How we pick our products
Outdoor cameras are surveillance cameras that are used outdoors. They are suitable for use in gardens, driveways, car parks, etc. The outdoor camera helps protect against theft, burglary and vandalism. The outdoor camera can also be used at night thanks to night vision or lighting. Rain and bad weather are also no problem for them, as these are built to be weatherproof.
There are countless different models available with different functions. Therefore, it is very important to choose the right surveillance camera, which is why we want to simplify the selection with our outdoor camera test 2023. We compared several analogue as well as IP outdoor cameras (WLAN and LAN outdoor cameras) and found some advantages and disadvantages.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best Outdoor Camera: Our Choices
- 3 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an outdoor camera
- 4 Decision: What types of outdoor cameras are there and which is the right one for you?
- 5 Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate outdoor cameras based on these factors
- 6 Facts worth knowing about outdoor cameras
- Outdoor cameras are used to monitor outdoor areas. They provide security and protection against unwanted people. Thanks to motion detectors, they can automatically detect when someone enters the monitored area.
- Basically, a distinction is made between analogue outdoor cameras and IP outdoor cameras. The latter are somewhat more modern and more widespread, but analogue outdoor cameras also have their advantages.
- When buying an outdoor camera, particular attention should be paid to image quality, i.e. resolution, viewing angle and night vision. There is no point in buying an outdoor camera if nothing can be seen in the picture afterwards.
The Best Outdoor Camera: Our Choices
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an outdoor camera
Why buy an outdoor camera?
A house equipped with outdoor cameras does not look very inviting to thieves. The risk of being caught is much higher, which is why most thieves prefer not to risk breaking into a house under video surveillance.
If an unwanted person tries to enter a property that is under surveillance, the outdoor camera can alert the police by means of motion detectors. This makes it possible to contact the police in good time and get to safety.
In case of damage, be it theft or any other kind, the video material can be deposited as evidence.
But outdoor cameras are not only useful against crime. They make it possible to watch from a distance, for example to keep an eye on children. Another example is holidays: with one look you can check if everything is alright at home.
How many outdoor cameras do you need?
The number of outdoor cameras is chosen so that the viewing angles optimally cover the monitored area.
To determine how many surveillance cameras are needed, the viewing angle and resolution also play a role. These criteria contribute to the area that an outdoor camera can cover. More on this under image quality.
Where are the outdoor camera recordings stored?
- Local storage: With local storage, the video material is stored directly on the outdoor camera. The most common way is through an SD card or microSD card. In order to view the recordings afterwards, a device (e.g. computer) with the appropriate connection is required. The advantage: the outdoor camera is independent of other devices and the storage only fails if there is something wrong with the camera itself.
- Cloud: Some vendors offer a cloud service with the outdoor camera. In this case, the seller takes care of storing the recordings. A practical feature is that the recordings can be easily downloaded to any device with internet reception. On the other hand, the cloud service may be chargeable in some cases. This ensures that the recordings are not lost or stolen.
- External storage: The last option is to store on an external device. Instead of using an SD card, the video material is stored directly on a computer, mobile phone, etc. The advantage is that the recordings are not lost or stolen. The advantage is that the recordings are not stored with an external company, but on your own equipment.
How much does an outdoor camera cost?
|Bullet camera||30-400 €|
|Dome camera||50-400 €|
|PTZ outdoor camera||70-400 €|
The price also varies depending on the design. Outdoor cameras with a wall arm, so-called bullet cameras, are available from 30 €.
Dome cameras are also relatively cheap. Their feature is the semicircular housing. The tinted glass makes it more difficult to see in which direction the outdoor camera is facing. For this reason, dome cameras are available from around 50 €.
PTZ outdoor cameras are the most expensive with prices starting at around €70. P stands for pan, which translates to swivel, the T means tilt and the Z stands for zoom. This means an outdoor camera that is controllable, hence the higher price.
What are the legal requirements?
Attention must be paid to this: The persons being monitored must consent to being filmed. For example, this could be family members, tenants or flatmates.
It is best to put up a sign on the property informing about the video surveillance.
What are the alternatives to an outdoor camera?
- The alarm system offers a lot of security just like the outdoor camera. With a siren, the alarm system is at least as good a deterrent. Some models also automatically contact the police, which is very efficient. However, unlike the outdoor camera, the alarm system has no video evidence.
- The dummy camera is another possible choice. It deters in the same way as the outdoor camera, but offers no more. If the deterrent is not successful, the dummy is useless. On the other hand, it is much cheaper than the other two alternatives.
Decision: What types of outdoor cameras are there and which is the right one for you?
Basically, a distinction can be made between two types of outdoor cameras:
- Analogue outdoor cameras
- IP outdoor cameras
- WLAN outdoor cameras
- LAN outdoor cameras
These two variants differ in the type of transmission. Recordings can be transmitted and stored either analogue or digital. Each variant has its own advantages and disadvantages. To simplify a purchase decision, the different types of surveillance cameras are explained in more detail in the following sections.
What distinguishes an analogue outdoor camera and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
As the name suggests, an outdoor camera of this type transmits its images in analogue form. This means it uses either TV or power cables to transmit images. Analogue outdoor cameras are therefore not connected to the internet.
Since the analogue outdoor cameras are not connected to the internet, the recordings are protected from hackers. They cannot be stolen or deleted by hackers. Nor can the analogue surveillance cameras be paralysed via the network. Thus, analogue outdoor cameras are very reliable.
The cables also offer a better transmission speed. This is very important when the images are viewed live. This also allows better images to be sent in real time with a higher frame rate.
Nevertheless, analogue storage of recordings is very cumbersome and outdated because video cassettes are needed for this. These take up a lot of space and are usually no longer needed in other areas.
But thanks to CCTV systems, analogue camera signals can be digitised and thus stored and played back in digital form. CCTV stands for Closed Circuit Television, which can be translated as closed circuit. In this case, the outdoor analogue camera is connected to a computer system that digitises the analogue images.
What distinguishes an IP surveillance camera and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Unlike analogue outdoor cameras, IP outdoor cameras are somewhat more modern. They produce digital images and are connected to the internet. IP here stands for Internet Protocol, which is why IP cameras are also called network cameras.
Since IP outdoor cameras already send images in digital form, they do not need to be converted. This means that the recordings can be saved easily and automatically. Also, many electronic devices (computer, tablet, TV, smartphone, etc.) can nowadays play back and store these recordings. Thanks to the cloud, transmissions can even be played back anywhere in the world, e.g. on holiday.
Here again, a distinction must be made between two types of outdoor cameras. The WLAN outdoor camera is a wireless surveillance camera. On the other hand, an internet cable connects the LAN outdoor camera to the network. These two variants also have their own advantages and disadvantages.
|WLAN outdoor camera||Is not wired|
|LAN outdoor camera||Faster and more secure connection|
As already mentioned, the WLAN outdoor camera is not wired and can therefore be installed anywhere without any problems as long as it has reception. This saves a lot of time and effort, as no cables have to be laid.
The LAN outdoor camera, on the other hand, guarantees a faster and more secure connection to the router, similar to analogue surveillance cameras. Signal interference occurs less frequently and image transmission is better.
Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate outdoor cameras based on these factors
There are countless different surveillance cameras on the market. It can quickly become confusing, which is why some aspects are listed below to simplify the purchase of an outdoor camera.
The following buying criteria should be taken into account when comparing outdoor cameras:
The following paragraphs explain in more detail what is important in the various buying criteria.
Image quality can be divided into three aspects:
- Resolution: Not every case requires a high resolution. If the area to be monitored is rather close to the outdoor camera, a high image resolution is not necessary. Most surveillance cameras offer between 720p and 4K resolution. Generally, the further away the area being monitored, the higher the resolution needs to be.
- The angle of view goes hand in hand with the resolution. If the monitored area is far away from the location of the outdoor camera, a small viewing angle is sufficient. However, if the area is close by, a wider angle of view is needed. Available viewing angles range from 10 to 360 degrees.
- Night vision: If there are lamps that stay on all night or if the outdoor camera is equipped with lights, there is basically no need for a night vision function. If the outdoor camera does not have LED spotlights and it is very dark, a night vision function makes perfect sense. Infrared sensors enable surveillance cameras to produce images of sufficient quality even at night.
Generally, there are two options to choose from: Outdoor cameras with battery or with power cable.
Battery-powered outdoor cameras can be placed anywhere and are not limited by the range of the power cable. However, battery-powered outdoor cameras do not usually run continuously to save battery power. Such outdoor cameras switch on automatically with the help of a motion detector.
How long a battery can power the surveillance camera varies greatly. It depends not only on the battery itself, but also how often and for how long the outdoor camera is switched on.
In contrast, there are also variants with a power cable. In this case, it must be ensured that a suitable power socket is within reach. However, these outdoor cameras can run continuously. However, if the power fails, the outdoor cameras will also fail.
As explained in the guide, there are three alternatives for storing recordings. If you want to know more about the different types of storage: The guide explains exactly what each alternative is and what the advantages are.
- Local storage: The most common type of local storage is through SD card. Depending on the version, these have between 8 GB and 2 TB of storage space. The image resolution has an influence on the size of the video recordings. The sharper the resolution, the more storage space the recordings need.
- Cloud: Saving in the cloud is very practical because no complicated installation is necessary. The provider takes care of the connection of the outdoor camera and ensures that the recordings are saved. However, a cloud service is usually chargeable. Between €5 and €30 per month per outdoor camera is charged for storage on a cloud.
- External storage: It is also possible to store the recordings independently and without an SD card. In this case, the video recordings are sent via the network to the desired device (e.g. computer) and stored there. However, the installation and connection of the devices must also be done independently. How much storage space is then available depends on the connected device.
A motion detector can be an advantage to save power or battery. Thanks to the motion detector, outdoor cameras can remain in standby mode. They only activate when motion is detected. A message can also be sent, e.g. via an app.
Camera motion detection is also offered. This works by pixel analysis, but is not as good in quality as a real motion detector. Changing light conditions (e.g. car headlights) can trigger such motion detection software without there really being any movement.
If a surveillance camera is to be placed outside, it must also be weatherproof in most cases. IP codes, which should not be confused with outdoor IP cameras, are the norm here. They determine the degree of protection of electronic devices.
IP codes always have two digits (e.g. IP-66). The first stands for the degree of protection against contact. The second is particularly important for outdoor cameras. This stands for the degree of protection against water. Here is a table for the degree of protection against water:
Second digit of the IP code – protection against water
|2. Code number||Meaning: Protection against water|
|1||Protection against dripping water|
|2||Protection against falling dripping water if the enclosure is tilted up to 15°|
|3||Protection against falling spray water up to 60° from vertical|
|4||Protection against splashing water from all sides|
|5||Protection against water jets (nozzle) from any angle|
|6||Protection against strong water jets|
|7||Protection against temporary immersion|
|8||Protection against permanent immersion|
|9||Protection against water during high pressure/steam jet cleaning, especially agriculture|
An outdoor camera should therefore be marked with at least a 2nd digit of 4. The larger the second digit, the more waterproof the outdoor camera. However, more than “protection against strong jets of water” (6) is not necessary.
Facts worth knowing about outdoor cameras
Where should the outdoor camera be installed?
The area to be monitored is crucial. The resolution and the viewing angle must also be taken into account. It is advisable to read more about this under Image Quality to simplify understanding.
The surveillance camera should be placed in such a way that the entire area is in the field of vision and the image is transmitted sharply.
The height also plays a major role. The outdoor camera should not be easily accessible to thieves. On the other hand, it must not be placed too high, otherwise the image will be blurred and faces will not be recognisable.
If possible, different heights should be tested in any case to achieve the best compromise between protection against sabotage and image sharpness for face recognition. A rule of thumb is about 3 metres above the ground.
How do I camouflage an outdoor camera?
It is difficult to camouflage an outdoor camera efficiently because most are rather large and conspicuous. Mini cameras are easier to camouflage because their size allows them to fit almost anywhere. However, image quality and other features are lost for the small size.
The easiest way is to buy an outdoor camera that is already camouflaged. These are built into other objects, such as lamps.
Basically, however, it is not necessary to camouflage an outdoor camera, because one advantage is that they act as a deterrent. But in order to do this, they must also be detectable.
The outdoor camera fogs up: What to do?
If the lens often fogs up from the outside, e.g. because the sun shines on it in the morning, it should perhaps be moved.
A much bigger problem is when the lens fogs up from the inside, i.e. there is water in the outdoor camera. The only thing that helps here is to let it dry. Rice can be very useful. However, if the lens fogs up frequently, the outdoor camera is not (any longer) waterproof. It should be replaced by a waterproof version.
Image source: Zpink/ 123rf.com