Blue Iris Security Camera Software – First Impressions

I’ve had security cameras for a few years now and for most of that time I was using the Hikvision PCNVR software. While this worked, it was very limited feature wise and offered little to no support, leaving me on the market for a new solution. I found out about Blue Iris on the YouTube channel Byte My Bits where the host Jason explained his surveillance setup. Since then it’s been on my bucket list to trial. Finally a week ago I finally got around to setting it up.

After 2 weeks of use my opinion of Blue Iris is for the price, it’s really impressive. The interface is intuitive and there were no issues setting it up with my existing Hikvision cameras. Adding each camera took merely seconds.

Performance

The first thing I noticed upon adding 3 -4 cameras to it is the CPU usage flat lined at 100%. This is partly because the system I’m using is an old AMD 5800K, it’s quad core and quite slow. To lower the CPU usage I had to tick “Direct to disk recording (no re-encoding)” and untick the “Enable motion detector” option. After I had done that the cpu usage settled to around 35-45% with 9 cameras. However with Intel QuickSync or Nvidia graphics cards you’ll be able to offload most of the load that way.

Motion Detection

After setting up my cameras I enabled motion detection on 2 cameras at a gate that frequently opened and shut for business and where cars come in and out. I disabled object detection and used the zone and hot spot option, this let me mask an area to watch for movement.

The motion detection is working fantastic and only triggering at times where there is obvious movement. CPU usage has remained the same before and after turning on this form of motion detection.

Web UI

Blue Iris uses the UI3 web ui. Once you’re logged in you are greeted with a live view of all your cameras. The first thing I did on the left bar was change my Streaming Quality to 1440p to match my cameras resolution.

In the top bar we have a tab to view Alerts, which are motion detection events. Browsing through these is snappy and each one contains obvious movement, like a person walking past or dog patrolling. On the Clips tab you can view all recorded clips in the same way you view Alerts.

In the UI Settings (access at top right of page) it’s possible to disable the timeout. For creating a monitor showing your cameras this is a great feature. It’s possible to use a Raspberry Pi to run the web interface and leave it displaying camera footage 24/7.

Phone App

The phone app works well however it feels a little unpolished compared to the Web UI. Browsing through alerts with the thumbnails is very fast and with time information next to it you’ll find what you’re looking with ease. However browsing clips and skipping through footage is inaccurate as I find myself skipping 10-20 minutes at a time.

Live view is lacking some clarity, it seems the highest bitrate option is 1mbit. While good enough for a phone screen it doesn’t hold up when zooming in.

Conclusion

I can wholeheartedly recommend Blue Iris after my experiences with this piece of NVR software. It’s been rock solid stable and runs happily as a service in the background. I’ve encountered no glaring issues so far apart from the system requirements.

While this software is being sold for $70 USD on the Blue Iris website, the company behind Blue Iris, Amcrest has the hard copy for $50 USD on amazon. I see no reason not to buy this cheaper version. Below is an affiliate link so I get some kickback if you buy through it, at no extra cost to you.

If you are after Hikvision Cameras in Australia, check out my eBay listings.

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