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The Best Motion Activated Cameras

Updated Mar 2, 2021
Written By
Safety Team | Home Security Experts
Evaluated over 90 safety products to help you protect what matters most. Check our Methodology

If you want to protect your home and family, and your home security system isn’t equipped with outdoor security cameras, now may be a good time to consider adding this crucial tool to your system. Motion-activated cameras not only provide the opportunity to keep tabs on your property and gather evidence in the event of a crime, they also have the advantage of being “smarter” than regular cameras. A motion detector camera can alert you when there’s activity around your home, start recording when someone enters view, and in some cases even tell the difference between people and animals to cut down on false alarms. 

We’ll go over our top 10 best motion-activated security cameras, looking at what’s so great about them, what to look for in a camera system and how to pair your motion cameras with other smart home devices.

Bottom Line

All of the cameras and camera systems below made our top picks for a reason, and they all have something to offer. But if you want to cut to the chase, our favorite is the Arlo Ultra. Although not for everyone due to its cost, the Arlo Ultra has the best specs across the board, is consistently well-reviewed and goes above and beyond with features such as color night vision and 4K resolution.

The Arlo Ultra is smart home compatible, easy to install and flexible as well. It can be used as an indoor or outdoor camera, offers activity zones to reduce the number of false notifications, includes a motion-sensing spotlight and has high-quality two-way audio. The only thing you may want that Arlo doesn’t offer is professional monitoring. But if you’re looking for an amazing self-monitored camera, the Arlo Ultra is a cut above.

Arlo Ultra

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Deep Sentinel

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Maximus Camera Floodlight

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Arlo Pro 3

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Wyze Cam Pan

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Tend Insights Lynx Indoor 2

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ZModo Pivot Cloud

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Canary Pro (All-in-One)

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Blink Outdoor

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Nest Cam IQ Indoor

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Equipment Price
$248.49$499 for 3-camera system$189.99$199.99$29.99$59.99$119.99$169$99.99$299
Monitoring starting price
N/A$49/mo.N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A$19/mo.*
Installation
DIYDIYDIYSelfDIYDIYDIYDIYDIYDIY
Monitoring
SelfProfessionalSelfSelfSelfSelfSelfSelfSelfSelf or Pro*
Night vision
YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Field of view
189 degrees130 degrees155 degrees160 degrees120 degrees125 degrees135 degrees147 degrees110 degrees130 degrees
Video resolution
4K HDR1080p1080p2K HDR1080p1080p1080p1080p1080p1080p
Smart home capability
YesNoNoYesNoYesYesYesYesYes
  • Best for Deterrence Features

    1. Arlo Ultra

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Arlo Ultra is Arlo’s latest wireless security camera. It can be installed indoors or outdoors using a magnetic or hardwired mount. It uses 4K HDR for sharp video footage and close-up zoom for a closer look at activity. This weatherproof security camera includes enhanced night vision and advanced dewarping to see your home’s vicinity clearly without the ‘fisheye’ view that most cameras show with a wide-angle lens.

    Stand-out features include

    • Includes enhanced night vision to see clear live or recorded video footage in color
    • Works with the Apple Watch, Google Home Hub and Amazon Alexa
    • Includes a built-in spotlight that is automatically triggered when motion is detected
    • Battery powered with a rechargeable battery
  • Best monitoring service

    2. Deep Sentinel

    Our take

    Deep Sentinel is a little different than other security or camera companies. This company offers one type of camera and one service: proactive, advanced professional monitoring assisted by artificial intelligence and human agents. Deep Sentinel’s monitoring service responds faster than other services by detecting intruders before they enter, rather than waiting for a breach to take action.

    Stand-out features include

    • Proactive monitoring
    • Sophisticated, waterproof equipment
    • Two-way audio
  • Best camera/floodlight combo

    3. Maximus Camera Floodlight

    Our take

    Similar to its better-known competitor the Ring Floodlight, The Maximus Camera Floodlight offers features not available on its rival, like a 155-degree field of view, motion detection up to 70 feet, free cloud storage and wall and ceiling mounting options. The Maximus Camera Floodlight doesn’t come with professional monitoring, but with a subscription of anywhere between $5 and $20 per month, you can get AI motion detection, more cloud storage and motion detection zone capability.

    Stand-out features include

    • Pre-recorded messages
    • Two-way audio
    • Wi-fi enabled
  • Best Outdoor Camera System with Hub

    4. Arlo Pro 3

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Arlo Pro 3 is our top security camera pick. It doubles as an indoor and outdoor camera to help keep your home safe. You’ll need to self-install the camera, but it’s easy to install multiple without interrupting your home’s electrical wiring. The Arlo Pro 3 is equipped with color night vision and 2K resolution for crystal clear footage. It works with popular smart home devices, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and more. One notable feature is the camera’s built-in spotlight that can be controlled using your smartphone or automatically when motion is detected.

    Stand-out features include

    • Built-in spotlight that can be motion-activated or controlled using your smartphone
    • Works with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit and Google Assistant
    • 2K video resolution for crystal clear viewing and videos
  • Best Panning & Tilting Camera

    5. Wyze Cam Pan

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Wyze Cam Pan is designed with a 360-degree swivel for a pan-view of your home. It shows crystal clear camera footage with 1080p HD video quality, digital zoom, a 120-degree field of view and night vision. This wireless security camera also works with Amazon Alexa for hands-free camera control. The Wyze Cam Pan automatically records 12-second videos when your camera detects motion and sends an instant push notification to view real-time footage. Wyze also offers free cloud storage for up to 14 days of footage and continuous recording and storage using local storage such as a microSD card.

    Stand-out features include

    • 120-degree field of view
    • 1080p HD video quality
    • Works with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT
    • Equipped with two-way audio to speak with guests
    • Continuous video recording
  • Showing 5 of 10 items

What Should I Look for When Buying a Security Camera?

  • Resolution

    Security cameras are generally available in resolutions all the way up to 1080p (HD). The higher the resolution you choose, the sharper and clearer your video footage will be, and this always makes it easier to find out who is involved in a crime. Remember, if you choose to go all-in on HD resolution, that any DVR (digital video recorder) you use to record will have to have HD capabilities as well (most do).

  • Night Vision

    Night vision and low light vision are both incredibly important for security cameras. For the best night view, consider a camera system with infrared technology. We recommend a camera with at least 100 feet or more of night vision. Another useful feature here is a built-in IR cut off, which will turn on IR capability when lighting conditions require it and turn it off when they don’t.

  • Mobile Alerts

    Many systems will notify you if significant activity is detected within view of the camera or within designated areas (see “custom activity zones”). Find out if these notifications can be sent to you via push notification, text message, email or even a phone call, and consider whether these notifications are also sent to your monitoring service.

  • Cloud Storage

    As with any camera system, you’ll want to consider how much storage is available in the cloud. This is a crucial piece of information when deciding what resolution to consider, since higher resolutions take up more space. Remember to also consider how long your data is stored. Most services won’t keep footage forever, so find out how long they will keep it.

  • Custom Activity Zones

    Camera systems that allow custom activity zones are invaluable in cutting down false alarms and bad notifications because they let you set up the most important areas to concentrate on, and capture movement only in these crucial areas. This way, you’re notified of every fly that buzzes around and car that drives by.

What Smart Devices Should I Pair With My Security Camera?

  • Smart lock

    First of all, consider smart locks for your doors. Smart locks go hand in hand with a robust home security system and add an extra layer of security to your home. With smart locks you never have to worry about whether you forgot your keys. You can open or lock your house from anywhere and, best of all, thieves will have a harder time breaking in. Smart locks can have a variety of helpful features too, such as automatic door locks, back-lit keypads, voice commands and even fingerprint entry.

  • Video Doorbells

    Advanced video doorbell systems also provide an extra layer of security. With a video doorbell you can screen visitors without ever having to open the door or even let them know you’re there. Many doorbell systems have two-way audio as well, so you can talk to someone at your door. You can find out why someone is there and who they are, check on a package delivery or just let a friend know you’ll be right there. Even better, many systems allow you to do all this from your phone — from anywhere in the world.

  • Smart Light Bulbs

    Smart light bulbs provide two things at once: extra security and energy saving. Smart light bulbs allow you to turn lights on and off from your phone, dim the lights remotely and can even turn on and off on a schedule. That last feature adds yet another layer of security, especially if you’re away. You can program lights to turn on and off to simulate how the house would look when you’re around, giving would-be intruders second thoughts about breaking in.

  • Smart Home Hubs

    Smart home hubs such as Amazon Echo or Google Home put it all together, allowing you to control all of your smart home devices and security system from one central hub. Smart home hubs are also often resources for finding information quickly, playing games, online shopping and many other useful day-to-day tasks. Some hubs allow you to control your security system, cameras, lights and locks by voice, for extra convenience, and even remotely from outside the home, for added flexibility.

How We Chose the Best Motion-Activated Security Cameras

We scoured our database for the 10 most stand-out motion-activated cameras, looking at factors such as affordability, monitoring options, video resolution and extra features like two-way audio, activity zones, facial recognition and smart home compatibility. We picked cameras that met a minimum set of feature requirements and also offered great resolution, night vision and other basic quality features that any great camera should have. Only cameras and camera systems that met our basic requirements, received consistently good reviews and offered up something special made our list.

Conclusion

Security cameras in general are known to enhance security both for homes and businesses, and motion-activated cameras are an even more advanced version of this crucial technology. Hopefully, you now have a good sense of the benefits of motion sensor cameras. You know what to look for when you’re ready to shop, as well as how motion camera systems and outdoor security cameras fit into the big picture when it comes to your home security system and smart home. And you know what our research has revealed about the top camera systems available today. You can use this information to make an informed choice about your system and enhance your home’s safety, whether you’re already using a home security system or are just starting out.

Motion Activated Security Camera FAQs


Home Security Experts

Safety Team

The Safety Team is a group of experts that handle provider research, product reviews and recalls to make your home safety and security search as easy as 1-2-3.

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