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on 23 September 2011
I've had a Foscam 8908 PTZ for several years, bought to keep an eye on the little ones when toddling in their room. My many happy hours of tinkering set me in stead for the software set up of these puppies, which may not be for the faint hearted or less tekkie savvy...

Set-up. Don't mount them then try to set them up! Put them on the kitchen table, or better still, put them on top of your router and plug them in (Ethernet). Initial setup is by Ethernet only, Wi-Fi setting must be input from the browser interface once you have an Ethernet connection to the camera.

I suggest using their camera connection application and then set a fixed IP. Once done, log into the web interface by plugging in that IP into your browser. Word of caution. If you get a version of this camera with a colourful login page, take heed: use the top login for MS I. Explorer ONLY, use the "Server push mode" button for all other browsers - Firefox, Chrome, Rockmelt, Opera etc - you will lose a lot less hair that way!!!

The interface is no-frills but very functional. The administrator settings provide for 'Device info', 'Alias Settings (camera name), Date & time (auto from any NTP server), Users (admin plus extra other logins for non-administrator-users), Multi-device settings (enter the IP & logins of other cameras on the same system to see them all in one page), Basic network settings (same as the camera connection tool), Wireless LAN (with a scan button to find your SSID - and WPA2 encryption), ADSL dial-up (if you need that), UPnP, DDNS, Mail (tricky to set-up but will mail you if the motion sensor-based alarm is triggered), FTP (motion sensor alarm), upgrade firmware and reboot device.

I have two of these, one for my home-studio (music) and so long as you accept the distance cited as being the furthest you could reasonably expect to identify a person (day or night with IR illumination built in) then you are good to go. There is another version of this camera with a 30m range but of course the viewing angle is much-reduced.

With a little patience I found these to be superb value for money, not terribly difficult to set-up and offer good, clear images in the day and night, and at dusk the image is surprisingly clear right up to when the IR illumination automatically turns on.

Be warned, the cables are short! There is a female RJ45 for Ethernet and this needs a 20mm hole in the [wall, window cill, door frame, etc]. I wouldn't leave the RJ45 and DC power plug out in the weather, they won't cope, which means you have about a metre of cable from the camera mount position to the parts which need to be inside. Typically in CCTV, there would be a weather-proof enclosure for these things but this is the very cheapest end of the market and something has to give in order to bang these out for low bucks... Still a great bang for your buck nonetheless.

Highly recommended but be patient or get help from a tekkie friend BEFORE you screw them to the wall and you are good-to-go.

They are cheap but so far have given perfect service. They are quite wide angle
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on 16 July 2011
nice camera and easy to setup.

good points:
- very low power consumption (3watts or so)
- uploads to FTP server
- acceptable image quality in both night and dark (good for this price range)

bad points:
- locked up once, which required removing power to get it back. unknown cause.
- weak mount. i am suprised the camera has stayed in the same position. i dont forsee the mount breaking, but the locking thumbscrews give little confidence it would hold up to any more than a light breeze. My camera is in a sheltered corner rather than exposed on an external corner/long wall.

other notes:
- motion detecting somewhat unpredictable - i guess no system is perfect though. it's better to have it too sensitive than not at all in order to save disk space, but also capture events. because of this, email alerts wouldn't be very useful.
- fly-lead from the back of the camera could do with being longer for some installs. you get around 1meter of cable which needs to be either installed in either a waterproof outdoor box, and/or consideration where you mount the camera for network/power.
there are suppl
- additional (generic) lenses are available from certain auction sites/imported from USA if different angles are required.
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on 26 December 2014
This is something I rarely give - a mixed review. The hardware itself is really very reasonable for the money, it's nice and solid (thick aluminium) and gives good, clear images in all light down to zero lux. It works and is easy to install. Unfortunately, even though it's a wireless camera, there's a big, thick cable coming from the back of it. Instead of putting an RJ45 socket on the back of the camera for LAN use, they've chosen to put it on the end of a 2' cable and to use a chunky socket (1.24" diameter if you're thinking of drilling!); very annoying. The other two wires and much thinner, one is a 5v supply (5' long when connected, too short to be of much use to most people and will require an extension) and a reset switch. Why the reset button needs to be on the end of a cable is quite beyond me, I guess it makes it easier for someone to steal the camera! I bought a junction box, coiled all the cables inside it and just ran the 5v wire plus it's extension. The bracket is okay once installed, it feels a bit flimsy. I don't think it would be possible to hang this camera from a ceiling without buying a different bracket.

Now the big problem. The software is a disgrace. It looks like a very average GCSE project, the programmer is incompetent, and I have a degree in the subject. I get the impression that it will either work on your machine or it won't. If it won't, it really isn't worth messing around on their forum trying to find answers that don't exist. I got it to do everything except send emails but it took a week!!! Never again! I'm now using some third party software called Blue-Iris which is working very well but costs £25 for a single camera. For multiple cameras, you're looking at £50plus for software such as Blue-Iris or Security Monitor Pro (another excellent program).

So, you may need... A different bracket, a way of hiding the silly wires, software that works, a 5v extension.

Now I have the third party software, I may add other cameras to my system. If I was starting from scratch, I'd give this one a miss - it isn't worth the stress and time.

I'm happy to answer any questions, but please don't expect me to go up a ladder to measure anything ;)
11 comment|31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Apologies in advance for the long review.

I hadn't heard of Foscam until recently. A burglary has caused me to review my house security arrangements and I decided that some outside cameras should be part of the solution.

I knew I wanted IP cameras (sometimes referred to as Netcams) but there is such a variation in price and quality that I decided to tread carefully. The price and features of the FI8904W satisfied the requirements for my initial investigation.

The first thing to bear in mind that the resolution on this camera is 640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels). This is quite low by current IP Camera standards an more akin to the analogue CCTV cameras. The picture quality is ok and has a reasonable field of view. You can control brightness, contrast and frame rate but that is about it.

However, while you will be able to see someone standing 10m away, you will probably not be able to make out many of their facial features. I would only recommend using this camera in very a close proximity (less than 3m) situation such as close to a front (or in my case, back) door or for just general surveillance where fine detail is not required.

My second point is about WiFi. This is an outdoor camera and it is most likely going to be mounted on a brick wall. WiFi doesn't go through brick very well. Unless you are going put your router very close to the camera then be aware that you may experience interference or weak signal issues. Some reviewers have said they had problems with the camera not re-establishing its WiFi connection. If you have a weak signal then it is likely to exacerbate the situation. Amazon do sell a 'High Gain' antenna that reviewers have confirmed does improve the signal strength. Personally, I am planning to use an Ethernet cable and possibly a couple of powerline/homeplug adaptors as these are much more reliable.

Out of curiosity, I did a test using WiFi with the standard aerial and the results were disappointing. The camera was located outside about 5m from the router with several house brick walls between them. My laptop had no problem picking up the WiFi signal outside although it was down to about 3 bars. The camera worked for a few minutes and then refused to transmit a picture. In spite of several power downs, I could not get it to work again until I brought the camera back into the house and plugged the Ethernet cable back in. This worries me, as most people these days just expect wireless to work. At the very least, the power off/power on cycle should have got things going again.

I incorrectly thought this was due to poor WiFi performance but it turns out to be something much worse. Apparently there is something known as the DSP bug that affects all the Foscam model FI89xx cameras of a certain age. I don't know if Amazon will allow me to include a link but just in case they do, it is http://www.amazon.com/review/R30GQV3F3C8KGX/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B006ZP8UOW&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=

if they do remove the link, you can find out much more about it on Amazon.com website in a review written by J Den titled "Foscam 8904 DSP bug". Foscam have responded to say that the bug has been fixed in all cameras manufactured after August 2013 but it definitely hasn't in the one that Amazon shipped to me on 28 April 2014. In essence, it makes the camera reboot itself when there is too much detail in view in bright light. You can mitigate it to some extent by reducing the contrast and brightness settings on the camera but it is still a serious problem.

I'm afraid this bug is what reduced my rating to 1 star.

My third point is about the bundle of cables that come out of the camera. In particular, the network adaptor. Foscam seem to have used the most bulky way of connecting the camera to the Ethernet cable possible. You will need to make a pretty big hole (around 30mm) if you want to pass it through a wall. To make matters worse, the power cable also connects to this huge connector.

I recommend that you buy some sort of weatherproof box to act as a junction point between the camera and any cables that you want to connect to it. That way, if you are using WiFi then you will only need a hole big enough for the DC power cable.

Once you get the camera, the first thing you will probably need to do is update the firmware. As Foscam fix problems or add new features, they make new firmware available for download. For some reason, Foscam make you register with them before they will tell you where to find the downloads. If you don't want to do that then do a search for 'foscam down3'. Look for a link that refers to 'ShenZhen Foscam Intelligent Technology'.

Be aware that some Foscam Cameras models start FI89xx and others start FI98xx, it is easy to get the two mixed up and you definitely don't want to install the wrong firmware. Foscam also have come up with a fiddly & long winded way of doing the upgrades. It isn't particularly difficult, it just takes a while and is not helped by the poor English translation.

It is strongly recommended that firmware upgrades are performed using an Ethernet cable rather than WiFi and I would suggest you do this along with any other configuration before you mount the camera.

Setting up is about as involved as you want it to be. If all you want is to be able to see the picture from the camera on your computer then it doesn't take much more than searching for your WiFi SSID and putting in your WiFi key. This camera uses ActiveX Controls which means that to get full functionality, you will have to use the Internet Explorer Browser. You can still use other browsers like Chrome or Firefox but there won't be so many options available.

For the price, the software built into the camera has quite a lot of functionality. You can set it up so that motion will trigger an alert and this in turn can start recording the video feed, send an email with pictures attached and upload images to a FTP server. It really is quite flexible, the only trouble is you have to keep a browser running on a PC to do the recording.

If you don't mind setting up a route through your firewall/router then you can view the camera remotely from the Internet. I'm not completely convinced about the security implications of doing this but the option is there and I suspect it will appeal to quite a lot of potential buyers.

If you only have one camera then there is enough functionality built into the camera to do recording and emails without installing any additional software. I don't know how well it work for Apple users though.

Foscam do provide some additional free camera monitoring and recording software which in theory will allow you to monitor all your cameras on a central PC. Unfortunately, it is horrible to use, buggy and the English translation in the help file is appalling. I very quickly gave up on it. I think Foscam realise this as they recommend using some monitoring and recording software called 'BlueIris'. It doesn't cost much and is definitely worth the money if you are planning to monitor several cameras (including many not made by Foscam).

This is a Day/Night camera which means it uses built in infra red (IR) LEDs in the dark so that the camera can still 'see' and record. This works quite well if you don't mind the black and white images. The image quality also seems a little worse when using IR and I don't know if you would be able to make out a face on a moving object but I haven't really tried it close up. To be honest, it might be better to put up a PIR controlled halogen or SMD LED flood light and use that to provide light for the camera at night. It would also improve the deterrent effect at night as ideally you want a potential intruder to see the camera and hopefully go away.

Overall, for the money, I think this camera is ok (apart from the major bug). You get a lot of features and acceptable quality when compared to an analogue system. I hesitate about recommending it to a complete novice though as the English translation of the help files leaves a lot to be desired. Personally, I think the FI98xx cameras (such as the FI9805) are a much better buy; they have a higher resolution, better picture quality and seem to be getting regular new features added by Foscam.
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on 18 April 2013
I already had an indoor Foscam so went for this one to monitor outside. These are not easy to set up at all but, as I had managed my previous camera, I thought this would be relatively easy. And it was. But then found that, although I sited it just the other side of a window from my router, the picture was unreliable. It would work for a period (anything for a few minutes to half a day) and then it would fail. I had to remove the power for an hour or so before I could get the picture back. And so it continued.

I spent many a frustrating hour trying to solve this, to no avail and eventually returned it for a refund. I suspect there may have been a problem with the very fragile aerial (antenna).

Instead, I ordered a Loftek Nexus 543 and this works perfectly and has a more substantial aerial and mounting bracket.

(This review is a follow-up to an earlier one, before the problems occurred. That review has yet to appear here).
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on 28 January 2012
The camera seems extremely cost-effective solution and value for money for the price.

Looks good, functions well. I was able to set it up quite easily. As per the other reviewer, I connected it to my router using a cable first, and was able to set up wifi, motion detection, email functionality & ftp image upload functionality. When I set it up outside my house, everything worked like a charm.

The only issue, wifi connection would break for no reason. And when that happened, there was no other option but to power off the camera and switch it on again. Then things would work fine again for some time (or days) and then wifi connection will break again.

I looked for the solution online, with no success. So, had to return the camera.

If someone is going to use it as a wired camera, I don't think there is anything else available in the market in this price-range. But as a pure wifi camera, I am not sure.
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on 19 August 2014
Foscam have this annoying habit of having 2 firmwares for the same camera. eg from their website / email:

FI8904W - Version 11.25.2.51 - Upgrading from 11.25.2.xx
Download FI8904W Latest Firmware

FI8904W - Version 11.35.2.59 - Upgrading from 11.35.2.xx
Download FI8904W Latest Firmware

So if you dont buy all of the cameras at onces but buy them as and when you need them like I did - you end up with some cameras on 1 firmware and others on another. Asinine approach to naming / support if you ask me. Upgrade the wrong one with the wrong firmware and they are toast!

The camera's on the 11.25 firmware perform somewhat worse than the newer 11.35 firmware so make sure you have the newest one. I have 4 on 11.35 firmware and 2 on 11.25. The ones on the 11.25 constantly "click" so you cannot have indoors or anywhere where you are likely to hear them as they drive you mad after a while.

I have mine connected to a Synology NAS with surveillance camera software so all in I have spent over £1k on them - and I would probably have looked elsewhere tbh - if I had know about the discrepancies.

When working they are pretty decent but the above just smacks of poor planning and therefore I cannot give a higher mark as its impossible to say if these are a decent long term buy or not.
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on 7 April 2014
The cameras are overall very good and they are priced well. There are a lot of cameras out there which are cheap and rubbish. These are well built and the images look the part. Foscam do do better quality cameras very similar to this with a 1.3megapixel lens which is what I eventually went for as the picture is much better! The setup is very simple I encountered no problems however I am quite technical. The setup allows lots of settings and features such as motion detection and upload via FTP both of which work very well.

The only other thing is, if you plan on putting these outside, wirelessly, I would consider hard wiring them into the network with an Ethernet. This is because signal reception outside can be dodgy and slow.
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on 3 June 2013
To be fair to Foscam, the product is totally as they describe. (With one slight fault)

The problem is I'd forgotten just how bad 640x480 really is. I'm using this to watch the car on the drive, and I can make out the Wife and myself, but it'd be no use for identifying anybody I didn't already know.

The slight problem I have is the IR filter doesn't "turn off" as the camera is too hot (so all colours are washed out in the daytime). Only on cold mornings will the filter get out the way. I have to kill the power for 30mins or so to let it cool down, then proper daytime colour is restored. A simple reset doesn't do it. You have to give it time turned off.

For £60, I really should have known better than to expect more.

If you want a camera for anything slightly serious, get something HD, and not this. If you just want to make sure nobody is floating face down in the pool, it'll be fine.
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on 28 December 2012
Taking advice from other reviews I set this up in the living room within easy distance to reboot it if necessary. Once I had the camera working, remove viewing and sending emails etc.I then mounted it on the outside of the building.

The problem here was that the power supply it comes with has a ridiculously short lead if you are to mount the unit outside. I bought a DC extension lead as suggested by Amazon and it did not mate properly with the camera connections so wire cutters and chocky-block was employed to extend the DC supply about 4m from the nearest mains socket.

All was fine, until it got dark and at that point I lost connection to the camera. When I looked at it the red leds were illuminated so there was DC power there. After a lot of mucking about and dis-mounting and re-mounting the camera I found it would work inside on a short DC lead in the light but not in the dark.

I then replaced the thin DC extension lead with a bit of mains cable (much thicker) all is well now. I can only surmise that the thin cable is responsible for a voltage drop even on a 4m run which is fine until the camera needs to power the night-vision LEDs.

So I suppose what I am saying is be careful with the length of extension that you use to power the camera and just because the LEDs are powered it doesn't mean the camera has enough power to keep the WiFi connection up.

The camera is now working well, although the field of vision is narrower than ideal and the trigger sensitivity is a bit random, but as a firt go at getting the system working and trying things out is has been worth the money.
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