Motion sensing or motion detection is one of the most powerful features in a modern smart camera.
It is particularly important for outdoor cameras as these are our first line of defence.
No matter how good the quality of the images that are being recorded, those images are almost useless unless the camera can notify you of some movement or other.
After all, how many of us have the time to watching our cameras constantly just in case something bad happens? I suspect the answer to that is pretty much zero..
But how do motion sensors work?
The overwhelming majority of smart cameras on the market today use infrared for motion detection.
Although infrared is not the only way that cameras can detect motion, it is one of the most cost effective.
The infrared sensors detect body heat from people or from animals.
This heat from a human or animal changes the level of infrared readings, which will then trigger a notification.
Features in Good Motion Detection Systems
Activation and Deactivation
Motion detection is a great asset to have for any security camera but there are times when you just don’t need it.
Perhaps you are at home during the day?
Motion detection systems should be able to be easily switched on and off to suit the individual user.
This feature is also called arming and de arming.
Some people live in quiet and calm neighbourhoods whereas other people live on streets where the activity never stops.
Or some people want their camera to monitor the busy street at the front of the house whilst others want it located in a quiet yard at the back of their house.
Motion detection systems need to be able to be adjusted to suit all of these circumstances.
If your camera is monitoring a very active area you will most likely want to turn the sensitivity down so that you are only alerted when there is movement right next to the camera.
Unless you want to a notification after every passing car.
On the flip side, if your camera is monitoring a quiet area, set it to the highest sensitivity so that you don’t miss anything.
Getting the correct sensitivity for your location will be a process of trial and error.
Real Time Notifications
Notifications are only effective if they happen in real time.
That they give you time to respond to a developing situation such as an intruder or burglar or an escaped pet.
Although part of this relies on how good the app is for your security camera- a fact that is out of your hands, it will also depend on things that you have more control over.
Firstly, how good the wi-fi signal is to your camera and secondly, how good the signal is on your phone.
And for outside security cameras I think that the quality and consistency of the Wi-Fi signal is incredibly important.
Email Alerts and Push Notifications
Smart cameras use apps so that the owners can interact and control these cameras wherever they are.
One function that the app has is to notify the owner when motion has been detected. These in app messages are also called push notifications.
These are terrific and in most situations, you couldn’t ask for more.
The trouble is what happens if you are not by your phone?
Some smart security cameras also offer email alerts when motion is detected, which is great for when you are not by your phone.
Activity zones or motion zones are multiple areas within the camera’s field of view that can be created on your touchscreen or with your mouse.
Take a look at the image below. The green rectangle is an activity zone within the camera’s larger field of view.
Your camera will then alert you when there is motion within this specific area- as opposed to anywhere within the field of view.
Snapshots are photos that the camera takes as soon as it detects motion.
These are then sent to you via the app (and with some cameras you can also have them emailed to you.)
Snapshots are fantastic because they allow you very quickly to assess if an alert is something that you should be worried about and act upon.
For instance, if you get a motion alert with some snapshots and these show you that a stranger is on your property, you might want to phone the local police.
If however your snapshots show a cat has just passed by your camera, you might breathe a sigh of relief- and then adjust the sensitivity settings on your camera!
A major source of regular income for smart security camera manufacturers are their subscription.
What started off a few years ago simply as video storage plans for customers, have now developed into something much more sophisticated.
At first, in return for a monthly subscription (normally starting at around $10) all of the footage from a security camera could be stored in the cloud for a certain length of time.
Now on top of this basic features, top companies such as Nest and Arlo are able to analyse any stored footage and identify when a person has been caught on camera.
This makes it easier for you to sort through what could be hours of footage and find the activity that really matters.
An interesting new development from Arlo is that they are testing software that can identify parcels and pets as well as people!
SV3C WiFi Camera
This camera is ideal for a person who does not need an outside camera with audio and who doesn’t mind buying a great quality product from a company that they might not necessarily have heard of before.
The SV3C has a range of clever motion detection capabilities. These include notifications to your phone and photos sent via email.
You can create motion zones and adjust the sensitivity of the detection to make this camera work perfectly for you.
This camera is priced very competitively.
And the reviews are amazing.
Although this is not the best rated outdoor camera available, for the price it might as well be.
Some of the favourite features of this camera include the fact that as its made out of metal, its build quality is incredible.
The level and responsiveness of the customer service is very high and the set up is meant to be a breeze.
On the downside, the user manual that comes with it is meant to be very poor.
This looks like most of the other bullet cameras that you find- although it is a nice change that has a little black on it instead of just white.
And the smoothness of the corners give the camera a softer look.
And what of the main features of this camera?
Motion Detection Motion Zones, adjustable sensitivity, push and email alerts.
Power: 10 ft Cable
Audio: No audio
Night Vision: 20m | 67 ft
Field of Vision: 62°
Resolution: 720p | 1080p
Interested? Buy on Amazon
YI OUTDOOR SECURITY CAMERA
The YI outdoor Security Camera is ideal for users who want a high-resolution all-weather camera.
The YI Outdoor camera allows you to select activity zones so that you can monitor specific areas more closely.
It also includes a deterrent alarm that you can set off remotely if you see any suspicious activity.
This camera is priced at a mid point between the budget and high end of the market.
Overall, although this camera has many fans, it does disappoint lots of owners.
The YI outdoor security camera boasts of high 1080p resolution images during the day however a lot of users complain that when using the digital zoom it quickly turns images blurry.
Users also complain that the motion sensors go off every time a bug flies by at night in front of the camera, which results in a ridiculous amount of motion alerts.
In addition to that the siren/alarm goes off anytime there is a slight motion detected or can even completely stay silent.
I like the look of this camera. I think that the shiny white and black look is very stylish.
And what about the other main features?
Motion Detection Motion Zones.
Battery | Power Cable: 10 ft Cable
Audio: 2 Way
Night Vision: 16m | 50 ft
Field of Vision: 110°
Resolution: Full HD camera with high-resolution images of up to 1080p at 20 frames per second.
Weatherproof IP65. All weather aluminium cover.
Like to know more? Buy on Amazon
REOLINK ARGUS PRO
The Reolink Argus Pro Rechargeable camera is ideal for users who want an easy and simple installation process.
The Reolink Argus Pro Rechargeable camera is a solar powered wireless outdoor security camera, which boasts of a hassle-free installation process.
Compared to other Cameras that have similar features the Reolink Argus Pro is fairly priced.
This solar-powered camera is most beloved for its simple and quick installation and setup. Most of its users consider this camera a steal at its price point. The Reolink camera lives up to its performance expectations.
Users rave about how easy and quick it is to install and does not need a lot of technical knowledge. It’s also quite easy to use the phone app to monitor your home or office when you are away.
Some users have complained that the 2-way talk feature does not perform quite well. The person standing by the camera is forced to yell in order to be heard by the app operator
This wireless camera comes with a rechargeable battery, it is also a camera that is very easy to mount and does not need any holes drilled to your wall.
Its main features include:
It has a smart PIR sensor and send instant alerts: this camera has a wide angle and very sensitive motion sensors. It sends instant Email alerts when prompted. It also has a built-in Siren.
It supports easy remote access from anywhere: The camera has a free Reolink App and client support. You can easily access it from anywhere in the world through ios and android phones or through a desktop computer.
It has a two way built in talk and hear function: has a built-in speaker and microphone that provides for easy communication, it can also assist warn off any invaders.
The Reolink Argus Pro Rechargeable camera is ideal for users who want an easy and simple installation process, which does not require much expertise. It’s also great for users that do not want to deface their walls by drilling wall mounts.
Interested? Buy on Amazon
Nest Outdoor Camera
If want a premium model from a premium brand and you don’t mind paying extra for this, then Nest is the camera for you.
The Nest Outdoor cam uses Passive Infrared for its motion detection and has a range of 20 feet.
And you can adjust the sensitivity of the sensors in order to best suit your location. And with email alerts and push notifications, you certainly won’t miss a thing.
Feature packed as it is, this camera is one of the most expensive cameras on the market.
But as Nest is owned by Google, quality and peace of mind are almost guaranteed.
And without a doubt this is a great looking camera. It is only available in white but is shaped like a flower, with wonderfully smooth edges.
Such confidence is backed up by thousands upon thousands of very happy customers who together have rated this as one of the best smart security cameras on the market. Period.
Some of the most popular features of the Nest Outdoor camera include the fact that the video quality is good enough to be able to read fine details such as licence plates and that it works in all weather and temperatures.
It is also very easy to install.
One of the biggest criticisms is the cost of the Nest Cloud Storage system, without which many of the premium features of this camera won’t work
Motion Detection Adjustable with email alerts and push notifications
Power: Cable (25 feet)
Audio: 2 Way
Night Vision: Up to 20 ft
Field of Vision 130°
Great Picture Quality: 1080p with a 3 MP lens
Want to know more? Buy on Amazon
If you are looking for your first outdoor camera and you have a tight budget then give these cameras a go.
The Zmodo wireless camera allows you to create motion zones for you camera so that you can monitor specific areas very closely.
And without a doubt, this camera offers incredible value for money when it is compared to some of its “peers”.
This camera has received lots of very positive feedback from buyers, although it is not one of the most highly rated.
Some of the most popular features of this camera are that the notifications tend to be sent in “real time”, that many features do work even without a paid cloud subscription and that the app is easy to use and runs smoothly.
On the negative side, some users have struggled to set the cameras up and connect them to the Wi-Fi.
It has to be said that these cameras will not win any beauty contests. Like many bullet cameras they look a little “boxy” with an antenna sticking up at the rear of the camera.
Let’s take a quick look at the main features
Motion Detection Motion Zones.
Audio: 2 Way
Night Vision: 20m | 65 ft
Field of Vision: 81°
Alexa: Works with a screen Alexa device
Interested? Buy on Amazon