide angle’ but not ‘super wide angle’.

On the negative side, the App is simple and clunky,  no fast forward or rewind when looking at stored video. It also presents something of a challenge to install, mainly due to the size of its Ethernet connector.

However, this camera still has a lot going for it. The PIR setup is very efficient and works nicely. The picture quality is generally good. The system works well with both IOS and Android devices and the SD card memory allowance is greater than that of most other cameras. Another plus point is the price, as this camera retails fairly affordably.

Overall, we like the Victure Security Outdoor Camera. It’s modern, reliable and reasonably priced, a good all-rounder, we feel.

+ PIR MOTION DETECTION – CAN TRACK EVERYTHING BY TEMPERATURE

+ SD CARD ALLOWS UP TO 128GB (LARGER THAN OTHER CAMERAS)

–  APP IS SIMPLE, NO FAST FORWARD OR REWIND ON THE RECORDINGS

2. SUPERYE Outdoor Security Camera

  • [110° Super Wide Angle & IP66 Waterproof] 110 ° large wide angle. Using the latest IP66 technology, no matter how bad the environment is, it will show the highest and most realistic images.
  • [One-Key Connection & 60 Feet Night Vision] Ultra-sensitive 1080P infrared night vision function, you can see the clearest image at night.
  • [High Quality PC Material] It’s made by high quality PC material, sunscreen, waterproof, dustproof, heat resistant, extending the life of camera. 
  • [Multiple Encryption & Reboot Technology] The video has been encryted to protect your privacy. Under normal network conditions, you can connect to your outdoor camera by simply clicking Reboot camera.
  • [Multi-Function] Easily set various functions, such as: motion detection, cloud storage, two-way audio, 1080P night vision, waterproof and dustproof, Support MicroSD card (UP to 64GB)

In addition to having a cool name, SUPERYE security cameras are high quality and easy to set up and use. Prices are very good indeed and matched by high levels of performance.

This particular SUPEREYE model features smart motion detection, which means that it can recognise any movement that enters its field of vision. The FOV (field of view) is 110 degrees, which is considered to be ‘wide angle’, but not ‘super wide angle’.

The camera itself is 2 megapixel, allowing for 1080p (or ‘high definition’) picture quality. The camera also features automatic night vision capabilities, and uses special LEDs to see as much as 18 metres away and capture any motion, even in pitch darkness. 

Two-way audio also allows you to hear – and speak to – the source of that motion, whoever or whatever it may be, all in real time.

In terms of storage, both SD card and cloud storage are available, although it should be noted that the maximum SD capacity this model allows is only 64GB. This wouldn’t pose much of a problem, except that the cloud storage price (especially if you plan to record continuously) is reportedly quite expensive.

The motion detection works really well. It takes video clips instead of still images and is selectable to three different levels. Hooking up multiple cameras to the same device is easy as well, so you can put two or more of these cameras at different points in the home and experience better coverage as well as greater peace of mind.

Less impressive is the fact that you can’t block specific areas of motion detection, meaning that family pets, cars going by outside and other benign disturbances can easily trigger the motion sensor. This can be, to put it mildly, somewhat annoying.

Another negative point is that the power connector relies solely on a close friction fit, which offers no protection against water ingress. The camera itself has an IP rating of 66, meaning that it is pretty much weatherproof, but that won’t help much if the power source gets wet, will it?

All things considered, the SUPERYE is a good, affordable camera. Not perfect, but definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for a high performance model at a reasonable price.

+ SMART MOTION DETECTION – THE CAMERA CAN RECOGNISE WHETHER THERE IS ANY OBJECT MOVING 

+ APP ALLOWS YOU TO RECORD PICTURE STILLS, VIDEO (INCLUDING AUDIO) FROM THE CAMERA

– POWER CONNECTOR RELIES SOLELY ON A CLOSE FRICTION FIT

3. ieGeek Outdoor Security Camera

This camera might have the word ‘geek’ in its name, but you wouldn’t say that to its, um, lens. With sleek, no-nonsense bodywork and a jet-black paint job, this thing looks like it means business.

The ieGeek is also designed for ease of use, as it offers the chance to select specific motion detection areas while blocking out others (you can select up to four independent detection zones). In real terms, this means that you won’t be getting alerts from your security system every time your cat goes to investigate her bowl or leave you a homecoming present in her dirt-box.

The camera is easily connectable via a QR code found in the manual, so there’s no need to mess around with the setup, either.

  • [Works with Alexa] ieGeek outdoor security camera can be viewed on your smart phone (iPhone and Android),PC and Web Browsers. Supporting Micro SD card, FTP and NVR storage, you can playback your recordings whenever you want. Being compatible with Alexa, you can ask your Echo to play live stream.
  • [30m Night Vision] ieGeek outdoor security camera with a high precise HiSilicon chipset can not only provide 1920*1080P FHD colorful images at day time but also give you about 98 feet (30m) night viewing distance Equipped with 2 Megapixel 110°wide-angle Lens and 36 infrared LED beads delivering crystal clear images day and night, no matter wherever and whenever you are. 
  • [IP67 Waterproof] ieGeek Outdoor Security Camera made in aluminum alloy is rated with IP67 can work in the temperature ranges from 14F to 131F(-10℃~+55℃).Compared to IP66, its ability to protect the camera from damage improved another new high level. With Professional Manufacturing and Excellent Materials.
  • [Clear Two-Way Audio] ieGeek outdoor security camera supports Setting/Blocking specific zooms of motion detection. Capturing Motion Activities, Pushing real-time Notifications on your phone, 
  • [High-level Security] ieGeek outdoor security camera with Unique Data Encryption Technology can’t be logged in without your permission. You can set a serial complex password to protect your camera. 

This model also offers customisable motion detection, timed recording, action logging, adjustable video stream and real-time action alerts (via automated email and/or phone notifications). You really get a sense that this geek is guarding your home.

The great features don’t stop there, however. The two-way audio (with noise reduction technology) also works very well, allowing you to interact with anybody that comes within the camera’s range.

The camera is also night vision enabled, and is able to see a whopping 30 metres in front of it, even in the dead of night. The night vision is bright and clear, too. It is also weatherproof (IP67) and has an FOV of 110 degrees (wide screen).

The picture quality, sadly, is somewhat lacking. Although technically a 1080p ‘high definition’ camera (adjustable to Ultra HD, even), the image quality just isn’t where it should be. When the zoom function is used, there is no auto refocusing, so the image very often ends up blurry and distorted. This is a sad and serious flaw for an otherwise good security camera.

Additionally, setting up this camera requires you to drill an excessively large hole in your wall in order to accommodate its ungainly wires and cables. Not ideal.

It is also something of a shame that the ieGeek only offers SD storage and access to the app feed, with no option at all for cloud storage.

Overall, this is a really good piece of security equipment let down by one tragic flaw. With better image quality, this camera really could be something special.

+ ADJUSTABLE VIDEO RECODING – TO TAKE UP LESS SPACE ON THE MEMORY CARD

+ CONNECT TO THE CAMERA THROUGH A QR CODE ON YOUR PHONE

– PICTURE ISN’T HD OR CRISP, IT’S PRETTY BLURRY

4. APEMAN Outdoor Camera

APEMAN have served up something really interesting this time.

This aluminium-encased beast is one of the better security cameras in its particular price range. Weatherproof to IP66 and beyond, with remote viewing and camera sharing abilities, the APEMAN makes good use of its 1080p (HD) picture resolution and 6G lens, capturing all images with crystal clarity.

Somewhat disappointingly, this camera’s FOV is only 95 degrees, which is wide angle, but pretty weak in comparison to what is available elsewhere. This means that you will have to find an optimum position in which to install your camera, as you run the risk of missing things otherwise. These drawbacks are redeemed somewhat by the camera’s ability to see 20 metres ahead of it in pitch dark, which is impressive.

  • [BETTER IP66 WATERPROOF] cameras with IP66 waterproof & strong full aluminium case, not afraid to brave the snow, rain, or heat. Suitable for outdoor and indoor use.
  • [SMART MOTION DETECTION] Built-in motion sensor alarm, when motion detector is triggered, wifi camera will send notification to your smartphone.
  • [REMOTE VIEWING & CAMERA SHARING] Keep an eye on what matters to you, from anywhere. And you could share security camera to your friends and family.
  • [INFRARED NIGHT VISION] 1080P FHD resolution and 6G lens allow you to get a crystal clear picture, even in total darkness.The viewing distance is up to 66 feet.
  • [EASIER WIFI/AP CONNECTION] Simple self-install within minutes with home surveillance camera, and stable 2.4GHz WIFI/AP hotspot connection for Apeman wireless cameras.

The motion detection works well, instantly notifying your phone whenever movement is detected. The camera sharing is especially useful here as well. Sadly, it does not seem that you can customise this in any way, meaning that the camera may constantly alert you to the movements of family pets or other benign disturbances, even when you don’t want it to.

Frustratingly, the APEMAN does not offer two-way audio as many others do. In fact, it only features a microphone, not a speaker. This one-way audio is, quite frankly, a bit of a let down.

One area where this camera really wins, however, is its data storage plan. Purchase of the camera offers unlimited private storage and monitoring data that can be saved permanently. That’s a great deal. If, for whatever reason, this isn’t for you, you can buy an SD card with up to 64GB of memory and use that instead.

Another plus point is the ability to take screenshots and video recordings in real time via the Tuyasmart app. This is a useful and innovative method of evidence gathering, should you need to avail yourself of it.

In conclusion, the APEMAN is a very good camera, with a great data plan attached to it. It is let down only by limited camera functions and the lack of two-way audio.

+ STRONG ALUMINIUM METAL CASING 

+ USEFUL 3M POWER AND EXTENSION CABLE

– ONLY ONE-WAY AUDIO, CAMERA DOESN’T HAVE A SPEAKER

5. Luowice WiFi Security Camera

  • [180 Degree View] The camera supports 180 degree wide viewing angle. With Electronic Pan move from the left to the right automatically. 
  • [Intercom Function] The camera support two-way audio function. You can talk to the people on the otherside of the camera.
  • [Mobile/Pad/PC Live View & Playback]  Connect the camera to your Wi-Fi. And then you can live view or playback the videos stored in the micro SD card via your phone/pad/PC anytime anywhere. 
  • [Motion Detection & Email Alert] Support email alert function to push snapshots when motion is detected and APP alert to keep you well informed of what is going on.

This Luowice camera is nice to look at and crammed chock-full of goodies.

For starters, the camera’s motion sensor is triggered by any change of lighting, a function that is customizable to some extent, as you can adjust the sensitivity of the sensors to one of three pre-programmed levels. Despite this, there have been complaints that the camera is simply too light sensitive, even at the lowest setting. This can definitely be a pain.

The video captured is 1080p (or high definition), allowing for the creation of smooth, clean images. In night vision mode, this impressive camera can see as much as 30 metres in front of it. The night vision function is excellent.

The Luowice also has an FOV of 180degrees, qualifying it as super wide-angle. It pans from the left to the right automatically, which is also a cool feature.

The two-way audio works well, with ‘intercom mode’ allowing you to talk to (or ward off!) anybody who approaches the camera’s field of view.

This camera has no option for cloud storage, merely offering access to the feed via (Windows only) software downloaded from Luowice’s website. Even more of a pain is presented by the fact that, if any incriminating footage is captured, it must be laboriously converted to an MP4 file format before it can be shared with any other device.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine anything more grating than being robbed and then having to sit and do a frustrating file conversion before you can hand the evidence on to the police. Not a plus point.

It does have an SD card option, but only supports up to 64GB.

All in all, this is a very good camera that will do a very good job, provided, of course, that you’re willing to grin and bear its various eccentricities. Decent price tag, though.

+ 180 ELECTRONIC PAN MOVES FROM THE LEFT TO THE RIGHT AUTOMATICALLY.

+ 100FT NIGHT VISION.

– MOTION DETECTION IS TOO SENSITIVE, CAN BE TRIGGERED BY A CHANGE OF LIGHTING.