Better Than Mobotix - Your Top Picks For Oilfield/Industrial Cams On 3G/4G Connections?

Hello everyone,

I’m looking to my fellow users for help here. I’m pretty new to the site, and to the surveillance field in general, but have been very impressed with the breadth and depth of the knowledge that I’ve seen on the site and its forums, so maybe you can point me in the right direction. My company’s emphasis is in oilfield automation, and as a small part of that we offer surveillance cameras for well and disposal sites. The sites are connected to the internet almost exclusively via 3G/4G cellular modems, and we make the live camera feeds viewable in our web app and mobile apps.

When I started, the company was using cheap wireless Foscam cameras for these installations and was spending an inordinate amount of time on troubleshooting wireless connectivity issues and outright hardware replacement, which wasn’t surprising. I and others on the IT team advocated for better cameras, and one of our salesmen saw a competitor using Mobotix cameras. We read a few good things about them which pushed our CEO/CFO into wanting us to adopt them. I’d already been testing Axis cameras internally and was impressed with their ease of setup, but I was sort of overruled. I just wish I’d been a member here at the time so I’d have had access to more honest opinions about Mobotix and their offerings.

Now there are a lot of things to like about the Mobotix cameras (M15d’s in this case), especially when you compare them to extremely low-end equipment like Foscam. They’re built like tanks, can record to an internal SD card, don’t require a NAS, tend to produce a quality recorded image, and I don’t doubt that they’ll stand up to the harsh conditions found out in the field, but I just haven’t been impressed with their software or ease of configuration. Features we don’t need, like VOIP communications, or the ability to actuate a door opening with an additional module, just serve to inflate the MSRP. Also, their bandwidth usage in the Live View, even in MXPEG mode @ 640x480, still seems a bit high. Why they refuse to create and sell a $600 outdoor bullet cam that looks like a pair of binoculars with a hood on is beyond me. And while they’re at it, simplify the configuration settings. It just seems like they made a strong product 5 years ago and have been grasping at euros ever since.

Regardless, we’ve got several Mobotix cameras in the field now, but I’d really like to pivot to something else, if possible, before we’ve gone too far to turn back. What are some of your recommendations for cameras that can meet the following requirements?:

  1. IP66 and above for weatherproofing, as corrosion on these sites can be a problem due to hydrogen sulfide and other airborne contaminants.
  2. Operating temperature range of at least -30° to +60° C (-22°F to + 140°F)
  3. Can store event footage to a shared folder on the onsite automation computer (generally has a 1TB SSD), or within the folder structure of an affordable VMS application on that computer, so that higher-quality footage is retrievable in the event of an onsite incident.
  4. Reliably streams a live feed in MJPEG (or better) format with low bandwidth usage. A single stream goes to our servers, and we distribute it from there to the website and web apps, so the camera itself doesn’t have to be capable of handling multiple simultaneous viewers.
  5. Features an accessible API so that we can better integrate live feeds, and possibly playback of recorded footage, into our web and mobile applications.
  6. Captures good low-light footage. IR/0-lux capability is not required, as these sites are generally lit fairly well at night for safety reasons.
  7. PoE-powered, with less than 10w draw.
  8. Includes or is compatible with a free or relatively inexpensive VMS system. We have a DVR application that was developed in-house, but it was left in about a 90% production-ready state by the developer, so it’s a bit unstable and has pretty simplistic functionality.
  9. Bullet cam versions for certain outdoor areas, wall or ceiling-mount domes for covered sign-in screens, and outdoor hemispheric versions for site overviews are all form factors that we could use.
  10. Straightforward setup, configuration, and firmware upgrades.
  11. Ability to utilize standard pole mounts, as the Mobotix mounting surfaces are so large (in order to house their optional expansion modules) that you can’t use universal pole mounts with them. The mounting base of the camera (108mm x 108mm / 4.25” x 4.25”) is larger than the mounting surface of most pole mount brackets, so it overlaps on 2 or more edges. Of course you can buy the $120 Mobotix-branded bracket, but that’s ridiculous.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide!


Maybe not a better all round solution than Mobotix for various reasons, but an alternative worth considering: AXIS P14 series bullet cameras, with or without IR lighting, with 64GB SD card onboard, running Exacq Edge Plus VMS software onboard.

IMO, the Mobotix M15 usually can't be beat for remote projects.

Very good points. Thanks, Jeff!

I do think the M15 will end up being very reliable out in the field--probably eclipsing the lifespan of the average small to medium well operator out here--and I don't mind ordering them for customers that are willing to pay around $2000 per camera after markup & installation, even though they can be a bit of a pain to set up.

I guess I really should have phrased my question as:

What's a good lower-cost alternative to Mobotix for the kinds of customers that don't want to pay much more than Foscam prices?

If a $200-$300 Hikvision will last for 2-3 years in the field vs. a Foscam's 8-12 months, that could be worth a look. And I'll read up on the Exacq VMS. I also looked into Milestone a long time ago, but didn't really do anything with it. Thanks again for the info!

One problem with using most low cost cameras is you can't run a fully functional stand alone VMS on board the camera. This is built into the Mobotix system. You can run ExacqVision Edge Plus on a 64GB SD card on an AXIS camera, but not on the low priced cameras, at least not to my knowledge.

Here are some of the reasons why Mobotix is often the best choice for remote projects.

We had a recent project where our customer deployed 15+ solar powered fully autonomous Mobotix M15 camera systems, without any wired or wireless access. To access video, they physically travel to each camera location, connect to the camera with a laptop to review history, search for events, download video clips of interest. No other camera that I know of could do this as well, see attached.

1, thanks for the detailed description!

As Jeff says, maybe Axis is worth a look as an alternative. There are just not many companies that build high-end, industrial type cameras these days, as the race to the bottom has focused on ever cheaper, basic products.

well you want something with Zipstream/smartcoding technology. where the bandwidth out is going to be super low unless something is going on.

everything else you can find with manufactures like AXIS, Panasonic, Sony, Bosch, and a few others.

most of the industrial ones though are gonna be hard pressed to stay under 10w though.

While you did not say that you are powering with an off-grid electric power source, since you listed less than 10w power as a camera requirement, I'm assuming you are using off-grid power. In case you are not familiar with this, the Sierra Wireless Airlink RV50 is likely one of the lowest power, ruggedized 3G/4G/LTE routers to consider for an off-grid application. Power requirements are very low compared to most others that we've used or looked at.

http://www.sierrawireless.com/products-and-solutions/gateway-solutions/rv50/

The power usage is honestly not a huge deal as most of these sites are on the grid, at least electrically; It just lets us keep using a smaller power supply in our industrial panel. Most sites have 3-6 cameras, and the PS we're using can handle an extra 80 watts or so of load without any issues. That said, we could always upgrade it if necessary.

Coincidentally, we have switched to ordering the new RV50 lately instead of older Sierra and Cradlepoint models, and we've liked them a lot so far. Thanks!

http://avigilon.com/products/video-surveillance/cameras/hd-domes/

You can use Avigilon Core edition license for VMS and with self-learning video analytics embedded on camera and VMS sw install on the onsite automation computer you can do a system with very low bandwidth req. A similar setup for a remote construction site with 6 x 3MP bullet camera on 3G connection i used and the customer was able to view live and recorded images very easily.

if i was going to bid on this job I would use a Panasonic WV-SFV631L or LT. mainly because I can get 250GB of flash storage in it and it comes with Smart coding( bandwidth saving and picture quality is unreal ) the SD storage work really well and is easily managed and can be moved via FTP.

it is a premium camera though ( around $900) but will be one of the best fits for what you want, unless it is a really, really,corrosive area then I think AXIS makes a stainless steel camera dome/PTZ but their SD card storage is kinda iffy depending on the camera models

Hunter here from MOBOTIX.

Have you consulted with us regarding your concerns?

Setup is actually pretty simple as Mr. Sandine can attest to. Also, MxPEG is much more efficient than MJPEG that you have mentioned. In addition, there is a bandwidth utilization engine (would be happy to show you) in all MX cams that allow for extremely low bandwidth consumption when using our MxManagement Center and other softwares. Also, we are very soon to release HTML5 web browser support which will mean MxPEG streaming via our browser with the capability to use the bandwidth utiliZation engine= 70% more efficient than MJPEG streaming. i can show you factual data of our M15 camera streaming at 80kbps with a very useable image both on live and playback even though recording is at 6MP

Send me an email, I'd be happy to step you through setup and overall performance related items that can improve your current worries.

Hunter.fort@mobotix.com

Reliably streams a live feed in MJPEG (or better) format with low bandwidth usage.

Do you have anything against h.264 or are you just using MJPEG as a well known point of reference from your Mobotix/Foscam experiences.

Because really it's the way to go.

Nothing against it, but we'd like to avoid customers having to install a browser plugin in order to view the h.264 stream. That was required on the Axis camera that I was testing, at least.

IE,Edge,Firefox,Google,Safari...

https://95.77.98.155/acc

id : user

pw: user

You can test yourself .

Mobotix MxWeb HTML5 Web Browser

Like I had mentioned we are releasing HTML5 Web Browser Support- Otherwise known as MxWeb. With this MxPEG is natively supported and will stream at better than 70-90% more efficient than MJPEG with the ability to utilize our effective bandwidth streaming engine in the camera which is proven to stream at or around 80kbps or less depending on the stream size you request via a button push. In addition you get full duplex audio support. No plugin required.

Ignore the software updates for MxBus modules. This screen shot was taken prior to me updating my MxBus modules. On another note, We are the only manufacturer that can attach a Keypad for RFID and PIN code to a camera for access control applications!

MxPEG is natively supported and will stream at better than 70-90% more efficient than MJPEG.

So you are saying the MxPEG file size is almost half of the MJPEG one? Or?

MxPEG, MJPEG, h264 issues are of little importance relative to the big picture.

Having sold and supported many hundreds of Mobotix cameras in challenging outdoor environments, all things considered, there is not a camera system that does more, at any price, that I am aware of, than Mobotix, for these type of applications.

...in challenging outdoor environments, all things considered, there is not a camera system that does more, at any price, that I am aware of, than Mobotix, for these type of applications.

Have you ever installed any Moog systems?

I've looked briefly at Moog products a couple times over the last few years, have not seen anything compared to the low power requirement of Mobotix at 5.5 watts, with a fully functional VMS running onboard the camera. Does Moog now have a model similar to this? I would be interested in finding a camera system that does more than Mobotix, which when coupled with a cellular router like the Sierra Wireless Raven RV50, the complete system has a total power requirement of less than 10 watts, for our off-grid projects. The Mobotix thermal/visual camera system (5.5w) is another camera system that can't be beat, for certain types of projects, IMO.

What do think of Moxa? I've never used them but they seem to have a decent reputation as a niche provider. The dome camera in the link says 4.8 W. It does have edge storage, though no one has a VMS like Mobotix.