Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Viewing the night sky in color with an Amcrest IP4M-1026, IP4M-1055E, Dahua and HikVision ColorVu

So called Starlight cams seem to be becoming a thing so I thought I'd see what is possible with a camera I already had. You can look at my video Night sky Aug 10th 2019 and Night sky Aug 9th 2019 to see what I'm talking about here. Update: added two Amcrest IP4M-1055E cams to get a 180 view of the southern sky.  Here is a sample sunrise video from the south east cam Sunrise 12/5/2019 at 60X

With a few simple tests the Amcrest IP4M-1026 seemed to have the best low light video and the widest view. Mainly I wanted to try and capture some of the neighborhood's fireworks displays.  My first test with pretty much default settings came out OK with lightning.  It seemed to me it switched to night view earlier than it needed so I played with the options to get the video linked above.

I was surprised how much I could make out by just moonlight. It basically looked like what I would see looking out the window.

Below are the setting I used. You might be able to tweak this a bit further with experimenting but I'm happy with the results.

Though the fireworks capture was pretty much a bust as they were a lot more subdued this year and the few that did make it into were mostly blocked by the trees. Thinking now I'll add another cam to close to double the 118 degree view. Note I also did a test with a GW5747MIC 5MP Optional TWO-Way Audio PoE IP Camera 1.9mm 160° Wide Angle Night Vision Sony Starvis HD 1920P Security Mini Dome 5 Megapixel Built-In Microphone and Micro SD slot, Audio in/out Recording but the view was not only no wider but not as good in low light.

Added video without the Moon to show when it is too dark to even see out you can still see the horizon glow of Austin, the planets, at least 1 star, the bard and trees. Here are compare pics from my cameras that catch bits of the same view all from the same time, 8/21/2019 at 10PM local despite what some of the on screen timestamps say.

Screen grab from the posted video
Snapshot directly from Blue Iris
Snap shot from Reolink RLC-411WS (5MP Version) of west end of barn in sky pic
Snapshot from RLC-511W across south deck. Note plane from video and above Amcrest snapshot is just above far horizon. 

Snapshot from Reolink RLC-511 (non WiFi) of mid drive. Ton of IR down here so any bits not lit are hard to see.
From Hikvision DS-2CD2035-I overlooking the pool area (not currently up). Note when the moon is up you can usually see the horizon in this view.
Just in case you think the Amcrest is optimized for night, here is a snapshot from high noon.
Amcrest IP4M-1026 snapshot of sky with sun skirting top of frame.

Other cams I'm looking at for really low light

Note these are based on specs and or videos but I have not tried them yet. The 0.5 lux Amcrest above blows the 0.01Lux GW Security cam away in real life.



Unfortunately this is what the Amcrest IP4M-1055E cam looking SE looks like. At first I thought it was just the fog we've had the last couple days. Then maybe dirt on the lens but it turned out to be condensation on the inside of the cam. I was planning on swapping one with a Dahua IPC-HDW4631C-A  anyway for a compare. Dahua claims a rating of  0.06Lux/F1.6( Color,1/3s,30IRE) 0.4Lux/F1.6( Color,1/30s,30IRE). Sellers are claiming as low as 0.002.


I've received a IPC-HFW4631H-ZSA Without Dahua logo 6MP IP Camera 2.7-13.5mm Motorized Varifocal Lens Optical Zoom I'll be testing soon. It is going for $109 on Newegg and $118 on AmazonI should note I see a lot of people posting that the Dahua international OEMs are knock offs. They are definitely a lot cheaper. The "English" OEM is $180 on Amazon and Dahua labeled version of this cam from B&H is $288
I must say I'm impressed so far. I mainly got it to see how the zoom and autofocus compared but the low light is damn impressive. You can clearly make out Orion in the Dahua shot below while the Amcrest used above can only see a few stars. Sirius is easy to make out in both and Rigel can be dimly seen in the Amcrest shot. Once you know it is there you can sort of make out Orion in the Amcrest but it is fairly clear in the Dahua shot. Note this is about at moon rise.
Orion constellation clearly visible above weather station
The same shot from the Amcrest IP4M-1026
Here at there is about a half moon high in the sky but some clouds have rolled in too.
In this Dahua shot you can see the moon is just a light in the sky though Sirius is still visible.
The same shot from the Amcrest IP4M-1055E looking SE. The moon looks more like a sphere though the ground objects are basically silhouettes.
The same shot from the Amcrest IP4M-1055E looking SW. You can see Sirius and barn roof can be made out a bit better.
It is an overcast day but here is a day compare.
Dahua shot of sun through the clouds and birds in flight

Almost the same shot from the Amcrest IP4M-1055E looking SW
On the flip side though if you are thinking of monitoring your yard in color at night you should look at this video of the Dahua being manually switched from color to night / IR mode to get a feel for if you have enough light to make that viable. I'll be adding more videos to the Dahua playlist.

HikVision ColorVu

It is just amazing. See this post for more.


  1. Update with moonless night compare shots, video link and high noon pic.

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