Foscam FI8908W indoor pan/tilt camera

Moved to www.NetworkCameraCritic.com

Foscam is a camera company in Shenzhen, China that makes low cost surveillence cameras for mainly home use. For it’s low price of around $80, the FI8908W has a lot of features that are interest to many. First of all, it has WiFi with WEP or WPA security, making it very easy and secure to deploy in your home. It has IR illuminators built in that works in complete darkness. It also has the ability to pan and tilt the camera remotely. The ability to view the live VGA resolution images from any browser makes it easy to use from anywhere internet access is available.

I’ve been using this camera for about 10 months and have come to understand where it does best and where the shortcomings are. On the positive side, it’s inexpensive, it works, it allows me to live view and control the camera from just about any browser, at night it does reasonably well with the built in illuminator and the ability to pan & tilt has been very useful.

The way I use these cameras is as sort of an alarm. It has the ability to send you an alert with a series of images via email when motion is detected. I can then view the email on my Blackberry and see if there’s someone in my home that should not be there. I can then connect from my Macbook or PC and view the room live and pan & tilt the camera to see what is going on. It does have a built in microphone, but it’s use has been unreliable for me.

You could have it send images to an FTP site. or it will write directly to a PC that has an IE browser window open to the camera. This camera also works very well with BlueIris software and would be the optimal way if you chose to get multiple cameras.

Where it lacks is in it’s lens quality. Even after you focus it as best you can, you will notice that while focused at the center of the image, it’s soft near the edges. Luckily the lens is changeable and I did change it on one Foscam and it takes this camera to a whole new level of image quality. I bought a 2.1mm lens from DealExtreme.com for $6.23 shipped, well worth the investment.

Another area that has puzzled me is that sometimes it does not boot up when you unplug it and plug it back in. It’s not that common, but has happened. What I do is plug it in a few times until it starts working.

This is a night camera, meaning it has no IR filter so some colors may come out different during the day. For example, I had a black jacket on the sofa, and it displayed it as light blue. It’s common in lower end cameras not to have this feature, but the trade off is that this camera does really well with nearly invisible IR lighting where day only cameras like the Axis M10 series will have much better color accuracy during the day, but require white visible light at night which is not always easy to live with in a home.

Their support has actually been quite good for a camera in this price range. They respond to emails within 24 hours. They also produce firmware updates on a regular basis should you find a glitch in the camera.

Here’s an image taken during the day with the stock lens. As you can see, the colors are a little muted, the edges are blurry, but it sill functions pretty well.

Foscam day shot

Here’s a night image in complete darkness.

Foscam day shot

This is a shot of the interface and also the improvement in image quality you can see using the 2.1mm lens from DealExtreme

Foscam screen with lens

The conclusion is that his camera is a good starter camera for many of you that want to dip your toe into network surveillence cameras and protect your home. Even though I have much more expensive cameras at home, I still use this one every day and it’s usually the first camera to alert me of an intrusion.

Camera Features –

  • Remote Pan/Tilt control (Pan:270°& Tilt:120°)
  • Auto IR-LED illumination for night vision (up to 4 metres)
  • Allow remote viewing any standard browsers
  • Wi-Fi compliant 802.11b/g
  • Support both WEP & WPA Encryption
  • Motion detection alert via email or upload image to FTP
  • Multi-level users management with passwords

CAVEAT: For those entering the world of network cameras for the first time, these are resonably easy to set up and get working but it does require that you know how to setup your smtp email server settings in the camera to mail out alerts. Viewing the camera feed from outside your network works very well, but you have to know how to configure your network router to allow this.


24 Responses to “Foscam FI8908W indoor pan/tilt camera”

  1. 1 Walter
    August 27, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    I’m looking to purchase this ip cam to monitor an indoor dog. During low lighting conditions, do you think a moving dog will appear blurry with this camera? Thanks, much appreciated.

    • August 29, 2010 at 6:39 pm

      Blurring can happen with any camera. If the dog walks towards the camera it will be less blurry than if he walks sideways across the camera. If he walks sideways close to the camera it will be blurrier than if he walks sideways further away from the camera. But the IR lights provide decent lighting in a small room without having to have the shutter speed be too slow.

  2. September 3, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Thanks for the info. How’s the 2 way audio on this unit? Is the M1031-W’s 2 way audio comparable to this unit?

  3. 4 pepesz
    September 15, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Thanks for the review.
    I was wonder if there is a NVR suitable for foscam cameras. I recently bought FI8908w. Any chance to record the video (I’m not interesting in recording via web browser)?

  4. October 3, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Hi there mate, a few questions:
    – Is this cam suitable for hidden recordings? Does it sports some leds that will reveal it’s presence?
    – Will it make noise when tilted?
    – What kind of detail can you expect? Is there any other quality lenses it can be attached? Any worth it to do so?


  5. 6 kevin mertens
    November 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    hi the cames works perfectly, but I can not record and locate files and reviewing. is there a software? I already have a surveillance system with 4 other IP cams, and working in active webcam program to record, schedule, etc. but the streaming foscam it does not. can you asap a solution. Thanks Kevin
    Fonetisch lezen
    Woordenboek – Gedetailleerd woordenboek weergeven

  6. 8 James
    December 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Is this the lens you bought? http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.15237

    I’m also interested in replacing the stock lens. Thank you!

  7. December 4, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    How does it perform in low lights conditions?
    I’d like to put it in a room with little light conditions…

  8. December 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Ouch… are tose led visible?
    Will they reveal the foscam presence to naked eye?

    • December 6, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Yes, it glows a pinkish red that is faint, but very visible at night. The light itself is invisible. There are IR leds that have an invisible wavelength, but I’ve never seen them built into a camera, cheap or expensive. You can buy external IR led illuminators that are less visible, check for something in the 950nm wavelength.

  9. December 6, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Humm…. I wished to use the cam indoor also, say to test how the nanny treats the kids, while alone with them… your advise?

  10. December 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    You do realize that none of these lower end cameras have the ability to record by themselves, so your hope of catching them would by viewing the cameras live. Foscam does give you a very crude method through the web browser, but if you want to record events, you will have to get some recording software like BlueIris Software that I use ($50/server) or Zoneminder which is free and runs on Linux. Then you can review the recording to catch them in the act and use that as evidence in court if need be.

    Also, there is no way to turn the IR leds off at night that I know off other than physically damaging them or painting them black. It’s a shame because the Foscam does work fairly well in low light without the leds being on.

    • 16 James
      December 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm

      I just bought the FI8918W and while still very low end, it is improved over the FI8908W. You can turn off the IR LEDs, and it will record video when the motion detection alarm mode is triggered.
      The lens in the FI8918W is still terrible, so I ordered the 3rd party lens from dealextreme like you suggested.

      I didn’t really buy it thinking it would be great for security, more for checking up on the animals when we’re away. So far it has been great for that.

      • 17 valuef
        April 7, 2011 at 7:59 am

        haha, my friend introduced the foscam camera for me at http://www.extrahomesecurity.com. but it’s only show the product information, but no user experience. after that, i was looking for the information about it. and I think the comprehensive introduces here. Thank you.

  11. March 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Has anyone tested the IR sensitivity of any FOSCAM? I know that it works well with 850nm light, which is the wavelength of the Foscam LEDs, however, I was wondering about other wavelengths, such as 720nm, which is supported by some CMOS sensors. Foscam is silent on the IR characteristics of their cameras.

  12. 20 Brian
    December 21, 2011 at 6:49 am

    I have 24 of them set up in my workplace and find them to be really good.

    I have them send pictures only after hours if there is movement and they upload pictures and/ or video to my ftp server for later viewing.

    I also have software on my desktop for viewing all at once and on my iphone for when I am out & about.

    for the price they are by far the best value around.

  13. 21 kevin
    January 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

    How did it make it that clear with 2.1mm lens? I have change to 2.1mm lens and tune it to the best that i can but the result is not as good as before. hmmm

  14. 23 Albert
    April 9, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Hello everyone, I just get a few of this cameras, but I don´t know how I can see it live over the internet….can someone help me, please ?

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