Good Camera for Security
Jun 4, 2012
Review by moeringc
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Easy to Setup, Reliable, Good Range
Cons:Would like better image quality
The Bottom Line: Good IP Camera for security monitoring.
Reason for Purchase:
Recommend this product?
I have a video security system useing free software for linux called zoneminder with five wired cameras. I generally prefer wired cameras for the reliability, clarity of image, and cost. You can get ip cameras with better image quality than a wired camera, but it will cost you a few hundred (wired cameras go for $60-80). However, I decided to get a camera to cover an area of my yard where I can't easily run the cable.
Where I Purchased:
I purchased the DCS-932L for approximatly $100 at Best Buy. Office Depot also sells it for the same price, but beware of their official return policy which does not allow for electronics returns once the package is opened (some stores may disregard this part of their policy).
Required for Installation:
This camera is designed to set on a table, but can also be mounted to a wall using two screw slots. The camera is mounted to the stand (approximatly 3 inches tall) with a ball joint, so it can be pointed in any direction. There are multiple ways to configure the camera, but I will describe the method I used. I used an ethernet cable to connect the camera to my router. I think connected to the website per the included instructions and configured the wireless settings for my wireless router (SSID, WPA passkey, etc). I then disconnected the ethernet cable and performed the camera (image/detection) settings through the website over wireless. If you are using your own monitoring software like zoneminder, you are done with setup at this point.
If you also want to use the motion detection to send e-mails or upload to an ftp site you just need to enable the monitoring and select the regions of the frame to monitor. The frame is broken into a 5 x 5 grid for enabling motion detection. For the area enabled you can then set a detection threshold. You will need to tweak this value a few times after initial configuration to get the right amount of alerts per your preferance. You can then have the images sent to a server by ftp or have them e-mailed to you. If you don't want to use motion detection, you can also have images sent at a regular time intervals.
Night Images / IR Cut Filter:
I do not use the night mode at all as I have the camera looking out through a window. I can confirm that the IR Cut filter does work well in providing accurate colors by blocking the IR during the day, and allowing the IR to be enabled at night. You can also allow the camera to automatically switch, or force it to day or night mode.
The images are generally as clear as wired cameras, but during low light it tends to have lines in the image. The lines aren't too bad, and they don't interfere with zoneminder's motion detection.
Size: 640x480, 320x240, 160x120
FPS: Auto, 30, 20, 15, 7, 5, 1
Quality: V High, High, Med, Low, V Low
Mirror / Flip / Anti-Flicker
The audio does work when using the website interface and the dlink tools, but I don't use the audio.
I have my own static IP / domain so I don't need this feature, but it does have the feature.
Programs like zoneminder can access live images from the camera by pulling a website address 'cgi file' which provides a jpg image.
FYI about Wireless usage:
When initally setting up the camera I would get many failed images from the camera. However, if you set the wireless router/access point to only use one wireless type, the issue goes away. For example, instead of supporting B/G/N, if you set it to only support N, or only to support G, then the connection is much faster, and there are no missed images. This does not seem to be an issue with the camera (though may be specific to my wireless router) because I tested this with a wireless laptop. When set to B/G/N my connection speed (using a speed test program to transfer data and measure the speed) only got <1Mbit, but when set to G only I was able to get the full 14Mbit speed that my internet service gets. I don't know what causes this, but this imacts the range of the wireless as well as the reliability. So if you are having trouble with this camera, at least try this change to see if it works.
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