Are you having trouble deciding between Swann vs Dahua and wondering which one is better?
We have written this guide to help understand what part of the market each brand serves, and which camera kit you should buy.
Swann and Dahua are very common names in security cameras. Swann is usually the first port of call for many people because that is what they have seen in the shops. However, there is a very good reason that people who install cameras professionally choose Dahua products.
For this article, I am going to compare a Swann and a Dahua camera kit. Both have 6, 4K cameras and a Network Video Recorder (NVR).
Both security systems have similar specifications on paper, but they tend to have different approaches did different problems. We are going to be looking at how each approaches Motion Detection and Colour Night Vision, and explain which one is better.
Both Dahua and Swann have motion detection technology; however, they do it very differently.
Swann Motion Detection
Swann uses heat detection technology known as Passive Infrared (PIR), which they call “TrueDetect”. It works the same as alarm motion detectors that have been available since the 1980s. Once it detects heat energy of a specific size moving past the sensor, like a person’s body heat, it triggers.
Technically, this is a decent (and cheaper) way to eliminate false alarms because the motion from a swaying tree does not generate any heat energy and won’t trigger the motion sensor.
However, there are some limitations. If you mount the camera at the optimal height and angle, you will only be able to detect a person less than 10 metres away.
Additionally, PIR sensors like Swann’s often miss detecting people if only part of them is shown. For example, while a Swann camera may see only the criminal’s head poking out above your car, there may not be enough heat energy for the sensor to recognise it as a person.
Entry-level Swann IP cameras feature only basic motion detection options. The Swann software features a grid where you can set up your motion zones and choose only the squares you want to watch. For example, you might want to ignore people walking past on the footpath but want to be alerted if someone steps onto your property.
More expensive Swann setups have features like line crossing detection.
- It is good at eliminating false alarms
- Heat detection technology has a limited range of around 10 metres.
- Sometimes doesn’t trigger if it can only see part of a person.
Dahua Motion Detection
Dahua IP cameras with SMD (“Smart Motion Detection”) use intelligent AI algorithms to detect humans and vehicles within a scene. It is far more sophisticated than a Passive Infrared system like Swanns “TrueDetect”.
It is slightly more likely to have a false alarm as it constantly analyses everything in the scene and tries to determine whether what it is looking at is human or not. However, it aims to stay under 2% false positives, according to Dahua’s product sheets.
Using the example above where only the criminal’s head is visible above your car, Dahua’s technology is more likely to detect it. It will see the motion from the head, run it through its AI algorithms and try to determine whether it is human or not. It does not need a complete “human shape” to resolve this. My own Dahua cameras will identify me as human even though they can only see my legs.
Dahua SMD offers more sophisticated motion detection alerts such as tripwire or zone detection. You could make a tripwire alert where it only alerts you when someone enters the property but won’t alert you when they leave it.
- Good at eliminating false alarms
- More sophisticated motion detection
- Greater motion detection options
- Can detect at a much longer range
- Costs more
Swann vs Dahua Colour Night Vision
Swann and Dahua cameras approach colour night vision differently. Swann IP cameras work by using a spotlight to see better at night. Dahua cameras use better camera hardware to see better in darkness without a spotlight.
Swann security cameras tend to use a spotlight as part of their night vision. When the Swann camera detects someone on its motion sensor, it turns the spotlight on and records in colour.
A general rule with cameras is; that the more light available in the scene, the better it will see at night. So the Swann spotlight cameras make their own light.
One drawback of turning on the light when motion is detected is there will be a brief moment where the camera needs to adjust to the new light. This can sometimes cause the camera to miss an essential part of the event.
- Feature a spotlight that turns on when motion is detected, creating enough light for the scene
- It can take a moment for the camera to adjust to the spotlight coming on, which can miss parts of the event.
Dahua IP cameras can also come with spotlights, but most of their lineup does not. Instead, they have “Starlight” models, which feature a better camera sensor that allows them to have better low light performance without the use of a spotlight.
However, the nighttime colour will not work in total darkness; it needs some ambient light to work. Otherwise, it will switch to black-and-white infrared if it detects there is not enough light for nighttime colour.
Infrared does not need ambient light and will work in total darkness, but it is in black and white.
- Colour night vision works without the use of a spotlight
- Colour night vision needs some ambient light to work. It will not work in total darkness.
Dahua vs Swann Features
Swann cameras appear to have more features than Dahua cameras, but both brands approach security differently.
In the example of comparing two similar kits:
|Dahua DHI-NVR5208-8P-4KS2||Swann SWDVK-855804B2D|
|2 Way Audio?||No||Yes|
It looks like the Swann cameras are a far better deal. However, to meet the consumer price point, some quality of the camera has to be reduced somewhere. This is usually the camera sensor since most people don’t really understand it, yet it is one of the most important security camera parts. A worse camera sensor won’t see as well at night.
Consumer vs Prosumer Grade IP Cameras
Security camera manufacturers make cameras meet a specific part of the market at a certain price point.
- Some are designed to be relatively inexpensive and used by the everyday consumer.
- Some are for professional consumers (prosumers) who are still regular people but are much savvier about the product and willing to spend more on it.
- Some are professional-grade cameras that you will find in places like banks and sports stadiums. They have advanced analytics and are very expensive.
Swann is Consumer Grade
Swanns security cameras are designed to meet a certain “consumer-friendly” price point. The manufacturers ask, “what can we reduce in quality to meet this price point?”.
So they make the external enclosure plastic instead of metal. They reduce the quality of the camera imaging sensor so that it doesn’t work quite as well at night.
They also want to add extra features that consumers will compare to other brands, such as two-way talk and sirens. Again, that cost has to be saved somewhere, usually the camera’s optics, so it becomes a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Dahua is Prosumer Grade
The prosumer grade starts with the quality it needs to be a good camera, and the price is secondary. It has a high-quality camera sensor that can handle low light conditions well with high-quality materials.
Dahua is one such example of prosumer grade. The main parts of the camera are higher quality, so can’t squeeze in the alarm and lights at the same price point as Swann.
You can buy Dahua cameras with flashing lights and sirens known as “Dahua TiOC’s“, but they cost more on top of that already high-quality hardware price point.
Think of it like breaking down each main component of a $150 camera:
At the $150 mark, Swann has an average sensor with extra features. Dahua has a great sensor with no extra features.
If you wanted a great camera sensor as well as the alarm and lights, it would be at a higher price point like $250-300. A Dahua TiOC would be:
The lowest price I could find for the Swann kit was $1,699 on Catch.com.au, which tends to have clearance prices, but most places had it listed for $1,999.
The Dahua kit was $1,705 on Security Wholesalers and didn’t come with a hard drive. Once you add in a 2TB Surveillance-Grade hard drive, it comes to $1,835.
In Australia, both require professional installation because it is illegal to do your own structured wiring. So while the Swann setup is consumer-grade, a consumer cannot legally install it.
You get a superior setup with the Dahua, despite it having fewer features than the Swann. The Swann is a “jack of all trades and a master of none”. The Dahua is fantastic at being a security camera and makes it a master of one. It has excellent build quality and AI detection and comes at around the same cost as the Swann setup.
If you are still unsure about what brand to choose, or how to choose a camera, take a look at our in-depth security camera buyers guide.