D-Link Securicam DCS-3415 review
A solid IP camera with a massive optical zoom and good recording software, but no support for H.264 operations yet
Review Date: 10 Nov 2009
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: £752 (£865 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
D-Link has been making eyes at the network IP camera market for some time now and its product line has been quietly growing in sophistication, as its latest DCS-3415 demonstrates.
This fixed IP camera has a whopping 18x optical zoom, supports PoE and can handle light levels as low as 0.38lux for night-time operations. Build quality is far superior to D-Link's earlier efforts. The DCS-3415 has forsaken the cheap plastic design of its predecessors in favour of a solid aluminium shell. It partners a good quality Sony lens with a 1/4in colour CCD sensor and supports 30fps up to its maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.
You get an internal microphone and an external speaker socket for two-way audio operations. You can also plug in an external microphone, and the camera offers an I/O connector block for external alarms and door sensors.
The camera supports simultaneous M-JPEG and MPEG4 streams, but D-Link needs to think about dropping MPEG4 in favour of H.264. We first saw this with the Axis P3301 (web ID: 242592), which may not have the same zoom capabilities, but our performance tests showed that H.264 makes big savings in network bandwidth usage.
Installation is a snip and we had no problems powering the camera from an HP ProCurve 2626-PWR switch. The home page opens with a live view, alongside controls for zoom and focus, plus options for taking snapshots. The camera provides two separate streams at different resolutions so you can set one for PCs and another with a lower resolution for remote viewing over RTSP using a mobile.
Colour balance is good, although we found the focus a little on the soft side. It isn't as sharp as the latest IP cameras from Axis. You can adjust it with the web control button but it doesn't make a great deal of difference. Motion is conveyed well at the top resolution with only slight jerkiness, but the best bit is the zoom function.
With the camera pointing out of the lab window we trained it on a public house 120m away and on maximum zoom could even read the day's menu on the board outside. Picture quality didn't degrade at all, although on full zoom the area under scrutiny became very small.
Motion detection is available, with a wizard to set it up. You can create up to three windows with differing sensitivity levels, and if these or an external device are tripped the camera will send snapshots or video footage to FTP and HTTP servers, a CompactFlash card, a shared folder or an email address.
D-Link's D-View software is good. Up to 32 camera feeds can be viewed from the same window, and you can take instant snapshots, start and stop recording sessions and activate motion detection. A scheduler manages automated recordings.
The DCS-3415 delivers a good surveillance package with plenty of features. The recording software is also a cut above the rest, although for the price we would have expected megapixel resolutions and slightly better image quality.
Author: Dave Mitchell
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