Camera Recommendations (with a side of rant)?


(Mark) #1

I currently have Amcrest cameras installed around the house. Since they don’t integrate with SmartThings (and Amcrest is probably one of the least forward-thinking, least innovative companies in the world), I’d like to replace my Amcrests. I’ve looked at Arlo and Blink (Arlo is a possible contender) but would prefer a PoE solution that doesn’t rely on batteries. The Amcrests replaced a bunch of Foscams (another company that’s stuck in the past and obviously believes a 1980’s UI and software riddled with bugs is okay), so I don’t want to go with Foscam.

Can anyone recommend a camera manufacturer that makes a solid outdoor camera that works with a ST DH? I’ll be mounting them under soffits and running cat5 into a closet with a PoE switch. Or can Blue Iris turn “dumb cameras” into devices that can integrate with ST? I’m specifically interested in using each camera’s motion detection to fire WebCoRE pistons.

I feel like I’ve wasted a ton of money on cameras from manufacturers that don’t see the big picture, don’t understand IoT, and have absolutely no interest in keeping up with the amazing things happening in the IoT/HA/web services integration space. Hopefully someone here has experienced the same challenges and can offer possible solutions.

TIA,

Mark


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

I believe there are a couple of Community / 3rd party developed integrations for Foscam / Armcrest… @RBoy’s, another buried in a Topic, and integration via Blue Iris… Perhaps?


(Dave N) #3

Blink has just updated their software to allow a “saver” video option. They claim this lower setting gets 2.7 years of battery life. Even if they are pretending to be the EPA :frowning: with their mileage estimates it’s still worth not having wires and POE adaptors IMHO.
Regular Blinks work fine outside but undercover (for me) so I wouldn’t get the outdoor models unless weather is an issue.


#4

I can tell you the Arlo’s aren’t a great replacement based on experience. I still have my Arlo cams and they are good for certain functions but I replaced them as my ‘security’ cams due to the long delay between motion trigger and image/video capture. I went with Amcrest and for my front door cam i have a nice HD bullet that does pretty well even if it doesn’t integrate with ST. Based on my positive experience with that cam I bought 3 more Amcrest cameras and set them up around the house. It’s been headache after headache since. The camera’s when working all together seem to constantly trip each other up. I have all the cameras setup with static IP’s and even tried splitting 2 on one network/router and 2 on another. The same problem would always pop back up. If camera A detected motion it would send a push notification and would try to have one of the other 3 camera’s record the feed. The camera detecting the motion as well as the other surrogate camera would both not capture anything. Tried factory resets and numerous other options all resulting in the same thing happening. Amcrest support was how shall we say… non-existent, I’m still waiting on a reply almost a week later. Cheers for Amazon prime as they went back and I’m on the hunt for a new camera solution again.

I was leaning towards the Foscam route but it sounds like they are more of the same as Amcrest.

I’m seriously leaning towards BlueIris but learned they have pretty high CPU demands and the extra PC I have laying around sounds to be insufficient to handle 4 cams.


(Mark) #5

I ended up going with Blue Iris. I’ve only been using it for about a week, but so far I’m impressed. I initially tried to run it on a laptop with an i5 processor and 8 GB of ram but it was killing the machine so I bought a refurbished desktop with an i7 processor and 16 gig of memory to run it. I only have two cameras configured so far (Amcrest 2MP bullets) and it seems to push that machine pretty hard, too. I will be adding four more cameras, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

I’ve been able to tweak motion detection so I get virtually no false alarms. So unlike the Amcrest software, any video that gets recorded actually contains something of interest and not a bug or a leaf blowing by. And the ability to use Blue Iris to trigger WebCoRE pistons has allowed me to use my cameras as accurate motion detectors. I’m now turning on my outside lights if a camera detects motion when we’re asleep and using TTS to announce when someone is coming up the driveway. I’m also using pistons to schedule and manage push and speech notifications, so I can determine who and how people get notified depending on presence, time of day, etc.

It’s too early to tell if things will work the way I want them to but so far, so good.


(Mark) #6

Thought I’d provide a quick update in case someone else is trying to implement a video solution. Long story short, Blue Iris is working perfectly.

It’s running on a machine with an i7 processor and 16 gig of ram and the machine is running at 30% max with 7 cameras configured (2 4MP, 3 2MP and 2 1MP). I’m using WebCoRE to manage Blue Iris modes (home, away, night, etc.) based on ST presence and BI is setting pan/tilt presets for my PTZ cameras based on home or away modes. I’m also using it to fire WC pistons that send push notifications or use TTS to announce motion detection and turn on security lights when motion is detected.

I’m using the BI iOS app and can immediately access any camera’s live feed immediately after opening the app. I haven’t seen the need to use the SmartThings BI DTH handler yet as WebCoRE is doing the heavy lifting but suspect non-WebCoRE users would find that important. I wish I had purchased BI the same day I bought my first camera.

As far as cameras, I ended up buying a Dahua Starlight Varifocal Turret (IPC-HDW5231R-Z) and it blows away every other camera I own. I plan on replacing my existing cameras with this model.