The Hikvison DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS is one of the smallest “mini dome” style cameras on the market. The actual dome measures about 1 3/4″ and the entire camera sits in the palm of the hand. The camera is small and discrete enough to be used indoors or outdoors and has a clean modern look. The lens is so small they provide a tool to help adjust the lens along it’s 3-axis range of motion. There are 10 IR LEDs wrapped around the lens. Also the camera has a micro SD card slot that can hold up to a 128GB card.

The Hikvision USA DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS retail box.

The Hikvision USA DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS retail box.

This camera comes in lens sizes: 2.8mm, 4mm and 6mm. The 2.8mm lens offers the widest angle up to 106 degree, so it will give a good coverage. However in certain situations when you need a narrow angle (and farther away) you should use the 4mm version, or even the 6mm. It comes with an IP67- and IK08-rated housing that provides protection from ingress of dust and moisture as well as impact, ensuring uninterrupted surveillance in exposed locations.

Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS mini dome - view from the top.

Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS mini dome – view from the top.

Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS mini dome - side-view.

Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS mini dome – side-view.

The main features

4MP 1/3″ progressive scan CMOS sensor
2688 x 1520 resolution video at up to 20 fps
120 dB WDR (Wide Dynamic Range)
Wi-Fi
3-axis adjustment
12 VDC and PoE
Up to 33′ IR range
Built-in microphone, audio output, alarm input/output
IP67-rated housing for outdoor use
IK08-rated impact protection

Installation

This Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS mini dome camera has a low-profile shape that makes the placement of the camera unobtrusively. The full metal body gives the camera a very solid feel (the white cover is plastic though). The camera has the same waterproof RJ45 pigtail used on other Hikvision for PoE and camera connectivity, however in this model the PoE module is outside the camera. Or you can power the camera using a power adapter (DC12V). Either way the run cannot be longer than 330 feet (100m). It’s better if you power all your cameras using the PoE this way you have to run just one cable.

Opening up the Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS USA retail box.

Opening up the Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS USA retail box.

These are the accessories that come with the camera: guide book, bracket, template, screws, weather proof shield, screw driver.

These are the accessories that come with the camera: guide book, bracket, template, screws, weather proof shield, screw driver.

The backing plate is used to install the camera by screwing the backing plate to where you want it mounted, then attaching the camera to it with 2 screws. The lens adjustment tool is provided to help aim and rotate the lens. It’s so small it’s hard to aim it otherwise. Hikvison makes a series of brackets for this model such as short wall mount with junction box, pendant cap, pole and corner mount etc, so there are different solution for different installations. The micro-SD card slots is in the back of the camera as shown in the picture. Also there’s a reset button in case you need to factory reset the camera.

The camera is low-profile, perfect for indoor installations.

The camera is low-profile, perfect for indoor installations.

The camera without the cover. There's a reset button on the board. The orange part is the wireless piece.

The camera without the cover. There’s a reset button on the board. The orange part is the wireless piece.

Configuration

The camera comes with firmware version 5.4.3, which offers a new interface compared to the old mini dome version. After you connect the camera to your network, install the SADP software in your computer. This is the Hikvison configuration tool and can be found on their official website or on our Downloads section. By default the camera is inactive, meaning there’s no password on it, so the first step is to activate it and then if it’s necessary you can modify the IP address. In this case we set the IP to 192.168.1.221.

Activate and modify the IP of the camera to match that of your local network.

Activate and modify the IP of the camera to match that of your local network.

Open up Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox ESR and type the IP of the camera on the url bar. On the login screen enter your credentials to access the camera. The picture below shows the liveview interface on the camera. It has a sleek design and offers many option such as Capture (to take live snapshots), Start Recording (to start recording locally), Zoom, Aspect Ratio etc.

The liveview interface.

The liveview interface.

On the configuration page there are various settings under Local, System, Network, Video/Audio, Image. Event and Storage.

Under Advanced Configuration, System, Device Info, you can verify the cameras firmware release.

Under Advanced Configuration, System, Device Info, you can verify the cameras firmware release.

Video settings is where you change the resolution, frame rate, bit rate. For those that don’t understand bit rate, it’s basically how much do you want to compress the video. The lower the number means higher compression is used to achieve that goal, higher number means less compression. In my experience 4096 Kbps does a decent job, 6144 Kbps is significantly better and somewhere in between is where I’d recommend to set your cameras.

Stream type is where you chose which stream you want to change settings for. For example, when viewing the camera remotely, it’s better to use the second stream to reduce bandwidth use. The frame rate can be anything above 10 fps. My recommendation is to use 15-20 fps.

This is the section where you set your video settings.

This is the section where you set your video settings.

The next important section is the Image menu. This is where you adjust the camera settings to get the best image quality possible for specific locations. For example you can try to modify the Sharpness level. Sharpening may make a prettier picture, but sharpening artifacts can reduce the ability to identify an object or suspect. At night sharpening enhances noises so if you wish to reduce noise at night, consider reducing sharpening.

The default settings usually provide a good performance, however you may need to tweak them a little bit.

The default settings usually provide a good performance, however you may need to tweak them a little bit.

Backlight Settings in the Image menus is where you can choose between backlight compensation (BLC) or wide dynamic range (WDR). BLC is used when your image is very dark because of backlighting, like the sun is making everything into a shadow. WDR works differently by brightening shadows and darkening overly bright areas to provide more balance. The downside to WDR is that at night, it may introduce more noise into your image. This camera actually does very well with shadows at night without WDR.

Enabling the WDR.

Enabling the WDR.

Wi-fi settings and performance

Like most of the IP cameras with a wireless function, this camera has two separate interfaces for the wired connection and for the wireless connection. To start the configuration go to Basic Settings > TCP/IP > Wlan and set the IP of the camera. It’s recommended to set the IP on static, that way you’ll know all the time what’s the address of your camera. Set the correct gateway and subnet mask.

The Wlan tab is where you set the IP of the camera when connecting to Wi-Fi.

The Wlan tab is where you set the IP of the camera when connecting to Wi-Fi.

The next step is to go to the Advanced Settings > Wi-Fi and to scan the network. Select Wi-Fi and type the correct password. After this the camera will be connected wirelessly to the network. The last step is to disconnect the Ethernet cable from the camera.

Select your Wi-Fi and enter the correct password.

Select your Wi-Fi and enter the correct password.

The Wi-fi quality and range for this camera depends on many factors, how far away the camera will be from the Wi-Fi point, how fast/strong the Wi-Fi is, the obstacles on the way of the signal. To my experience the wireless on this camera works well, however it depends on the factors mentioned above. I connected the camera on 802.11ac capable access point on a distance of 50 feet and it worked great with no frames dropping (or freezing).

Audio settings and performance

By default the audio feature is disabled. To turn it on go to Configuration > Video/Audio > Video the for the main stream and sub stream change the video type to “Video&Audio”. You need to enable this option in order to hear the audio on the Live View screen or remotely (phone/computer etc).

By default the audio is disabled. You need to set the stream type to "Video and Audio".

By default the audio is disabled. You need to set the stream type to “Video and Audio”.

The built-in mic performs well and it’s quite sensitive. There’s an extra feature on the audio section called “Environmental Noise Filter”. By enabling it under the Configuration > Video/Audio you can reduce the white noise which microphones are very efficient at picking up. You can add a speaker on the cameras pigtail and have a 2-way “walkie-talkie” style conversation.

Extra settings for the audio.

Extra settings for the audio.

Daytime and Nighttime picture quality

As you can see on the videos shown below, the picture on daytime is sharp with a lot of details and good color accuracy. The 120db try Wide Dynamic Range (WRD) work great on daylight and it’s definitely a feature you should deploy if your environment requires it. Technically the WDR will help the camera deal with images that have a high contrast, such as a scene where there’s a bright light source on the background (can be sun, light from the window or garage’s door). Also, if necessary, you can tweak the image settings on the camera and make it work better with your location. However, from my experience the default settings work just fine in most of the situations.

This camera being a mini-dome style has smaller and lesser IR LEDs, but wow, camera really shine at night-time. You can see details in quite a distance. It’s really surprising how good this camera does in low sensitivity. This is with WDR turned off. There is a little more noise than in other Hikvision camera models, but the detail is there and it’s quite good. For more, judge the night-time picture by watching the videos below.

Conclusion

The Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IWS is very capable camera with a very good daytime and nighttime picture quality. The low profile design makes this camera great for indoor installations, or outdoor spots were you don’t want the camera to be very noticeable. The built-in mic it’s another interesting feature on this camera and it’s a useful feature in many situation. The Wi-Fi performs well when the Wi-Fi coverage is strong. Overall, it’s a great camera.