Annke C800 Zoom review: Smart security camera with 4K

Optical zoom on board makes for great video quality

Annke C800 Zoom
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If half the battle with a home security camera is making sure that it’s seen, then the Annke C800 Zoom can declare victory.

This absolutely huge unit of a security camera is impossible to miss.

It’s so large because it has a 4x optical zoom lens inside of it, letting you get up close and personal without sacrificing image quality as you do with a digital zoom.

With its microSD card slot, the camera offers subscription-free recording at 4K, and some of the best image quality that I’ve seen in a camera.

Yet, a fiddly app and with some controls only available in the web portal, it can be a frustrating experience using this model.

Although the features you get are impressive for $269, this price still puts it in a higher category.

Affordable rivals: Best budget smart security cameras

Those looking for a budget 4K model may be better off with the cheaper Reolink RLC-810A, while those with a bit more cash to spend will find the Arlo Ultra a smoother system to use.

Annke C800 Zoom: Design

There’s no getting around it, the Annke C800 Zoom is an absolute beast of a camera. In fact, it’s so big that the Annke website bizarrely compares the camera to the size of an 11-inch iPad Pro.

Measuring 298 x 93 x 93mm, the camera is taller than the iPad Pro, although not quite as wide, in case you were wondering.

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You get a mount in the box, but you’ll need to make sure that it’s firmly screwed into place to support the bulk and width of this camera. Once done, there’s enough flexibility to get the camera lined up to cover the area that you want, thanks to the ball joint in the stand.

Annke C800 Zoom review: Smart security camera with 4K

Part of the reason that the camera is so big is because of its 4x optical zoom. This lets you get close-up to the action, but at maximum zoom you get just a 40-degree field of view, widening to 125-degrees when zoomed out.

Affordable rival: Ezviz C8C review

This is still a little narrow for an outdoor camera, and if you want to cover a wider area then you’ll be better off with a different camera.

Annke C800 Zoom review: Smart security camera with 4K

You can power the camera using the 12V power adaptor that’s provided, although there’s little point in doing so beyond initial testing.

This is because the camera has to be connected to your home network via Ethernet, so you may as well use a single cable and power the camera using Power over Ethernet (PoE). There’s no PoE injector in the box, so you’ll either need to buy one or get a switch that has PoE ports.

Annke provides a long Ethernet cable in the box, complete with the weatherproof connector, and recommends that you wrap the 12V input with weatherproof tape, whether you’re using it or not.

There’s no cloud storage option, so you’ll want to fit a microSD card. This fits in underneath the screw-in cover. As the cover uses star head screws (there’s a compatible Allen key in the box), it’s hard to get at by the casual thief, although if the entire camera is removed, your footage will go, too.

Annke C800 Zoom review: Smart security camera with 4K

Annke C800 Zoom: Features

Trying to set the camera up for the first time is like taking a step back in time to when security cameras were called IP cameras.

When you first turn the camera on, it defaults to a fixed IP address, which you have to connect to using a browser. This will quite possibly mean changing your computer’s IP address manually but also runs the danger of the camera clashing with another device on your home network.

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Once connected to the camera’s web interface, you can view the live stream and dive into the network settings to change the camera to use DHCP.

Once you’ve done this and rebooted the camera, the Annke C800 Zoom will have a new IP address: I had to look at the list of devices connected to my router to find out what this is, so that I could reconnect to the web browser.

For this reason, I recommend forcing your router to give the camera a fixed IP address via the DHCP reservations settings.

From the web interface, you can download a desktop app that gives you more control over the camera, although note that this only works on Windows not Mac, which is frustrating.

Fortunately, there is a mobile app. When you add a new camera, make sure you select ‘Online Device’ and you’ll find your camera straight away; the other options didn’t work for me.

You can dive into the live view to see what’s going on, although this model doesn’t have two-way chat. Using the controls underneath the live stream, you can set the zoom and focus manually.

There’s an option to save preset views, but this didn’t work on the mobile app, giving an “Operating failed.(4)” error message.

Annke C800 Zoom review: Smart security camera with 4K

While being able to zoom in optically is quite cool, letting you get close up to the action, just be careful, as the camera doesn’t reset to its default settings when you leave the app. This carries the danger that you’ll zoom in and crop out the real action.

Via the app, configuration options are a little basic. You can turn notifications on and off, or schedule when you do and don’t receive them; there’s no option to turn the camera on or off.

Rival: Arlo Essential XL Spotlight review

If you switch to the web interface, you can enable some more advanced features, including face detection, and line-crossing detection, where you’re only warned about motion crossing the defined line in the direction you specify.

For example, you can tell the camera to just record when people walk towards it. Each detection setting has its own notification options that differ to the ones in the app, and you can schedule each feature, too.

Annke C800 Zoom review: Smart security camera with 4K

With the default settings, I found that I got a lot of notifications, with the camera constantly picking up a wind chime and pinging be alerts every few seconds.

To reduce these notifications from the app, you can adjust motion sensitivity, and draw activity zones to only monitor certain parts of the picture.

Affordable rival: Reolink Argus 3 security camera review

This worked, cutting down the number of false-positive alerts, but it would be good to see smart notification control, such as only getting alerts when people are spotted.

Annke C800 Zoom review: Smart security camera with 4K

Motion triggers a recording and a notification to be sent to your phone. When tap the notification you get taken to a screenshot in the app, but you have to tap the playback button to view the video that was captured. You can also use the Playback option to get a thumbnail list of all recorded events.

Frustratingly, there’s no way to download a recorded clip. Instead, you have to hit the Record button while playing a clip, which creates a new clip that’s saved to the app’s library section. You can save these clips to your phone. That’s quite a faff.

Annke C800 Zoom review: Smart security camera with 4K

While the C800 Zoom records to SD card, if you go to the web browser, you can also set it to record to a local NAS, which gives you a backup just in case someone steals the camera or manages to get the microSD card out.

Again, it’s another situation where the web interface offers more than the app does.

There is an Alexa Skill, although trying to link it just returns a warning that the page isn’t secure. There’s no Google Assistant equivalent.

Annke C800 Zoom: Video quality

With its 4K resolution, and large lens, the Annke C800 Zoom’s saving grace is that it’s video quality is really very good.

The sky gets a bit blown out, and dynamic range isn’t as good as with some other cameras that I’ve tested.

However, the main area of the video is sharp and detailed, to the point where you can easily find a frame that clearly identifies a person.

The advantage of the optical zoom is that you get get the same quality video when close up, beating all digital zooms.

There is a caveat, though. As the camera can’t actually move, you can only zoom in to a fixed spot. In reality, you’ll likely only ever use the zoom during set up to correctly frame the area that you want to watch.

At night the Annke C800 Zoom uses IR to light up the night, recording in black and white. Its IR LEDs are very powerful, easily lighting up my entire garden, and it would go further.

IR always adds a degree of softness to the picture, and you lose some detail on faces.

However, the resolution and quality of sensor helps negate many of these effects, and the overall sharpness and detail are excellent, and this camera shoots some of the best night video that I’ve seen.

Annke C800 Zoom
There’s no doubting the quality of the Annke C800 Zoom’s video quality. Recorded in 4K, it’s sharp and detailed. Yet, getting the video off of the camera is far more time consuming than it should be, and it’s annoying that the web interface offers different options to the app. While the optical zoom feels like a nice feature, maintaining image quality as you zoom in, it practice, it’s a feature that won’t get used often and is limited by the camera’s inability to pan or tilt.
  • Excellent image quality
  • Optical zoom maintains video quality
  • No subscription costs
  • Great night vision
  • Fiddly to download video
  • Different options between app and browser
  • No Mac support for plug-in
  • Zoom isn’t that useful

TAGGED    security cameras

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