Why Would Anyone Use Axis Camera Station?

Axis Camera Station (ACS) is Axis' traditional server based VMS, very roughly equivalent to Milestone, Genetec, Exacq, etc. However, ACS's competitive position compared to any independent VMS is quite poor.

The VMS itself is solid (see our old test) but the relative pricing and feature sets are not.


Typically, camera manufacturer VMS software that only supports cameras from that manufacturer (like ACS) are given away for free. However, ACS costs ~$150 per channel for 4 or ~$100 per channel for 10 or more. This has been fairly constant for years.

Until 2010, when entry level VMS pricing plunged, ~$100 per channel was not bad for VMS software. Open rivals started at $125 to $150. So getting ACS did come with a modest comparable discount. Now, most open VMSes have entry pricing far lower than $100 per channel and there are even quite a number of free options.

So for small systems, where price counts a lot, ACS is notably more expensive.


ACS is limited by design not to compete with Axis VMS partners. So no 3rd party IP camera support, no 3rd party access control, limit of 100 cameras, no enterprise management of multiple servers, etc.

So for large systems, where enterprise features are critical, ACS is not a realistic choice.

End to End Solution?

While there are many that like an end to end solution, Axis cameras are so widely supported and such a priority for third party VMSes who offer lower licensing costs, more features and broader camera support, that it's hard to imagine why one would need to stick with ACS.

Thoughts? Counterpoints?

There is the learning curve apect: if one is used to ACS they will be less inclined to change unless the cost pressure on strong.

Well that goes for any incumbent product. But let's presume these are people that do not already have / are using ACS.

At my last job we sold tons of Axis cameras and we never sold any ACS. Just didn't make sense when we were already using Exacq for our Techs to have to learn another software. Plus the price point like you pointed out is just not good.

Maybe ACS is just a backup fallback option. A statement from Axis that they can provide the complete solution even if something happens to your favouritr VMS provider.

Are they still marketing ACS or is it just being treated like a legacy product that is only maintained without any new feature development (i.e. only updates for camera support and bugfixes)?

Bohan, they are still marketing it and are still updating is (most recent new release - this July). It's just that after all the open VMSes dropped their entry level prices (and camera rivals gave VMS away for free), Axis kept ACS (high) pricing the same.

Obviously, with the rise of Axis Camera Companion, ACS is less important even for Axis.

Ive used Camera Station One (free!) when a customer literally only wanted to record one camera.

We have a Verint enterprise system and still use ACS for recovering the video off of the camera's memory card. It has a nice interface that allows you to rapidly view and recover video for a specific time selection. Not the case if you try to download video directly from the camera web page (that takes hours). Since we are not using ACS for our VMS system, it is no cost for us. The evaluation copy for a single camera never expires so in essence it is a free software.

On the negative side, once you install it on a camera, it uses a stream so you have to uninstall it if you start to have camera CPU usage issues. Keeping that in miond, we simply uninstall from the camera it after using it.

If you use it this way, be sure to format your memory card to EXT4 and not VFAT. It will not work with VFAT fromatting.

Bill, interesting use case. Thanks. Btw, now you can use Axis Camera Companion with up to 16 cameras for remote viewing of the camera's SD card!