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How to get email alerts from Panasonic IP Cameras

In this how to guide, we’ll set up motion detection email notifications with an image attachment on a Panasonic camera.

Having an IP camera can give you a lot of reassurance when away from home. However, it’s implausible to monitor the camera 24 hours a day, so it’s handy to be notified in the event something happens.

Panasonic IP cameras offer this functionality. By setting up motion detection and integrating it with an email service, you can be notified if an event takes place and even have the camera send you an image so that you can quickly see what’s happened.

This how-to covers the setup of email notifications on all Panasonic BB and BL cameras. We have used a Panasonic BL-C160 for testing, but other cameras in the range will be all but identical.

Which Email to Use

Most users will want to send emails to their Google, Hotmail or Yahoo email account. While these can receive notifications from a camera, they cannot be used to send outgoing email. Web-based email accounts require encryption that Panasonic cameras do not support.

It is always best to use the outgoing mail provided by your ISP. The details for these will most likely have been provided when the service was started but if you don’t have them, ask your provider to give you details of the following:

  • Outgoing SMTP server
  • Port number to use
  • Authentication type (POP before SMTP, SMTP or none)
  • Email address
  • Email password

My ISP doesn’t provide email

In the few cases where your ISP doesn’t provide an email service, or the service requires encryption, you can set up a free email account with many online providers. We have previously tested this with GMX, which works quite well.

Setting up Motion Detection

First off, we need to configure the motion detection settings on the camera. The settings for this need to be correct otherwise you will either receive too few alerts, missing vital events, or your camera will send you floods of unnecessary events which your email provider may see as spam. Unfortunately there are no absolute rules for setting this up as every scene is different.

Log into your camera and go into the Setup menu. On the left menu under Buffer/Transfer click Motion Detection. You can adjust these settings to alter how the system detects motion.

Threshold: this is the setting for the amount of motion that has to be detected in order to trigger an event. A higher threshold might detect larger objects but not detect smaller ones. A lower threshold will trigger with smaller objects, but will be more likely to trigger erroneously.

Sensitivity: the sensitivity settings control how sensitive the camera is to changes in view. For example, a lower sensitivity might not detect movement of a black shirt against a black background as easily as a higher sensitivity. However, higher sensitivity might detect unwanted events such as changes in sunlight.

The default settings should be fine for basic setup, but you should test the detection system thoroughly and adjust these settings if required. Remember to click the Save button whenever any changes are made.

Setting Up the Email Trigger

We now need to tell the camera that whenever motion is detected, an email needs to be sent. On the Setup menu, click Trigger. You can have multiple triggers set up for different events such as timers, external inputs and PIR sensors, dependent on the cameras capabilities.

For now we will concentrate on motion detection. Click the 1 link on the left hand side of the page. In the options that appear, ensure that Enabled is ticked and that Motion Detection is selected as the trigger before clicking the Next button.

Time: set the times that you want the trigger to operate at the top of the page, for example, between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Image setting: adjust the image to the resolution/quality that you need. Note that MPEG-4 movies cannot be transferred using the FTP system.

Image buffer frequency: specifies the number of image emails that are sent to you, with pre-trigger images happening just before the motion is detected and post-triggers happening after.

The frequency drop-down boxes show the image rates that the camera will use. The Total box indicates the total number of emails you will be sent for each event while the other two indicate the frame rate. For example, every 1s buffer 5 images total 10 would send 10 image emails with images taken at a frame rate of 5 fps. If you were to set it to every 1 min buffer 5 images total 20, you would get 20 emails with images taken 12 seconds apart (1 minute divided into 5).

For this example, uncheck the pre-trigger box and set the post-trigger to every 1s buffer 1 image total 1, so that only a single email is sent.

Sensor deactivation time: disables the sensor whenever an event is triggered. Set this to None.

Transfer Method: select Email. If you were creating an FTP transfer on motion, this is also where you would select FTP.

Send notification when triggered: this setting sends a text-only email to notify users that an event has been triggered and is used primarily for image buffering rather than transferring. Set this to Disable.

Click Next to continue to the email settings page.

You will need the settings provided to you by either your ISP or system administrator.

Email transfer: enter the SMTP server name and port number. The reply email address is what is displayed as the “From” address at the top of the email, so enter your own IP address. You can add up to 3 destinations for receiving emails so add these in the next three boxes. If you only have one, leave the other boxes blank. Add a subject for the email and, if required, some text to accompany the images.

How to authenticate: depending on your provider, you will need to select the authentication method required. Enter the required details for your method and click Save.

Testing / Troubleshooting

Test the system by moving in front of the camera and seeing if emails are received. You can also check in the Maintenance tab in the camera. There is a table marked Protocol which will tell you whether the camera believes it has successfully sent an email or not. If you have problems, confirm the email settings with the email provider. Also, check the camera’s IP address settings. If there are problems with the cameras IP address settings, it will not be able to access the internet and send information. Finally, if you still have trouble you may also wish to confirm that your ISP is not blocking any key ports on your internet connection which may be interfering with your camera.

Sudden stop

If you receive emails for a few days and then suddenly stop seeing them, contact your email provider. If a camera uploads too many emails in a short period of time, it can sometimes be misconstrued as spam and will be blocked by the email company. Getting in contact with them is usually enough to get them to re-enable the account.

Test in email client

If you don’t have any luck with at all with the camera, remember that you can test sending emails using a software-based email client such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla’s Thunderbird. This is often handy for highlighting credential problems and can quickly narrow down the issue.

Published on August 12th, 2011 by Kevin Bowyer

5 Responses to “How to get email alerts from Panasonic IP Cameras”

  1. Margaret says:

    I can not get email to work. I have AT&T, which requires encryption, apparently. I have tried GMX, to no avail. What options are available in this situation?

  2. Piers says:

    Still a VERY useful guide!

  3. kike says:

    Can you share GMX email alert settings?

  4. Karen says:

    Me too! I've tried everything and still no luck on the SC-385 as well as the SC-306. Very hard to find answers!

  5. Jerry says:

    Are there any detailed instructions for configuring email alarm messages for the Panasonic SC-385 camera? I seem to be having a good deal of difficulty getting this to work reliably.