Planning A Low Light Color Shootout: What Should We Include?

We are planning a low light color shootout, focusing on image quality in color mode at night, light levels ranging from <0.1 lux (very dark, nearly no light) to ~5 lux (similar to a lit parking lot or city street).

What cameras should we include? We will be including the latest generation super low light models from each manufacturer, such as:

We will (in most cases) test more than one camera per manufacturer to look at model differences, as well. We do not plan to include super expensive large imager models (e.g. the Sony VB770) due to their super high cost, but anything in the range of "normal" pricing is a candidate.

Suggestions, respond below or email me at ethan@ipvm.com.

Note: This is the chance to suggest models. Once we begin testing, we will not be changing the list of models. We will, of course, add to the shootout over time but once the initial model list is set, it's set.

UPDATE:

Here is the list of cameras so far, 19 cameras from 9 manufacturers:

Avigilon:

Axis

Bosch

  • Starlight 8000i - Their latest generation
  • Starlight 7000i - Last generation Flexidome

Dahua

Hanwha

Hikvision

Sony

Uniview

Vivotek

  • FD9391-EHTV - Supreme night vision 4K dome
  • FD9365-EHTV - Supreme night vision 1080p dome

We will also include "standard" non-super low light models from Axis (e.g., M series) and Hikvision (e.g., Value Express) as well as Wyze Cam for reference and comparison to cameras without super low light features.

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UniView has a new series out called LightHunter. Can’t find cameras from that line yet but you could add them in the shootout once they are announced.

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I would honestly like to see LightFinder 2.0 AND LightFinder included Axis seems to be praising 2.0 but magically had no video for us when we sought a side by side comparison.

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I've been curious to see how a security camera would do in a stage setting where you have all sorts of colors for back-lighting on the stage and no lighting on the crowd. Any way to simulate something like that? Maybe that's completely out of the realm of security cameras.... or maybe the result is the same as the WDR tests you already do....

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Are you trying to watch what is going on the stage or the people in the seats?

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People in the seats, most likely. Although I had thought about using a ptz as a live camera for the stage.

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We have done this many times with great results. Mount the cameras on the stage looking out at the seats. Use the stage lighting to help you not hurt you.

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That Sony was already tested and I don't think that will do very well compared to these cameras.

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I agree that it'll perform terribly. Just good to have a comparison since I've run into end-users still installing those things.

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Hi,

Please do kindly consider indicating the sensor types used on the various cameras tested?

eg. IMX327 is a newer gen than the earlier IMX291/ IMX322, by default the IMX327 has much superior starlight performance with a higher price tag. It should out performed the earlier gen.

At least an apple to apple comparison.

Will be keen to see comparison also on IMX226 and IMX334. These are the new sensors that are extremely agile in low lux applications and started to surface on the market.

Most prominent China based manufacturers avoid sharing the sensor types used. Will be good if anyone can chip in on the actual sensors used...

Thanks in advance.

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Thanks for the comment, we would like to include sensor information for all cameras, but there are some challenges in doing so. Manufacturers rarely disclose which sensor they are using. Some of the lower cost options will openly tell you as they think it's a selling point, but most consider it part of their "secret sauce."

Second, even if we tear down each camera, in my experience, the imager model is not visible on the front of the sensor. I've torn down quite a few at this point and never seen markings on the sensor. It's possible that it might be visible on the other side of the chip, but we don't know without desoldering it.

Do you have any other ideas on how we might find the sensor model?

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Hi Ethan,

We normally asked the manufacturer's sale reps or engineering guys directly. Those that we worked closely normally shared with us. In fact we always chase after them on their new gen series mass production/ launch schedule.

If a manufacturer is not keen to share about the sensor used in the particular model, I don't think we will consider them in the first place. Since we may not be able to compete against our competitors who may deployed cameras with superior sensor.

This worked well for me todate and cut the guessing game.

Also, a side note. The same sensor used in different camera brands sometimes yield different performance results. Sony normally grade their manufacturing yield (similar to how intel separate Xeon and consumer CPU batches from the same production line). Branded vendors tend to secure the higher rating sensor batches. While lower entry vendors will grab anything available in the market.

Hopefully this info helps?

Cheers!

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Ethan,

If a manufacturer will not disclose the sensor model are you going to add a field to the testing results that detail sensor known with part number verses unknown/not disclosed?

Also do we have any long term reliability test results for cameras? Does camera x degrade after so many hours in service due to cheaper sensors or components. Has IPVM seen these types of results?

Thanks.

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Here is the list of cameras so far, 19 cameras from 9 manufacturers:

Avigilon:

Axis

Bosch

  • Starlight 8000i - Their latest generation
  • Starlight 7000i - Last generation Flexidome

Dahua

Hanwha

Hikvision

Sony

Uniview

Vivotek

  • FD9391-EHTV - Supreme night vision 4K dome
  • FD9365-EHTV - Supreme night vision 1080p dome

We will also include "standard" non-super low light models from Axis and Hikvision as well as Wyze Cam for reference and comparison to cameras without super low light features.

Additions? Let us know in the comments or email me.

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Can you get your hands on the Q1798-LE?

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The Q1798-LE doesn't start shipping for a couple of months yet. We'll be testing it as soon as it's available, but that won't be until after this test.

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Ethan, the Q1798-LE is now on Axis's site. Looks like they are in stock or in stock very soon.

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I saw that, too. We immediately ordered one. No ship date but we wanted to get it ordered as soon as possible.

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Guys,

I was goooooooggling away.

This Q1798-LE is based on the Sony 4/3" Starvis sensor IMX294. Cream of the crop for 11MP class and below.

Sensor is capable of running 120fps @4K. I wonder why Axis never pushed the fps higher. I would have capped at 60fps and this together with Vaxtor embedded ANPR setup (edge based) would have huge ITS market potential.

There is only one such sensor available from Sony currently for surveillance application. Any of the selected cameras with 4/3" sensor is a good apple to apple performance.

:)

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Did you get the Q1798-LE yet?

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Yes, we got it ~2 weeks ago and it is included in this test. The color low light test is scheduled for release next week and then a dedicated test report for the Q1798-LE will be published later this month.

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Hi Ethan,

IPC3232ER3-DUVZ-C - Prime series "Super Starlight" dome, 1/2.8" imager

This is likely based on Sony IMX327. One of the top Sony BSI Starvis CMOS sensor used by most manufacturers that claimed top low lux color surveillance for 1080P range.

You can get a feel how capable this sensor is. Below a quick youtube link I managed to dig out.

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Hikvision DS-2DE4A404. A "budget" 4MP PTZ with a lot of features and the Darkfighter 1/1.9" sensor. Should be a very good performer.

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