CCTV Test: HD Dome Cameras

If you ask most end users what they expect from a modern video surveillance system, HD video is typically one of the first mentioned features. Installers and integrators who have opted to make HD video the de facto standard for their applications enjoy higher levels of customer satisfaction. Even with HD cameras, the static dome unit remains one of the more popular formats. Benchmark pitted many of the leading options against each other to see what level of performance you can expect!

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his Benchmark test centres on HD1080p static dome cameras. The two main criteria being assess are image quality and low light performance. Image quality is tested in varying conditions, in both internal and external locations. Whilst the test cameras include a mix of internal and external models, the brief is not to consider their suitability in extreme conditions. Most manufacturers will offer ruggedised variants of the internal units.

The end customer has certain expectations with regard to HD video, and as such the test assesses the final image quality, whilst adhering to the HD standard.

For low light performance, it is important to differentiate between low light and darkness. Because of the pixel density of HD camera chipsets, they can be more susceptible to issues with low light than standard definition cameras. During periods of darkness, Benchmark would expect any credible installer or integrator to use additional lighting of some type. As such, the low light testing concentrates on the more troublesome periods of twilight which occur during dawn and dusk, as well as on-site challenging lighting conditions. During this testing, cameras with infrared illumination had this feature disabled to ensure continuity of results.

The test also considered ease of installation. All performance testing was completed using an open platform VMS, but the ease of installation ratings were based upon initial configuration, connection and set-up of the cameras using the supplied tools, processes and software.

The features and functions of the devices was also assessed. Whilst Benchmark has a policy of not publishing pricing information, the available features and functions are considered against the trade price of the units.  This ensures that higher priced cameras are judged fairly against economical models.

Features and functions
untitledThe FV2028-TM from Aver utilises a 1/2.7 inch image sensor to deliver HD1080p streams, and coding allows a choice of H.264, MPEG4 and M-JPEG compression. The unit includes integral IR illuminators with a stated range of 30 metres. The lens is varifocal, with a range of 2.8-12mm; it is motorised. Features include VMD, alarm I/O, WDR, DNR, BLC, regions of interest, privacy masking and two-way audio. The unit can also use MicroSD cards to provide edge recording. Power is PoE or 12V DC. The camera is billed as ‘vandalproof’, and has IK10 and IP68 ratings.

The camera is supplied with pre-fitted flyleads for all connections, and a CD containing manuals and utilities. The quick start guide is on the disk, but doesn’t contain any information about the disk contents.

The P3365-V from Axis Communications delivers HD1080P streams compressed using either H.264 or M-JPEG, and multiple streaming is supported. The camera features a varifocal lens with a range of 3-9mm. P-iris functionality is supported. Features include VMD and tamper protection, alarm I/O, WDR and two-way audio. The camera supports edge recording via SD cards. Power is PoE.

The camera is supplied with a quick-start guide, a CD containing full manuals and utilities, required connectors and two bubbles: one smoked and one clear.

The NUC-51022-F2 from Bosch Security is a low profile camera which features a 1/2.7 inch sensor and delivers HD1080P streams. These are compressed using either H.264 or M-JPEG, and multiple streaming is supported. The camera features a 2.5mm fixed lens. Features include tamper, motion detection and VCA capabilities, privacy masking and BLC. The camera supports edge recording via MicroSD cards. Power is PoE or 12V DC/24V AC input.

The camera is fitted with a flylead for LAN/PoE or 12V DC. It is supplied with a very brief quick start guide (one A4 sheet) and that’s it. Our camera had no CD with manuals or utilities. The quick-start guide states that the unit uses a default static IP address.

Canon’s VB-S30D delivers HD1080P streams utilising H.264 and M-JPEG compression. It use a 1/4.85 inch sensor. Dual streaming is supported. The lens is varifocal, with a range of 2.25-7.88mm. Features include VMD and basic content analytics, alarm I/O, two-way audio, smart shade control and edge recording via an integral MicroSD card slot. Power is via PoE.

The camera is supplied with a quick start guide, a safety wire and a CD containing full manuals and set-up utilities.

The Hyperflex ED2 from CCTV Direct is a budget camera which delivers HD1080p streams. The camera uses a triple codec, supporting H.264, MPEG-4 and M-JPEG compression. Multiple streaming is also supported. The camera’s lens is a varifocal unit with a range of 2.8-10mm. Features include VMD, alarm I/O, privacy masking, digital WDR, DNR and two-way audio. Power is PoE or 12V DC.

The camera is supplied with a quick start guide, a CD containing the full manual and utilities, as various connectors to split out the I/Os on the flylead.

The IPC-HDBW4200E from Dahua is another budget camera which uses a 1/2.8 inch sensor to deliver HD1080p streams. It utilises H.264 and M-JPEG compression, and multiple streaming is supported. The camera includes integral IR illuminators, and has a stated night vision range of 30 metres. The lens is a 3.6mm fixed unit. Features include BLC, digital WDR, DNR and edge recording via a MicroSD card. Power is PoE or 12V DC.

The camera includes a flylead with a LAN/PoE connection, plus a modular connection for low power. It is supplied with a generic quick start guide and a CD containing the full manual and configuration utilities.

The DS-2CD4124F-IZ from Hikvision use a 1/2.8 inch sensor which delivers HD1080P streams using H.264, MPEG-4 and M-JPEG compression, and triple streaming is supported. The camera’s lens is a 2.8-12mm varifocal item. Features include integral IR LEDs with a range of up to 30 metres, smart detection (VMD, tamper and face detection), alarm I/O, digital WDR, DNR, defogging, regions of interest and two-way audio. Edge recording is supported via a MicroSD slot. Power is PoE or 12V DC.

The camera is supplied with a mounting ring and a CD containing documentation and utilities. There is no quick start guide.

The DC-D1223WX from IDIS delivers HD1080P streams utilising H.264 and M-JPEG compression. The camera operates in two modes. DirectIP mode requires implementation in an IDIS DirectIP system. Compatability mode allows integration with third party devices. Multiple streaming is supported. The lens is varifocal, with a range of 3-9mm. Features include VMD and tamper detection, alarm I/O, two-way audio, noise reduction, digital WDR, privacy masking and edge recording via an integral MicroSD card slot. Power is via PoE or 12V DC­.

The camera is supplied with a quick start guide, but no full manual or CD.

The IQD52WV-B7 from IQinVision uses a 1/3 inch sensor to deliver HD1080p streams via H.264 and M-JPEG compression. The camera features a varifocal lens with a focal length range of 3-6mm. Features include VMD, two-way audio, Lightfinder technology to boost low light performance and support for on-camera apps. Edge storage is supported via the camera’s integral MicroSD card slot. Power is PoE.

The camera is supplied with connectors to audio, two housings (one white and one black), a quick start guide and a CD containing full manuals and config utilities.

The 29965 from March Networks uses a 1/2.7 inch sensor to deliver HD1080p streams. It utilises H.264 and M-JPEG compression, and dual streaming is supported. The camera includes a 3-9mm varifocal lens. Features include VMD and tamper protection, alarm I/O, privacy masking, WDR and two-way audio. The camera supports edge recording via a MicroSD slot. Power is PoE.

The camera is supplied with a wiring loom which plugs onto the rear of the camera, various fixings and a CD containing software utilities and documentation. There is no quick start guide.

The DCS-6314 from D-Link is a networked day/night camera which delivers HD1080P streams. It utilises H.264, MPEG-4 and M-JPEG compression, and multiple streaming is supported. The camera includes integral IR illuminators, and has a stated night vision range of 15 metres. The lens is a 2.8-12mm varifocal unit. Other features include WDR, motion detection, alarm I/O, privacy masking, two-way audio and edge recording via a MicroSD slot. Power is PoE or 12V DC.

The camera is fitted with a single flylead which breaks out to deliver a LAN/PoE connection, audio I/O,  alarm I/O, 12V DC power input and a reset button. A quick start guide is included, along with a CD containing full manual and utilities. There is also a sunshield, a mounting plate, 12V PSU and a LAN cable. The camera itself is ruggedised and is rated to IP68.

The WV-SFN631L from Panasonic is a networked day/night camera which delivers HD1080p streams, using H.264 and M-JPEG compression. Multiple streaming is supported. The camera features integral infrared LEDs, with a stated range of up to 30 metres. The lens is varifocal, with a range of 2.8-10mm. Features include VMD, alarm I/O, privacy making, super dynamic range and face dynamic, regions of interest including variable image quality, adaptive black stretch, fog compensation and two-way audio. Edge recording is supported via SD cards. Power is PoE or 12V DC.

The camera is supplied with a paper-based quick start guide, a booklet of general information, and a CD containing the full manual and configuration utilities. There is also a mounting plate and adaptor to allow set-up via a composite monitor.

The IME219-1ES from Pelco is a networked day/night camera which delivers HD1080p streams. It utilises H.264 and M-JPEG compression, and multiple streaming is supported. The unit includes integral IR leds for night vision. The lens is a 3-9mm varifocal unit. Features include adaptive motion detection with sabotage protection, SureVision WDR, alarm I/O, two-way audio and edge recording via a MicroSD card. Power is PoE.

The camera is supplied with an installation manual; the full operating manual is on a CD, along with links to set-up and configuration utilities. It is important to note that the CD doesn’t actually contain the utilities.

Riva’s RC3402HD-6311IR is a networked static dome day/night camera which delivers HD1080P streams. These can be encoded using H.264 or M-JPEG, and dual streaming is supported. The camera features a varifocal lens with a range of 3-9mm; infrared illuminators deliver night vision with a stated range of 20 metres. Features include VCA analytics (use of this limits frame rate, and subsequently a compliant HD stream cannot be delivered if it is deployed), VMD, WDR and privacy masking. The camera supports edge recording via MicroSD cards. Power is PoE or 12V DC.

The camera is supplied with a quick install guide, plus a USB stick containing the full manuals. This should also include a utility for IP configuration, but this was missing from our camera. There is also a PSU for traditional 12V DC power delivery.

The SND-6084P from Samsung Techwin is a networked day/night camera which delivers HD1080p streams at frame rates of up to 50fps. It utilises H.264 and M-JPEG compression, and multiple streaming is supported. The lens is a 3-8.5mm motorised varifocal unit. Features include BLC, WDR, DNR, image stabilisation, defog, alarm I/O and two-way audio. Motion, face and audio detection functionality is also included, as is video analytics. The camera also supports Samsung’s ‘open platform’ apps. Edge recording is provided via a MicroSD card. Power is via PoE or 12V DC.

The camera is supplied with a quick start guide, a CD containing the full manual plus configuration utilities. A second CD includes SmartViewer, a central management software program for Samsung video devices.

The SNC-VM630 from Sony is a networked day/night camera which delivers HD1080p streams at rates of up to 50fps. It utilises H.264 and M-JPEG compression, and triple streaming is supported. The camera is fitted with a 3-9mm varifocal lens. Features include motion and face detection, alarm I/O, audio detection, basic analytics, enhanced dynamic range, two-way audio, noise reduction and privacy masking. The camera supports edge recording via an integral SD card slot. Power is PoE or 12V DC/24V AC.

The camera is supplied with a quick start guide which only covers the physical installation, and a CD containing configuration utilities and the full manual.

The ADCi610-D011 from Tyco Security is a networked day/night camera which delivers HD1080p streams. It utilises H.264 and M-JPEG compression, and dual streaming is supported. The camera is fitted with a 3-9mm varifocal lens which includes patented ‘barrel distortion correction’. The camera also includes integral IR illuminators. Features include motion and face detection, privacy masking, alarm I/O, WDR and two-way audio. The camera supports edge recording via an integral MicroSD card slot. Power is PoE or 124V AC.

The camera is supplied with a quick start guide and a CD containing a configuration utility and the full manual for the camera.

The CBP6324DN-IP from Videcon is a networked day/night camera which delivers HD1080p streams. It utilises H.264 and M-JPEG compression, and triple streaming is supported. The camera is fitted with a 3.3-12mm varifocal lens. Features include alarm I/O, two-way audio, motion detection and privacy masking. Much of the video control is automated. The camera supports edge recording via an integral MicroSD card slot. Power is PoE or 12V DC.

Despite being aimed firmly at the budget sector, the camera does include a decent degree of functionality. It is supplied with a quick start guide, plus a CD containing full documentation (including configuration notes for some of the leading VMS packages), an IP configuration utility and a basic video management system.

The FD8371V from Vivotek is a networked day/night camera which delivers HD1080p streams at rates of up to 50fps. It employs H.264, MPEG-4 and M-JPEG encoding, and multiple streaming is supported. The camera is fitted with a 3-10mm varifocal lens which also deliver P-iris performance. The camera features integral infrared illuminators, and has a stated range of 20 metres for night vision. Features include motion detection, alarm I/O, WDR, two-way audio, noise reduction and privacy masking. The camera supports edge recording via an integral MicroSD card slot. Power is PoE or 12V DC/24V AC.

The camera is supplied with a quick start guide, plus a CD containing full documentation, configuration utilities plus a basic Vivotek video management system.

Ease of installation
untitledAver’s FV2028-TM does have an IP utility, but we found it a bit hit and miss. It refused to find the camera, so we contacted Aver to see if a default IP could be used. Once we’d got the camera running, the utility decided to play ball and could see the unit. The CD includes a number of manuals, but nothing specific to this model. We had to use other product manuals to find the default Log-in and Password.

If you are using an updated version of Internet Explorer for set-up, you’ll have to view the camera in compatibility mode: this isn’t mentioned. Also, there is no reference to how to adjust the motorised lens. There is a control screen, but it’s not obvious when looking for it. Including a quick-start guide with correct information would be a benefit!

The Axis IP Utility is shipped with every product, and the P3365-V is no exception. It’s one of the most reliable utilities we’ve used, and again it is both fast and simple. The menus are intuitive, making the set-up very straightforward. The only quibble is that setting the IP address from the utility can be slow; you’re better off logging in to the camera and changing it via the GUI.

The camera is compatible with the latest versions of Internet Explorer.

Because the Bosch NUC-51022-F2 lacks any utilities or manual, it is going to have to be intuitive, and thankfully it is. You enter the default address, connect up, and from there on in the menus are straightforward. Because the camera is relatively basic, there isn’t a lot beyond basic video adjustments and VMD.

In truth, we got by easily without a manual, but we do feel that one should be included as a matter of course, so that was reflected in the rating. The camera is compatible with the latest versions of Internet Explorer.

The VB-S30D from Canon is supplied with a suite of tools, including an initial set-up tool. This allocates the IP address. You’ll need a user name and password, and Canon has printed these on a label inside the box lid. A simple step that speeds up the process! That time will be useful, because the actual process of setting up the camera is somewhat slower than many on the test. This is because the in-depth settings are separate from the viewing element. In truth, a more streamlined interface would be an improvement.

This arrangement makes eliminating issues a slow process. We found the image had a slightly artifical look, but balancing gain and exposure to eliminate this required changing settings by small increments, saving and then logging back into the viewer to see what effect the changes had! Another point is that the Admin Viewer does struggle to handle a full HD stream, so you will see a lot of artefacting if fast motion is there.

The viewer is compatible with the latest versions of Internet Explorer, but will need to be added as a trusted site.

Installing the Hyperflex ED2 from CCTV Direct is a bit of a mixed bag. The camera has an IP Tool utility, which immediately finds the camera and allows the IP address to be configured. It works well and is quick and simple.

Loading the Active X element isn’t straightforward. Allowing it to auto-load gets you into a loop. We tried the obvious – adding the camera in Compatibility View, and then adding to Trusted Sites – without success. There is a PDF on the CD explaining how to add the element manually from the installer, but there’s no installer on the disk. However, if you click the icon that shows the element is missing (we found this out by accident) it will download the installer, and you can then complete the process manually.

The software uses two different elements: a video viewer and a manager for settings. It does create an issue if you want to see what effect your changes are having. There is a quick link from the Manager to the Viewer but it just gives an error message!

The IPC-HDBW4200E from Dahua makes use of a config tool, supplied on the CD, for initial set-up. This is compressed, but rather than using the Windows-standard Zip method it is an RAR file. You’ll need to download an RAR decoder, but as the utility only works when on the same network segment as the camera, you might as well forget about it and just use the camera’s default IP address. This makes the config tool superfluous!

If using the latest version of Internet Explorer the camera needs to be set in Compatibility View and added to the Trusted Sites list. The menu structure is very simple, as the camera is basic in terms of functionality.

Because the DS-2CD4124F-IZ from Hikvision has no quick start guide, it’s a case of connecting the camera up and running the CD to find out what happens. There is a list of devices to link to the documentation, but our model wasn’t there! We then moved on to the utility for initial configuration. This found the camera immediately, even on another network segment, and setting the new IP details was very quick and easy.

The camera is compatible with the latest versions of Internet Explorer. The menu structure is straightforward and initial set-up is straightforward.

The DC-D1223WX from IDIS can be used as a part of its Direct IP platform, or with a third party VMS or DVR. The test did not include proprietary systems so we opted for the latter route. A full manual must be downloaded from the IDIS website for use in a third party solution. This mentions a software utility, so you’ll be heading back to the IDIS site. It is frustrating because the PDF manual and utility should be supplied. Once you have them the process is very straightforward, which makes it a little more irritating. menus are easy to follow, and everything is where it should be!

The IQD52WV-B7 from IQinVision uses a utility for initial configurations. This can be run from the CD, and it quickly found the unit (even on a different network segment) and allowed an address to be assigned. Once connected the camera requires VLC – a third party open source plug-in – to display H.264 streams. VLC can be problematic but on this occasion it worked. Interestingly, it delivered a very poor stream, but once added to a VMS the camera performed much better!

One small note is that the lens is very fiddly to focus; it has flush screws instead of arms, and our model the whole thing was loose!

The 29965 from March Networks uses a utility for initial configuration. This works well, and is quick too. Accessing settings pages is either done via a URL or a Device Browser element that must be loaded. As integral web pages are only used for set-up, a link on the viewing page would be preferable. The current method means you cannot see the effect of changes as you make them. The menus are straightforward and easy to navigate.

The DCS-6314 from D-Link is supplied with a set-up wizard utility, and this quickly finds cameras on the network and allows the IP configuration to be set, along with a password and log-in if required. The utility is simple to use and is quick too. Once changes are made and the unit is rebooted, you can open the device’s integral web-page from the utility, or via Internet Explorer using the IP address.

The driver is compatible with the latest versions of Internet Explorer.

The menus are simple to follow, and configuration is straightforward. There are also wizards to simplify IP changes and the set-up of motion detection.

The WV-SFN631L from Panasonic utilises a utility for initial IP configuration. This found the camera quickly, and allowed the network configurations to be set.

Once this is done the connection can be made to the camera’s internal server for set-up. The driver is not compatible with the latest version of Internet Explorer, and so needs to be viewed in Compatibility mode. This is not mentioned in the set-up instructions.

The menus offer a high degree of flexibility, but are easy to follow and will contain no real issues for installers. The auto-focus works well and is very accurate.

Pelco’s IME219-1ES is supplied with a CD containing links to utilities, plus a manual for the Device Utility. The installation guide does predominantly cover the physical mounting of the camera, and the operation guide assumes the implementation is complete.

Because the CD contains links rather than the actual files, you will need to use it on a system connected to the internet. Whilst this does allow updates to the driver, it isn’t as user friendly as some of the other units.

The issue we had was that the Media Player wouldn’t run once downloaded. It’s not compatible with the latest version of Internet Explorer, but even running the browser in compatibility mode and adding the camera to the Safe Sites list didn’t help. The set-up was tried on two servers, and both resulted in the same problem.

A call to Pelco Technical Support couldn’t resolve the issue, and we were advised to use Quicktime for set-up instead. While the full tests were carried out using a VMS, a good player element does assist set-up. Quicktime isn’t the best tool for this.

As mentioned earlier, Riva’s RC3402HD-6311IR should be supplied with a utility for initial IP configuration, but this wasn’t included on the USB stick packaged with our camera. The utility is easy to find on Riva’s website, or you can use a supplied convertor to discover the default IP setting using the unit’s MAC address. The utility works well, quickly found the device and allowed the network settings to be configured.

The menus are relatively straightforward, and the settings do deliver a decent degree of flexibility. One thing to watch out for is that some of the more advanced settings do restrict certain performance parameters and may result in the video stream not being a standards-compliant HD1080p one. For example, the trade-off for VCA is reduced frame rates.

The SND-6084P from Samsung Techwin uses a supplied utility for initial configuration. This quickly finds attached devices and allows the IP configurations to be changed. The process is simple and fast.

Once connected, you are required to change the default password, and on re-load the viewer element is installed. This is compatible with the latest version of Internet Explorer. The browser will ask if you want to run the Active X element every time you move from the settings menus to the live view, but adding the camera’s address to Trusted Sites stops this from happening.

The menus are straightforward, and relatively easy to follow. The use of a number of profiles will meet many needs, although the full set-up can be configured fully if this is preferred.

Sony’s SNC-VM630 makes use of a supplied utility for initial configuration. This quickly found the camera and allowed the IP configuration to be changed with ease. Once logged in the viewing element automatically loads; this is compatible with the latest version of Internet Explorer.

The menu structure is clean and simple, and is somewhat reminiscent of another camera in the test! Settings are where you expect them to be, and aside from a few special functions the manual won’t be required.

The ADCi610-D011 from Tyco Security has no mention of a configuration utility in its quick start guide, instead giving a static IP address, but there is one on the CD. We tried this and it found the camera, but wouldn’t allow any configurations as the camera was on a different network segment. Many of the leading cameras will allow utilities to alter settings from a different network segment, and without this ability the config tool is somewhat superfluous.

Whilst browser viewing software is only used for set-up, the viewer supplied with the ADCi610-D011 will only handle M-JPEG streams, and not H.264 streams. This means that you need to replicate some of the configuration tasks. Initial set-up can be carried out via the viewer tool, with final tweaks needing to be made using the VMS or NVR – how simple this is will very much depend on the system being used.

The software does deliver a video stream to the latest version of Internet explorer, but the page layout was messed up; you need to view the page in compatability mode to correct this. It isn’t mentioned in the guide.
It’s not a deal breaker, but does mean that the set-up process isn’t as polished as with the other cameras. One tester also made the point that he often demonstrates cameras to potential customers using the supplied viewer software, and this meant that he wouldn’t be willing to offer this camera because the quality wouldn’t match other options!

The menus are relatively straightforward, and all the options required are present.

The CBP6324DN-IP from Videcon is supplied with an IP configuration utility. This found the attached device quickly and allowed the network settings to be made. Once done you simply connect to the camera; there is a choice of using a basic live stream or enabling the Active X control. The latter is compatible with the latest version of Internet Explorer.

The menus are straightforward and cover the video stream set-up, as well as other elements of the camera such as I/Os, video motion, recording, etc.. The actual video configurations are all automatic, so you have no real control over the actual image. Whilst such an approach makes the installation simple, it does somewhat rely on the manufacturer having got the processing spot-on for most mainstream applications!

The FD8371V from Vivotek is supplied with a configuration utility. This quickly finds the camera and whilst it doesn’t allow the IP address to be changed, it does allow a quick connection. Details are then changed via the Network menu if you want to set a static IP address. Once connected the Active X element loads; this is compatible with the latest version of Internet Explorer.

The menus are relatively straightforward, but could be improved. Some use drop-downs, others radio buttons and some need to be clicked to bring up configuration options. A uniform approach would ensure that nothing is missed.

Image quality
untitledAver’s FV2028-TM delivers a clean and sharp image at the maximum bit-rate of 12Mbps. Dropping this to a more realistic 6Mbps didn’t adversely affect the quality, but there slight signs of compression on sharp edges. Latency was low and consistent, so didn’t cause any issues.

The P3365-V from Axis delivers a clean and detailed stream, with good colour balance and smooth motion at 12Mbps. Reducing this down to 6Mbps doesn’t have any obvious visible impact, and it’s not until you go below 4Mbps that you can see the signs of compression. Latency is very low, and there’s no real issue regarding this.

The NUC-51022-F2 from Bosch Security delivers a relatively good and detailed image with a bandwidth of 12Mbps. It has latency of around one half a second, which isn’t a lot, but it is more than some of the other units. Also, colour rendition seemed to favour warmer tones. This isn’t a bad thing, and can be adjusted out if necessary.

Reducing bandwidth to 6Mbps doesn’t greatly impact on the viewed footage, with slight signs of artefacting being there, but you really have to look for them. The only issue was that the diminutive lens does display barrel distortion in many scenes.

The VB-S30D from Canon does deliver an image that is clean and detailed, with good quality and colour fidelity at 12Mbps. Dropping that down to 6Mbps doesn’t have a great visual impact, although you do start to see signs of compression creeping in. At the higher bit rate the camera did drop the occasional frame, and high detail portions of the image lacked the crispness of some the other cameras if light levels were low, doubtless down to the smaller sensor size. Given that the lens is small, the degree of visible barrel distortion was low.

CCTV Direct’s Hyperflex ED2 from CCTV Direct delivers an image which is clean and detailed, with a high degree of colour fidelity at 9Mbps (the maximum bit-rate). Dropping to 6Mbps doesn’t see any drastic change in quality. If you look hard you’ll see signs of compression in some bland areas. It might not have the crispness of some of the more expensive cameras, but it doesn’t compromise on quality. The lens does show slight signs of barrel distortion, and we noticed that one part of the bubble introduced a slight degree of blur; this was eliminated by turning the dome cover.

The IPC-HDBW4200E from Dahua does deliver a decent quality image, and in typical conditions the colour fidelity and overall quality are good. The fixed lens does show signs of barrel distortion in some scenes.

Maximum bit-rate is 8Mbps, and this still allows good detail levels and consistant latency of around one half of a second. Dropping bit-rate to the test level of 6Mbps doesn’t have a significant impact on overall quality, although you do see some shimmer in tonally bland areas of the image. Motion is smooth and there’s no sign of dropped frames.

Hikvision’s DS-2CD4124F-IZ delivers a good quality image at 12Mbps. Detail is good, but not quite as sharp as the better cameras in the test. This is probably due to the fact that the image seems to be slightly over-processed. Backing off Gain will help with this. Dropping to 6Mbps doesn’t have a visible impact. Latency is around one half second, but is consistent.

At some focal lengths there is slight barrel distortion, but this can be largely eliminated.

The DC-D1223WX from IDIS delivers a clean stream with a good degree of detail. Colour fidelity is high and motion is smooth. There’s no sign of dropped frames. Rather than using bit-rate there are five quality settings, and our initial setting was Very High. For the main test we set this to Standard, and image quality was still good with only minimal signs of artefacting. Latency was around one half of a second.

The IQD52WV-B7 from IQinVision deliver a stream that was slightly washed out, and whilst a few tweaks managed to beef it up a bit, it didn’t offer the colour fidelity of some of the better units on test. At 11Mbps detail was acceptable and motion was relatively smooth. Dropping bit-rate to 6Mbps didn’t have any real noticeable impact. That said, the camera seemed to lack the ‘oomph’ of some of the other units.

The 29965 from March Networks delivers a clean and detailed video stream. At the camera’s maximum 8Mbps, the image is sharp, motion is smooth and whilst colour fidelity seems to favour warmer tones, it’s only obvious if you use test charts! Dropping to our test specification of 6Mbps doesn’t introduce any additional degradation, and you have to really look hard to see any signs of early artefacting.

D-Link’s DCS-6314 delivers a clean and detailed image at its maximum bit-rate of 8Mbps. Dropping this to the test level of 6Mbps didn’t adversely affect the quality, but there were slight signs of shimmer in tonally bland portions of the viewed scene. Motion was smooth. Latency was low and consistent, so didn’t cause any issues.

The only quibble with the camera was that at certain view angles the lens did show a degree of barrel distortion.

Panasonic’s  WV-SFN631L delivers a clean and detailed stream, with good colour balance and smooth motion at 16Mbps (maximum bandwidth is 24Mbps), but the latency is over one half of a second. Reducing the bit-rate down to the test setting of 6Mbps doesn’t have a significant visible impact, but the latency is greatly reduced.

Colour fidelity shows no bias towards warmer or cooler tones, and gain is well balanced so nothing looks artifical. Motion is smooth, and the ability to increase framerate to 50fps helps if fast objects are in the viewed scene.

The IME219-1ES from Pelco delivers an image with high detail and sharp edges when used at the maximum bit-rate of just under 8Mbps. Latency is very low. Colour rendition seemed to be neutral with no bias towards warmer or cooler tones.

Reducing bandwidth to the test specification of 6Mbps doesn’t greatly impact on the viewed footage, and you actually have to look very closely to detect even slight signs of artefacting.

The auto-focus works well and displays a high degree of accuracy, and even at extreme angles the lens shows minimal signs of barrel distortion.

Riva’s RC3402HD-6311IR delivers a good quality full HD image. Our test specification was to run the cameras with a constant bit-rate of 6Mbps for comparison, but we also looked at quality above this where the cameras had the capacity. The RC3402HD-6311IR has a maximum bit-rate of just slightly below 6Mbps (6,000kbps in fact), and we suspect this is because much of the processing power has been reserved for the use of VCA and other processing elements.

Whilst the image quality is clearly high definition, and has little that you can find fault with, it doesn’t offer the option of taking a bit more bandwidth to really let the quality stand out. In our opinion, 6Mbps is the lowest bit-rate that should be applied to full HD.

Detail is good, as is colour balance, and motion is smooth, although with fast motion you will see a very slight blur. At certain viewing angles the lens does show signs of barrel distortion. The auto-focus works well, but is a little slower than the better units on test.

Samsung Techwin’s SND-6084P delivers a sharp and well-defined image with very high colour accuracy. Detail is clean and the definition is very good. Initially we ran the camera at its maximum 15Mbps bit-rate, and motion was smooth with almost negligible latency.

Dropping to the test spec of 6Mbps retains the image quality, and there’s no sign of artefacting or compression, even in relatively bland areas of the scene. Motion remains fluid with little, but consistent, latency.

The auto-focus works well and has a high degree of accuracy, and the video profiles will cover most needs; that said, we opted for a user-defined option!

The SNC-VM630 from Sony offers a natural and well detailed image. Colour fidelity is good, without any visible bias towards warm or cool tones. Motion is smooth and latency is less than one half of a second when using a bit-rate of 16Mbps (maximum is 32Mbps). Dropping to the test spec of 6Mbps doesn’t see any real change in the image quality, and even areas of bland tone don’t exhibit obvious artefacting.

The auto-focus works well and is accurate, and the various image processing options can be deployed without any negative impact on image quality.

Tyco’s ADCi610-D011 delivers a good quality image with sharp detail and good levels of definition at the camera’s maximum 8Mbps bit-rate. Dropping to the test specification of 6Mbps doesn’t really impact on the quality, with no sign of artefacting, even in tonally bland portions of the scene.

Colours do seem natural, but if checked using colour charts some of the more vibrant tones seem a little bit muted. That isn’t the end of the world, because these are colours such as bright yellows and reds, which can often look artifical in the gain is aggressive.

Motion is smooth, and latency is around one half of a second, but is consistent so shouldn’t be an issue.
Auto-focus works well, but uses a selected window as a sample. You’ll need to ensure it’s properly positioned.

Despite the lack of image configuration options, the CBP6324DN-IP from Videcon does deliver a decent quality image. It is an internal unit, and in typical conditions there’s not a lot to fault. Definition and detail are high, colours are faithful, and motion is smooth and blur-free. It might lack some of the niceties of other cameras, but you also need to consider the price point.

At the maximum bit-rate of 12Mbps the image is good, and dropping to the test specification of 6Mbps does see the quality diminish slightly.

Much of the functionality is basic, as is typical from a camera aimed at the budget end of the market-place.

Vivotek’s FD8371V delivers a good quality video stream. Initially we looked at the footage with a bit-rate of 12Mbps (maximum is 32Mbps), and detail was good, with crisp images. However, in an indoor setting with the iris mode set to indoor, a fair degree of discolouration was evident. We’d recommend keeping the iris mode set to outdoor, even if used in an internal space.

Dropping to the test specification of 6Mbps only showed slight signs of image shimmer in tonally bland portions of the image. Otherwise quality was more than acceptable.

Colour fidelity is average, and we found that some colours were muted if ambient light levels dropped a little – we’re talking about sub-200 lux, not anywhere near ‘low’ light.

The auto-focus feature is generally accurate; on a few occasions we had to perform the process twice as it was out.

Low light performance
untitledAver’s FV2028-TM utilises infrared illuminators for night vision. These were disabled to assess low light performance. The image retained detail well, and only became excessively noisy below 5 lux, which was good. It switches automatically at around 7 lux, or this can be triggered via telemetry.

The P3365-V from Axis does deliver a good degree of low light performance, and the colour image only really becomes noisy at 3.5 lux. There is a good degree of adjustability with regard to switching, with the earliest level being at around 7 lux, before there’s any obvious degradation.

The NUC-51022-F2 from Bosch holds a relatively clean and detailed image until light levels fall to around 12 lux, and whilst the image remains usable, it does deteriorate from there, again probably due to the size of the lens. The camera doesn’t feature an IR cut filter, and switching is digital. It’s the price you pay for a discreet low profile unit.

We expected the VB-S30D from Canon to deliver less low light performance due to its smaller sensor size, but that did not turn out to be the case. The image was relatively clean with only minimal noise down to around 4.5 lux. When used with automatic switching (this is digital), this could be set to switch at around 6 lux, before any degradation became obvious.

CCTV Direct’s Hyperflex ED2 has a ‘Twilight’ designation, and whilst it uses processing to deliver low light images, it is impressive. Our unit delivered a decent colour image which was relatively free of noise until light levels hit 1.5 lux.  Switching is adjustable, and ensures it can enter night mode before noise is an issue.

Dahua’s IPC-HDBW4200E makes good use of it’s internal processing to deliver clean colour images down to levels of around 4 lux. As noise creeps in it hangs on to a colour image for far too long, and even setting it to switch at the earliest point possible results in a very noisy image with blur from fast motion.

The DS-2CD4124F-IZ from Hikvision is very dependent upon processing, and that’s its weakness. In normal use the image looks artificial using the default Gain setting (100 per cent), so this needs to be turned down. The impact is that in low light, the image gets too dark at around 5 lux, but switching doesn’t kick in until 2.5 lux. With 100 per cent Gain, low light performance is enhanced, albeit with some slight blur on fast motion.

The DC-D1223WX from IDIS holds a clean and noise-free image as light levels fall, with the first signs of shimmer appearing at around 6 lux. As the light levels fall the noise increases and whilst the Gain does try to keep things balanced, the switching point on automatic mode is too late.

IQinVision’s IQD52WV-B7 was stable as light levels started to fall, but detail dropped away quickly and the image was too dark at around 5 lux. The Lightgrabber feature will boost performance, but at the expense of motion blur. Noise increases until the unit switches at around 3 lux.

The 29965 from March Networks retains a decent quality image as light levels start to fall. The image sees shimmer and slight noise at around 8 lux, and at 5 lux noise is obvious, but the image is still usable. Just before it approaches the point of being questionable – just under 4 lux – the camera switches. There is no option to adjust the automatic switching point.

The DCS-6314 from D-Link has a decent degree of low light performance. The first signs of noise become visible at around 7 lux, although motion is still relatively fluid and blur-free. By around 5 lux artefacting is obvious, as is motion blur. This doesn’t actually cause any problems because using automatic switching our test unit went into night mode – supported by the integral IR lights – at around 11 lux, long before noise was evident.

The WV-SFN631L from Panasonic delivers a good degree of low light performance, and the colour image only really becomes noisy at 5 lux or below. However, there is a limited degree of adjustability with regard to automatic switching, with the earliest level being at around 1.5 lux, by which point noise is an issue. There is an option to switch via telemetry, and this would be the only viable option in our opinion. When the illumination switches, the camera automatically refocuses.

The IME219-1ES from Pelco holds a relatively clean and detailed image until light levels fall to around 6 lux, and whilst the image remains usable, noise levels soon become increasingly obvious. It is possible to clean the image up using various processing options, but the result will be a trade-off with a softer image of motion blur in extreme conditions.

The camera features three settings for switching, but the setting to switch in lighter conditions was around 2 lux, when noise was evident.

The RC3402HD-6311IR from Riva offers a decent level of low light performance, with noise becoming visible at around 8 lux. Once light levels fall to below 5 lux noise is obvious and colour detail starts to fade. Gain can be increased, albeit with the side-effect of more noise. In our opinion the ideal switching point would be around 6 lux. The switching has a large variance for configuration, with up to 63 levels, but the earliest our test camera switched was around 1 lux, by which point the image was sub-standard. Despite the seemingly wide range for configuration, performance didn’t change that much.

The camera can be configured to refocus automatically when switching between day and night mode.

The SND-6084P from Samsung Techwin offers an impressive degree of low light performance. The first signs of noise become visible at around 5 lux, although even down to 2 lux it doesn’t become too prominent and the image remains usable with no motion blur or artefacting.

There is no basic option to adjust the switching point when it’s automatic, and the change occurs at around 1 lux, when noise has become established. There is an option to schedule switching or use telemetry, which we’d advise.

The SNC-VM630 from Sony holds a relatively noise-free image as light levels fall, and the first signs appear at around 8 lux. Gain can be a little aggressive, and at the Max setting there is a lot of artefacting at around 5 lux, to a point that arguably many of the benefits of HD are lost. Backing off the gain sees image detail and colour rendition lost in a noisy and murky image.

However, the camera does have a wide range of automatic switching points, with the earliest being around 15 lux, and the latest at around 1 lux when the image is unusable. This means that there will be a setting which is right for most applications. Switching can also be scheduled or via a telemetry link.

The Sony camera doesn’t hold a colour image for as long as some of the other cameras; we mean a clean and relatively noise-free one. However, the options to vary the switching point mean that footage need not be degraded if you are willing to sacrifice colour content a little earlier.

The ADCi610-D011 from Tyco offers a decent level of low light performance. The first signs of noise appear at around 10 lux, although this doesn’t really become problematic until around 5-6 lux.

The switching point can be adjusted through 10 stages. If you’re using the integral IR illuminators you’ll want to leave a difference of about two levels between the day-night and the night-day thresholds to prevent constant switching, so with a day-night threshold of 8, the camera switches at around 12-13 lux. This gives enough flexibility to ensure the low light performance is right for the needs of most applications. Alternatively, switching can be activated via a telemetry input.

Whilst the CBP6324DN-IP from Videcon offers decent performance in typical lighting for indoor applications, it is in low light environments that the lack of any video configurations becomes a serious problem.

The image starts to display noise at around 10 lux, and this builds to a point where the benefits of HD video are lost at around 5 lux. Sadly, the camera doesn’t switch until closer to 1 lux, at which point the image is badly degraded.

The FD8371V from Vivotek has an average capability for dealing with low light environments. Noise first becomes visible when ambient light levels fall to around 10 lux, and it is pronounced at around 5 lux. Ideally, the camera should switch prior to reaching this level.

Unfortunately, it holds on to a colour image until around 2 lux. There are three light sensitivity levels, and this is achieved at the highest setting.

Verdict
Aver’s FV2028-TM offers good image quality and decent low light performance. However, it is let down by the lack of accurate documentation and a slightly unstable utility. Both would be easy for Aver to correct, and would elevate its rating.

The P3365-V from Axis Communications is a good quality HD camera, and will meet the demands of many installers and integrators. Given the Axis heritage in HD cameras, it’s what you do expect.

The NUC-51022-F2 from Bosch is an odd combination. It’s very basic in some ways, but it also includes a good degree of VCA functionality. Low light performance could be better.

Canon’s VB-S30D is a decent compact HD camera, but when compared with many of the other units the GUI isn’t that strong. Having viewing capabilities with the settings makes sense when making final adjustments.

The Hyperflex ED2 from CCTV Direct is a budget camera, but it certainly punches above its weight with regards to performance. The Active X issues needs attention, and a consistent bubble would be an improvement. If these are corrected it’s a very good budget choice.

Dahua’s IPC-HDBW4200E is a decent camera, given its limited functionality. It is built to a price, yet still performs well – with one exception! The camera switches too late, resulting in a noisy image with motion blur. A software change would make this a different proposition.

Hikvision’s DS-2CD4124F-IZ does deliver what is expected, but you might have to spend some time tweaking at each location to get the right balance. If that’s not an issue, it will do the job!

The DC-D1223WX from IDIS could benefit from more adjustability with regard to day/night switching. Also, IDIS must include the manual and utilities on a CD as standard for those not using the Direct IP platform. These changes would affect the camera’s final rating.

IQinVision’s IQD52WV-B7 felt very much like an underpowered camera, and its performance wasn’t up to the quality of the leading units. It is surprising as we’ve seen better performance from IQinVision cameras in the past.

The 29965 from March Networks represents a decent mid-range HD camera. A little flexibility on the switching would be a benefit, but as it stands it still delivers.

The DCS-6314 from D-Link is a decent HD camera. It must be remembered that it is a budget model, and as such lacks the degree of flexibility that some of the other units boast. That said, it will be enough for many mainstream applications.

The WV-SFN631L from Panasonic is a good quality HD camera, and delivers a high degree of performance. However, due to a very low switching point for day/night operation, it is necessary to use a telemetry-based trigger for consistent image quality.

The IME219-1ES from Pelco delivers a strong video image, and offers a depth of functionality. However, the set-up isn’t as cohesive as the better units, and more variance on automatic switching would be good.

Riva’s RC3402HD-6311IRD is going to be specified for its VCA capabilities, and as such the manufacturer has dedicated much of the unit’s capabilities towards this end. The result is that for general HD video capture around the clock, it doesn’t match the performance of its peers. It’s real weak point is low light performance. This could be radically improved if the software was tweaked to switch at around 6 or 7 lux.

The SND-6084P from Samsung Techwin delivers high quality video, is easy to install, and the video processing is pretty much spot-on. Low light operation is also good, but the one niggle is that automated day/night switching happens too late. That said, there is an option for scheduling or using telemetry, which we’d recommend.

The SNC-VM630 from Sony is a decent camera with quality video streams and a decent amount of functionality. You will need to accept earlier switching in order to keep noise out of low light images.

Tyco’s ADCi610-D011 is a decent HD camera and will fit the needs of many applications. In truth, it would have rated higher had the set-up procedure been simpler. The viewer only allows M-JPEG streams for configuration, and in the motion detection menu the small size of the image, and its quality, made set-up a touch hit and miss. Not all VMS systems and NVRs allow a high degree of camera adjustment, so this has to be seen as an issue Tyco should address!

The CBP6324DN-IP from Videcon is designed and built to a price, and whilst the config tools work well and general video quality is high, the lack of adjustable video configurations is its weakness. In low light situations, it makes the camera difficult to recommend.

Vivotek’s FD8371V is a decent camera, but like a number that just missed out on being recommended, the day/night switching was too late to ensure a consistently clean image.

BEST BUYS
Because of the wide range of cameras involved in the HD1080p static dome test, it was decided that two Best Buys would be nominated. Whilst Benchmark always considers features and functions versus price, to ensure devices are judged with a realistic understanding of their target market and the subsequent expectations, it was felt that there were very much two different sectors represented across the models tested.

For those seeking a budget camera, it is hard to ignore the DCS-6314 from D-Link. It isn’t the lowest cost ‘budget’ unit, but given its price it has a number of the features which not only aide installers and integrators in the field, but also ensure that the end user is capturing the quality of images that will demand from an HD surveillance system.

At the higher end, the P3365-V from Axis Communications delivers a very high quality image, ease of installation and set-up, and a wide variety of functionality that only the highest rating devices in the test can match. Indeed, it could be argued that a test of this nature plays to the strengths that Axis has, being a camera-centric manufacturer in the network video space.

In reality, the performance of network cameras is advancing all the time, and a case could be made for any of the Recommended cameras in the test. Indeed, a number of cameras just missed out, predominantly because the market is moving so fast and some manufacturers have already taken the next step!

BENCHMARK
Benchmark is the industry's only publication for installers and integrators which is dedicated to technological innovation and the design and implementation of smarter solutions. With an unrivalled level of experience in technology-based systems, Benchmark delivers independent and credible editorial content.

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