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
Airport Video Surveillance Guide on Jun 30, 2015
This 20-page guide explains the key uses, design factors, and players in the Airport Surveillance market. A global group of 40 integrators and consultants with airport project experience respond...
New Google Nest Cam Tested on Jun 29, 2015
The most important advance for the new Google Nest Cam is video analytics. Though this has not been the focus in the mainstream press, IPVM testing shows that their video analytic advances are sig...
Super Low Light HD Lens Tested on Jun 26, 2015
A smaller F-number can make a big difference in how much light reaches an imager. For example, the difference even between a f/1.2 and f/1.0, which may seem very close, can be significant, as show...
China and Taiwan Manufacturer Financials on Jun 24, 2015
China is the #1 threat to video surveillance providers around the world but how well are Chinese and Taiwan surveillance manufacturers actually doing? This report breaks down the financial perform...
iControl Piper Camera Test on Jun 24, 2015
iControl has raised over $100 million in VC funding to transform the home security market. Last year, they acquired Piper, a camera / home automation startup. iControl now faces off against...
Avigilon Access Control Tested on Jun 22, 2015
Avigilon aims to deliver an end-to-end solution of video surveillance and access control. But how good is their access control? In 2013, Avigilon bought RedCloud for $17 million. However, RedCloud...
The $500 FLIR Thermal Camera Tested on Jun 19, 2015
$5,000 thermal cameras were super 'cheap' not too long ago. Then $2,000 thermal cameras shocked people in 2012. Now, we have thermals cameras under $500, coming from the biggest name in the therm...
The $40 Million Funded Startup Canary Tested on Jun 17, 2015
This startup, Canary, has raised $40 million total since 2014. With Google buying Dropcam for $555 million, investors see big opportunity in security / video startups. Canary now has a sizeable w...
Favorite SMB Video Surveillance Manufacturers on Jun 15, 2015
Most video surveillance manufacturers are fighting to expand their sales to the small to medium size business market. With the high-end saturated from early IP camera adopters, premium brands like...
Online Surveillance Sales Trends 2015 on Jun 11, 2015
IPVM has uncovered the key trends and top options being offered across some of the most well known and commonly used online retailers. Is SD analog still king? Has IP 'won'? Is HD Analog making he...