I just found this thread...after I started purchasing my cameras
I will add my experience for those wanting a basic camera system.
All I wanted was a camera to monitor my front door. I settled on a popular brand of camera and then started reading Amazon reviews. About half way through a long list of reviews some said just get a Hikvision or a ? So I checked into Hikvision and found it is the largest manufacturer of security cameras in the world (according to them). I checked Costco and two of their popular brands are Swann and Lorex. It turns out those brands are rebranded Hikvision cameras (maybe I am wrong). So I checked Amazon and not much on Hikvision there. I found a good selection of Hikvision stuff at B&H Photo. A lot of their Hikvision is drop shipped from the manufacturer. I saw little or no reviews of Hikvision at B&H or Amazon.
I settled on Hikvision. I wanted to keep it simple as I am doing this myself. I am comfortable with 1080P. I have an available 1080P monitor. I set the B&H filters for 1080P/2MP and TVI which is HD analogue. It requires a double cable (power and signal). I kept the components the same manufacturer because I was guessing there would be fewer compatibility issues.
I purchased a Turbo HD 8-channel HD-TVI DVR. I don't want or need remote access. The simpler I keep this the better for me. I guessed I might find a spot for three or four cameras so I bought 8 channels just in case. It was only about $50 more than 4 channels. I bought the 2 TB hard drive separately because it was cheaper that way.
I bought a single 3.6 MM 82 degree field of view camera and the power supply and cable. I installed the camera on a post. When I connected the cables and turned every thing on I saw an image on the monitor!! Configuring everything was a little more tricky, It seems these things are designed for people who know what they are doing. The manual is somewhat well written but it covers too many systems at once. The best source of info for me turned out to be You Tube.
This set up exceeds all of my expectations. The image quality is very good and I am impressed with the night vision. I tried 24/7 recording until I discovered VCA (Video Content Analysis) The recording activation based on Line Crossing
are just what I need. These are the two functions available in the camera I purchased. Motion detect created too many false positives. Once I got the hang of configuring all of the various things these two functions worked with very few false positives.
I can review all of the previous day's relevant activities in the morning in about five minutes. I set the playback to 5 seconds before activation and a minute or two after activation. Five seconds after the recording starts I see the triggered event. It is easy and quick to pass on false positives.
The first camera gives a general view of the driveway and the front walk. I can easily recognize people I know. However I was concerned about facial detail of people I don't know so I purchased a second camera and aimed it directly at the walk to the house. This 12 MM 24 degree 1080P camera shows good facial detail.
My third camera is 6 MM 54 degrees. It is waiting for final installation at the bird bath.
The forth camera will be a 12 MM camera located closer to the street near the mailbox. I am concerned that I can't read license plates with the 3.6 MM camera that is over 100 ft from the head of the driveway.
Some of the activations/alarms are set to record. The line crossings and intrusions on the front walk are set to record and also an audible signal. I get a beep beep as some one is approaching the front door.
I am amazed at the capabilities of this system and I still have a lot to learn. So far the hard drive recording will go for months with the 2 TB drive because I am only recording events.