Background: I been using network-based cameras since 2000 with over 19 years of experience. Over those years I have gone through many security network cameras everything from the top of the line to the cheapest no-name brands. I can attest that somewhere in the middle of the pack is a sweet spot of performance with reasonable cost. I currently use AXIS, VivoTek, Hikvision, Sunba Network Cameras and a Toshiba which I am phasing out because Toshiba has stopped making Security Cameras.
The Three Sunba Cameras we will dive into all of which I use are:
- SUNBA 305-D4X PTZ PoE+ 1080p Mini IP Security Camera
- SUNBA 405-D20X PoE+ Mini High Speed IP 1080p PTZ Security Camera
- SUNBA 601-D25X POE High-Speed 1080p IP Security Camera
Let's discuss top-rated Network Security Cameras VS. Cheaper Network Security Cameras - If you want the best in class and have the funds I recommend you take a look at AXIS Network Security Cameras. Axis Security Cameras are head and shoulders above any of the three Sunba's mentioned here. Better Firmware support, a more well rounded and mature camera interface and is supported in top Surveillance Software packages natively. The cost for premium IP Network Cameras can be in the thousands of dollars and is what drives home users and small businesses to consider cheaper alternatives.
Cheaper does not always mean less but you do have some trade-offs.
Installation: Of the three cameras the Sunba 305-D4X offer both ceiling mounting and wall mounting options out of the box. Speaking of the Sunba 305-D4X it is the least robust of the Sunba PTZ Cameras mentioned here and ceiling mounting is recommended only for indoor use due to the lack of weather sealing in that configuration, all mounting options for the 305-D4X are plastic. The Sunba 405 and 601 series are nearly identical in mounting but the 601 has a larger mounting bracket which requires a solid wall/surface especially the 601 series due to it's heavier weight and size, 13.7 " and nearly 9 Pounds. Be prepared to buy the mounting screws for wall mounting these cameras, Sunba does not include the wall screws for the 601 camera. Both the 405 and 601 are solid cameras mostly metal.
- All three cameras include Ethernet connection protection to prevent water entering into the connection if used outdoors, and like all other cameras, the Ethernet connector must be installed without the RJ45 end, meaning you need to custom make a cable. The 305 protects the Ethernet within a semi-sealed compartment in the wall mounting bracket.
- All three Sunba Cameras support Power Over Ethernet (POE), or if you so desire to use the included power supply (not recommended by me for outdoors). The 601 Series requires a 45 watt POE injector or POE switch. I use an Amcrest Gigabit Uplink 9-Port Poe+ Ethernet Switch supplying 96 watts of power (link below) to power 3 of my 6 POE cameras.
- Only the Sunba 305-D4X has a built-in microphone with a monitoring warning sticker. Microphones/speakers are optional accessories for the 405/601 cameras.
* Note: Sunba updates their cameras over time, like the 405 models which were updated and includes both H264 and H265 encoding support on the newer model. So, if you are buying a 405 model look carefully for the words H264 & H265
All three Cameras support alarm triggers when motion is setup and detected. Alarm outs can trigger a flashing light or send an email or both for example.
Set-Up and Configuration: All three cameras support both web-based configuration, Sunba's VMS software, or in the case of the 601&305 camera you can download an IOS or android app to assist with setup. If you choose the web-based approach only Microsoft Internet Explorer is supported (not edge) and you need a Sunba browser plugin. I must state the biggest weakness of Sunba cameras, in general, is the interface and lack of robust configuration options. As of this article date, the 601-D25X does not support setting a custom color profile or adjusting sharpness and other settings such as NTP (Time Server) will not save properly and reverts to a local IP address.
VMS is a Sunba Software download that scans your network and discovers Sunba Cameras. It is a useful tool to establish a connection to the camera and do the basic configuration before mounting it. VMS basically has the full suite of options for the camera to include setting up accounts and passwords and choosing any limits to what each account can do, such as limiting a user only access to the view and not be able to change any configurations.
IOS and Android APP - Sunba is now offering smartphone access and camera setup using their downloadable app for the 601/305 model. Although I did not use the smartphone app it looks to have robust features to get you set up and going + be able to view your camera feed when needed.
Image Quality and Zoom: All three Sunba Network Security Cameras support 1080p resolution and provide reasonable sharpness with good image quality. Of the three Sunba Cameras, the 305-DX4 offers the widest angle of view of 115 degrees and is better suited for tighter spaces, but the 305 zoom range limited to only 4X Optical. If I had to pick one camera for better image quality it would be the 601. The 601 and 405 are better suited for mounting high and back due to their more limited angle of view.
** All three cameras support both H264 and H265 video encoding. H265 encoding reduces storage space requirements, but may not be supported in all software packages such as Synology Surveillance Station currently.
3rd Party Software Support: With some limitations, all cameras support the more popular Surveillance software such as Blue Iris, QNAP and Synology NAS and Security Spy. When using 3rd party software you may sacrifice H265 encoding or need to use the ONVIF setup method.
Night Vision: All three Sunba Cameras support IR cut over when light falls below a threshold which you can set. All support built-in IR with Starlight Mode allowing the cameras to see at night in black & White/greyscale. The 601 has a much more powerful IR light that covers out to 1000 feet while the 405 support night vision out to 300 feet and the 305 out to 150 feet.
Pan Tilt Zoom: This is where we have a large difference. The 601-D25X offers more robust abilities with 360 continuous rotation and can tilt up 15 degrees. Both the 601 and 405 have very fast pan-tilt / rotation speeds the 305 is lackluster at best and frustrating when using PTZ. The 305 is so frustrating in fact I hesitate to use it once the camera is set up. Unlike the other cameras the 305 will continue to rotate once it is activated until you double click in the opposite direction - SUNBA Please FIX THIS><
PTZ Issues: I am unable to set PTZ patrol areas for the 305 and 601 cameras, The 305 will not allow the Patrol to be saved and the 601 will not move to a patrol point. The 405 works great for PTZ Patrol, hopefully, a firmware fix is coming?
Speaking of Firmware: Although Sunba has a firmware download section it can be daunting and scary to attempt an upgrade. After upgrading my 405 camera's firmware the camera reverted to an IP that was not reachable from my network causing me to climb a ladder and un-mount the camera and physically attach it to a separate router that I set up to be on the cameras IP range - FRUSTRATING. I don't consider Sunba as a firmware or user interface leader. Firmware updates are far and few in-between. Camera companies like AXIS continue to support their cameras for years and offer regular updates that address issues.
- When I tried to update my 305 camera's firmware it failed with "hardware failure" and this is a new camera.
Outdoor Weather Resistance: Of the three the 305 is the least weather-resistant but has held up so far in the rain. Both the 601 and 405 are well protected against the elements down to -20C on some models. The 305 supports -30 ~ 60C
A very tiny bug - Nikon 105mm VR S hand-held in shade
Software Compatibility: I use Synology Surveillance Station only the 305 has a dedicated configuration with Synology but all support ONVIF. Sunba states support for Blue Iris, QNAP, and Security Spy
In Conclusion: Sunba offers three levels of Network Security Cameras that are reasonably priced but lacks the polish of the higher-end competitors - the benefit is a major cost-saving. If you can live with some interface annoyances but with good image quality take a look at Sunba.
Recommendation: If you need a home Network Camera that covers a wider angle of view that is small and offers flexible mounting options the 305-D4X is a good choice - but current PTZ functions are irritating. For a general home Surveillance Network camera I recommend the 405-D20X it is medium-sized, good performance with good image quality and a zoom range of 20X optically. If you have a business or larger home I can recommend the 601-D25X with its excellent 360 degrees of rotation and PTZ and longer 25X Optical Zoom capabilities.
Fill flash on very small bug - Nissin MF18
Overall Sunba offers good solid Network Cameras at an affordable price point. I wished Sunba took more time in the refinement of the interface and standardize configurable features across their cameras. Not having the option to adjust color or saturation in the 601 but do in their other cameras shows a lack of maturity in the software development.
All images were taken from a Sunba Network Camera late afternoon with falling light.