We tested the best cameras from leading home surveillance brands and compared them to our UniFi G4 Pro 4k camera.
Cameras from the Leading Brands
We selected the highest performance models from Ring, Nest, and Arlo and benchmarked them against the UniFi G4 Pro.
Test Setup for Image Quality
- The best-supported image quality for each camera
- Arlo camera used the narrowest 120° FOV
- Arlo with Premium video recording subscription, records at the maximum 4k resolution
- Nest had object tracking feature enabled
- HDR turned ON or in AUTO mode depending on the supported settings
- Arlo Ultra and Ring Spotlight used their built-in LED illumination
- Good connectivity to Wi-Fi AP/Base station. Each wireless camera had a dedicated Wi-Fi AP
Car License Plates, Daytime
5 m Distance
10 m Distance
15 m Distance
15 m Distance, G4 Pro with 3x Optical Zoom
Daytime license plate results: The G4 Pro has the best sharpness at all distances. With the optical zoom applied on the G4 Pro, the state on each license plate is easy to read at a distance of 15 m, while all other cameras can only provide the general color of the plate – no other details.
Car License Plates, Nighttime, 5 m Distance
License Lights ON, with the Camera Built-In LED Lighting (Ring, Arlo)
Tail Lights ON, with the Camera Built-In LED Lighting (Ring, Arlo)
Front Lights ON, with the Camera Built-In LED Lighting (Ring, Arlo)
Nighttime license plate results: License plates at night are demanding for surveillance systems. The G4 Pro provides the most successful readings. Ring provides the second-best results. Arlo and Nest suffer from over-exposure because of the bright reflections. Arlo performance was not better with IR lighting (LED light turned off); it suffered from similar over-exposure with IR lighting.
You may think the reflection problem happens only at a narrow angle and that turning the license plate removes the reflection. Based on our tests, it does not. The reflective material of the license plates makes them bright at a wide angle. Turning the plate 30 degrees didn’t seem to improve the picture.
Vision Chart and Face, 5 m Distance
Nighttime, LED Light OFF (Ring, Arlo)
Nighttime, LED Light ON (Ring, Arlo)
Intuitively, an integrated LED light sounds like a great addition to a camera. In practice, it may not help. Combining a wide-angle lens, high-power wide-angle LED lighting, and limited capabilities in exposure control leads to an undesirable outcome. It’s like shooting an outdoor photo at night with the flash on. You can see nearby objects, but the image is dark beyond the range of the flash.
Vision chart results: The G4 Pro performs the best here. Ring performs the worst, lacking sharpness and struggling with exposure control.
Image Quality Summary
We wanted to compare the top models. You may ask, was it fair to include Ring since it only has a Full HD sensor? Maybe not. However, our intent was to see what each included vendor has to offer.
There are significant differences. Arlo Ultra records a 4k stream, but it may offer fewer details than Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. According to our test results, Arlo Ultra struggles to show any letters on the plates at night, while Ring still shows many details.
G4 Pro image quality is superior compared to any other camera in this comparison.
If reading license plates or identifying individuals at a distance is the determining factor, you may need to look past what Arlo, Nest, and Ring products can offer. The G4 Pro is a solid choice for home and professional needs.
Professional Image Quality at Lower Total Cost
You pay less for a professional-quality G4 Pro camera system than you would pay for comparable Nest and Arlo systems. Mandatory subscriptions make cloud-based video surveillance products expensive in the long run and additional features cost extra. With UniFi Protect you get all the features without subscriptions or other fees. In addition, you keep your videos private, and don’t slow down your internet connection.
The Full HD Ring camera system costs less than the G4 Pro system. With its Full HD sensor, it’s more comparable to the G3 Flex Full HD camera system. It’s hard to beat the G3 Flex in value – the G3 Flex system costs a fraction of Ring’s price and offers excellent image quality.
If you need video storage for more than seven days, the cost difference grows even larger. Nest subscriptions for extended storage make it very expensive.
The G3 Flex camera offers incredible Full HD performance. If you want to learn more about the G3 Flex, check out the G3 Flex camera comparison.