Swann Microcam 4 Wireless Ultra Miniature Security Camera System
List Price: $99.95

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Product Description

The Swann is the ultimate do-it-yourself video cameras for your home or business. It comes with built-in microphones to hear sounds and quality bonus lens to see even the faintest objects. Multiple monitoring options are to choose from 2 TV monitors or a single one. So this is the value pack for you to keep a closer eye on your property or loved ones.The package contains: 1 Security Camera with fixed cable;Bonus Lens; 1 Power Adapter;Security stickers;Manual.

  • 1/4" CCD, 420TV lines sharp picture display
  • Infra-red LEDs for night vision
  • Sleek black finish and alloyed shell
  • Sliding hood and weatherproof protection for outdoor use
  • Easy installation with adaptive mounting bracket
Customer Reviews:
  • Good CMOS "pinhole" cameras, worth the price! Especially the combo with the MC3
    I had seen little to no reviews and information for MicroCameras (ie Pinhole) when I did my search, and I was baffled as to which one is good enough for my use... There were mostly only Swann cameras listed on Amazon, unlike now where you also see a large number of SVAT cameras. (I have a gut feeling that they are both from the same company, because the other built in IR cameras from Swann look just like the SVAT cameras, and I don't see any Swann cameras listed anymore, besides the two I am reviewing.)

    This is my attempt at giving you something to base from. (And it has got to be one of the longest reviews I have seen in a long time!)

    I paid approximately $167 for the combo special that Amazon was running at the time, which got me the Microcam 3 with receiver and a Microcam 4, which normally would have cost me $224. I believe the price for the combo is now $151, so it's an even better deal for future buyers.

    The MC3 (Microcam 3) came with a lens focus wrench, stand, mounting screws, wireless receiver + AC adapter + A/V cable, MC3/4 AC adapter and battery adapter. The MC4 came with the same things as the MC3, with the addition of a channel selector tool, and minus the receiver of course.

    Basically, you have four channels that the receiver can intercept, which means four cameras. The camera that comes with the receiver (MC3) is limited to Channel 1, whereas the MC4 has a selector option on the back of the camera that allows you to choose which channel receives its signal.
    ... What this means, is that when you turn on the system, the first camera to come on screen will be MC3 and in order to view any of your MC4's you would need to press the little gray button on the receiver (seen in the pic on Amazon) to swich between channels (1-4).

    As far as I could tell, both the MC3 and MC4 have equal resolution and optical quality. I should note that these cameras are CMOS type, and not CCD... The CCD cameras will generally have better resolution/quality, but the current CMOS cameras are really catching up to them, and the CCD cameras will cost you more. However, these Microcams are very good, as I will now divulge my findings.

    The lens is a tiny one, about the size of a pencil lead. The lens is encased inside of a dial that is threaded into the camera housing... With the supplied focus wrench, you can adjust it to focus at infinity, or so close that you could almost touch the lens and still see clearly. (If you actually touched the lens, it would be the same as putting a lens cap on, unless the item touching it is smaller in diameter than the lens itself.)

    I was very impressed at how close I could get, and how clear the picture would be... For example, I put it near my finger and could see great detail in my fingerprints. At further distances, it is still very much detailed. They also have a nice wide field of view, but they do sell adapters that allow it to have a larger field of view, such as the Fish-Eye, which would be excellent if you only have one camera and a large space to observe.

    The receiver has a A/V cable out that I plugged into my $25 RF converter which then runs a basic TV antenna cable to my TV. If you have a VCR and DVD, you likely already have a RF converter box.

    The stands that came with the cameras are about useless if you plan to have a covert security system, because they are awkward to position just right. You could used a rubber coated wire, something like an old coat hanger, wrap it around the camera and use electrical tape to secure it, then twist the wires together and drill a hole where you want to mount it, and stick the wires into it... This gives you a very flexible mount to position any way you need it. (I prefer a covert security system to watch over my safe from burglary, because if the thief knew he was being recorded he would steal the camera/recording, which would mean no ID of the suspect to show to the PD.)

    If you don't mind the people knowing where the cameras are, the mounts that they come with them will work fine, but the mount that comes with the MC4 could easily be knocked out of its intended FOV if the suspect had something long enough to reach it. The stand that comes with the MC3 could also allow someone to do that, but at least it has a screw to lock the swivel head in place, making it a bit stronger.
    ... The MC4 mount uses four screws to secure it to a wall/ceiling, and it pivots freely in the mount - It can turn 360* and also has back and forth movement to only two of the four sides on the mount. The MC3 uses one screw to mount it and it can rotate 360* and has back and forth movement to only two of the four sides. Earlier today I was looking through some of the SVAT cameras listed on Amazon and I noticed that one of the cameras similar to the ones I'm reviewing, had what looked like a better mount. (It was similar to the MC3 mount)

    These cameras can even see through a needle hole if they are close enough... To test it, take a piece of paper and poke a hole in it, place the paper against the lens area. Although they are called pinhole cameras, the FOV will be very limited, and the active area of your screen very small, if looking through such a small hole... But since it is capable of it, the MFG usually touts that "pinhole" word. If you use a hole the same size as the lens, you will see plenty, but if you make it a bit larger, you should have the full FOV.
    ... Also, when depriving a CMOS camera of light, the image will obviously get a bit darker, and it may even turn a slightly different color. As an example, one of my cameras was utilizing a very small hole and it was not right up against it, so it was deprived of light and the video acquired a slight green hue. So, provide a large enough hole, enough light, and put the camera as close to the hole as possible to make the most of it. (Don't let this turn you off though, any CMOS camera will do this, not just the Swann MC)

    One tip about hiding the camera, is that there is a difference between disguise, camouflage and hidden.. Disguise: Place the camera inside an alarm clock, behind the tinted plastic. Camouflage: Placed in a plant, using the leafs/stems to break up its profile. Hidden: Inside a wall, hat, or otherwise anything that permits only the lens to be seen.
    ... The first two options will bring about the best results with visual quality, and are probably your best bet in most cases, unless it must absolutely not be discovered.

    I am not positive, but I think most wireless cameras generally run at 2.4GHz which should allow you to use wireless cameras by another mfg with the Swann receiver. So, you could mix and match the SVAT with the Swann. Again, I'm not positive about that, but it should work. Look at the specs of any camera you intend to use.
    ... One more thing, the 2.4GHz frequency that is used, is a popular one for many devices, including RC cars, cordless telephones, microwaves, and occasionally radios, etc. So when one of these things is in operation, depending on the degree of interference, the reception may become fuzzy, have horizontal lines, or jumpy picture... That's the name of the game when it comes to wireless electronics operating on such a popular frequency. (Again, as far as I know, all wireless cameras operate on it, so take it or leave it)

    The reception is also dependent on the distance between the receiver and camera, which is listed as being 330 feet. Things such as multiple brick walls, or anything else that adds to the barrier between them may interfere, but in this single story 100'x30' home, I have no problems with the walls.

    One thing that is very important to know, is that the receiver is very sensitive to location. Moving it a mere 3/16" to the left or right, etc, could clear up the picture or cause interference... So place it in the general location and move it around as needed. If you can only get the picture so clear, then you should check for interference from other devices. It is capable of a very nice, clear picture.

    One thing that really bugged me about these cameras, was that at the time of my purchase, the specs said that they were captured both video AND AUDIO... But the ones that I received claimed on the package that "the USA does not allow that" so they removed the feature. That claim is pure BS! The USA does allow both to be captured, but I think that they removed the sound option in an attempt to sell to more states - Because some states allow both audio and video, while others only allow one of the two.
    ... This was not only disappointing because I could not pick up sounds/conversations in my home, but also because I use them on the outdoor shooting range. I have a hat that I rigged for one of the cameras, giving the video a first person perspective. My intention was to use this to post reviews and training videos for people to download, but I now need to buy an external microphone and then interlace the two using additional software - It's a hassle and sometimes I don't get the timing just right. But, the camera itself works well for this purpose.

    (If anyone ever figures out if the camera can be modified to enable the microphone, please post it up on the internet! I think the microphone is in the rear of the MC3, because it has vents back there and the camera does not heat up so it must be for Audio... Maybe some day I will open it up and poke around. Since this same camera is sold in other countries with Audio enabled, I think out of ease and time they would do something very simple to disable the Audio. As far as I can tell, the MC4 does not have audio.)

    The MC4 claims in the specs "Infra-red LEDs for night vision" and "Sliding hood and weatherproof protection for outdoor use" ... Neither the MC3 nor MC4 came with IR LEDs, although they are both capable of viewing in total darkness, with the aid of IR light. You can use a TV remote to confirm this. The second part says that it comes with a hood, which neither of mine did. There are also a number of other discrepancies that are in the MC4 specs and info, that simply do not jive. Claiming that it comes with two cameras, etc. (I think the specs got mixed up with another camera! Contact Amazon or the seller before buying)

    One last thing, these cameras are made in China. Now usually that's a good sign that the product is a POS, but not in this case. (Though I haven't had them tested for excessive lead levels yet! ;) )

    Hopefully I have not forgotten anything, and this fairly long review is good enough to point you in the right direction!

    To sum it all up: I am very happy with my purchase, and if I needed more cameras, I wouldn't hesitate to buy more of the same. (I gave it four stars instead of five, because it does not have audio and advertised it as a feature.)...more info