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7 best outdoor security cameras that will withstand the elements

Stay on top of the comings and goings at home

Jon Axworthy
Friday 12 May 2023 11:44 BST
<p>The majority of testing took place throughout December, with plenty of visitors on our doorstep </p>

The majority of testing took place throughout December, with plenty of visitors on our doorstep

Having access to an outdoor camera isn’t just about deterring unfriendly faces, it’s also about updating you on the friendly ones too. From the postie who’s just arrived to deliver your parcel, to your next-door neighbour who’s finally returned the lawnmower.

The advent of wifi has revolutionised home surveillance with the emergence of affordable, functional and user-friendly electronic eyes in the sky (well, on an eave) which are motion sensitive and allow a level of interaction with whoever is in view and in earshot.

We were looking for crisp, detailed, true-to-life images and footage (both day and night) that avoided the distorted fish-eye effect of older cams that can make it difficult to identify a visitor. What happens to that footage, depends on the device. It will either be stored natively (usually on a memory card) so there are no other costs involved. Or, it’s uploaded to the cloud via a paid monthly subscription; some brands will also offer a mix between free livestreaming and some charged storage.

It’s also helpful if a camera has the AI to differentiate between a person, an animal, a vehicle or an inquisitive magpie and notify you accordingly. Some cameras will be able to go further and have facial recognition capabilities to not only notify you about motion in a particular area, but also whether that motion is caused by a human and when that human is someone that the camera’s software doesn’t recognise.

Basically, a good camera will minimise the false positives, so your day isn’t constantly being interrupted by alerts and you’re only bothered when it’s something that you need to be bothered by. So, if you need a device to watch over your place when you’re not there, look no further than these candid cams that can.

How we tested

From the installation to the app download, we tested each camera set-up thoroughly, knowing that the good ones would minimise the number of false positives that we were alerted to. The majority of testing took place throughout December, which was a month when we were doorstepped by as many strangers as we were family and friends with a roll call of carol singers and delivery drivers testing the abilities of each camera to let us know who was there and what they might want. It also gave us ample opportunity to put the peripherals through their paces, things like floodlights, two-way audio and even the sirens for when we’d had enough of the carolers.

The best outdoor security cameras for 2023 are:

  • Best overall outdoor security camera – Arlo pro 5: £219.99, Arlo.com
  • Best outdoor security camera for value for money – Blink outdoor: £53.99, Argos.co.uk
  • Best outdoor security camera for siren and floodlight – Ring spotlight cam: £149.99, Ring.com
  • Best outdoor security camera for person detection – Google Nest cam: £319.99, Argos.co.uk

Eufy eufycam 3

best outdoor security cameras review Eufy eufycam 3
  • Best: Subscription free camera
  • Video quality: 4K
  • Field of view: 135-degree
  • People, pet and vehicle detection: Yes
  • Zoom: 8x
  • Spotlight: Yes
  • Siren: Yes
  • Audio: Yes

Eufy’s new cam ups the pixel count with a crisp 4k video feed, but rather than store this in the cloud, it’s kept locally on a 16GB Hub, which offers enough usable storage for three months’ worth of clips so you won’t have to fork out for a separate subscription. Set up was simple and the 135-degree angle camera gives plenty of coverage, and the respectable 8x zoom meant we could pick out details in the environment when we needed to.

We were impressed with Eufy’s on-board AI which boosts the facial recognition abilities of the camera so that you can tag friendly faces in the app so that the camera only alerts you to strange faces when they pitch up at your doorstep. This means you’re not constantly checking your phone and only have to take a look at it when the app tells you it doesn’t recognise a person at your property. Like all AI it needs to be trained (by inputting facial images into the app, for example from your camera roll), but it also learns on the job which faces you’re happy to have around your home. This takes a bit of investment but is well worth it as we experienced very few false positives after just a week of the install.

The solar panels were efficient in keeping charge levels up, even during the winter which is a massive bonus and a feature that we’d like to see in more cameras. It did lose a few points however for its slightly patchy performance in low light levels, so you’ll really need to adjust your motion settings so that the spotlight comes on to boost performance.

  1. £492 from Eufy.com
Prices may vary
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Google Nest cam

best outdoor security cameras review Google Nest cam
  • Best: For person detection
  • Video quality: 1080p HD
  • Field of view: 130-degrees
  • People, pet and vehicle detection: Yes
  • Zoom: 6x
  • Spotlight: No
  • Siren: No
  • Audio: Yes

As you’d expect from google, there is a lot to like about the nest cam, especially if you’ve already committed to the ecosystem. Set up was very quick and the magnetic mount was strong to make positioning easy. The video quality has now been surpassed by several other brands, but the 1080p HD video is decent enough to recognise who’s outside. In fact, the lower resolution can be a good option for anyone with slightly patchy Internet, as it means there is less lag when livestreaming and recording to the cloud.

The Nest gives you the option of reviewing the last three hours of clip history or you can pay for the Nest Aware subscription, which for £5 per month enables you to go back and review events that the cam has recorded for up to 30 days. Meanwhile, the night vision is delivered through a series of infrared LED sensors. Again, this may be considered by some to be the poorer (quality) cousin to new bright white light colour cameras because you just get a black and white image. However, it does have its advantages in terms of not alerting intruders to the presence of the cam because of the absence of bright light.

Strong facial recognition and a low false positive count add to the camera’s desirability and there’s customisation with zonal coverage set by the user through the app. There’s no siren or floodlight, but the two-way audio was decent enough to be able to hold a conversation with the window cleaner. If you’ve already jumped on the Google Nest bandwagon this is an excellent camera that should fit seamlessly into your setup.

  1. £319 from Argos.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Imou bullet 2 pro

best outdoor security cameras review Imou bullet 2 pro
  • Best: Budget colour cam
  • Video quality: 1080p HD
  • Field of view: 128-degrees
  • People and pet detection: Yes
  • Zoom: 8x
  • Spotlight: Yes
  • Siren: Yes
  • Audio: Yes

Cutting the cord on its previous camera, this wireless, subscription-free update records to a micro SD card and the 128-degree lens captures 1080p footage according to the customisable zones that you can pre-set through the app. The live feed was clear and the video quality was very good and never fuzzy or distorted and the camera recorded a 90 per cent success rate in terms of differentiating human movement from that of a tree blowing in the wind or a pet padding across the patio, with all the notifications being timely and accurate.

The 8x zoom adds to the camera’s ability to keep tabs on everything that’s going on and the in-built spotlight illuminated the test area well and means that you can record night footage in colour. Added to this is a piercing siren that will definitely do the job of scaring off any unwanted visitors. There is a cloud subscription option too, offering 30 days of history, which costs £69.99/year.

  1. £79 from Diy.com
Prices may vary
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Blink outdoor

best outdoor security cameras review Blink outdoor
  • Best: Value for money
  • Video quality: 1080p HD
  • Field of view: 110-degrees
  • People and pet detection: No
  • Zoom: No
  • Spotlight: No
  • Siren: No
  • Audio: Yes

Easily mounted outside, this HD colour camera provided sharp footage with good detail through a very intuitive app. Plus, the low-light infra-red, while not being quite as crystal clear as some on test, was still very usable. This little black box will begin recording when something moves within its 110-degree field of view and simultaneously send a phone alert. The camera can’t be confined to just capturing human activity however, you can turn on activity zones through the app by choosing areas of a grid that’s overlaid on the camera’s view which will then be ignored to tailor user experience.

When you buy the Blink, it comes with a 30-day free trial to the subscription plan, after which it will cost you £2.50 per month. Alternatively, you can buy the Sync Module 2 local storage option to save motion clips and photos and view them through the app. There are speakers built-in too and the audio was very clear with the whole unit running on two AA batteries. The fact that the camera only comes in black means that, if you want it to be a very visible deterrent. then fixing to an exterior wall painted white could go a long way to deterring any silly behaviours happening outside your door.

  1. £53 from Argos.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Ring spotlight cam

best outdoor security cameras Ring spotlight cam
  • Best: For siren and floodlight
  • Video quality: 1080p HD
  • Field of view: 140-degree
  • People and pet detection: No
  • Zoom: No
  • Spotlight: Yes
  • Siren: Yes
  • Audio: Yes

A motion-activated, full HD camera that’s quite bulky compared to some of the others in this edit, but that’s largely because it features three spotlights – two that sit on either side of the lens and one that sits at the base. It’s a subscription-based camera with the first 30 days free after purchase, then it’s £3.49 per month for the basic package that gives access to features like motion-activated notifications (including person-only alerts), the live feed, and two-way audio.

The app is very smooth and easy to use and through it you can set up the camera to record footage according to the motion zones that you assign to its 140-degree field of view. False positives were very rare (maybe one or two a week) and it was easy to hear and be heard when conversing with someone over the speaker. Lights and siren are on standby if you need them and speaking of the latter, if you really want to scare someone then this is probably the camera for you as the siren was the loudest on test. Similarly, because of the three-way floodlight set up on the Ring cam and their positioning, the illumination of the area and surrounding the camera was very impressive.

  1. £149 from Ring.com
Prices may vary
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Kami smart outdoor camera

best outdoor security cameras review Kami smart outdoor camera
  • Best: Build quality
  • Video quality: 1080p HD
  • Field of view: 140-degree
  • People and pet detection: No
  • Zoom: No
  • Spotlight: No
  • Siren: No
  • Audio: Yes

This subscription 1080p camera isn’t the most discreet device, which will appeal to some buyers, but it was easy to set up with a strong connection between the mount and the camera that made adjustment of the 140-degree field of view problem free. It’s a pretty solid bit of kit with good waterproofing, so that once it’s set up in your garden you won’t be bothered with any ongoing maintenance issues – and if it does have a run-in with a passing squirrel, it’s the animal that’s going to come off worse.

In operation, the Kami did suffer from quite a few false positives and we would put its accuracy around the 75 per cent level. That said, we didn’t have any problem with the urgency of its real-time alerts to our phone, which has been a grumble that we’ve read about online. The night vision was really, really good and although the camera does store footage locally on an SD card, we found that it actually worked better with a subscription to the Kami Cloud service.

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The verdict: Outdoor security cameras

There are two reasons that people purchase security cameras: convenience and security and the Arlo pro 5 delivers on both. The company has clearly distilled all that it has learnt from being a leader in this space into a camera packed with functionality, that’s also user friendly, boasts good quality video, audio and rapid notifications. This is all underpinned with an excellent subscription service to help you get the most out of the technology that the camera possesses.

If you don’t want to commit to a subscription then we’d recommend the Eufy eufycam3 which has excellent AI capabilities that translate into timely alerts to your phone. The footage from the camera was sharp and provided good detail and the camera had a very respectable recognition rate which didn’t suffer a dip in performance after dark.

Combine the best outdoor security cameras with the best broadband deals

For both indoor and outdoor setups, try our edit of the best home security cameras and read more on best home security systems

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