Decided to put a dedicated security camera up and put in the requisite homework. Rising to the top of most lists is the ReoLink RLC-410.
The prime reason I picked this camera is because it allows for local storage of your video files. Many cameras today which appear to be sleek and have tons of features usually have a pay service where your video files upload to. I find this to be somewhat objectionable. However at the cost of hosting your own files it requires tons of storage to run and record 24/7 and it can get a bit geeky. Fortunately, I'm a geek.
Another great aspect of this camera is that it is a Power Over Ethernet (PoE) device. That means all you need is a network cable and either a PoE switch (roughly $80) or a PoE injector (roughly $20). I opted to get a 4 port PoE switch so I can add some additional cameras later. Great thing about these switches is that if your device is not PoE you can still use the yellow ports as regular ethernet ports.
Chances are your porch doesn't have an ethernet connector out there so you'll have to get an ethernet cable out there somehow. In the case of my home it was pure hell. I had to walk the ceiling joists far enough back in my roof to where I could feed a 300' fish tape. Then I had to dis-join a piece of soffitt under my porch to attach the fish line to my CAT 5 ethernet cable.
Once I pulled it all the way through the attic I fed it down a wall in the garage where I wired it to a wall plate. And using my super geek skills and my Roland GX-24 vinyl cutter I made a yellow PoE label for the switch plate.
The Netgear PoE switch is mounted on the garage wall next to the ethernet wall plate. Don't mind the mess. All you need is the switch connected to internet and a cable going to your camera. I have a LOT of other things going on here.
After that I terminated a CAT 5 connector on the end of the cable and tested for network connectivity by using my laptop. Worked like a champ. So now I know that cable is ran and has connectivity.
Then it was just a matter of mounting the camera . I had to enlarge the hole quite a bit to stuff the connectors from the camera into the soffitt, then I just plugged it in and downloaded the Reolink app to my smartphone.
Here's the Mac version of the software.
Perfect. That's about all there is to it. I will say setting up the file recording location was somewhat troublesome. If I put it on my laptop then take my laptop to work..............No 24/7 video, only the motion alerts on the SD Card. So I opted to upload the files to my Mac Mini which stays at home all the time and is my music server. That worked perfectly. Then for some redundancy I installed an FTP server on my web and cloud server which has Ubuntu Linux Server installed on it. You could conceivably upload your files to any FTP server anywhere.
Reolink also has an NVR recorder which is basically a server for hooking all your cameras up to and storage for the video files. I'll look into that later when I get a couple more cameras up.
So here's a quick review with Pros and Cons..........
1. Inexpensive. Cheaper than most security cams.
2. Power over Ethernet.
3. App easily finds and configures camera.
4. Mac, Windows, iPhone and Android software.
5. 80 degree optical coverage. Huge.
6. Exceptional night vision performance.
7. LOCAL STORAGE OF VIDEO FILES.
8. No cables showing after installation, no power plug for the bad guy to remove.
9. Camera can record audio but you have to enable it and it's buried in the configuration.
10. Version I bought has a 16GB SD Card built in which holds motion alerts. More redundancy for recording.
1. Not much documentation. And the manual they give you is on a mini cd. Who has a laptop with a CD player that takes mini cd's these days?
2. Minimal directions for uploading to an FTP server. Not intuitive.
3. Software is a little clunky and non intuitive. For example I was getting a million motion alerts. Took me a while to find out you can block out zones in your optical coverage. Every car going by used to set off an alert and create a large file.
4. Didn't come with the latest firmware but it was easy to upgrade the firmware.
In my opinion the Pros outweigh the Cons by a LOT. For the price you cannot beat the RLC-410 and it contains features found in much more expensive cameras and the best reason is the fact you control the video files and don't have to pay $15 a month to essentially store and organize your video files.