Hikvision vs. Dahua – the Stories behind the Brands
You’re probably no stranger to Hikvision if you have been dabbling with DIY security cameras for some time. Hikvision is a surveillance equipment manufacturer based in Hangzhou China. They primarily cater to professional installers and are not interested in retailing to the general public. But still they made a splash in the DIY space because of their affordable DIY IP cameras with powerful features. Like 3MP sensors which were unheard of in mainstream IP cameras in 2014 when I bought my first IP camera, the Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I.
A couple of years ago, they launched their retail brand EZVIZ. Confusingly, EZVIZ used to be the name of their cloud app as well. Anyway the EZVIZ models are dumbed down versions of the Hikvision cameras and are not worth spending any money on. That’s why I am focusing on the main Hikvision brand.
According to IHS, 53% of all security cameras shipped in 2015 were network (or IP) cameras. While Hikvision is the world leader in IP cameras with a global market share of 17% forecast in 2017, Dahua comes in second with a forecast of 5.5%.
The biggest concern I have with Hikvision is not so much about their cameras, but who owns Hikvision. The Chinese government owns at least a partial stake in Hikvision. This creates a few ethical and moral quandaries. The US government has also banned Hikvision and Dahua from all federal government bodies (along with Huawei and ZTE) through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed into law in 2019. This also includes all the OEM/white label/private label brands – which makes up most of the security camera market.
From a technical standpoint, you should treat any security camera (Chinese or not, banned or not) the same way – with maximum suspicion that they may be ‘dialing home’ to their manufacturers servers. So lock them down using Virtual LANs (VLAN) and strict firewall rules like I have in my DIY home security camera system.
Dahua is an OEM who are best known for their 2MP Starlight ultra low-light cameras. Of course, they have a full lineup of products just like Hikvision.
Lorex is now owned by Dahua. Dahua cameras are also re-branded by Amcrest, Honeywell, Panasonic, Bosch and many others. What these brands do is usually rebrand the Dahua camera by sticking on their logo and slightly changing the firmware to add/remove some features. For example see our recent Hikvision vs. Amcrest comparison. Some brands even selfishly remove ONVIF support so that the camera works only with their own product range.
Just like Hikvision, Dahua are also partially owned by the Chinese government. So all the concerns I raised above with Hikvision apply to Dahua also. Their cameras and OEMs are also banned under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
Of course I don’t let that stop me from buying Chinese cameras – instead, I lock down all my security cameras tighter than Fort Knox using my Unifi USG hardware firewall.
Dahua and Hikvision cameras have historically had very similar features, so this is going to be an interesting comparison.