Cheap Megapixel IP camera’s from China (Review)

Welcome to this first post on my new blog!

This post will be about cheap Megapixel IP camera’s from China and my experience with them. Over the last year I’ve had 4 different models all with their own problems and faults. 
There will be a separate post dedicated to the now ‘fixed’ 5Mpix camera which is finally working great! Making it a great quality camera for an unbeatable price.
I have purchased these cameras with 2 main tasks in mind:

  • Usage with Genius Vision for event security purposes
  • Usage with Xsplit to broadcast live video with overlays to ustream

In both cases I need the RTSP output of the camera.

The cameras that I have purchased are the following:
  1. IPScam IPS-913v
  2. Dealextreme OMB 1.3Mpix camera
  3. 3x IPScam IPS-911 & 1x IPScam IPS-922
  4. SecurityCamera2000 5Mpix, 1080p outdoor camera, 40m IR LED (TS38ABFG006)
Now, let me tell you how my venture into cheap these Chinese Mega Pixel cameras went and all the hurdles and problems I’ve faced with them. 😉

When watching the videos please do so fullscreen and select “Original” quality for the best representation of the original video footage.
1st (IPScam IPS-913v)
Using the well known Chinese wholesale website I bought a IPS-913v. This camera is a 2Mpix camera developed by IPScam and has a 4x Zoom lens which can be controlled from Software. Fully Day and Night compatible with 20m range of IR LED’s.
Upon receiving the camera and trying it out I was very happy. The picture quality during the day was very good. The first problem appeared when zooming with the camera, the level of sharpness was affected by the zoom and so fully zoomed in or fully zoomed out where never both perfectly sharp. This was a bother because it made the zooming function pretty useless, but ok, as a static camera it was still pretty good.
Then night came and I tested the camera in the dark using IR. For some reason my daytime sharp scene was suddenly incredibly blurred! Unusable. After fiddling with it for days and getting into contact with IPScam the following turned out to be true.
The lens was horrible. Zoomed out and sharp during the day meant blurry at night. But, it would be sharp zoomed fully in during the night! :S Sadly, this made the camera useless for any purpose whatsoever.
I did come away with a good experience with the IPScam company and how they tried to help me.

To illustrate I have uploaded some sample videos to youtube:

The little DealExtreme camera. I bought this one to try a different brand and to see if all the cameras suffered from the same poorly constructed lens problems. To my surprise this little camera was actually pretty good! For the 1.3Mpix sensor it produced good images during the day and fine images during the night.
So the quality was overall fine, but combined with the price it wasn’t that great of a value. So the search continued but this proved that with a good lens the cheaper cameras could deliver!

Some sample videos:

3rd (IPScam IPS-911 & IPScam IPS-922)
The big order with IPScam. 3 Bullet style cameras and 1 Dome. Sadly, this experience wasn’t great either. The dome camera was ok, day was sharp and good but night with IR was still a bit blurry, but now workable.
But for some reason the bullet cameras did not share the same good quality and also showed problems with IR. IPScam tried to correct this by sending me new lenses (sadly 6mm instead of the 4mm I had) and although this helped the problem a bit, it still wasn’t as sharp or consistent between day and night as I would have liked. But certainly usable.

Some samples of using the IPS-922 Dome:

And samples of using the IPS-911 Bullet Camera:

The reason for writing this article. I ordered this camera because it was only a little bit more expensive the the above models and was still below 200 euro! I prepared myself it would be too good to be true and in part it was. I was unable to use the camera reliably until yesterday…. and that will be explained in the next blog post.

This camera also used to give corruption in Genius Vision, I am currently testing with the new firmware and results will be posted in the dedicated post.

Before the ‘fix’ it was unusable with xsplit because the stream would freeze about 10 to 15 minutes.

A sample of the 5 Megapixel camera, more in the dedicated post:

If you are wondering what to buy? The IPScam IPS-922 Dome did fairly well, the same would be true for the IPS-911 if the lens quality was better. Thus my conclusion is that IPScam has a quality consistency issues. They do however provide good support. These cameras with POE will cost you ~125 euro + shipping.
But since the 5Mpix camera is now working correctly. It’s image quality blows all of the above out of the water and is absolutely great. Day or night it’s sharp and just looks great! It is a bit more expensive with it’s price of ~200 euro, but well worth the extra cost. Continue reading it’s dedicated post.

If you have any questions or comments, please post below. I really appreciate any feedback! 😀

9 thoughts on “Cheap Megapixel IP camera’s from China (Review)”

  1. Thanks for the reviews. It's hard to know the quality of these cameras when you're looking to buy one since there are little to no samples available from the dealers/manufacturers.
    It's important to see the performance both at day and night like you did. Another aspect I like to look at is the dynamic range and backlight compensation in the cameras. That's because some cameras become completely useless if there's some bright light source at night, some even are blinded by their own IR's when a subject is too close to the camera, whitening out any details. Good cameras can see license plates even with headlights set on driving.
    What are the bitrates of the cameras?

    What's the greatest defect/shortcoming of OMB 1.3Mpix? Although it's "only" 1.3MP it has higher framerate options, why are IPS-911 and IPS-922 (they only allow 15fps per specs on website) better in your evaluation?


  2. Thank you for your comments, much appreciated!

    The OMB 1.3Mpix wasn't all that bad on itself, but spend a few dollars more and you'll get at least twice the quality.

    The IPScams all had varying quality. The 913v has a horrible horrible zoom lens. During the day it's quality was probably fair. But since there was no auto-focus but a fixed focus (also while zooming) at some points in the zoom the focus would be good and sometimes bad, so generally bad. But switching from day to night, the focus would 'reverse'. Day is sharp when zoomed out, and night only when zoomed in. Any other settings is a compromise and really not workable in a real situation.

    The IPScam 911 I have are ok. I experimented a bit with different lenses and that made it better. The lenses that came with it on first shipment had a production fault or something (Bad Quality Testing) and they sent me replacements, and those where ok, but not great either.

    Maybe I'm spoiled by the 5Mpix cameras, because that one had perfect day AND night picture (with almost no shift) and was only 40$ more expensive per camera, but giving you 2x or even 3x the quality. 🙂

    Also, for my application (security purposes) FPS is really not important. 8FPS or 10FPS is fine. Face recognition and detail resolving is much more important to me.

    About the backlight compensation you talked about. I really haven't tested much with that, it's a good suggestion to try! The camera's I own are not WDR so officially do not support it as a feature, but I'll give it a try sometime!

  3. Hello, I am currently using an IPS-911 and an IPS-922. Both are giving me issues as far as connecting to them. Would you happen to know if this company provides any type of support. I think I just need to reset the cameras but I cant figure out how.

    Thanks for the reviews.

  4. Hey Just been extracting firmware( analyzing Cgi files) provided on you page. Found some interesting infos. I was having A lot of issue to get some snapshot. Finally able to get some with http://Ipaddress/cgi-bin/snapshot.cgi? will give you low quality stream. Then for the magic !!!!! to get Hi quality use: http://Ipaddress/cgi-bin/snapshot.cgi?stream=0. If you change stream no will change quality. no more need for vlc and ffmpeg to extract still picture… Have fun. From what I know. I did not find any of this on the net even after many hours. I was pi… o… by the camera Ipc-631 made by Cotier. Indeed why I went so deep in the firmware… If you need more info S .A .a .B .M .a .n .@ .g .M .Ai. l ..c . . om….<— remove the dots and space Thanks And enjoy

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