Dahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z Review

The Dahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z is a 4MP bullet camera with a varifocal lens, and it’s become one of my favorites to use here around the house.  These cameras are only made for the Chinese market, but are available worldwide from sellers who load them with a modified firmware supporting English, Spanish, and French languages.  The modified firmware and grey market sales of these cameras are not supported by Dahua, so I don’t recommend them for someone who is new to security cameras.  On the other hand, they’re available from many sources at extremely low prices for what you’re getting, and are great cameras for hobbyists and enthusiasts who can provide their own support.  Keep reading to see what I like about them and what to watch out for.

Key features and specificationsDahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z on vinyl siding mounting block

It’s usually easy to put some basic specs here for you, but that’s not the case with this camera.  An English data sheet doesn’t seem to be available from Dahua since this camera was only intended for the Chinese market.  I can’t even find a Chinese data sheet, which doesn’t really matter since I cannot read Chinese at all.

Looking online I come across two different sets of specs shown by sellers, and some websites showing both sets of specs mixed together on the same page!

These are the basic specs for the latest model currently shipping from most sellers:

  • 1/3″ 4MP Aptina CMOS image sensor with 2592 x 1520 maximum resolution
  • 2.7 to 12mm  motorized varifocal lens (99° – 36° horizontal field of view)
  • H.265, H.264, and MJPEG video compression
  • 4 High power IR LEDs with 80m (262′) range
  • Powered by 802.11af PoE or 12 Volts DC (11.1 Watts maximum)
  • IP67 weather protection rating
  • IK10 vandal resistance rating

Some sellers list incorrect specs that do not apply to this model currently for sale:

  • 2.8 to 12mm  motorized varifocal lens (92° – 28° horizontal field of view)
  • IR LEDs with 50m (164′) range
  • IP66 rated
  • Incorrect drawings and other data

What’s included in the box?Dahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z box

I have three of these so far and the contents of the box seems to vary depending on who you get it from.

All cameras come with the following:

  • Dahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z camera
  • Mounting template
  • Mounting screws and plastic anchors
  • Hex key / Allen wrench for adjustments
  • Cable gland to weatherproof the network cable

Some cameras may also come with some or all of the following:

  • Chinese quick start guideDahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z side towards front
  • Chinese printed manual
  • English printed manual
  • Chinese certificate of authenticity
  • Software CD

Initial setupDahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z side towards rear

These cameras come set to a default IP address of 192.168.1.108, just like most other Dahua cameras.  If your local network is 192.168.1.0/24 and you leave that .108 address open, you can easily power up the camera and access it with the web browser of your choice.

I recommend Pale Moon web browser now because it happily works with the Dahua “webplugin.exe” plugin that’s required to view video from the camera.  You can still configure the camera without the plugin, but you won’t be able to make adjustments that require you to view or interact with the video stream.

The default username and password are both “admin”, and you’ll need to set a new password for the admin account.  You’ll also want to change the IP address to a different static IP address of your choice.

Hardware installationDahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z front lens close-up

The installation and adjustment of the camera is straight forward and similar to most other bullet cameras.

Simply run your network cable and attach the camera base to a solid mounting surface using the three screws provided.  If you loosen the hex screws that hold the camera in position, it easily swings out of the way of the screw holes in the base, giving you plenty of room to install the screws.

Be careful adjusting the hex screws with the included 2.5mm hex key / Allen wrench.  The screws are small and the tool doesn’t seat deeply in the shallow screw head, so it’s easy to start stripping out the screw head unless you’re very careful.  The two main adjustment screws are M3 x 0.5 x 20 and replacements are inexpensive and available at many places if you do happen to destroy one.

The third adjustment is for camera rotation and uses a different screw, which is an M8 x 0.8 x 8 pointed set screw.  It uses the same 2.5mm hex key for adjustment but has a deeper socket for the tool and isn’t as prone to slipping or wearing out.

IVS and other advanced features

Once you set the IP address & password, and mount the camera, you are ready to start recording with the video management solution of your choice.  It’s also time to tweak any camera settings if needed, and configure some of the more advanced capabilities if desired.

IVS stands for Intelligent Video Systems and is Dahua’s advanced video analytics technology.  I plan to do a separate review of IVS in the future because there is way too much to cover in detail here.  Here’s a screen shot  showing where you can configure the following and more.

  • Tripwire crossingDahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z IVS Config
  • Intrusion detection
  • Abandoned / missing objects
  • Scene changing
  • Loitering detection
  • Crowd gathering estimation
  • Fast moving objects
  • Face detection
  • Car detection

Things I really likeDahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z Day snapshot

The price – I am seeing these available for less than $80 to a little over $100 shipped from many sources.  I have purchased them from Amazon and Ebay, but they’re also available from Aliexpress and other places if you’d prefer.

4MP image sensor – Great daytime color image and a good night image if there is enough infrared or visible light.

Varifocal lens – Set the field of view and zoom level as needed for each camera.  It works smoothly and reliably, and after using it you’ll never want fixed lens cameras again.

Built-in high-power IR LEDs – See in complete darkness far away from the camera if needed.

Rugged weatherproof housing – It’s a solidly built professional camera and not a cheap toy.

Shortcomings and concernsDahua IPC-HFW4431R-Z Night with IR on snapshot

Be careful to not strip the heads on the adjustment screws as I mentioned above.

This is not a low light camera, and it will not provide a usable image without enough visible or infrared light.  The glare from the IR light on the license plates in this snapshot is normal, and you’ll see that with any strong IR light shining on a license plate.

It is a grey market camera, so don’t expect any support from Dahua, and don’t expect to ever upgrade the firmware.  The only support you’ll have is whatever the seller is willing to give you.  I have three so far and have not had any problems, but I consider them to be disposable after the initial return period when I buy them.

The built-in IR has a smart setting letting it adjust the power of the IR LEDs as needed.  This seems to work but sometimes the IR can be too strong on objects close to the camera.

Here’s a sample video of the varifocal lens in action, zooming all the way out for a bit and then zooming all of the way back in.

Final thoughts

This is one of my favorite cameras to use when clear and detailed images are a priority during the daytime or other well lit conditions.

If there is enough infrared or visible light at night then I think it works well there too, but it falls short when there isn’t enough ambient light.

It’s not any worse than most other cameras, it’s just not designed to be a low light camera and doesn’t perform as well in those conditions as ones that are.

I think I’ve covered enough for you to decide if this camera might have a place in your surveillance system or not, but please let me know if you have any questions.  I’m happy to try something out for you with one of mine if you have any specific needs.

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