This Dahua DH-IPC-HFW4421E small bullet IP camera offers a 4 Megapixel resolution at 20fps using the Aptina 4MP CMOS sensor. The camera has an attractive sleek look and it’s relatively small in size. The IRs are interesting on this camera, they are sort of hidden around the eye of the camera and according to the specs good for 120 feet distance (40 meters). The camera comes in 3.6mm lens and 6mm for special setups.
The main features:
- 1/3” 4Megapixel progressive scan CMOS
- Support H.264&MJPEG dual codec
- 20fps@4M(2688 x 1520),25/30fps@3M(2304 x 1296)
- Smart Detection supported
- WDR(120dB), Day/Night(ICR), 3DNR,AWB,AGC,BLC
- Multiple network monitoring: Web viewer, CMS(DSS/PSS) & DMSS
- 3.6mm fixed lens (6mm optional)
- Max. IR LEDs Length 40m
- IP67, PoE
The camera looks attractive and has a nice sturdy metal built with the sun shield being the only plastic part of the camera. The square design actually has a practical side in that you can see when the camera is parallel to the ground making it easier to aim the camera and have it level with fewer trips up and down the ladder. The IR block is hidden and located around the eye of the camera, technically on a different space. That means this design has minimal risk to show IR bleeding on camera’s sensor.
Installing it is easy and intuitive. Just screw it to where you want it, aim it and then you can do the necessary settings via the web interface. There is one adjustment screws on the base to aim and rotate the camera as needed and once tightened, the mount has a very solid feel. The camera comes with installation position map, you need to stick it on the surface and drill the holes over the map. If the camera is going to exposed to the elements, make sure to use the weatherproof shield on the connector.
Connect the camera to your network using the PoE or a power adapter DC12V. Make sure your switch/router supports PoE, otherwise power the camera via an external power supply. The default IP of the camera is 192.168.1.108, however it’s more convenient to install the Dahua Configuration Tool and let the tool scan your network. The camera’s IP will show up there, then you double-click it and modify the IP address to match your network. In our case we set the camera’s IP to 192.168.1.15.
Access the camera via IE or Mozilla Firefox ESR (you’ll be asked to install the plugin first). This is what the web interface looks like when you first log in. There’s options to take a snapshot, manually record, chose a stream and you can choose the aspect ratio. You can also zoom or focus from this screen by clicking the plus sign icon at the top.
To configure the camera, click on the Setup tab across the top. Using the menu on the left, under Network you can change the IP address of the device (TCP/IP section) Make sure to set the correct DNS settings, in our case we are using we are using Google DNS.
The ports of the camera can be modified on the Connection section. The HTTP is the port used when the camera is accessed via the web browser. By default this port is 80 but it’s recommended to modify it to another port since port 80 is generally used by many devices on the network. TCP port is the one used when viewing the camera through the phone app. HTTPS is an interesting ports, you need to apply to a SSL certificate to the camera in order to encrypt the communication between the camera and the outside.
Under the camera you can find two items: Conditions and Video. Conditions is where you control image like brightness, contrast and such. Also this is where you set wide dynamic range (WDR) or backlight compensation (BLC) options as well as noise reduction. Under the Exposure they have an Anti-Flicker option, this might be helpful if your camera flickers on daytime. Set for outdoor if the camera will be outdoor or just select 60 Hz frequency if you live in US.
Under the Video settings you set the resolution and frame rate. There are 2 streams. The main stream is your typical high resolution stream you want to record. If your NVR, PC or smartphone app allows it or even if you just want to use the web interface, the Sub Stream comes in handy by providing a lower resolution and frame rate stream to reduce network bandwidth, for example for remote viewing from your smartphone.
The Overlay tab is where you set what you want displayed on your screen, like date, time, location name. You can move the text to the location of your choice by dragging the yellow box with your mouse. It’s wise to rename all your cameras, so in case of an event you’ll have the evidence properly labelled.
If you want to set up video motion detection, select the Event menu item, Video Detect and you can enable it there. Click on the Setup button next to Area and you can select different motion detect areas and their sensitivity. This actually works quite well, but that does not mean shadows, lights and rain won’t trigger it. The camera has no micro SD card option, to record you need to use a Network Video Recorder, a PC based system or a NAS.
Daytime and Nighttime picture quality
As you can see in the videos shown below, the camera produces a good color balance and a clear, sharp image. You can enable the WDR if your location needs one, especially when the point of interest is between the camera and a strong light source (sun). The 3.6mm lens is good choice if you don’t want the angle to be too wide or too narrow, however you might need to check whether it’s the correct lens size for your location. Overall the daytime picture is very good. Judge by yourself.
According to the manufacturer the IRs on this camera are good up to 40 meters (120 feet). As you can see on the videos below, the nighttime picture it clear and smooth, especially if there’s some external light in the environment (such as street light – on the second video). If necessary you can install an external IR block. However the overall nighttime performance of this camera is pretty good.
The Dahua IPC-HFW4421E offers a clear and colorful image in daytime and an acceptable image on night time. The small bullet shape makes this camera good for outdoor installations, on spots where a big camera might be too intrusive. We don’t recommend this camera for indoor use, bullet type camera tend stand out too much and not blend well with the indoor environment. For CCTV installers or DIY people this camera is excellent for mid-range offerings and definitely and a perfect solution for residential or commercial outdoor setups.