May 6, 2015

Hikvision 3MP IP Security Cameras: DS-2CD2332-I Outdoor & DS-2CD2432F-IW Indoor

Six months spent with two of Hikvision's most popular network security cameras.

Last fall I decided to look into alternatives to my Dropcam HD and Dropcam Pro cameras. Although generally satisfied with the Dropcams, I was aware that I was paying a price premium for their simplicity when compared to other cameras on the market. I had also suffered from their universal roll-out of zones, which to this day appear still to not be working properly for some users.

Entry-level IP cameras are not new, but 3 megapixel/MP cameras in the $100-150 price range are. Hikvision & Dahua are two prominent Chinese companies in this space, and I researched both for the best camera in my price range. There continue to be no significant offerings from any other brands in the sub-$150 price range for a 3 megapixel IP camera, though this will change in the coming months and years. I settled on Hikvision over Dahua due to Hikvision's fairly mature built-in playback option. I ended up installing three exterior cameras and one internal.


  • 3 megapixel (2048 x 1536) image (better than 1080p resolution)
  • IP66 rated (meaning: rated for complete exterior exposure; impervious to rain and directed jets of water)
  • wired-only, supporting POE (Power over Ethernet)
  • external IR light
  • available in lens sizes from 2.8mm to 12mm (2.8mm gives about 90 degree field of view, 4mm is around 70 degrees)
Additional specs here.

This "turret" camera has an interesting design in that it looks like a conventional dome security camera yet, since it is not completely covered in a glass dome, it suffers none of the potential effects of the infrared light bouncing back into the lens. "Bullet" type cameras also don't have that bounce-back issue, but are not in my opinion as discreet or pleasing to the eye.


  • 3 megapixel (2048 x 1536)
  • PIR sensor (Passive Infrared)
  • external IR light
  • microphone & speaker
  • SD card slot
  • wired, supporting POE
  • wireless (2.4 ghz only)
Additional specs here.

The two unique things about this camera are that it 1) has a rare-in-this-price-range PIR sensor, which uses infrared to determine movement (and thus trigger an alarm), not image recognition (which most cameras in this price range use). If enabled, that allows for far more accurate detection of moving objects without a lot of false positives that are so common in image analysis, 2) can not only be operated wirelessly, but also wired and still has full POE capabilities.


Physically installing the three external turrets involved running network cable from a switch that supports POE (I use this one) to the cameras. If only installing one camera a POE injector is cheaper, and also would work. In my case I have some network equipment in an unfinished portion of my basement, and ran Cat 6 (although Cat 5 or 5E is totally sufficient and will be for years) underneath the vinyl siding of my house to hide it. I managed to drill only a single hole for each line, bringing it outside, and then tucked the cables in under everything else.

There are many ways to mount cameras to a house, but only one way as strange as the way I did it:

These weird-looking mounts serve two purposes: 1) ease of installation , 2) no permanent changes to anything, thus allowing movement of the camera if I want. They could be prettier but they serve their purpose.


Setting these cameras is quite involved, depending on the approach taken. There are three main ways to get these running:

  1. Hardware NVR
  2. Software NVR
  3. Autonomous

Hardware NVR

This device looks similar to a DVD player or VCR. They are common in the all-in-one security solutions you might buy at Walmart or elsewhere. Many have POE built in and can directly power the cameras. They are accessed directly to manage the cameras and can expose the cameras' footage to other devices such as a TV.

Software NVR

This approach involves dedicating a PC to the cameras and installing third party software such as Sighthound, XProtect, or BlueIris to manage the cameras. This approach offers the most options, as many of the products are highly evolved, with the ability to perform many tasks. They are able to access many different brands of cameras, and generally have smart phone apps as well. For a system exposed to the internet, this is also probably the most secure, as active development is likely to address security issues as they arise, and cameras are accessed by the software as a proxy, instead of directly by exposing ports to cameras.


This approach, and the one I'm currently using due to it costing nothing in license fees, and not marrying me to a particular third party software NVR (though one day I imagine I'll move to one), involves setting each camera up individually. Each camera's configuration is manually set, and for storage each camera stores directly to storage already on the network. In my case, this storage is on a Windows 8 PC that I never turn off, and I have 200 GB partitions set aside for each camera. 200 GB is good for around five days, and the camera will delete old footage automatically to free up space for new, thus maintaining around five days of rolling recordings. Changing resolution and frame rate will affect this window.

Camera Configuration

The necessary first step with these cameras is to make them accessible on the network. For some strange reason, Hikvision gives these cameras a default IP address of This is inaccessible on most home networks, because the IP range is generally going to be 192.168.0.x at home. With each camera, Hikvision provides a software tool called SADP. This allows the camera to be found on the network and its IP set. I was completely unsuccessful getting this tool to work in either Windows 7 or 8. What did always work was configuring a PC on my home network to have an IP address of I could then access the camera at its default IP address, login with the admin / 12345 default username / password, and then setup DHCP:

Restarting the camera then gave it an IP range issued by my router. Logging onto the router then let me see a list of devices, including the camera. Another way to find its IP is with Fing, a mobile app. In any case, once into the router, I locked the IP down so that it was dedicated to only this camera.

The cameras are highly configurable. Network settings, email settings, FTP, time-zone, alert-zone, etc. are all definable. Image quality can be set:

as can video quality and frame rate:

Motion detection can be defined as well. In this example, any movement on the driveway would trigger an event. Sensitivity can be set, as well as scheduling (e.g. ignore motion during week-days):

For storage, I'm using Windows shares. happens to be my PC's IP address, so:

It's also possible to store to a dedicated NAS. It's worth mentioning that I initially struggled mightily with the cameras reliably storing to a Windows PC with SMB/CIFS shares. Once the share is defined, the camera will "format" it. What this really means is the camera deposits some placeholder files in the share; it doesn't really format anything. However, random formatting of the shares is a common complaint. I ultimately found a very stable solution, and my cameras never, ever format or fail to write to their drives now. Some tips:

  • Dedicate one partition to each camera
  • Limit space. 200 GB works well for me. I've seen others do well with 500 GB, but more may pose an issue (possibly resolved with most recent firmware)

Note also that in parallel to saving to a hard drive, it's possible for the camera to send emails or write to an FTP. I have my cameras set to use a separate GMAIL account and email me when they cannot find the hard-drives or there are too many attempts to login with an incorrect password. I also have them writing to a separate FTP drive on motion detection only (in parallel with the 24/7 recording of video to the hard-drives).

Viewing Footage

Footage is viewed either via a browser or on a mobile device.

Browser access

Each camera is given a dedicated IP on the home network. Port-forwarding is enabled for each camera so that http://: allows access of a given camera anywhere in the world. A camera can then be navigated via, for example, Chrome or Internet Explorer, and a username/password for each camera brings up the camera's menu. In this image, the playback function is shown. Its function is intuitive and works well.

It is also possible to play at faster than, or slower than real-time speeds. Video clips and images can be exported through the browser, and will download to a folder that can be specified. Here is a full resolution raw image with "low" quality, taken from the FTP server. Medium and High are also options, the latter approximately doubling file size and slightly (not to a large degree) cleaning it up.

Mobile access

For iOS Hikvision maintains an app called iVMS-4500. It's free, and works very well for accessing both live and historical footage. It's not bug-free, but is responsive and usable. To overcome bandwidth limitations in either one's cellular connection or home's upload bandwidth, it's possible (though not always necessary) for this app to access a given camera's sub-stream. Something I did not mention in the Configuration section is that these cameras have two video feeds: Main and Sub. Main is typically the high resolution stream, but not surprisingly requires greater bandwidth. Sub has a much lower resolution, and it is configurable. Whether accessing a camera through the browser or on a mobile device, it is possible to select either one. In my case, I'm able to have all four cameras running on an even fairly weak connection if I choose sub-stream.

Two sample images from my iPhone, including an example in which two cameras are selected, both on the high-resolution main-stream.

Sample Images

Seeing no need to repeat others' efforts, there are tons of sample images and video clips online for these cameras, particularly on YouTube. When viewing any, be sure to click HD and go full-screen!

Advanced (optional)

These cameras, like most IP cameras, allow direct access to images. There is also an API, though I've not experimented with it. I do make liberal use of the ability to pull images directly off the camera via a URL formatted as such:


An external program or script can then pull images at an interval, for example. In my case, I pull images from my backyard camera every 3 hours to allow for a time lapse video showing seasonal changes.

Difficulties & Challenges

Though I've been very impressed with these cameras, there are unique difficulties to a system such as this. Though some are unique to my choice not to use a dedicated software NVR, not all are. Some essential networking skills are important, and there can be a lot of time wasted trying to circumvent weaknesses in the camera's firmware. When I first got my cameras, Hikvision's firmware was incapable of performing certain tasks that were seemingly configurable. The firmware version I'm running now (5.2.0) is quite good, and I've not needed to upgrade it.

Speaking of firmware, I recently accessed my cameras through Chrome and was told that the plug-ins aren't supported by Chrome. Google is currently shutting off support for this plugin, and a small workaround lets me continue to use Chrome through November of this year, when they'll shut down support for good. I will then be forced to either use an alternate browser, run a software NVR, or hope that Hikvision updates their firmware before NPAPI support goes. This is just one example of something that can happen with a system not supported closely as Dropcam has been in the past.

Hikvision vs Dropcam

I believe a comparison of these Hikvision cameras and Dropcam is of value. I still maintain that Dropcam is the easiest consumer grade security camera to use, and for non-tech users or those who don't want to spend much time fiddling around, Dropcam is hard to beat. Using IP cameras from another vendor are never going to be deployed as quickly or easily.

Benefits of Hikvision over Dropcam
  • Lower start-up costs for each camera
  • No monthly cost (beyond electricity)
  • Isn't continually transmitting data, important if a bandwidth quota is in place
  • Significantly better video/picture quality in both day and night
  • Outdoor-rated model available
Benefits of Dropcam over Hikvision
  • Massively easier to setup
  • Superior security; IP cameras--including Hikvision--have had some security breaches, but Dropcam has not. Many of these breaches are due to users not changing default passwords, but not in all cases
  • Storage is cloud-based, thus immune from loss due to fire or theft
  • Better support, including continual active development and automatic deployments (though the latter can include new code that isn't necessarily desired, like the somewhat-broken activity zones)

Where to Buy, and a Note on Firmware

A point of importance regarding these cameras is that their point of origin can dictate what firmware can be loaded onto them. Generally the camera will be a China-region or US-region camera. Hikvision releases at least a couple of different versions of firmware, and applying the wrong region to a camera is often difficult. Case in point: one of my cameras I bought very cheaply from Ebay and it is a China camera. When I first got it, I could select various languages, including English, but I couldn't load US based firmware until I came upon some strange instructions online about doing it--but the official approach wasn't possible. The hardware is the same between either region.

You can buy the cameras on Amazon, but unless the vendor specifically states the camera is a US-region camera, you should assume it's set for China. If you're okay with that, it may be worth the longer wait, but lower prices, of buying directly from China via AliExpress. If you want a US-based camera, there are a few vendors. I bought my US-based cameras from LTS Security, via one of their employee's posts on a forum: here (this is also a great forum for support/questions). That is also why my cameras have different model names (CMIP3032 above, in a couple of screen shots) than the official Hikvision cameras. They are the same thing, simply re-branded, but can be loaded with official US Hikvision firmware.

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