Camera Build Quality Test?

I would like to see a true build quality test of the "cheaper" brands versus the top tier brands like Axis, Sony, Panasonic, etc. Testing the true IP66, NEMA 4X and IK10 capabilities of these cameras might justify (or not) the extra cost of the top tier cameras. Blasting a camera with a pressure washer at different angles might seem extreme, but for cameras on a commercial building a more than likely occurence. Do the cameras domes all take the same abuse or not? All questions of build quality and are you paying the extra for it or not.

Richard, that's definitely interesting.

My main concern is how to do it in a fair and accurate way. We could certainly subject cameras to extreme conditions but it would be much harder to fairly replicate or test for long term endurance (i.e., does camera A tend to die after year 2 but cameras B has no issues past 5 years).

I am open to discussing ways to do this. I also think a survey could be very interesting (maybe something like "which cameras have you had the most significant outdoor quality / reliability problems with?").

I think you could do some tear-down analysis of products.

Stuff like comments or notes on the case material and thickness, gaskets, chipsets used (where you can determine), lenses (number of elements, number of blades in iris), sensors, mounting of internal components.

It might take a little while to really get good at this and get a good feel for what matters, but it would be interesting to know if the $200 Hikua camera is so cheap because of what it's made of. Is that latest Axis camera using mostly the same components as the previous version, or does there appear to be significant mechanical changes? Would the Arecont camera likely fare better in a salt-air environment because it has better case materials and weather proofing?

I think long term endurance would be a fairly expensive test along with requiring expensive equipment to replicate long term results in a shorter time frame. You could do a survey like you suggested for real world results.

I was thinking more short term torture tests like pressure washer hits at multiple angles to see if the outdoor rating was achieved by barely getting by in optimum conditions (i.e. Getting hit by water just in the dome at one specific angle instead of different areas of the camera housing). If the vandal rating was achieved by barely surviving a single impact or drop or can it handle multiple impacts or drops and still survive the weather rating after the fact. This would take into account overall design and materials used overall and see how much you get for your money.

Sounds like we're mixing design quality and manufacturing quality. If a camera is designed well, and manufactured correctly it could/should pass most of the one-off tests you can throw at it and expect it to resonably pass (that is, after all, the design criteria).

What's more difficult to quantify is how consistently the camera's being made and how often or how frequently they'll fail in the field. Even poor manufacturing practices will result in some devices working fine. It's the one 1 in 100 that needs to be replaced that really costs the integrator/customer and can make it not worth the lower price.

The standard IK10 and IP66 tests require that the testing be done 1) multiple times and 2) from a variety of angles. It can not simply be hitting the sweet spot to make sure that it passes. Most companies use an independant 3rd party for these tests.

If the dome barely makes it throug an impact test, to me that sounds like it is starting to break, but is still intact. I don't think that would pass an IK10 test...

I have looked at the rating requirements and I haven't found anything that requires multiple strikes for an IK10 rating, just survive a 20 joule impact (5kg at 40cm). THe IP66 rating I did see mention high pressure water jets from any direction. This could be interpreted a couple ways though. It specifically says high pressure jets from any direction , but the spot that the high pressure jet is hitting could be a specific spot, not everywhere on the camera. I just would like to see these tests done on neutral ground. Those 3rd parties independant testing companies still have to get a signed contract to test those companies cameras and get paid. I would think if an independant company has a reputation for finding flaws in design over another company that has a reputation to be a little more lenient on testing, which one is getting the contract? I'm not saying this definitely happens, but this type of practice is not rare to say the least.

Per IEC 62262, IK10 testing should be performed as follows: ‘Each exposed surface of the product should be hit five times, evenly distributed over the surface. In no case shall more than three impacts be applied in the surroundings (area) of the same point of the product’.

Thanks for the clarification! I still would like to see a truly side by side neutral test done by IPVM. Seeing if there is a true diffeence in build quality would be useful information.

Richard, I think it would be interesting because I wonder if everyone actually gets their products tested by a third party. For instance, I have never seen any manufacturer list a third party test report, so I assume some (but probably not most) fake it.

I am mainly concerned about doing it right / fairly but it is worth a try!


You're correct in that a manufacturer would probably not contract a third-party lab for environmental tests like what is mentioned here.

For temperature and humidity ratings, they would probably have an in-house Thermotron and cook/freeze their cameras for two weeks at the specified high and low temperature specifications.

For IK impact resistance, they would use specs provided by their glass/metal/plastic subcontractors to make an educated guess. They would probably also smash up a couple of cameras to be sure they are in the range.

For IP ingress protection, they would follow these instructions approximately ( and do some in-house tests with a pressure spray and a bucket of water over a week-end (I'm hardly joking, I've seen it done).

As long as these specifications are just standards that manufacturers can refer to and not a CERTIFICATION that manufacturers must adhere to (with independent testing labs doing the tests), then the numbers on spec sheets will always be suspect.

That being said, I don't believe that any manufacturer wants UL-style testing requirements (and the CRAZY, costs and delays involved in such tests) to then be allowed to put "IP66" on their camera spec sheet.

Here's the IEC 62262 5-hit rule in action against an IK10 dome, though the amount of force applied was not regulated, nor was anything else remotely in IEC compliance:

I second the motion for IPVM to reduce the need for users to smash their own domes...

If you don't trust the manufacturers, then certainly one needs a third party (that you do trust) to do the testing. You're saying you do trust IPVM. Sort of like consumers might trust Consumer Reports more than the manufacturer when it comes to claims about the durability of a washing machine.

For what it's worth, with some history as a manufacturer:

* We see it in our best interest to undergo proper testing. Design flaws found early lead to fewer returns and a better reputation in the field. For something like (say) IP66 it's not the kind of thing an engineer can just draw up and then shove out into the field without some form of testing--might as be by the real lab and under the most closely approximated conditions designed to meet the requirements.

* You might be surprised at how stringent and unyeilding a test lab can be towards the manufacturer. Even when Pelco had its own in-house compliance lab for EMC they would often go around with Engineering until the design was changed or the compliance claims were changed to line up with the test results. Likewise third party labs I've worked with for other types of testing (even the ones in China ;)

I can't vouch for every manufacturer of couse and I guess some might cheat, but the engineers and test folks I've worked with are all pretty dedicated to doing a job well and thus I think you'd find the setup and execution of said tests is going to be pretty similar to what a third party would perform. It's just a matter of who you trust.

I guess that would be a great reason for IPVM to do a test. We would find out which manufacturers do it right and which ones, if any, that don't.