Simple, non-internet-enabled security camera for a storage space
October 3, 2018 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Hello. What is a good "security" camera that: 1) records to an SD card 2) does not require wifi or any sort of Internet connection 3) has decent battery life? This is for my dad, who is not great with computer stuff, so simple set up so I don't have to walk him through it on the phone would be best. It's going to be mounted on a wall in a storage building, so I suppose it should also not be too heavy or bulky for that.
posted by ignignokt to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think the search term you want is "game camera".

These generally fit the "no 'net required", "record to SD" and "long battery life" requirements. Caveat: They do not record video continuously or (in some cases) at all. Instead, they record and/or snap a still photo when a motion sensor is triggered.
posted by sourcequench at 8:29 AM on October 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

Does it need to record continuously or only when motion is sensed? Does it need to record in the dark?

The first thing that came to mind was a trail camera like the kind used by hunters.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:29 AM on October 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thirding trail/game cameras
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:34 AM on October 3, 2018

I would think the issue with a trail cam is that if someone is stealing things from a storage space, they can steal the trail cam too, taking the evidence with them. An IP cam connected to the cloud should save evidence even if they steal the IP cam. If you go the trail cam route, you'll have to make it invisible or inaccessible.
posted by sageleaf at 10:50 AM on October 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

It seems to be nearly impossible to find an inexpensive game cam that has decent reviews. After much reading I got one and it is ... less than impressive. A thing to consider related to the "what stops someone from stealing the camera" question is that many of them seem to have a perceptible thing that happens when a photo is taken (probably so you can walk around and see that the placement will actually work), like a little red light that flashes. Some do have provisions for a standardized locking cable, but you have to have something to lock it to.

Not knowing the actual setup of the space it's hard to say anything specific, but I would ask yourself "if I were a scrote, how would I go about defeating this setup?" Usually a variant of "I'd steal the camera" or "I'd cover my face and spray paint on the camera (or unplug it)" is going to be pretty powerful if someone knows it's there.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 12:09 PM on October 3, 2018

I know you said no wifi, but...

I recently set up a ReoLink Argus 2 as a trail cam at my house and it was dead simple to set up, and easy to use. Has a long-lasting battery which can be charged, but there is also a small solar panel accessory that can make it set-and-forget anywhere. Takes a micro SD for recording. I am placing mine in the woods around my house as far as I can but still stay on wifi.
posted by terrapin at 12:47 PM on October 3, 2018

Adding to terrapin, above: Wifi can support a local network, connecting cameras to a recorder that's hidden away somewhere, without necessarily being connected to the internet. All that's needed is a wifi router. Wifi networks can be hidden from the casual user looking for free internet, but not from someone scanning, which cna be done with a dedicated smartphone app.

The problem with trail cams is that they are unrecognizable to wildlife, but overtly out of place as seen by humans. A trail cam would need to go behind a human-equivalent of a blind, such as a semi-silvered mirror or some kind of camouflage; without that, it'll scream Camera to most thieves.

Alternately, go the nannycam/spycam route, where the camera is built into a smoke detector, clock, or something else. Just pick something that looks plausible in the storage space-- a teddy-bear with a camera looks out of place in a room full of auto parts, for example.

Second, test it out once it's on place, to make sure it'll work with the lights off and on, cope with bright outside lighting, and so on. It's bad enough trying to get thieves caught even with very high quality pictures of their faces; trying to do so with silhouettes is impossible. Policing in my town tends to be very low-effort where property crime is concerned, and quality facial recognition is still largely a fantasy of LEOs, so manage your expectations here. Overt cameras may or may not deter crime (largely not, I think), and covert cameras may help catch crooks, but it only amplifies very slim odds, unless your cops are way better than our cops.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:46 PM on October 3, 2018

Thanks for the trail camera recommendations! We got a "Wildgame Innovations Terra Extreme 12 MP HD Infrared Digital Scouting Game Camera". It was no problem for my dad to install, and it is working well.

Incidentally, if you are answering a question with "I know you said ____, but" it's not going to be helpful to answer. My dad does not work in a location where you can "just add wifi."
posted by ignignokt at 7:06 PM on October 30, 2018

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