WDR Megapixel Camera Shootoutby Antony Look, posted on Jul 30, 2011
Dealing with direct sunlight is one of video surveillance's toughest problems. Avoiding the sun is frequently impossible. Making things worse, when a scene has direct sunlight creating both dark and bright areas, image quality can suffer dramatically.
In video surveillance, the technical term used to describe a camera's ability to handle these conditions is WDR or Wide Dynamic Range. In this context, range refers to the variations of light levels that a camera can capture and deliver a quality image. The greater the range, the more likely the camera can handle both very bright and dark areas (e.g., sunlight on a person's face, shadow on the car in the corner).
Earlier this year, we did our first WDR shootout with (2) SD and (2) MP cameras. One of the clear, yet surprising, results was that cameras with more pixels (i.e., megapixel) tended to outperform (i.e., capture more image details) than standard resolution cameras, even if the SD cameras were marketed as supporting WDR.
Given those results, in this test, we wanted to learn more about the differences in megapixel camera WDR performance. To do so, we tested 6 Megapixel cameras from Arecont Vision (AV1315), Axis (P1344), Panasonic (WV-SP306 and WV-NP502), Sony (CH140) and Vivotek (IP8151P) to see who was the best and worst at handling WDR scenes.
[UPDATE 2012: We have tested the Axis Q1604 against the best performing WDR cameras in this group.]
We picked 2 common real world scene:
- Doorway entrance facing outdoors - this is a common pain point for users who cannot properly identify individuals coming inside for hours a day as the sun faces the door
- Sun setting in the line of sight of an outdoor camera - this is a frequent problem for parking lot and street surveillance. Accidents or thefts occurring during those times of day can be obscured by the sun.
In addition to testing core WDR performances, we did additional testing of 2 advanced features to see what benefits they provide:
- Face WDR: Panasonic has an optional feature that can detect faces and then adjusts exposure to maximize the image quality of the detected face.
- Exposure Regions: A number of cameras, including Arecont and Axis, support exposure regions that allow lighting to be optimized for a specific area of the scene (e.g. region specified for where faces normally appear).
Below is a preview of our test results from the doorway showing fairly dramatic differences among the 6 megapixel cameras tested:
Inside the Pro section, we share full results and rankings of each camera's doorway performance.
Below is a preview of our test results from the outdoor setting sun scene showing major performance differences among the 6 megapixel cameras tested:
Inside the Pro section, we share full results and rankings of each camera's setting sun performance.
Most Recent Industry Reports
IP Camera Firmware Upgrade Directory on Aug 28, 2014
Updating firmware can be one of the most tedious tasks involved in any IP camera system. It is not always clear what version is latest, what has changed or been fixed, and where to even download it...
Testing Hikvision High End Camera on Aug 27, 2014
Chinese manufacturer, including the two mega ones, Dahua and Hikvision, are best known in the West for super low cost, entry level cameras. However, how well do their 'higher end' ones one work? ...
A Major Flaw in Long Lenses and PTZs Found on Aug 26, 2014
Theoretically, long lenses should let you capture faces and license plates very far away. For example, over 900 feet away from a 1080p camera one should get over 40ppf from a 100mm lens. But how ...
Camera Calculator Adds Personal Scenes on Aug 25, 2014
By popular request, now you can visualize and optimize your own applications with your own images. The IPVM Camera Calculator has added personal scenes to our 6 pre-set ones. You are going to love...
Manufacturer Salary Results 2014 on Aug 19, 2014
IPVM has determined how much sales people, engineers, developers, and tech support are earning in our 2014 Manufacturer Salary Survey. This is the companion to our Integrator Salary Survey 2014 ...
Testing HD Lipstick Camera on Aug 15, 2014
Miniature IP / HD cameras are a growing trend. One of the downsides has been the addition of a 'head' or 'base' unit to do the encoding, often large or cumbersome enough to create installation cha...
Lockitron Tested on Aug 14, 2014
Lockitron is one of the most hyped products in years and maybe the most well known access control product ever. Ever since their crowdsourcing campaign began, this red-hot startup has won mill...
Integrator Salary Survey 2014 on Aug 13, 2014
IPVM has determined how much sales people, senior technicians, and entry level technicians are earning in our 2014 Integrator Salary Survey. Key highlights include: Good: Technicians can expe...
Testing IP Video - Super Low Bandwidth on Aug 08, 2014
Even today, there are remote locations, especially in security applications, where extremely limited bandwidth is available. Despite that, users want to be able to monitor video live. In a world ...
Testing Exacq VMS on Aug 06, 2014
This test is part of an ongoing VMS test series were we provide in-depth explanation and analysis of video management software manufacturers. Inside this report, we have 40+ minutes of video scree...