Reolink RLC-511WA security camera Review
Another great camera from Reolink. The combination of spotlight. optical zoom, and AI motion detection makes this a versatile camera
Overall - 80%
- Spotlight is an effective deterrent for ne'er do wells
- 5x zoom allows you to mount this higher up or further out from where you want to focus on
- £120 is on the expensive side for Reolink (still cheap though)
- It is physically quite large
Having reviewed a lot of the Reolink cameras, I have now got to the point where I am reviewing upgraded models from the existing range.
I previously reviewed the Reolink RLC-511W in September, it was an impressive camera, and at around £80, it was a bargain. The 4X optical zoom it offered was quite unique; optical zoom tends to be used with full PTZ and comes with a high price tag. The advantage of this was that you could mount the camera quite high up while still retaining a decent quality picture close to the ground.
Today, I am back with the Reolink RLC-511WA. It has a few more upgrades than I expected when I first saw the RLC-511WA product name.
Other Reolink Reviews:
- Reolink RLC-811A Review
- Reolink RLC-822A 4K Security Camera Review
- Reolink RLC-1220A Review
- Reolink RLN8-410 NVR Review
- Reolink RLC-510A & RLC-810A Review
- Reolink RLC-511W Review
Reolink RLC-511WA vs RLC-511W vs RLC-511
|Resolution||5MP (2560×1920)||5MP (2560×1920)||5MP (2560×1920)|
|Viewing Angle||27° – 96°||31° – 90°||31° – 90°|
|Night Vision||Colour when spotlight enabled||B&W||B&W|
|Connectivity & Power||2.4/5 GHz WiFi – DC Power||2.4/5 GHz WiFi – DC Power||POE|
This new camera brings with it an improved zoom, wider viewing angle, AI object detection, and a spotlight, which then enables colour night vision.
This then also comes with a higher price tag, roughly 20% higher than the RRP of the RLC-511W, but I think that’s worth it for the number of improvements.
Colour Night Vision
This is advertised as offering colour night vision, which is true, but it is not quite the same as the colour night vision on Hikvision and Ezviz cameras. It doesn’t use a special low light sensor but instead relies on the spotlight to provide enough illumination that it can switch to colour.
Reolink RLC-511WA Specification
- Image Sensor: 1/2.7″ CMOS Sensor
- Resolution: 2560 x 1920 (5.0 megapixels) at 20 frames/sec
- Field of View: Horizontal: 96°- 27° – Vertical: 69°- 21°
- Video Format: H.264
- Power: DC 12.0V⎓1A, <12W
- Audio: Two-Way audio
- Connectivity: 2.4/5 GHz WiFi & 10M/100Mbps RJ45
- Motion Detection: Person/Vehicle
- Features: Colour night vision up to 30m when the spotlight activates
Reolink RLC-511WA Set Up
Getting this up and running is identical to all the other Reolink cameras I have reviewed. With the camera powered up, use the Reolink App to scan the QR code and follow the steps. I set this up with a wired connection to start, but later switched to wireless.
Oddly, Reolink advertises this as being dual-band 2.4/5 GHz WiFi; however, when trying to add it to my WiFi network, I can only see the 2.4Ghz channel I use for IoT devices. It is quite likely this is due to my network, I currently have the Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Long-Range Access Point handling WiFi near that camera.
Just like all the other Reolink cameras, I have reviewed recently, getting this in Blue Iris is simple.
It is worth noting that this camera only uses h264, so the stream URLs will be
- rtsp://admin:[email protected]:554//h265Preview_01_main
- rtsp://admin:[email protected]:554//h264Preview_01_sub
You then need to change the username (if not admin), password and using the correct IP address.
Defining the sub-stream URL will reduce the load on your CPU as it will use this stream for motion detection.
As usual, the camera needs to be added to the NVR directly rather than one of the apps. With the camera set up within the App, the NVR should automatically see the camera, and you only need to provide the password.
As always, performance is good. Like many of the Reolink cameras, this uses a 4:3 aspect ratio, capturing more vertical space than other cameras. At 2560x1920px the bitrate during the daytime averages out at 4269kb/s with a minimum frame rate of 14.9 and max of 40fps and 8-bit colour depth. The end result is a 30-minute section of footage taking up 915MB.
Daytime footage is good on pretty much every camera I have used in recent years. At 5MP with the camera zoomed out you can just about make out the letters on the street sign in the distance but other higher resolution models have more clarity.
With all my review samples being balanced on the window sill, it is hard to get the at a consistent angle. With this one it is facing more downwards, which works out better for actual security compared to the Reolink RLC-822A, which was angled more upwards.
So with this, I couldn’t zoom in on the street sign, so instead I printed off an eye test card and zoomed in on that. At no zoom, you can make out a pixelated top two lines, but the full zoom offers the ability to read 4 lines down. It is a bit of a simple test, but this camera will retain clarity at full zoom, allowing you to have more flexibility with where you mount it.
Spotlight & Colour Night Vision
The spotlight, which then enables colour night vision is something that makes this stand out from many of the other Reolink cameras. While I much prefer colour night vision from an ultra low lux camera sensor, this works well with the added benefit of the spotlight working as an effective deterrent.
It is not 100% perfect, though. When the spotlight switches on, the transition from black and white to colour does interfere with the image a little, and it then causes more glare on street signs and licence plates.
My street is very well lit, but if you lived somewhere with no street lights at all, then I suspect the spotlight would be more beneficial than a low light sensor.
It is worth noting that the spotlight is quite bright too; when I sit in my TV room, I can tell when it switches on. This could be good or bad, depending on how annoying you find the light switching on and where it is placed or faces.
I won’t go into motion detection in detail again, I have covered it several times now. However, the person/object detection works well, significantly reducing the number of false positives you get. It is not as good as Ezviz, but it is a massive improvement over the generic motion detection on the Reolink RLC-511W or cameras from competing brands. It is also free to use, unlike Smart Sentry AI on Blue Iris.
In particular, the person detection massively reduces the number of events I have to wade through if I want to find something. Typically, person triggered events are under 12 per day, but once I add vehicles this jumps up to hundreds.
This has a siren, it is not something I leave enabled and only do limited testing. You can manually enable it which is probably the only time I would use it, if I got notified about someone on my property. It is loud, so reasonably effective, but due to me living in a town I don't really use it so I don't annoy the neighbours.
Price and Alternatives
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Reolink RLC-511WA is a new camera and priced at £118.99 on Reolink but not currently available to buy.
If you need WiFi connectivity, the RLC-511W is a good alternative and only £84 but lacks some of the features that make the 511WA stand out.
If 3x optical zoom is OK, then the E1 Outdoor maybe a better buy, offering full PTZ with auto-tracking for a lower price. The FoV is lower, but the auto-tracking PTZ will likely more than make up for this.
If you don’t need WiFi and can wire it up with Ethernet, or ideally POE, then the RLC-811A is likely a better buy being both cheaper at £108.99 and offering a superior resolution (but slightly different FoV). I have not used this camera personally, but it is my next review.
The feature-rich spec and low price of Reolink cameras make it almost impossible to suggest alternative brands.
I could copy and paste most of my Reolink review conclusions.
This is an excellent camera offering a specification and overall performance that other brands can’t match. I like the inclusion of the new spotlight feature. The spotlight itself offer superior illumination than other spotlight cameras from the likes of Ring and Eufy.
The main problems this faces is from other cameras within the Reolink range. There is quite a big markup on this one compared to the RLC-511W it replaces, but it has had enough of an upgrade to justify that cost. If Ethernet is a possibility, then the RLC-811A will likely be a better buy.
Monday 13th of September 2021
Awesome post, thanks for sharing.