Far and away, one of the best quality options is to go with BlueIris NVR software and some good POE cams. This setup will yield great quality recordings, a ton of flexibility and tunability, offline reliability, mobile accessibility, and even some integration with OH through their API.
However, this can be costly as it requires a decently powered windows machine to run the software and the decent quality low-light cameras run about $100-150 apiece. It also requires a fair amount of time and basic know-how to setup to each environment. These tradeoffs can be steep for some people, so they’re important to consider.
To me, Blue Iris is a no-brainer in order to have better quality and not have to rely on cloud-based services such as ring or nest.
There is a great resource of information on network cameras on the www.ipcamtalk.com message boards.
Some basic things to know about security cameras (or things I wish I knew before I started):
- Avoid wifi if at all possible. It’s unreliable, especially for high bandwidth situations. POE is preferred.
- To the point of wiring: POE can seem daunting, but no matter what, you will always need to at least supply power to each camera, even wifi models. POE is low voltage, provides much better reliability/performance, and much easier to run than new power outlets, so while it might be intimidating at first, it’s a great choice to consider.
- For the cheapest/easiest route, the wyze cams @rikoshak mentioned are some of the best choices. The wyze pan cam also works with BlueIris through their beta firmware which supports RTSP.
- Make sure to secure the cams with firmware updates and strong passwords
- Off the shelf products (ring/nest) are easy to setup and offer fair quality, but the user experience can be frustrating, depending on the environment. Pain points include poor recordings, (MANY) false positives, or even worse, missed events.
- Don’t mount cameras too high. 7-8ft (2m) off the ground are usually ideal to capture faces. Otherwise you’re only going to see the tops of people’s heads.
- Don’t bother with pan/tilt functions. Fixed lenses in strategic locations are more useful.
- Start with just one or two cameras to learn and understand the limitations for each environment.
- One surprising consideration: If at all possible, try to avoid the use of IR light powered cameras. This is a very popular method for low light situations, but over time, IR will attract tons of bugs, which in turn, will cause spider infestations. One or two cameras indoors should be fine, but in outdoor environments with 5 or 6 cameras, this can become a major nuisance over time. Instead, invest in good quality low light sensors.