Inside The Box & Setting Up
Upon opening the packaging of the 205 you will find the following: Axis 205 Network Camera, Power Adaptor Brick, Stand, 3 Mounting Screws and Installation Guide. As you can see, there is not a lot of stuff included within the box. Maybe we have become too accustomed to the junk and "shovelware" that is included inside the typical retail box of today, but you will not find it here.
The Installation Guide is of particular interest, as whether you are an experienced user or not, you will need this guide to help you set up and install your Axis 205 Network Camera. This manual is only eight pages, and at first glance we feared that it might be a little on the skimpy side. Once you spend some time looking at this manual, however, it is clear that our skepticism was correct. This manual is quite compact and fairly well written but it is obvious that the intended target audience of the manual is a user with some computer experience and knowledge of how IP addressing works. This could present more than a little frustration for those who don't have the required background knowledge.
A close up of the Axis 205.
As part of the Axis firmware, Axis registers the camera with the Axis Internet Dynamic DNS Service. This Dynamic DNS Service run by Axis tracks the current IP of the camera to make the camera accessible via the World Wide Web when the user types in http://axis123456.axiscam.net. The 123456 numbers correspond to the last six digits in the serial number of the 205 Network Camera. While use of this service is optional and can be disabled, it does provide a very useful feature.
For most users who are able to place the 205 outside their router/firewall or in a DMZ, getting the camera to work will not likely be a problem. Those who wish to be able to access the camera placed behind their own router or firewall will have to become masters of using the port mapping functions of their router/firewall to be able to get 205 working, however. There is no explanation or help on configuring this within the included 205 Installation Guide.
After looking at the Axis Web site and downloading the Quick Installation Guide, we found a small section covering the configuration of a router to accept incoming data traffic, but it just refers to the documentation of your router/firewall for additional details. There is no mention of ports or suggestions on how to configure your router/firewall to get it to work. After additional exploration on the Axis web site, we found several FAQs that address this issue, but no step by step suggestions on how to reconfigure your router/firewall. This is a glaring omission and by our own experience we had some problems getting the camera to work from behind the two models of Netgear router/firewall products that we tested it with. We suggest that Axis spend additional time preparing some documentation on how to configure this, and perhaps even go as far as show how it is configured with a few different router/firewall products. Many users are going to have plenty of problems getting the 205 working from behind a router/firewall unless Axis provides more help in the form of documentation. The suggestion in the documentation that the user have an IP just for the net camera is not something that most DSL/Cable Modem users will routinely have.
The installation of the 205 is quite easy. The 205 is designed to be mounted in place using the three screws that are supplied in the product package. The 205 can be mounted on either a horizontal or vertical surface. Once you have mounted the unit, then you need to connect both the power and the RJ45 network connection. Prior to making your installation, it might be best to connect to the 205 and make your basic configuration changes. We found that this method seemed to work best, as this way you don't have to de-install the camera in the event you are unable to connect to it.
A look at the back of the Axis 205 Network Camera. Notice that you have to still plug the camera into the power brick as well as the network connection. Maybe if they could make the unit plug directly into the outlet and make it wireless that would eliminate some of the mess.
There are three different ways to connect to the 205 in order to configure it. All of these involve getting the IP address of the camera set. You can use the manual IP configuration application which is available for download on Axis's Web site; you can use the "arp" command; or you can simply connect the camera to your NIC card in your computer and reconfigure your NIC card network settings to be on the same subnet as the 205's default IP address of 192.168.0.90.
We found that the camera's configuration worked best when connecting it directly to the network card using a crossover cable to reconfigure the network IP settings, and then pointing the Web browser to 192.168.0.90. This method isn't documented in either the Installation Guide or the Quick Installation Guide that we downloaded from Axis. We did find a FAQ on the Axis Web site that documented this process, and we found it worked better than the two other processes suggested in the manual. This method does require a crossover Ethernet cable that the purchaser may or may not have, but it still was the fastest way to configure the 205.
Once connection has been established to the camera you are able to change the configuration of the 205 to meet the configuration needs of your specific network. We find the menu driven Web-based configuration system to be quite useful and complete. You are able to control every feature and function of the camera from this interface. The interface offers password protection, but it would be nice if you were able to lock the administration of the 205 to a specific IP address to enhance the security even a little more.
The outside of the camera itself offers a lighted status indicator around the outside of the focus ring of the camera. The 205 also offers an adjustable ring around the camera that can be used to manual fine tune and adjust the focus. Beyond that, the other things you will find are the network connection indicators that are located above the RJ45 network jack and the control button on the back that is used to reset or restore the factory configuration of the camera, if necessary.
Now that we have connected to the camera, let's configure it.