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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2012
Overall, fully acceptable performance. I purchased three Foscam cameras for inside the house and decided to try the Loftek Sentinel for outside. It is the only one that offers pan, tilt and zoom in an exterior camera at anywhere near this price. I am impressed by the clarity and colors. Low light vision is acceptable for in-city use. My outside lights are sufficient to see colors on the porch, and I can see the street and other houses but not as clear. There are no infra-red lights so do not expect much performance if you yourself can not see in the darkness. Daytime, the colors are correct and not washed out. Response time is acceptable, although it occasionally will do a full pan rather than a step movement. The field of view is more narrow than I expected.

I have not had it long enough to see how high wind and rain will affect it. The bracket has four U slots, but it is difficult to get the screws in as the camera bulb and antenna plug are in the way. I ended up using a 90 degree offset screwdriver.
The AC adapter sucks. It is a rather large, palm-sized brick that plugs in sideways - goes to the side of the plug receptacle rather than hanging down. This would not be too much of an issue inside, but for outside receptacles, it does not fit well and will not fit any of the exterior receptacle boxes that I found. The power cord is only four or five feet long; for an exterior camera a 20 foot option would be a nice accessory. (Philmore 48-1024 12' power line extension cord runs about $6; plug size is 2.1x5.5mm)

The cables are an octopus of wiring! Ethernet, audio in, audio out, alarm and power! Over a foot long, and how are you suppose to waterproof this mess? I bought a 4x4 plastic junction box from Home Depot, drilled a hole for the electric extension cord (I cut the female end off of 110 AC extension cord, inserted into box then attached a new female plug) and a slot for the octopus and managed to fit the mess inside - the wiring would have been easy, but the AC adapter and extension cord plug will barely fit.

I am running Blue Iris (which is great software) so did not bother to load the included software. If you have installed a Foscam, you will find this pretty similar and easy to install. If you have never installed an IP camera, most of your time and trouble will be spent dealing with your router, not the camera. I am now a semi-expert on routers! The camera's mobile phone setting works surprisingly well.

One thing I have learned is that after three or four wireless IP cameras, the b/g network performance will degrade significantly. I am now running most interior cameras in lower format (320x240) and slower FPS. If you can run wired cameras, by all means do so. For an older, two-story home, wireless is pretty much the only option.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2012
Verified Purchase
This is my 2nd PTZ IP Camera, the first was a Wansview and I also have a review up of that one.

I bought this one specifically because I wanted a weatherproof outdoor remote IP camera and the price on this item is great for the features. Some people have taken stars off cuz it's not a nightvision camera, but nightvision won't work inside a dome due to reflection so it is not really fair to complain about that on this product.

I had read that people had spotty luck with getting this camera in good working order, specifically there are issues with white balance and focus out of the box. I had some minor color issues which so far can be easily corrected and a big issue with the focus, which is what prompted me to write this review. I was able to open up the dome and fix the focus issue myself and took some pictures which unfortunately did not come out clearly, my cheapo camera can not get close enough. I think I will post the images here anyway because though they are blurry you can make out the little set screws that you need to loosen to fix a focus issue and might be helpful to someone else.

Once the item ships from Amazon you get an email from Loftek's tech support telling you to write to them with any technical issues. Shows that they have lots of issues with their cameras, but also shows they are proactive about addressing them with the customer and others have commented already how great their support is, so that's really not a negative either, it's a positive I think.

When my camera arrived it was set on maximum zoom and the focus was not clear. When I zoomed out, it was a total blur. As I got the camera set up and used it for a day or so the focus got much worse, so I decided to respond to the Loftek's email and ask for help. While I waited I nosed around and found out how to adjust it so I did so without waiting for their help.

Anyway to the focus issue, the dome unscrews easily and then the camera and the mount is exposed. You want to be very careful when you adjust it since you don't want to force the PTZ mechanism, that could break something. I used the remote controls via the browser to move the mount into its furthest position so there was less available movement then held it carefully fixed there with one hand so I couldn't accidentally break something inside.

To adjust the focus on this camera you actually have to physically move the camera itself in or out on a short neck that attaches it to the frame. There are two small silver set screws that you can loosen or remove in order to slide the camera in or out. There is not much to play with and a slight change in position makes a huge change in focus. I was extremely happy with it when I got the focus right, wow what an improvement and my opinion of the camera shot way up! (Take a look at the user images to find my blurry closeups.)

You probably don't want to remove those screws or you might need medication to overcome the anxiety attack you will get trying to put them back. I accidentally removed and dropped one of them which was the worst part of the whole operation. Once the camera was in focus I replaced and tightened the screws and put the dome back on and now am entirely happy with this product. I can't give it the five stars though since I didn't buy it as a DIY project.

I mentioned color issues, it developed a greenish cast over time. I found that if I aimed it at a white background and zoomed in the color came right back true...so it needs a white balance reset from time to time, but it's easily done.

A quick remark on the software...though it has different colors etc., it is really recognizable as the same software that my Wansview cam uses, and the two applications can see and control both cameras. I am also using Blue Iris which has a big learning curve but also easily finds and controls both cams. The booklet and software that comes with this camera really is not all that bad, allowing for some translation details etc. the info is actually thorough and accurate.

I would definitely purchase another of these cameras or another Loftek product based on this experience.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
Initially I was impressed with the price / performance but when zooming items more than a few meters were completely out of focus. There needs to be an auto focus on the camera. The seller I bought mine from advised me to unscrew the dome, loosen a screw and slide the camera in or out to focus. Since it was mounted on the side of a building this required many trips up / down a ladder to view changes via a laptop. Eventually distant items were in in focus but then others were out of focus. Price is attractive but because of the focus problem I ended up returning mine.

The software that is embedded in the camera has a multi-device option allowing you to configure / view up to 9 cameras. Unfortunately the security is lacking as the administrator defining 8 other cameras for him to view / control are available to visitors with less privileges. Users should have their own multi-device view, not the same as the administrator.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2012
Verified Purchase
I bought the Loftek Sentinel Wireless IP camera, from Amazon, because of the features P/T/Z and an attractive price.
I paid extra shipping so I could get it installed over the July holiday.
Once it was installed, I chose to wire directly, after about 10 minutes the picture turned green.
I contacted Loftek and they issued an RMA and I had to ship at my expense in order to get a replacement.
The replacement came in about 5 days. I figured they may have tested the replacement for color accuracy and picture focus prior to shipping the replacement.
The replacement was worse than the first camera. Green picture and blurry.
I once again sent e-mails and finally got an answer this morning that they will replace it again or refund my money.
They sent me an answer that it was a CMOS problem. Um --- OK. Fix it.
I decided to ship the camera back to Amazon because it is defective and I didn't want another defective one.
Interesting thing occurred when communicating with Loftek. I had posted some negative comments about the camera and they requested that I remove them and would solve the problem but the comments had to be gone in two days.
I was willing to accommodate and went to amend my comments - they were GONE. Someone else removed them.
This could be a really good camera but at this point it is not. That is -- if you don't like a green picture all the time.
I can't recommend this camera.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2012
Verified Purchase
As you can see in the video, the second camera failed in exactly the same way the first one did. Some time between 10:21 and 10:46 this morning, the display turned green. The two clips were captured by Blue Iris, triggered in both cases by a sheet of newspaper blowing across my yard. I had done NOTHING to the camera during that interval, and all I did to the two clips is splice them together because Amazon only allows me to upload one video file. You can see from the timestamp in the video when the clips were recorded, and the blowing sheet of newspaper is pretty good proof that not much happened in between.

I am very disappointed, because I LOVE this camera and was delighted when the replacement did not have the same problem as the original. Only it does, but it showed up after 2½ weeks instead right out of the box.

I love this camera so much that I may try a third time, but the risk is that it will fail even later next time, too late to return it to Amazon.

I'm reluctantly taking off two more stars from my rating. As much as I love this camera, I can no longer recommend it based on my experience; two that fail in exactly the same way can hardly be a coincidence. I'll leave the original review with previous updates below in case anybody's interested.

----------------------

I thought for a while I was going to have to join the negative reviewers, because - although I didn't have the focus problem most of them had - for several hours after I connected the camera the image had a strong green cast, like looking through a dark green filter or a sheet of green cellophane (for those who remember what cellophane is).

I submitted a query about it to Loftek online but didn't get an immediate response, so I started familiarizing myself with the PTZ performance, the Blue Iris interface, etc. Everything was working easily and impressively, but I just couldn't live with video that looked like an old green monochrome PC monitor from the 80s.

Then, for no reason I could see, the green went away, and now I get reasonably accurate colors both indoors and out. (I planned to get it set up and any kinks worked out indoors before I mount it outdoors. It's mounted temporarily on the inside of a window frame, so I can pan indoors and out. In the beginning, EVERYTHING was green, indoors and out, under natural and incandescent and various types of fluorescent light. I even had a back yard full of emerald green snow.)

Maybe something had to get burned in or warmed up or something, but for now it's okay. I'll update this review after I get it mounted outside, but I wanted to get this stuff about the green video posted in case anybody else encounters it. In my case, at least, it took care of itself somehow.

By the way, I'm planning a rather unusual installation. I'm going to mount the camera on a tiny utility building in my back yard about 50 feet from the house. It has AC in it, and I'm planning to use a Netgear XAV2001 AV 200 Powerline Adapter, which I'm using in five places so far indoors with excellent results. It's much, MUCH faster and more reliable than WiFi and it truly and literally is plug-and-play. You plug it into the wall, connect to your device with a CAT cable, and in a few seconds it negotiates with all the other adapters automatically and starts pumping bits through 60-year-old house wiring at between 100 and 200 Mbps consistently.

I bought six of the adapters refurbished (from another online vendor) for under 20 dollars each, and I cannot recommend them highly enough for anybody who has ever wrestled with a wireless network, especially when you're streaming video from several cameras. If these great little powerline adapters had been around eight years ago, I never would have wasted a penny on the WiFi junk.

Anyway, I'm not sure the powerline adapter is going to work as well through the probably 50-yr-old underground wiring to the shed, and I may be forced to go through the WiFi bottleneck, but I'll post the results in any case for anybody in a similar situation.

--UPDATED 2/2/2012--

The green video came back after about 24 hours, then went away overnight, then came back, evidently to stay this time (during all that I had not touched the camera, even remotely - just monitored the video through Blue Iris). After several more or less prompt e-mail exchanges w/ Loftek, they agree it has a bad image sensor and will replace or refund. I definitely want a replacement, but I'm not sure they'll pay return shipping if I return directly to them, which Amazon will pay if I return then reorder through them (Amazon doesn't offer replacement, for some reason). In either case, I'll update again after I get a new camera; but I'm going to take off a star now for the defect and hassle, pending the final outcome.

--UPDATED 2/19/2012--

I returned the camera, and the replacement is working flawlessly. Amazon, as usual, made the return a breeze and costless, although I did have to get a refund and reorder instead of a replacement. Loftek would have replaced it, also at no cost to me, but right in the middle of working it out they went on vacation (!), so I did it through Amazon.

I mounted it on my shed as described above; the Netgear powerline network connection is slower than my others but still passes 640x480 consistently at 10 fps, which is fine for me. According to my router, the wireless connection to the camera is decent (40-50%, whatever that means, but it's better than some devices inside my house, including a Loftek Nexus 543); but I get about 1.5 fps max to Blue Iris, and sometimes less than 1 fps. The Loftek Nexus 543, which I HAVE to connect wirelessly, through the same router, gives me 5 fps, although the router says it's a weaker connection. I don't know what the problem is there, so I'm sticking with powerline for this camera since I can.

As others have said, this camera is a bargain considering its many great features. PTZ functions are smooth and reliable; and the 3x optical zoom is MUCH batter than the digital zoom you get with most cheap cameras, and even many cameras from other brands that cost a lot more than this one. The embedded web interface is much better than most cameras have too. Although it lacks night-vision capability, one 27-Watt compact fluorescent floodlight is enough to make my whole back yard visible when I raise the camera's brightness (via the embedded web interface or Blue Iris) a couple of notches.

I have had none of the focusing problems others have complained about, but the second camera is focused even better than the first was, so that variation - plus the bad sensor in the first one I got - makes it obvious there's some weakness in Loftek quality control. But their products - if you're lucky and get a good one - are great, and tech support is better than most if you catch them between vacations.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2012
Verified Purchase
This camera is everything it boasts and more. This thing is of excellent/rugged quality in a surprisingly small package. The optical zoom works flawlessly and stays in consistant focus. I have not had one single issue with it so I don't know what the tech support is like. If you know what you're doing with setting up an IP camera then you will absolutely love this thing. Even at night, the picture is beautiful with it's low .5 lux rating. You must understand that unless the IR is mounted externally you couldn't have night vision because of the reflection inside the dome. If you have even the slightest amount of area lighting, you will have absolutely no problem viewing with this camera. One feature that I really like, that is not advertised, is the fact that there are no flashing lights on the camera which might draw attention to it's existance. I loved this thing so much that I bought a couple more and have had the same results with them. I plan on adding a couple more of them in the very near future. I must say that I was so impressed with this purchase that it prompted me to write my first review of the many, many Amazon purchases that I have made over the years.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2012
Verified Purchase
I have several of these cameras, and for the price they are pretty good.

That's where the good ends.

I had problems with one of them, and because it is out of warranty, I contacted the manufacturer to ask about the part I needed to fix the camera.

Basically if anything goes wrong with your camera after the warranty period, you can dispose of it, because the manufacturer "don't carry any parts"

Furthermore, if you didn't buy the camera via the manufacturer, you are out of luck even if you are still in the warranty period, they only provide support to folks that purchased directly from them.

So basically it;s a disposable camera.

So is this camera such a good value? You decide.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2012
Verified Purchase
I bought Loftek and Apexis cameras to compare. They appear to be the same camera. Even the software is interchangable. In fact, the detection software for setup for the Apexis, Loftek and Foscam FI8918W cameras is identical. Main difference is that the title header differs on their respective browser pages. Setup and even multi-device options work for all three cameras.

Having said that, I have tested all the features of the cameras and at least they all work correctly for me, including the digital input and output for turning on remote devices when triggered by motion or manually (except the Foscam which does not have a digtal in or out connection).

Response is quick, clarity of image is good and zoom is acceptable if 3X is enough for your application. Nightime use of the Apexis and Loftek cameras is pretty much non-existent without ambient external lighting. My installations use and Optex motion detector simply because it appears to be more predictable and nightime reliable than the camera motion detection.... and I can use the Optek contact output to trigger the cameras' alarm funtion.

For $160, so far anyway, I would buy more. Since I have only had them for a few days, I can't speak for the long term viability, but it sure beats the $900+ PTZ I bought from Covisec security here in Florida that died 1 month after warranty expiration.

--- News flash ---
The Apexis camera started to act erratic after two days of bench testing. I would absolutely go with the Loftek over the Apexis. I returned the Apexis ($9.00 more expensive than Loftek) and kept the Loftek. Besides, 9 bucks is 9 bucks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2012
Verified Purchase
I purchased 4 units - first impression was a little small, but good built, should not have any issue for outdoor.

For the price, Pan and zoon work good, good for daytime - not so for night.
Easy to install as long as you remove the mounting base first.
I have to install the junction box to accommodate the short cable of the camera.

1 out of 4 have a good resolution
2 out of 4 out of focus
1 out of 4 is a little green resolution

I might be a little picky here but i expect to have the same resolution across all four units

Im sending back 3 to get the replacement and order more, i need a total of 9 camera.

I only have have these for 1 week!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2012
Verified Purchase
This is an excellent camera with many features. The pan / tilt and 3x zoom are awesome. Mounting bracket is adaptable to pretty much any configuration with a little ingenuity and it is waterproof, trust me, I installed it in a field on a tower and the next day it rained with 35 mph driving winds. It lost power, all settings remained and it even emailed me the cameras ip address (as I requested it to do) when the power came back on. It does not have ir illuminators so night vision is not good, but it is not stated to have it. I knew that when I purchased it, so heads up. Works with Blue Iris. Good range on wireless. The negatives are the built in interface is not great, but it is fully useable (with windows), The network settings are a little tricky, but it has many functions and I had to recycle the power once to reboot the camera b/c the pan/tilt quit responding. After a quick power reboot all was ok. It's been in operation for over a month now. I will buy another one like it for another project.
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