Surveillance On The Cheap
The REOLINK 4K PTZ Outdoor Camera Model RLC-823A, Has almost everything a Home or Business DIY person needs in a surveillance camera.
The RCL-823A features Power over Ethernet (PoE) to reduce wires going to the camera, Offers up to 5X Optical Zoom with Auto Tracking for People or Automobiles, 3pcs Spotlights Color Night Vision that activates if motion is detected - these are three small white lights that come on, Has built-in speaker and microphone providing Two Way communications from the camera.
So how does the RLC-823A Outdoor Camera stack up in real-world use? If you don't like reading - The RLC-832A is worth the asking price but does not have the more robust controls over fine-tuning the image such as WDR
In The Box: As a bonus, the camera came with a short Ethernet cable, manual, mounting hardware, and a Power Supply. The included power supply came in handy to power up, set up, and test the camera on your network before climbing the ladder.
First and foremost: setup and configuration in order to use the camera you need to set it up of course. Setting the RLC-823A was pretty much standard fare. However, the company's Website made it difficult to find the tools needed, once found it was easy peasy. Reolink offers a camera configuration tool to assist in finding and setting up the camera. A big plus is the Reolink Tool has an update feature to keep your camera's firmware current. Also to note Reolink offers a robust Phone App with a lot of features - live view, motion detection notices, viewing store video and images, etc.
I run Synology NAS Surveillance Station for my IP cameras, the Reolink was a default camera for the latest version of Synology Surveillance Station, the camera was listed in the pull-down menu. The configuration was straightforward, be warned if you use Blue Iris as your camera monitoring system. Do your own research using this combo.
With Synology Surveillance Station I had the Reolink up and running in about 20 minutes,
Most Network Surveillance Cameras offer up to three different streams such as a High Quality, Balanced and Low Bandwidth, and each stream can be assigned such as low bandwidth for mobile phone use and High Quality for motion detection playback. However, the RLC-823A only has two settings (H.264 for low bandwidth or H.265 for high quality) and only one stream selectable in the application. Thus you are either forced to a 640x260 using H.264 or the higher quality resolutions of H.265 format, 3840x2160, 3560x1440 or 2304x1296
Built-in Audio: The RLC-832A has a very good sensitive microphone and a nice sounding speaker. This allows you the option to have two-way communication using the camera.
Image Quality: This is were the camera falls short. I rate the RLC-823A as you get what you pay for. In harsh lighting conditions, the camera showed bad lens flaring almost to the point of making the video and images useless. This is especially true if the sunlight strikes the camera lens either directly or at an angle. In the image, you see a rainbow effect even with the lighting just coming from a slight angle to the camera and as the day progressed and the sun began to set the video and images were awash. I recommend mounting this camera if possible out of direct sunlight, the lens flares in harsh lighting conditions.
Image Adjustment: This Camera has very basic image controls, Contrast, Saturation, Brightness, and Sharpness - that's it. I find the video and images have dark shadows and there is no way to boost them so you are stuck with what the camera provides. Even my cheapest camera has a shadow boost or WDR feature.
The angle of View: The RLC-823A camera has a moderately wide-angle view coverage being 96 degrees on the horizontal and 69 degrees on the vertical. This offers a semi-wide area for video coverage and for me I prefer a wider angle. If you want wider you can take a look at the REOLink dual-lens camera that covers 150 degrees.
Alarms and Spotlights: The RLC-832A also features a built-in Siren Alarm that can be activated by motion detection or manually from your armchair. In addition to the alarm are three mini spotlights that also can be activated by motion detection and works in conjunction with the alarm siren. I disabled my alarm in fear it would go off at 2 am and my neighbors would not be too pleased, however, I kept the spotlight featured enabled to come on if motion is detected. I feel the lights would be enough deterrent to intruders.
Night Vision: The RLC-832A has an array of four IR emitting lights that assist the camera vision in low lighting situations. I would not rate it the best I have but it does cover the immediate area pretty well. You and always as I did add a third-party IR light array that provides hundreds of feet of coverage.
PTZ and Patrol Zones: Like other PTZ cameras the RLC-832A features Pan Tilt and Zoom. You can also set up patrols where the camera moves to wait and then moves to the next patrol area. This is useful if you have a large area to cover. The RLC-823A Pan Tilt feature is very snappy. The zoom and refocus are a little slow and take a few seconds. This camera also supports preset points - like an object being removed.
Follow Tracking Features: You can enable follow tracking for people and or automobiles, and when enabled it works well. In testing, the camera followed me around the yard without any issues. I did not test automobiles since this camera is mounted at the back of my property.
Other Notable Features: The RLC-832A has FTP, Email, and push notifications and can be enabled and set up using the REOLink Tool. The camera also supports Google Assistance and Alexa.
Mounting: Simple, quick, and easy. You can use the provided hardware or bring your own screws. I do recommend you add a little upward angle when you mount your camera as this camera does not have too much headroom (up tilt). The uptilt is only an issue when zooming in.
Overall Quality and Size: The unit overall is a solid build with robust metal housing. For a domed camera with mounting it is somewhat small 210mm tall and extends to 218mm with a 213mm width.
Summary: For the price, this Reolink IP camera delivers value for your investment although the video and images lack high-end adjustments or Wide Dynamic Range for shadow boosting I still find the overall image quality good.
Recommendation: I would recommend this camera to any home or small business person that is in the market for a medium-sized wall-mounted PTZ outdoor camera.
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