Hikvision and Dahua are the world’s leading CCTV manufacturers. In first place sits Hikvision, with a market share of around 20%, followed at a distance by Dahua, with a market share of about 6%.
One might think, because of their positions as global market leaders, that Hikvision and Dahua are the best CCTV camera makers in the world. But as we shall see, while their hardware is technologically adept and available at affordable prices, it comes with some serious drawbacks in other areas. These areas include cybersecurity, human rights, customer support, and the danger that both companies’ products will not be available for buyers in the UK in the future.
As such, any time we mention a Hikvision or Dahua product in this review, we’re going to list an equally good (or better!) model from UNV, a company that suffers from none of the shortcomings Hikvision and Dahua are known for.
Before we dig into these serious issues from the two most popular ip camera brands, let’s compare the two companies’ products and the CCTV technology they offer.
Hikvision vs Dahua: CCTV Cameras Compared
Hikvision and Dahua CCTV are everywhere in the UK. Councils, schools, and businesses all use them. And when it comes to technological capacity, both companies produce cameras that are powerful, easy to use, and equipped with useful features.
Dahua Top Pick: The 5MP Vari-fFocal Starlight Dome
Our top pick for Dahua is the 5MP vari-focal Dome equipped with starlight technology.
This camera has a vari-focal motorised lens that has a variability range of 2.7mm to 13.5mm.
In addition, Dahua’s starlight technology means you can get clear footage during the day and night.
As you would expect with a modern IP camera, Dahua has also fitted this dome with Smart motion detection capabilities. The camera can distinguish between humans, vehicles, and animals.
Better Alternative: The UNV 5MP HD IR Vari-Focal Vandal Resistant Dome
Hikvision Top Pick: The 8MP Motorised Turret
Part of Hikvision’s ProSeries, this CCTV camera offers crystal clear, 8MP images. In addition to sight, you also get sound (audio) and a built-in alarm system to deter intruders.
This camera can continue to provide clear images in the face of strong backlight, as it is equipped with Hikvision’s wide dynamic range technology.
This turret is suitable for use outside as it is certified as water and dust resistant, and vandal proof.
Better Alternative: The UNV 8MP Autofocus Turret
Hikvision vs Dahua CCTV Cameras Roundup
Just a quick peek at two cameras, one from Hikvision and one from Dahua, we feel is enough to establish the sort of quality available from both companies.
To be clear, cameras from both Hikvision and Dahua security camera manufacturers are easy to install (as far as professional ip camera systems go) and setup up and come in a wide range of models with all sorts of smart features available. The cameras can be easily connected to your mobile smart device, allowing you to access the footage from wherever you are, and they
That said, the same applies to our preferred brand UNV (Uniview), which, as we’ve said, doesn’t come with any unwanted extras - like being linked to human rights abuses, or, as we will now see, poor customer support.
Video Quality Comparison
Both Hikvision and Dahua ip cameras video quality is generally good, as you'd expect from the leading ip camera manufacturers. And there isn't really all too much to separate them from UNV they all use similar technology and offer a wide range of fixed lenses and varifocal options. In theory hikvision should have slightly more advanced motion detection techniques, but, the reality is the difference isn't noticeable in any practical way. When it comes to ai camera features such as missing object detection, intrusion detection, and motion detection, they're all pretty much running similar software features.
Hikvision seem to have slightly better low light performance than Dahua cameras, but then again, both of them are slightly outperformed by the UNV triguard and colorhunter ranges at their price point. The low light ability of the highest end of the Hik camera range, but the pricing difference does become quite apparent. Hik also has a better range of thermal security cameras, but this specialised range of ip camera, isn't going to effect 99% of buyers.
Any Pricing Differences?
Dahua cameras are slightly, and we do mean slightly, usually about £1 a camera (when compared against similar or often the same spec), so in most cases this isn't going to make any difference, the same can be said for UNV. And in most cases the variation of £1 here or there is going to come down to individual retailer.
Hikvision vs Duhua: Customer Support Compared
While their cameras might be fine, Hikvision and Dahua have a reputation for terrible customer support. Of course, determining the quality of customer support can be challenging as unhappy customers are likely to leave reviews, while satisfied customer will simply go about their lives. However, of the review we could locate, both companies have received almost zero positive reviews.
Hikvision Customer Service
Hikvision has a Trustpilot score of just 1.7 stars (out of five). The majority of the reviews they have received are rated the lowest possible. Alongside technical issues, the reviews repeatedly state how terrible Hikvision’s customer service is. Most reviewers say they never heard back from Hikvision’s customer service team after making contact with them.
One customer wrote, “I have never come across such poor customer service”. Another said, “Don’t buy Hikvision. They don’t care about sold items, they only care about selling new ones”. We as a retailer have had consistent problems as well, so we can honestly say that if anything goes wrong with a Hik camera's video stream, you will be better off just buying a new camera, as you probably won't get anywhere. We do stock a limited range of core hikvision ip cameras, but we can't recommend them or really offer much help when they inevitably break and unfortunately neither can other suppliers.
Dahua Customer Service
It is harder to find information about Dahua’s customer service, but the few reviews that do appear are negative and stress the company’s poor customer service, although amusingly for our hikvision vs dahua review we did find that several people said "not as bad as hikvision". And at one point or another all of our staff have worked with hikvision security cameras, we can say that being worse than hikvision here would actually be an achievement.
As with Hikvision, customers report contacting Dahua’s customer service team and simply never hearing back from them. That’s not what you want after you spent hundreds, possibly even thousands of pounds purchasing CCTV equipment to protect your home or business.
Better Alternative: Again, we recommend UNV, which in our experience has far superior customer services. What’s more, if you purchase your UNV camera here, at CCTVdirect, you can enjoy our “excellent” customer service.
The Human Rights Issue and Cybersecurity Threats
Although Hikvision and Dahua’s customer service is atrocious, that’s not even the worst thing about these two companies. What’s even more troubling is their willingness to abuse human rights and the political and economic consequences of them having done so.
A few years ago, it came to light that both companies were involved in the oppression of an ethnic group, the Uyghurs, in northern China. With the active assistance of Hikvision and Dahua, the Chinese government have been arbitrarily detaining millions of people. Hikvision and Dahua have been providing surveillance technology and detention centres for the Chinese state, including a controversial facial recognition software that is designed to ethnically profile subjects.
The backlash for their involvement in these violations came when Donald Trump, then President of the United States, banned both companies from accessing the US market, starting with banning the use of their cameras in all federal buildings and American embassies. He also prevented US companies from doing business with them, depriving them of high-tech, American-made components.
These bans were also supported by the intelligence services in the US, who flagged Hikvision cameras as a potential security threat due to the existence of backdoor access to camera footage. It transpired that China might have been watching American activity inside government buildings and embassies, using the backdoor in Hikvision cameras that were installed in those buildings.
The reverberations of the ban are still being felt. Neither Hikvision nor Dahua can do business in America any longer. What’s more, questions are being raised by other governments who are considering following America’s lead.
Will Hikvision and Dahua be Banned in the UK?
In 2021, the EU parliament voted to remove Hikvision cameras from the parliament’s premises, siting the company’s involvement in human rights abuses. The MEP who pushed the amendment, Lara Wolters, claimed the company was “aggressive” in its efforts to get her to drop the motion.
In the UK, MPs who are part of the The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee have been campaigning for a ban on the sale and use of Hikvision cameras. A ban on Hikvision or Dahua would not be the first of its kind in the UK. In July 2020, the UK government ordered all equipment provided by Chinese company Huawei be removed from the telecommunications network.
For now though, the UK government is resisting calls for a blanket ban on Hikvision products. They have suggested individuals and organisations make their own choices as the morality of using Hikvision and Dahua surveillance equipment.
However, tensions between Europe and China are increasing and the UK is not immune. Moves to ban Hikvision and Dahua in other countries will strengthen the demands made within the UK. There could come a day when you can no longer purchase replacement cameras for your Hikvision of Dahua CCTV setup.
To future proof your security system, we recommend choosing UNV cameras. While also a Chinese company, UNV has been exempt from the flurry of US bans. Unlike Hikvision and Dahua, UNV is not involved in human rights abuses, nor is it state-owned. UNV is an independent company and is under no threat of being banned.
Hikvision v Dahua Conclusion
Hikvision slightly outperform their Dahua cameras counterparts in low light performance, but that's a relatively minor issue.
In terms of motion detection and other AI features they pretty much come in even and they both use the same video compression. Both tend to work "fine" with third party equipment, but we'd say that perhaps Dahua is slightly better here. Although not as good as UNV's otherwise comparable ip cameras.
Both have a large range of focal lengths, low light ability, PTZ, varifocal, anti vandal and pretty much every other type of camera you'd expect.
Our tests showed some issues with audio detection on both brands, and line crossing detection was solid.
However, and here's where the issue comes in Hikvision and Dahua CCTV cameras might be up to standard when it comes to technical capacity, but clearly, they are found wanting in every other regard. As more and more companies take a progressive stance against such things, it's likely that people will begin to shy away from these products.
Their record of poor, even non-existent customer service, does not bode well, nor does their human rights record and the possibility that it gets both Hikvision and Dahua banned in the UK, especially if such a resolution passes through other European countries.
To avoid the problems facing both companies, we recommend you choose Uniview. UNV cameras are technologically sophisticated, with better, more straightforward security features than those offered by Hikvision or Dahua. What’s more, UNV cameras come in a wide range of models, including multiple types of the usual bullet, turret, and dome cameras.