RLC-1212A - First Impressions
Crimp On last edited by
Summary: A quality product, with amazing picture and plenty of features at a budget price. Some minor disappointments and irritations. Reolink now has cameras at with 5MP, 8MP, and 12MP resolution and various features spanning price points from $45 to over $100.
Every product (from every vendor) is a mix of things to like and things that are not so great. Reolink is no exception. This review is in chronological order, so “plusses and minuses” are mixed together.
Initial Impression: Packaging and Build Quality are excellent. Good use of foam to protect the camera. Minimal documentation. (Customers seldom read printed literature these days.)
First Disappointment: The traditional Reolink “3 Wire split”: (1) the Ethernet connector, (2) separate 12v power jack, (3) reset button.
Reolink includes a spiffy “Waterproof Lid” gizmo for the Ethernet connector, but how is the customer supposed to protect the 12v jack and the reset button from weather? Reolink’s solution is to purchase a $26 B-10 weatherproof junction box to place the wiring in (additional expense). Pay $100 for a Weatherproof camera, and then pay $26 more to make the wiring weatherproof? The junction box also makes the special Waterproof Lid redundant. MY solution is to mount Reolink cameras only in places where I can drill a 1” hole directly behind the camera and push the entire wire bundle inside the building wall or sofit. I cannot help but think that Reolink could (a) come up with a method to make a waterproof reset button on the case itself, and (b) tell customers this is a PoE camera and they have to provide PoE for it to work. (A 12 volt power supply is NOT included in the package, so the customer has to come up with a power supply one way or the other.) What this seems like is just plain inertia. Reolink cameras have always used this 3-wire harness, so new cameras continue to use it. Maybe even Reolink has preordered thousands and has a warehouse full of them.
Second Disappointment (really minor). Nothing on the package or the camera itself indicates the Ethernet MAC address. I suspect that I am not the only customer who wants to dictate the IP address assigned to a security camera by using a router capability. (Maybe Reolink thinks all customers connect their PoE cameras directly to a Reolink NVR with PoE capability. The NVR will hand out IP addresses that are separate from the customer’s regular LAN. But, if this is the case, why include that 12v power jack?) My solution is to connect the camera temporarily to a separate router (not on my LAN) so that I can discover the MAC address and then enter it into my primary router before connecting the camera. Seems a bit “cheap”. $10 smart plugs have the MAC address on the product or on the package. Why not a $99 camera? This is certainly not a “deal breaker”. More annoying than anything.
A Surprise. Inserted a 64GB SD Card before connecting the camera. Once the camera had been on for a full day (just sitting on a shelf watching the room), I connected via the web interface and selected Playback mode. Failed (with an obscure error message that I was not quick enough to capture). Eventually I wondered, “is the SD Card OK?” Sure enough, the camera Settings menu under Storage showed options to Format and Mount the camera. Clicked on Format, which seemed to work, except that the camera kicked me back to the login prompt. Honestly, it has been so long since I installed new cameras that I cannot remember if SD cards have to be formatted or not. Would have been nicer if the Playback error message said something like, “SD Card not formatted.”
Third Disappointment. Except for Safari, today’s web browsers do not support H.255 video encoding. There are lots of articles on the web explaining this issue. (The forum does not allow "links".) This means that the web interface cannot support Clear streaming, either on login or after login. Selecting the Clear option on login brings up, “Current device won’t support video streaming in clear mode.” Sometimes the ”latest and greatest” isn’t better. In practical terms, I almost never use the camera web interface, so this is also not a “deal breaker” for me. In the past, there have been issues on the forum about the web interface being essential to certain users. This may be a concern for them.
Great Mounting Experience. The plan is to compare the RLC-1212A “side-by-side” with an RLC-410-5MP. The RLC-410-5MP was mounted on the corner of the house. Due to the corner construction, I was unable to drill my usual 1” hole directly behind the RLC-410-5MP. I used the same hole for the RLC-1212A wiring. Mounting is fantastic compared to the original Reolink cameras (with their Allen wrenches and all). Getting the Weatherproof Lid on was a chore because I had run Cat6 ethernet cable (what I had on hand) which is physically larger than Cat5e cable. The camera does not require anything better than Cat5e, and Cat5e is less costly. But… I used what I had on hand.
Client and App Setup. Client 8.7.1 found the camera automatically (as it should), and subsequent releases continue to have no problem with the camera. Android app also found the camera. After the password was input, the Android app works fine. (Client updated to 8.7.2 and camera fine.)
Picture. Compared to the RLC-410-5MP, the picture is bigger and sharper. (My guess is that 8MP cameras are “somewhere in between.”
Camera Lens F-Stop Horizontal Vertial Resolution Encoding
RLC-410-5MP 4.0mm F2.0 80o 58 o 2,560x1,920 H264
RLC-1212A 2.8mm F1.6 107 o 66 o 4,096x2,784 H265
Here are pictures from both cameras:
Notice how the yellow fire plug on the left and the entire automobile appear on the RLC-1212A, as well as an additional 4-5 ft. at the bottom of the picture.
Here is the RLC-4105MP zoomed as far as possible. What is the house number across the street? What kind of cars are they?
RLC-1212A zoomed all the way. Aha, the house number is 1131 and it looks like one car is a Toyota.
The larger and more detailed picture comes with a cost. Images and motion recordings consume more space. A 5MP jpeg will be about 450KB and a 12MP jpeg will be about 1MB. The MP4 recordings can consume 2-3 times the space. Fortunately, disk space is one of the few things that has become relatively “cheap”.
New Features. Compared to the 5MP cameras, the RLC-1212A has added features:
· Pet Detection. Along with autos and persons, security cameras have begun to detect small animals. (i.e. too small to be a ‘person’, but definitely a creature of some type.) This feature is reported as a “Beta”. I have yet to discover how well it works.
· In addition to the microphone to record sound, there is also a speaker which can be used to converse with someone near the camera.
· The speaker can act as a siren and can be set up go off automatically any time motion is detected.
· This camera also has a floodlight that can be activated numerous ways:
o Turn on automatically at night.
o Turn on when motion is detected. (scare off that evil possum)
o Remain off.
· Delay before motion is triggered. This addresses a long-time need. The user can set the number of seconds that motion has to continue before it is recognized as something worth of being considered relevant to announce, record, etc. There are separate settings for person and automobile. (Cars generally move across the screen a lot faster than people. Maybe it is not useful to record every car that speeds by without stopping.) I plan to do several experiments to test how this works.
· Diagnostic Logs. This feature also appears in System Menu – Maintenance on the RLC-510WA firmware, but not in my older cameras. I have yet to do much with this feature.
Missing Features. From watching the user forum, I had a vague impression that additional features were “coming soon”. (I am often mistaken.) Was disappointed not to see:
· Time Lapse. The concept being to record images (not motion) at regular intervals and thus document happenings over time. (People do this a lot with building construction, clouds in the sky, mowing the yard, snowfall…. the list is endless.) I understand that this feature is in the smartphone Reolink app and will be coming to the desktop client in the future.
FTP Problem. The newest firmware release for the RLC-510WA (v184.108.40.2065, Jan 19, 2022) broke the FTP function. There is a setting to force secure FTP. Alas, when the setting is off, the camera still tries to make a secure connection rather than a ‘plain unsecured’ connection. (My other cameras have not updated firmware in a year. My guess is they never will.) Unfortunately, the camera does not support the most modern secure FTP ciphers, so my FileZilla FTP server rejects the connection. (Oddly enough, the FTP server is happy to accept a plain unsecured FTP connection and would do so if only the camera would do what I want it to do.) Reolink engineers explained that this slider is not an “on/off” control (i.e. plain vs. secure). Rather it is a “use ONLY secure connection” vs. “try to do the best you can.” There is no setting for “use plain FTP, dammit.” (Yes, I swear at electronics.)
The RLC-1212A has exactly the same issue. Some FTP servers work with the RLC-1212A, and some FTP servers reject it. If the customer does not use the FTP capability, then they will never know. For those of us who do use FTP, it can be a major irritation. If a customer is considering Reolink cameras and FTP is a requirement, it is essential to verify that it works with their FTP server before getting "in too deep."
FTP is a complicated situation involving the specific server and specific client. For example, the commercial Cerebus FTP server (paid version) is happy to accept the FTPS connection because it supports some of the same encryption methods as the Reolink camera. The Xlight FTP server (free version) is the same. Both of these servers would support a plain, unencrypted connection.
My ISSUE is Reolink will not me tell the camera to just use a plain, FTP connection.
Note: Reolink engineers created a special version of the firmware which overcomes this problem. FTP transfers to FileZilla as plain, unencrypted FTP. Alas, it appears that this is a “one-off” and will not be included in any future firmware releases. Reolink gets Big Points for persuading the engineers to do this, which leaves me not sure how to feel about it. I will be disappointed if there is never new firmware for the camera, but that also means my “one off” will remain good forever.
Lack of Processing Power. Like my other Reolink cameras, the RLC-1212A cannot keep up with simultaneous:
· Live View
· Record to SD Card
· FTP motion recording to FTP server
What happens is the Live View “stutters” or “skips”. A moving vehicle, for example, will appear to stop and then suddenly jump ahead to a new position. People walking down the sidewalk appear to walking more slowly than usual, and then suddenly jump ahead 6-8 ft. As the camera streams to the Windows Client, it gets farther and farther behind until it just “skips some frames” to catch up. This would not seem to be a network issue, because the link between camera and network is 100mb and the maximum bit rate is under 12MB. This is the only camera streaming at the time.
This does not appear to be a serious issue, because the SD card recording and the FTP file transfer both appear to be “smooth”. (How many customers sit looking at their security cameras?)
Form Factor: Half of my cameras are the “dome” model. For example, RLC-420-5MP (discontinued). I like the way dome cameras “blend in” better than the bullet cameras that practically scream Security Camera Here! (And, yes, I know that some people want the "fear factor" and will even mount dummy cameras to discourage nighttime visitors.) Reolink is already showing the RLC-1224 dome camera on the support web page, so one would expect it to show up for sale before too long. Who knows, maybe even a model with a Zoom Lens! (Can you imagine what detail would show up if a 12MP camera has an optical zoom?)
Summary: Reolink's best camera yet. Best picture. Most features. Quality product. If money is not a factor, this is the camera to buy. If the primary use is to get alerts and watch recordings on a smartphone, there's not much point in getting a 12MP camera. Get two 5MP camera for the same amount of money.
Chuck last edited by
@crimp-on_62210811129 Great review, too bad the camera doesn't automatically zoom to what created the motion. That means we still won't know what kind of car or your neighbors address unless you happen to manually zoom it at that moment.
Crimp On last edited by
Not exactly. The recorded "Clear" video remains at full resolution (4,096x2,784 pixels). I downloaded a motion capture, opened it with VLC Media Player, zoomed in, and got a similar result.
"Zooming" on the Windows Client does not create pixels. My native Windows PC screen resolution is 1,920x1,080 so that very detailed 12MP picture is scrunched (is that a word?) to fit the screen.
I agree completely that it is not nearly as easy to "zoom" with a motion capture as a live video.