That's a very good question.
The easy answer is that there are a bunch of buffoons who buy almost entirely on brand, even if the camera is literally the same one being sold by low cost vendors for half the price.
However, that is not everything. Two other common differentiators exist:
(1) Advanced feature set differences - often a higher price camera will come with advanced features like analytics or serial ports or integrated zoom, etc. To many users, these are irrelevant and are never considered but for larger scale, more complex deployments, they might make or break the product decision.
(2) Technical support and 3rd party integration - often, premium brands have better, faster, local technical support and deeper integration with 3rd party systems. This is not universal, some cheap brands might be as good as some premium brands. However, Axis is a good example of someone who benefits from this (see our IP camera favorites report for a discussion on this).
The last thing I can think of has to do with sales / marketing support. A big brand is often easier to sell. End users know the Honywell or Panasonic brand and they may assume it's better quality even if Vivotek delivers the same performance at a lower rate. However, the integrator often has more cost / burden to justify the less known name.
Finally, strong premium manufacturers try to minimize the price gap by aggressively releasing lower cost offerings to keep the delta down (Axis M series ongoing expansion is a good example of that).
I am used to Aimetis having analytics on the VMS side. What type of analytics would a camera have on it?
So my take from this is that in most situations (not a special igh security, or etc...), there is no reason to go with a high end if I a customer will be willing to go for a non name brand?
Buffoons? Hardly. As an end user who has only switched camera manufacturers a few times, I can attest that there is more to choosing cameras and camera manufacturers than buffoonery.
One factor is warranty and support, as you mentioned. If I buy a couple of cameras from a manufacturer and I'm happy with both the results and the manufacturer's support, I will likely continue to buy that manufacturer's cameras for as long as the cameras and their manufacturer provide quality products and support.
That was the case with Pelco. In the late 90's we tested a number of cameras and enclosures and found that the Pelco CCC13xx series provided better picture quality in one of the smallest form factors we'd ever seen so that we could reduce the dome enclosure size from 8" to 5" (DD5). After installing hundreds of CCC1300h-2, CCC1370h-2 and CCC1380h-6 cameras, and trying the very few other cameras that would actually fit in those housings with lenses (not too many), we were perfectly happy until the infamous C10 series replaced the CCC1300-series.
We still had hundreds of DF5 housings which required very small cameras but the C10's (and subsequent C20's) weren't cutting it so we set about finding replacements and found inMotion, whose 11S3N2D (and their 11S4N2D replacements) fit in the DF5's and offered far superior picture quality than any other camera we tested. We would have probably stayed with Pelco if 1) their newer cameras were any good and 2) their customer service didn't take a severe nosedive.
It's not as simple as you make it sound, John. We don't always have the time or the inclination to test every possible (or even a large number of) camera on the market, nor do we want to deploy many different cameras - it can be confusing trying to remember which brand/model does what or requires what settings. It is far easier and less fraught with peril to keep using what has and is working for you.
In regards to major manufacturers versus minor ones - many times you have to go with what is available from your preferred supplier. In the case of inMotion cameras, I convinced SSI (our preferred supplier) and inMotion to get together. I believe they are very happy with each other.
Standards??? 3 Mega Pixel from brand A costing 2X may look the same as 3MP from brand B costing X, but the image sensor
in brand A is double the size of brand B resulting in superior picture quality which is most obvious in lower light conditions.
IPVMU Certified | 09/24/13 11:20pm
I like Brian's succinct post.....To Carl's point, using a brand and model you have found works well for as long as it does indeed perform well is a strategy that isn't always apparent until you have a couple thousand cameras deployed in some really diverse locations and THEN discover the impossibility of standardizing use, installation, testing etc 10 or 20 different brands/models. Its just not a problem for an end user with 20 or 30 cameras but it will really get ugly for large users.
The best maxim in my opinion is buy cadillac equipment, hire the best integrators in the business to install and support it and negotiate a competitive price. No one has yet found a way to build superlative equipment at dirt cheap prices. Leave that to the trunk slammers.
Two cameras with the same specs don't always perform the same.
Even if two cameras perform exactly the same up front a camera that has better warranty and support is worth more 100% of time to us and our customers. Probably not twice as much but I have yet to see anywhere near this much difference in price on the products we use.
It has been my experience that every camera job I have lost due to price because the image was good enough, I have been back to in low light conditions. I represent Samsung where yes brand counts and the goal is to be great quality at affordable prices.
The question always to ask is are they happy with their purchase 6 months to one year later? I have been involved in very intense security projects and it is amazing the "night" shots I have seen..menaing there is not picture....or totally useless video.
In ignorance, I would have expected many things to have more effect on low light performance than sensor chip size.
First, I would think that the area of the outer surface of your optics would be a primary driver, since it places an upper bound on the number of photons you can possibly capture.
Then, I would think that the manufacturer would design the system such that the lens directed 100% of those capured photons (less imperfections and reflections) onto the chip's active sensing area, whatever its actual size.
If the chip were to have a lot of space between pixels, then the percentage of photons getting to the active sensing components would be lower than if the pixels were very tightly spaced, so I would expect that percentage of active sensing surface vs chip area could be another significant performance driver, since photons that fall on non-sensing surfaces are wasted.
Then, I would expect that things like conversion efficiency and noise levels would be more significant differentiators between these two hypothetical cameras than simple chip size would.
Starting to look at things like lens quality (a cost driver), fraction of IC that is really sensing area, capture efficiency, readout efficiency, noise, and probably a host of issues I can't even imagine, it seems that there would be many dimensions to effect low light performance more substantially than would the sensing chip size.
My basic and admittedly ignorant impression has always been, larger lens = greater sensitivity.
1/2" sensor is ~0.25 sq in in size
1/3" sensor is ~0.11 sq in in size
1/4" sensor is ~0.0625 sq in in size
So 1/2" sensor is 4 times bigger then 1/4" sensor, and 1/3" sensors are ~2 times the size of 1/4" sensors.
If 2 SAME generation and SAME technology tier sensors (e.g. A-Pix vs "entry", BSI vs FSI), and 1 unit is twice the size of the other, then one can expect noticable performance improvement from the larger unit.
I guess I always look at the other side of the argument... Why would I want to sell a cheaper camera, if I can sell an expensive one.... If I have a standard markup of 50%, why would I want to sell a $100 camera and make $50 when I can sell a $1,000 camera and make $500.
If I sell a 16 "Cheaper" camera system the total cost of all the cameras is only $2400
If I sell a 16 "Expensive" camera the system is now $24000.
No one blinks if I tell them that its going to cost $15K to install $25K in cameras.
No one pays if I tell them its going to cost $15K to install $2.5K in cameras.
I can sell a $10k service contract on a 50K system
I can't sell a service contract on a $5K system