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Features

The DCS-5020L uses the same admin interface as the previously reviewed DCS-942L and DCS-2310L, with a few differences. It also connects to D-Link's mydlink hosted portal, which Tim reviewed last year. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'll refer you to those reviews for a broader look at the features and cover what is different in this review.

The Wireless Extender mentioned above is one thing that's different from the other two D-Link cameras we reviewed. Another difference is that the DCS-5020L has sound detection. This means it can record to an FTP site or send still images and video clips to an email address based on sound levels being met.

Unlike D-Link's motion detection where you are taking a guess at sensitivity, the sound detection screen actually shows current sound levels on a bar graph and lets you adjust sensitivity, as seen in the image below.

Sound Detection configuration screen

Sound Detection configuration screen

The DCS-5020L doesn't have an SD card slot to record to when network connectivity is lost. But the camera (mydlink portal) will send you an email that connectivity has been lost.

Also curiously missing is recording to a network share. I mention that as curious because the DCS-2310L has nearly the same admin interface and can record to a share. So it's bizarre that was left out for the DCS-5020L. Instead, the DCS-5020L can record still images and video clips to an FTP site, as well as send them to an email address. If you use the admin interface to set this up, you provide you own email server (SSL accepted). If you set up within the mydlink portal, they'll use their email server.

The last big difference in the admin interface is the Camera Controls function. This is because the DCS-5020L is a motorized pan and tilt camera, whereas the other D- Link cameras we've reviewed have not been. Inline with other PTZ cameras, configuration includes setting presets, which allow for quick movement of the camera without having to use the arrow wheel. It also lets the operator set step speeds for the pan and tilt, so it moves slower or faster and covers more or less ground when the arrows are pressed. A Home location is also set for where the camera should return to on reboots and power outages.

Camera Controls configuration screen

Camera Controls configuration screen

I noticed one thing on this camera that I don't remember for the others. When viewing the camera's image, whether it be in the mydlink portal, using IPCam Viewer or whatever, the PWR light flashes on the front face of the camera. A nice reminder that you are being watched.

Image Quality

At a resolution of 640 x 480, the DCS-5020L is not HD and that may be an automatic eliminator for some. As you'll see on some of the following photos, it would make something like a license plate at 10 feet hard to read. This isn't an outdoor camera, but it's a relevant example. However, the DCS-5020L has far and away the best night vision of all of the cameras we've looked at to date.

Image Quality - Indoor Day

The DCS-5020L is a 640x480 HD camera with a 66° horizontal field of view capable of 30fps, which I verified in Blue Iris.

For image comparisons I did my standard indoor day and night tests and also my outdoor daylight and night images.

The junk room control was done with an image from our Nikon D5000 DSLR. I didn't take a new picture for this, but instead linked it from a past review.

Control image from the Nikon D5000 DSLR

Control image from the Nikon D5000 DSLR

Next we've got the day image from the DCS-5020L.

D-Link DCS-2310L day indoor image

D-Link DCS-5020L day indoor image

For comparison's sake I wanted to show several comparable HD cameras we've reviewed. Here is D-Link's own DCS-2310L.

D-Link DCS-2310L day indoor image

D-Link DCS-2310L day indoor image

And the AXIS M1054.

Day image from the Axis M1054

Comparison Day image from the Axis M1054

Now, the ZyXEL IPC-4605N for daylight comparison.

Comparison day image from the Zyxel IPC-4605N

Comparison day image from the ZyXEL IPC-4605N

You can definitely see some color differences and a little more graininess on the DCS-5020L image. But all in all, it really is not that different from the HD cameras.

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