Amcrest IP2M-863EW-AI – Incredible Zoom!

Notice: Because of the zoom capabilities and my desire for privacy, I blurred or cropped images.

I had been wanting a camera like this, so I finally purchased it. The camera was delivered on 8/12/2021 and I thought there must be multiple items in the Amazon box because it was much bigger and heavier than I expected. Nope, it only contained the Amcrest box, which was huge and much heavier than any other camera I had ever purchased.

I removed the camera from the box and was shocked. This camera is fourteen inches tall with the mounting bracket. I had looked at the dimensions listed on Amazon, but I guess I didn’t pay attention. That’s completely on me. I’m going to start cutting cardboard to the dimensions of things I plan to buy online so I can see the physical size in person. As I was looked at the large, unopened box, I asked myself whether I should keep it or send it back. It took me a few seconds to decide that since it’s here I might as well keep it.

This camera may not look big on a building, but it may look unusually big on a house unless it can be strategically mounted. I had originally planned on mounting this camera on the front of my house by my garage, but that idea was cancelled. I figured the higher I can mount it the better, so it will now go on the back of the house. I have a street to the rear of my house, and I have wanted a camera with a high view of my backyard. My immediate problem was that I wanted to start using this camera now and I cannot install the camera myself because of an injury. I decided to instead place this camera in a second-floor window with a view of the front of my house. The foam it came in was a perfect base to have the camera sit upright, which was technically upside down for this camera.

In the box were items that come with other Amcrest cameras, however, this camera also came with bolts that look like they are intended to be mounted in concrete. If you intend to mount this camera to wood, you will need large wood screws. The camera also has some weight to it, so it will need to be properly mounted. I’ve used only two of four screws for some small Amcrest cameras, but I wouldn’t recommend it for this one.

I connected this camera to my NETGEAR GS308P 8-Port gigabit ethernet PoE switch instead of using the included power adapter. It powered on with no issues. I was able to connect to the camera as with any other Amcrest camera. I changed the default password to a new password, set a static IP address, and I was viewing upside down footage in just a few minutes. I rotated the image 180° and it was time to get using the camera.

I looked through the camera settings to see what was different as compared to my other Amcrest cameras. The PTZ menu had a lot of options to use automated features, but this would not be of much use because I live in a tract house with a small lot. There were also a lot more other options compared to any of my other Amcrest cameras.

I started to use the zoom and it was incredible, and I had not yet realized the digital zoom was not turned on. I was able to see power lines in the distance on a hill, and I could not even figure out exactly where that hill and power lines were located. I will need to drive out to see what I was looking at.

Using the 25X optical zoom and 16X digital zoom, I could see a house between and beyond the two houses across the street from me. There is a short cul-de-sac that lets out at this house, and I was able to see the tailgate of the pickup truck in the driveway. I do not know if I would have been able to read the plate, but something was blocking it.

According to Google Maps, the house I was looking at was about 635 feet away. That may not sound far to some people, but I assure you it is quite a distance away.

It was not until day three that I realized I had only been using the 25X optical zoom and not the additional 16X digital zoom. I have other cameras with digital zoom, and I find this almost useless because of the picture quality. That was not the case with this camera. I went back to the house over 635 feet away and zoomed in on the same vehicle. It was not as clear as when using only the optical zoom, but I was able to zoom in that much closer and the picture quality was not bad. I think it’s worth it to leave the digital zoom on.

There was only one drawback to the zoom for me, it did not show the level of zoom. I could not find a way to select this feature and I do not know if it even exists.

The dome pans quickly at the default speed setting of five, and eight is the maximum. I changed the speed to the maximum speed of eight and it was quite fast, but not unmanageable. Sometimes the camera would not immediately move when I pressed the pan option, and if I continued to hold the pan option until the camera responded, it would pan way too far. I learned to let off the pan option if the camera did not immediately start moving. What really impressed me was that the pan appeared to calibrate its speed depending on the level of zoom. I noticed this when I was zoomed in all the way and clicked on the button to pan the camera. I expected to have it fly by my intended target, but it did not. Instead, it moved at an appropriate speed.

The camera pans 360° horizontally, so you will not lose view of something as it moves by. The only limitation will be obstacles between the camera and the target, or what the camera is mounted on. If this camera was mounted on a pole, there will be very little it cannot see.

The tilt is listed at 90° total, which I noticed while trying to tilt down as far as possible to look at work being done in my yard below. I could barely see what was going on. The tilt angle was not bad, but you would need to take this into consideration if the camera will be up high and you need to be able to see something below it.

Because I was using the camera from behind a window, I could not use the infrared. I decided to check the camera during darkness anyway and it looked great. There are a lot of exterior lights in my area, but this camera had better low light capabilities than any other camera I had ever used. I would not even need the infrared if this camera was installed on the front of my house.

I was initially disappointed the resolution was only 1080p before even using the camera. That disappointment went away once I started using the camera. The picture quality was very clear, and the colors were accurate. For me, the zoom and good picture quality was far more impressive than having a higher resolution. If you need a resolution higher than 1080p, the Amcrest IP4M-1063EW-AI is 4MP at 25fps video with a 60° viewing angle.

This camera has H.265 video compression, which is a must have for me these days. H.265 has much smaller file sizes than the older H.264 compression, which means I can store more video for much longer than I used to. I am not going to do comparisons between the formats because I have done so in previous camera reviews. To make a simple point that would appeal to businesses, you could save a lot of money on expensive storage by using cameras with H.265 compression. Unless a specialty camera is needed that only supports H.264, don’t consider buying one that does not support H.265 compression.

I decided to try human detection after a couple days of use. I used my neighbor across the street as a target since he was the only person around. My neighbor was about 115 feet away in his front yard, so I zoomed in and out. I started receiving email notifications with still images of my neighbor, but not other motion. I made sure I had the camera zoomed all the way out so the image of my neighbor was as small as possible. He was still detected by the camera. I received a notification where I did not see my neighbor, and I thought it was a false notification. I then noticed he was in the very rear of his backyard and mostly visible. That was impressive. I would be very interested in this feature if I had this camera in an area where nobody should be present.

Side Note: Prior to using the human detection feature, I had to configure email notifications. I used Gmail, which meant I needed to turn on “less secure access.” I also had to go to my Google account > Security > Recent security activity > and allow the access from the recent device (the camera).

While trying out the added digital zoom, I had also changed the camera to 60 FPS. I was using the camera through the surveillance program Blue Iris, but it would lose connection to the camera if I was using 60 FPS and I zoomed in all the way. The camera was on a gigabit switch, but I did not check to see the data transfer rate. Whatever the case, Blue Iris seemed to have an issue dealing with the feed. I think 30 FPS is more than sufficient for my use, but it may be helpful if there is a lot of fast action being recorded. This may mean the difference between blurry or clear footage when it matters.

This camera has a microphone to capture audio, which I find extremely valuable. Audio can alert you to activity out of view of the camera. Combine this with human and vehicle detection and you can have serious security. I have other Amcrest cameras with microphones and when I show friends, it seems they always ask if it has a speaker like another camera company. I tell them they do not, but it’s not a feature I care about. If someone is doing something they shouldn’t, I would prefer to not scare them away and have them be arrested.

I was very impressed with this camera, especially for the price. My only experience with a comparable camera was a Canon PTZ from a few years ago that cost four times as much as this camera. The only thing I liked more about the Canon camera was the compact size. It was significantly smaller. I don’t even know if the Canon camera was weatherproof, and it did not have audio. If a compact size was not needed, I would prefer this Amcrest camera over the more expensive Canon camera.

I did find a couple things about this camera that I did not like. As with other Amcrest cameras, this camera also tries in perpetuity to contact the Amcrest cloud service via the URLs config.amcrestcloud.com and amcrestview.com. This cannot be stopped via the camera’s firmware. There really should be an option to turn this off for those that will not be using their cloud storage service. Something else I did not like was viewing video from the camera’s web GUI. The picture kept scrolling through the sub-streams and I could not figure out how to turn it off. I did a quick search online but could not find an answer. I therefore used Blue Iris most of the time to view this camera.

After several days of heavy use and digging through features, I could not try everything this camera is capable of. I consider this an excellent camera for business use based on the features, such as the human and vehicle detection, incredible zoom, pan/tilt, H.265 video compression, microphone for audio, and more. I used this camera with Blue Iris, but it supports ONVIF so companies could use the software of their choice. Cities or counties could save a lot of money on cameras if they went with this model.

This camera would be excellent for businesses, very large properties, or municipal use. I really want to stress the municipal use since municipalities pay a lot for cameras and struggle with video storage needs because of the legal requirements for retention periods. Municipalities often pay a lot for cameras and have many old cameras that do not support H.265 video compression. Instead of adding more storage, perhaps they should consider replacing older cameras that only support H.264 compression with this camera. Another bonus for municipalities would be the PTZ. Municipalities that actively monitor cameras would get a lot more out of this camera than older cameras without PTZ. Personnel would be able to zoom in on cars and get clear footage of license plates and people’s faces. More crimes could be solved with this vs old, fixed view cameras.

This was the most expensive camera I have purchased for personal use, but it’s a solid buy at the price of $399.99 (8/20/2021). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B095XCJWRM/

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