Subscriber Discussion

Lilin IP Cameras Vs Axis

I am in the middle of a competitive bidding process to outfit a banking institution with IP cameras. I am an Axis reseller and I have just discovered that one of the main contenders that is being considered is offering Lilin IP cameras. Word is that the Lilin bid is considerably lower than my Axis offering.

I have no prior experience with Lilin cameras, and wonder how they rank generally in the industry and specifically against Axis. I have looked at the LiLin website but I am unable to determine the relative quality of their products vs Axis.

Can anyone comment on how Lilin compares to Axis? Is it like comparing apples to apples?

Is the product well suited for the banking industry?

I would appreciate any comment.

Yves, we have done one test (on a PTZ in 2010) and one review (on their Touch NVR in 2012).

Lilin is a real company, not a rebrander, and is based in Taiwan.

Roughly speaking, they are probably closest to Vivotek and ACTi, though with less known of a brand.

As for price, yes, they are typically substantially less expensive than Axis (as would an equivalent Vivotek or ACTi bid be). For instance, they were one of the lowest outdoor IP cameras on our recent survey.

As for the products suitability for the banking industry, it begs the question, what specifically does the banking industry need? Typically that's indoor cameras, regular HD resolution with low light not being as important. To that end, Lilin would likely be fine.

My previous employer before I joined them used a lot of MERIT LILIN cameras - all analogue though. They were all not good to say the least. They had a very high failure rate and my employer's technical team decided to stop using them all together. Their lifetime was very short and the image quickly deterioates.

My previous employer's team has not tried their IP version. I did try technical support many times - not very useful. While you can tell there is an intention to help you, there usually isnt anyone around that speaks good enough English.

Thanks guys for the feedback.

John, if cost was not a concern and you had to choose an IP camera from lilin or Axis, which would you choose and why?

Is this the typical adage where one gets what one pays for?

Cost is a concern, right? That's the point of your original question.

The adage of 'one gets what one pays for' is foolish. Under that thinking, you should just buy the most expensive thing in each category. In which case, you'd be buying Cisco IP cameras and then crying yourself to sleep at night.

There are lots of customers who happily buy budget offerings, there are some who get burned (either because reliability or support issues or lack of key features). Axis is a safer choice, in general. Beyond that, what is better depends on specific models and specific needs of a user.

One agree that cost is always a concern but the underlying concern is the total cost of ownership as opposed to initial outlay. The latter is the obvious customer first concern. But one must direct the customer's attention to the bigger picture.

One does not really want to pay extra for a specific product or result if one can avoid doing so but at the same time what is the justification for buying cheap and then having to replace the equipment every year due to equipment failure. One could potentially end up paying far more in the long run than if one had purchased the higher priced item.

The point really is whether over a specified period of time (say 4 years) the investment in a Lilin IP camera vs an Axis camera will really end up being cheaper.

This is where the adage comes in of getting what one pays for. In other words we are penny wise but a pound foolish.

However, I hasten to add that this is not an excuse to instintively buy the most expensive because of a bias towards a brand. One just simply wants to be able to give the client a solution that they willl be happy with over time both performance wise and penny wise.

Yves, in generally Axis camera do not correspond to the project of banks. Please read IPVM tests. The main problem with AXIS is the WDR and backlight. Cameras are installed in front of bank branches entrances, windows and lighting.

Btw, according my experience the banks do not like IP cameras for reason of data security. Their fear about the possibility connection from the camera installed outside the building branch and through it to enter to bank LAN or WAN. No problem if the IP connection will be done from the protected communication branch room.

So Yves, so the spec's for the bid haven't been set yet? Is that why LiLin is being "considered" but not said to be "definite" yet?

As to Arie's point, is Axis capable of 802.1x authentication? That might be a selling point for Axis versus Lilin, providing mroe secure connections for the cameras.

Re: Arie's point about WDR and banks, I do not think this is a big issue. Having deployed a lot of cameras at banks, typically the teller stations (most of the cameras) are far enough inside the branch and away from the windows/door, that WDR is not a problem. Also, the narrow FoVs for teller cameras further reduces the WDR risk.

The camera location that mostly likely will have WDR issues is the front door because each time the door is open when it is sunny, light will 'burst' in the opening. For that, you want a true multi-exposure WDR camera, whether from Axis or others.

Yves, Axis is a known commodity and has clearly demonstrated, over the years, very low failure rates and strong technical support. On the other hand, Axis has only a 1 year warranty on their M series products while many manufacturers, including Lilin, claim a 3 year warranty on all products.

It would be great to know the failure rates of every company (and equally importantly, individual models). However, especially for smaller companies, like Lilin, the best one can do is anecdotes.

If we can find ongoing cases of Lilin having significant failures with their IP cameras, than there's evidence. Otherwise, insinuating that the customer will have to "replace the equipment every year due to equipment failure" is fear mongering.

John, WDR and back light in my country is a big issue.

Front door branches are transparent. The condition exists in my country is a very strong sun at sunrise and sunset and also during the day. This the reason that it's not easy to find a suitable camera for entrance and ATM installed in exterior wall of the branch. I checked a lot of models (for ATM a minature camera with pinhole).

AXIS, PIXIM (PIXIM WDR fine but the image quality is poor), WATEC etc gave dark images of the faces.

Cameras with a very good results were produced by SONY, SAMSUNG, CNB, BOSCH.

Arie, first of all, it is highly misleading to simply say that 'Sony' or 'Samsung' cameras provide 'very good results' for WDR. Certainly there are cameras within their lines that might but not any Sony or Samsung camera. For instance, with Sony, the top V series has true WDR but the others do not.

Axis top tier cameras (like the Q1604) are in the top tier of industry WDR performance (with Sony's V series and a number of others).

To emphasize, some cameras in banks need WDR, like the front door, but many interior / non door / non window facing cameras do not.

Experience with adjusting your camera matters a lot - this calls for sticking with what you know best as an integrator or dealing with competent distributors that can give you the right settings.

In the cameras we deal with, we have found:

1. the WDR level/mode has typically been set to an non-optimal level for the majority of applications

2. Max gain is too high

3. Min shutter speed is either too low (1/4s) or to high (1/60s)

4. bitrate is either too low (artefects everywhere) or too high (network overload issues)

The list goes on.

Pretty much any camera using Aptina, Sony or Omnivision's 1/3" or larger 60FPS true WDR sensors can be adjusted to achieve acceptable results in any indoor or outdoor daytime environments - provided that: a) the lens is good and b) the web interface allows everything to be adjusted.

In terms of night vision - Axis and Bosch stand above the rest as tier 1 performers each with their own "secret sauce" noise reduction and gain engines (Lightfinder and StarLight).

Below that, we have vendors that provide 3DNR + 2DNR - which gets rid of most of the "sprinking" noise for good mono night vision, but do not have the nighttime colour ability of Lightfinder/Starlight. Lilin is in this group together with quite a few reputatble manufactuers like Sony, Panasonic, Pelco, Avigilon, IQinvision, Honeywell, Dynacolor (Razberi, Micronet, etc), Probe (Digital Watchdog), Dahua (IC Realtime), Hikvision, CNB, Brickcom, Geovision and Vivotek.

Worrying about product quality based purely on the brand name itself will not get you very far - because that kind of thinking leads to the lack of competition, product innovation and price increases (think Honeywell) - from my point of view - the best way to gauge product quality is to examine the cameras's physical quality, disassemble it to check the interior quality, check the picture quality and software features.

On the technical support issue, Lilin says that they "have 13 branch operations around the world that are staffed by local employees speaking the relevant languages for sales, technical support and service" and that they recommend to speak to one of those branches first, rather than directly to Taiwan HQ.

If anyone wants to speak to Lilin, a Lililn UK executive has offered to field any questions. Contact him via LinkedIn or we can help facilitate.