Panasonic BB-HCM511A Network Camera with Two-Way Audio

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out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 682 user reviews

10 Responses to “Panasonic BB-HCM511A Network Camera with Two-Way Audio”

  1. Robert Andrade Says:


    OK not so sure if Im more upset with Amazon or Panasonic about this at first. A little of both, however at this time Amazon made things right with me.

    The problem is that there is no way to power this unit right out of the box. You will need to buy a power adapter BB-HCA3A which is $41.00 here on amazon or buy a POE Injector (Power over Ethernet). Now I have never bought any electronic unit like this that you are unable to use it out of the box with no power adapters. Yes you have a choice but is Panasonic assuming everyone has POE? Shame on you Panasonic! I could see if there was an actual cost savings, however at the price of this camera I dont think there is any savings by not including a power adapter. Yes it is printed right on the box that you need to buy the extra power adapter.

    This brings me to lack of information here on the product description on Amazon. If you were to buy this item in a store you would see the note to buy an additional power supply. That might make you look at other cameras right off the bat. I requested Amazon update the details on this item. Again Amazon customer service is top notch. Everyone makes mistakes.

    As for the item itself I cant comment of its actual performance since it comes with no power or way to use it. I have ordered a POE for the unit and will update this review once I have had some time to use it. I just wanted other to see this upfront before buying an item with no power adapter, especially since it was not mentioned in other reviews.

  2. Phillip R. Hamilton Says:


    Overall it is a nice product. My complaints so far are poor documentation for multiple camera configuration and the requirement of ActiveX for audio support.

    If you have multiple cameras, the documentation for configuring this is poor. What you need to know is that each camera needs to be assigned a different IP address AND a different TCP port number. If you have 2 cameras, one can be and the other (for example). You can use the local address when accessing at home. When not at home, you will use your external fixed IP address plus each port to identify the cameras individually. Single camera setup is easy and the supplied software does it for you. But to have multiple cameras it is better to assign static addresses and port numbers as described above.

    My second complaint is more serious than poor documentation. The audio feature requires ActiveX and thus will only work on Microsoft Windows OS with Internet Explorer. If you have Linux, Mac or even use Mozilla as your browser on MS Windows, you won’t have any audio.

  3. David Keith Abrams Says:


    I am very pleased with all aspects of this camera, I use it to monitor my farm property remotely. The setup is very easy and I have the camera setup to upload all the images to an FTP server and they are in jpeg format, I also installed a 16GB SD card because I am connected to the internet VIA satellite which has limited upload speed of 768k.

    Panasonic cameras require 48 volts for POE power insertion, I purchased the PowerDsine 7001G and I had no problems using POE to power the camera. Beware that the POE on the product page is incompatible with this camera, don’t use the purchase both items now or you will not be happy to find out later the POE does not work. Thanks to a previous review I went to the Panasonic site and downloded the manual to find out what the specs were to power this camera VIA POE.

    Be careful that you don’t purchase this camera for outdoor use, I searched the Amazon site for outdoor cameras and this camera appeared in the search results, I was looking for an outdoor camera and did not notice that this one is for indoor use only, but it all worked out in the end because I needed another indoor camera as it turned out. I later purchased the 531 cam for outdoor use and I am waiting for it to come in.

    I would recommend this camera to anyone looking for good quality images and the ease of use for the price, it is a full featured IP Cam for the price. This Camera is best for Home use, I would not use this for large business applications and IMO it was not designed for commercial use.

  4. T. Cayton Says:


    Unless you read the reviews prior to purchasing, the first thing you will do after opening the box is to be surprised that the AC adaptor is not present. Apparently that is Panasonic’s approach to cut costs. The power adaptor nor the cat5 network plug is included. One of these is required to power the device. If you choose to power up using only the network cable, you will also need a POE (Power over Ethernet) hub. If you don’t own one (this not just your typical hub), than be prepared to pay upwards of $150. Save yourself time and money – order both together unless you own a POE hub and your committed to by this camera. Panasonic requests you only use their adaptor. The item number is BB-HCA3A.

    In terms of setup, required multiple calls to Panasonic tech support to get both my older and newer Panasonic camera’s working on MicroSoft Internet Explorer (the fix was I needed to set “allow active content to run on file on my computer” checkbox in the tools, Internet options, advanced, security tab. I’m now able see both cams on Pansonic’s viewnetcam site, and it provide a nice view of our house.

    I made a bad assumption that this new HCM511 camera would be wireless like the BL-C131A based on price. What the 511 provides is two way audio, which I really wanted for the second cam, but the wireless capability would have made it better. More surprising, I’m finding the resolution or night time vision to be the same for both cameras. Expected improvements in this area based on a newer model. Oh well, I do like the cameras and the capability to view 6 cameras on one screen, and there are other nifty features as well that work just fine.

  5. J. Justice Says:


    About two months ago, I installed one of these cameras. I have 3 other surveillance cameras, and this one is the best. The image is clear in daylight and OK at night. It’s motion detection is very good and the software logging software works well. I like the power-over-ethernet feature and the ability to see the image from any computer in the house. I am using the camera outside under the eaves. It has functioned well at 32 degrees and in rainy weather. I am looking to buy another BB-HCM511A

  6. 5by5 Says:


    The HCM511A did not come with a power supply, could not use it out of the box. Opted to buy a costly POE hub to power it. Added another $150 onto the total cost to use the unit.

    The HCM511A video sampling rate creates cross talk on the audio circuit. The net effect is an audio beat loud enough to interfere with normal audio reception. Panasonic support is offshore, in Jamaca, they are completely worthless.

    Unit dows not have enough resolution to identify unknown people. Wide angle lense is far to wide, things in the distance are lost in resolution. Close up on the bird’s nest was OK, 8 inches.

    You must use Internet Explorer and the active X plugin for the audio feed. Hey Panasonic!, not everyone uses Windows, nor should they be made to do so to use your products.

    While the HCM511A can serve up to 30 users directly and has a number of useful confgiurations, I would look to another brand for a higher quality product.

  7. John Klatt Says:


    My apologies first and foremost for the rambling tendency of my reviews. I’ve published two images with color night mode enabled and disabled, so I’ll touch on that first.

    The setup so far as lighting goes is one light that comes on at dusk (Fluorescent) that’s putting out the equivalent of 180 watts of light. The house across you see across the street is putting out about 600 with two high pressure sodium lights at 300 watts each. When color night mode is enabled, you can definitely see things more exposed but you’re paying the price when it comes to exposure rate. With my current amount of light, color night mode is doing about 3fps, where as regular mode is doing about 15. A person walking across the frame when color night mode is on is at most going to be a blur, at least so far as I can tell. I do not yet have a SD card in the camera to capture images, so perhaps my review on that feature will change.

    The camera itself was a snap to set up. I dropped a PoE line out of the front eave of my house and have the camera post hanging down from the eave itself. I wish there were a way (out of the box) to do a flush mount on the camera. Throw the disc in my PC and it was essentially one click setup to get it going. Then about 15 minutes of tweaking to get the [...] site setup. I didn’t want to try to muck through it on the mac as this thing is definitely geared towards a PC, the audio feature of the camera itself pretty much needs IE to run, and I’ve found that in other browsers it doesn’t like to center on click, you have to use the pan and tilt buttons. It’ll function some of the time when clicking on the image to center, but other times it wont. It does function all the time using IE but this is definitely not my personal browser of choice. I hope Panasonic makes it more compatible for other platforms and browsers.

    This is, as I know, an indoor camera but so far it’s been holding up well being protected under the eave. I’m also in central Texas and it was a very humid 103 degree day outside, so this will be an endurance test of the camera as well.

    The only real complaints I have about the camera are software based, so if there’s enough demand features may even be added to the firmware. I’d love it this camera had a patrol mode. There is a button you can click that will do a full pan or a full tilt once, but then it centers back to where you were before. Another feature I’d like to see is for it to be able to dump video/images right to a network location. It seems that it has to buffer everything to a card first and then transfer it. If someone were looking to destroy the camera it would get you those precious few images before they could take it out, if it were to transfer directly instead of buffering on the camera itself.

    Either way, with relatively few complaints from me on it and pan and tilt at this price, I definitely say get it.

  8. Bernard J. Joy Says:


    This Panasonic Network Camera had the features that I wanted. Allow me to warn you, there is no zoom, however, you can switch from a default resolution of 320×240 to 640 X 480. Unless you are prepared to pay a much larger price, the zooms you get will be digital and not optical. That means the picture will be bigger, but it will also be grainier. Second, set-up required a call to technical support, however, Panasonic was great and it was up and running in under an hour. Panasonic provides a free webservice for this camera as well as most if not all of their network cameras. The necessary software is housed in the camera!! Once you configure web access, you have the option of sharing the URL with friends and family (up to 50). As each person hits the URL, they are presented with a password dialog. I set up two guest accounts that have differing levels of control over the camera. I grant no one the ability to tilt or pan and no one can listen. Even with those limitations, many of my associates tune into my puppy cam and watch the show. There is an integrated microphone that is good enough for most purposes. By attaching an inexpensive pair of computer speakers, you gain the ability to speak through the camera. I once caught my Doberman digging in the carpet. When she heard my voice come out of the blue and tell her to stop, she jumped, looked around, and STOPPED digging.

    With my administrative password, I have full control of the camera and I’ve been able to put my mind at ease concerning my pets. This camera is really intended as a Security Camera and it would do a great job for that purpose as well. The web interface allows for simultaneous viewing of multiple cameras. Before you blow half the price on a camera that looks “high tech” but is not reliable and can’t pan or tilt as far, I suggest that you look carefully at the specs of the cameras side by side. If you can afford it, this is a great camera. If you want to view images in Hi-Def, you can do that… for about a thousand dollars more. If you want an opticial Zoom, expect to pay $700+ for your camera. I’m very satisfied.

  9. FlyingPolarBear Says:


    For a while the Panasonic BL-C111a and BL-C131a were my favorite of the Panasonic lineup for monitoring the pets and vacation house. Now I discovered the BB-HCM511A and this amazing little cam is THE BEST! It has a 1/4″ CCD detector instead of a 1/6″ CMOS in many of the other models. I can get a night time view of the ranch because the CMOS goes down to 0.2 lux instead of 3 lux. That’s about the limit of human night vision, or a moonlit night. I couldn’t do that before with the BL-C111a cam that this replaced. Also the CMOS sensor has much better dynamic range, which simply means more colors. So whereas with the BL-C111a the shades of green on the plants look flat, the BB-HCM5111a gives the scene much more definition with all different shades: slightly bluish green, slightly reddish green etc. and this has the visual effect as if it had greater resolution. I love the PoE feature because I can just run a network cable without running a separate power cable. To take advantage of this you need a cheap PoE injector or a fancier switch that supports PoE. I use the SMC GS8P-Smart switch for PoE, which is a newer model router with good reviews. I also use the CoconutView Vista sidebar gadget so I can always see all of my Panasonic cams on my desktop. To download this gadget go to the Microsoft Windows Live Gallery on the web and search for CoconutView or Panasonic. There’s also an outdoor model, the BB-HCM531a but it’s almost twice as expensive and from the installation manual it appears that the BB-HCM531a just has a cover on the back that you screw on and tape over the cables to protect the connectors from moisture. So I think this one is a better value for placing under eaves and protected outdoor sites, unless your plan to install it where it will be directly exposed to pouring rain. Ok just buy it, you will be happy with this cam.

  10. Bob T. Says:


    I’ve tried four different Panasonic webcams as well as some from other vendors, and this one is the best and well worth the price. I put a 16GB SDHC Trancender memory card in it, and can buffer 3964 20-sec 320×240 video clips or 2615 10-sec 640×480 clips. I have three motion triggers set up: the first buffers local video clips; the second sends me an email with a 320×240 image with a 10-minute time-out between emails; and the third buffers 640×480 still images. The last one has already buffered 111,321 640×480 images in addition to the stored video.

    The night color vision option is fantastic. It automatically switches to a more sensitive mode when the light level drops. I can place small nite lights around the house rather than leaving the main lights on all night.

    I also have a log of all camera activity from each camera emailed to me every day at midnight. A problem with the logs is that only the last 50 events are stored and included in the email. A single pet-sitter visit can easily generate more than 50 triggered events. Since you can only have one copy of the logs emailed to you each day per camera, the number of events in the log should be enough to cover the entire day. I called Panasonic about it and they told me that the alarm logs were limited to 50, and that I could change my trigger settings or have each trigger email me. I explained to them why both of those options would not work for me. This is a serious design problem with this camera.

    I recently took a trip and found out that my pet-sitter was not doing the job I hired her to do. Since I will be traveling world-wide quite a bit in the next year, I am going to expand my system to the full 16 cameras to monitor my entire house while I am gone. I have 8 cameras now, and have not experienced any problems with bandwidth.

    I also have a Brinks/Broadview system with entry and motion detection, but it’s really nice to be able to look at any part of my house and know what is or has gone on there from anywhere, anytime.

    I do wish this camera was a little less conspicuous, but otherwise it is a great security camera! My biggest fear is that someone will break in and steal my cameras, along with their internal memory; however, I am working on a way to send the buffered videos to an offsite location, in addition to the current emailed images.

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