The myth here is that buying better cameras can totally change the experience of owning a cheap DVR. Any person that has bought one of the “all in one” DVR’s at least at the low end of the price spectrum understands that the picture quality leaves a lot to be desired.
If you have read online or talked to a friend you may have heard that simply replacing the cameras with something better will make a huge difference. The problem is what cameras will make this difference and can you see a considerable improvement with a relatively tight budget.
When you go looking for replacement cameras on stores like Amazon you will read the reviews and everyone will seem very impressed with the color or picture quality. I believe this is mainly due to the fact that they are comparing them to the bottom of the barrel cameras that come with their systems. We never really get to see CCTV cameras aimed at the same scene side by side against their competitors. That is what I set out to do.
I gathered what I felt was a good representation of affordable replacement cameras based on Amazon reviews. Here is what we used. For detailed specs click here.
Our goal was to have each camera aimed at a reference image so you can judege the quality of the picture for yourself. colour-science.com provided us with the ideal image for our tests.
For this test I made a video for each camera aimed at 2 backgrounds. The color calibration chart and an outdoor scene. The video is long but it goes through each camera then shows all of the video compared side by side. It really gives a good idea of what to expect from these cameras and the results are really surprising. I will add two still photos of the side by side comparisons for people that have youtube blocked or don’t want to listen to me talk for 14 minutes.
Here are the two quadrant example photos. They are probably the only time you will ever see CCTV cameras compared in exactly the same way. There are some stipulations for the quality of these pictures that I discuss in the video.