The Ezviz C3N is a rather interesting Wi-Fi outdoor security camera. It's a £75/$70 Full HD waterproof camera in a world dominated by cameras which cost twice or three times as much, which means by all rights it shouldn't really be any good at all.
It absolutely packs in the features in terms of connectivity and base functionality, which means it should be doubly bad. And yet it isn't, somehow. It's actually pretty strong, and long as you're brave enough to install it, and there's a lot of interesting stuff going on.
So colour night vision is an interesting idea, isn't it? It's a real thing that actually exists in high-end military-spec cameras, as well as the consumer-level (but very expensive) Arlo Pro 3 – but here, as in every other consumer-grade security camera, the term actually means something more along the disappointing lines of there being a blinding visible-spectrum spotlight built in. It might be a bit of a marketing swizz, but it's a system which works very well as long as you're not looking to get a stealthy full-colour look at what's going on.
- Meet more of the best security cameras
- And the best cheap security cameras
- Capture more of your premises with the best video doorbells
- The best smart security devices of all kinds
Without the two spotlight LEDs, the C3N's clandestine black and white night vision is also surprisingly strong. There's very little grain, and the IR LEDs are strong enough to reveal the entirety of a reasonably-sized garden. You can opt to use an automatic mode, which flicks from black-and-white to colour when it detects motion – it works well to light up your side entrance.
We've sucked our teeth at some shoddy camera sensors in the past, but kicking the tyres of this one far exceeds the expectations we'd have for its price bracket. The sensor is a 120-degree eye that's obviously most comfortable when things are bright, but it's absolutely articulate enough in low light or where some others might be dazzled. There's some serious dynamic range handling on board, which is instantly noticeable when waving an unmounted C3N between the bright of a window and a dimmer indoors; it locks in to light levels quickly without over- or under-exposing the image.
There's clearly a lot of processing going on too, particularly when using the C3N at its maximum resolution. That results in somewhat over-sharpened edges that are very noticeable in busy images, and some heavy compression rearing its ugly head on the h.265 stream if it's being asked to capture a lot at any one time.
But again, take a look back at the price; it's a sensor that will get results. There are even neat software tweaks, such as human detection and a flashing spotlight mode designed to instinctively draw an intruder's eye in order to clearly capture their face.
In terms of storage you have plenty of options, from Ezviz' not especially great-value CloudPlay online service (ranging from £2.99 a month for three days' archive storage on a single camera to £14.99 a month for 30 days on up to four cameras), to local storage on a microSD card, to throwing everything onto a network video recorder, or all three at once if you want to build in some redundancy.
It's good, then. But the Ezviz C3N is not a camera for everybody. Renters, for example, maybe won't be able to install it at all, given that doing so involves boring a hole through your wall for at least the power cable and perhaps (if the 2.4GHz-only Wi-Fi won't stretch) an Ethernet cable too, something you'll need to work out on your own given the rudimentary supplied instructions.
There is at least a waterproofing kit included so you're not leaving 12V DC exposed to the elements. And the app, while neat enough, could do with a little touch-up to make it clearer and rephrase a couple of the more poorly-translated options.
But wind back again. This is £75. There's no specific requirement for a hub, no absolute demand for a cloud subscription. You could feasibly secure your whole perimeter for less than the price of one single Arlo Pro 3 add-on camera, and if you'll forgive a few of its more awkward issues, that's not a bad deal at all.