After searching for several weeks for an inexpensive outdoor wireless IP camera for surveillance of my property, I came across the Foscam FI8905W outdoor wireless security camera.
Most other cameras I had looked at for outdoor use cost $300 or more. The Foscam FI8905W had impressive specs and was priced at just over $120. Additionally, the camera had a huge array of infrared emitters compared to other models and I thought the extra LEDs could really help it out in illuminating dark areas for the camera's night vision feature. I made my purchase and waited for it to arrive.
The unit arrived a few days later and right away I was amazed at how heavy the camera was. It was solid metal construction, had an excellent build quality, and appeared that it would hold up well against the elements. Foscam was kind enough to provide mounting hardware for a basic ceiling installation and I had it mounted in no time under the eaves of my carport.
The setup wasn't as straightforward as some offerings from companies like Logitec, D-Link, and others, but this was a bargain brand camera so I didn't expect a super polished setup guide. The instructions needed a lot of help in the Chinese-to-English translation department. I muddled through the setup, consulting Google from time to time when I ran across a problem.
Basic setup requires that you first connect the camera via an Ethernet cable to your router so I had to take it down from where I had mounted it. This was my fault for jumping the gun and mounting it before I had read the instructions. Once you have set up the camera's basic settings, you can then enable the wireless mode and ditch the hard wire network connection.
This camera features:
- Wi-Fi or Ethernet connectivity
- Standard VGA resolution (640x480)
- On-board motion detection with snapshot to e-mail/FTP capability
- Night vision with a large array of infrared emitters
- Weather-resistant housing
Although I could get the motion trigger to capture images and e-mail them to me, most of the pictures appeared to be delayed and the camera missed whatever triggered the motion detector in the first place. I also had a great deal of trouble getting the FTP feature to work.
The night vision capability was excellent. The large array of emitters really helped increase the quality of the image compared to other night vision cameras I had seen with less emitters.
The camera lacked onboard DVR capability for capturing video so I had to invest in a 3rd party software package for real-time video capture from my computer. I used a software package called EvoCam for Mac which had built in profiles for Foscam cameras and had no problem interfacing with my camera and adjusting its settings.
If Foscam ever updates the firmware to address some of the motion trigger / e-mail issues I encountered, then this camera could be a solid contender against some of it's more expensive competitors. Until that time, I will still use it in my setup, but it would be nice if it would work as advertised so that I could rely on it's on-board image capture as a safety net should my real-time video capture system fail.
Pros: Inexpensive compared to other cameras in the same class. Solid build quality. Great night vision image quality.
Cons: Poorly translated instructions. Problems with on-board functions including motion trigger and e-mail.