Arecont 10MP G5 Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published May 31, 2016, 08:19am EDT (Research)

For years, Arecont Vision had an advantage with their 10 megapixel cameras as few rivals offered more than 5MP. Indeed, they capitalized on it by claiming one could replace 32.7 analog cameras, pushing pixels per dollar, and more. But now, with 4K cameras common and 12MP and even 20MP available, what is the real advantage to their MegaVideo line?

We bought a 5th Generation 10MP model, the AV10215, to find out, testing against current 4K and 12MP models from Axis and Bosch in full light and low light scenes narrow and wide. Here is a preview:

Note: This is part of our test of Arecont's latest generation G5 line. Readers should also see our tests of the AV1215 Stellar low light camera and Arecont HD WDR G5 Camera Tested.

Summary

The Arecont G5 10MP camera has significant drawbacks compared to current 4K (and higher resolution) cameras:

  • Poor daytime image quality: The AV10215 produced the worst details of cameras tested in full light scenes, with overexposure of bright/white objects such as the test chart and more pronounced shadows in darker areas.
  • Poor low light performance: Images were almost totally dark at ~1 lux and unusable in lower light scenes, notably worse than competitors, even when we switched Arecont to its binning mode that drops resolution but improves low light performance from unusable to poor.
  • Low framerate: Max frame rate of 7 compared to most 4K models such as Axis (30 FPS) and new 12MP options (15-20 FPS) such as Bosch and Panasonic.
  • Frame drop issues: Frame rate decreased to 4-5 in our tests in low light.
  • High bitrates: The G5 10MP had the highest full light bandwidth of cameras in this test, nearly 2 Mb/s higher than the higher resolution Bosch 12MP. Bitrates in low light scenes were actually lower due to the nearly black images produced.

Note: Despite this being marketed as Generation 5, all of these issues were present in past Arecont 10MP cameras we have tested, as well.

Pricing

The Arecont AV10215PM-S sells for ~$550 USD online, not including lens. The UHD45-10 lens used in this test sells for an additional ~$200 online, bringing total cost to ~$750.

This is lower than many current 4K/12MP models, such as the Axis P1428-E (~$950) or Bosch NBN-80122 (~$1,500) in this test, though these models do not have the framerate issues seen in Arecont's 10MP.

Note: Arecont lists one 4K model, the AV08ZMD-400, which claims 30 FPS. However, this model is not yet shipping, despite Arecont first announcing 4K more than two years ago.

Physical Overview

The AV10215PM-S camera shares the same form factor as past Arecont MegaVideo cameras, a compact "hockey puck" box camera. The most notable new addition is remote focus and zoom, controlled via an additional connector on the rear of the camera wired to the lens (in addition to the DS auto-iris cable).

However, Arecont recommends only two lenses for it, neither of which include remote focus/zoom. The zoom lens options used with lower resolution models are rated for 3MP only.

We take a look at the physical construction of the camera and new zoom lens here:

Low Max Frame Rate

The max frame rate (specified and tested) of the Arecont G5 10MP is 7 FPS, much lower than most current 4K cameras (typically 30 FPS) or 12MP models (15-20 FPS). Additionally, there are two issues which worsen this low frame rate limitation:

Frame Drop

In our tests, frame rate dropped to ~3-4 at night, seen below.

Configurable Above 7 FPS

Additionally, both the camera's web interface and VMSes allow users to set frame rates above 7, which may be confusing and problematic for users unaware of these limitations. Some may expect 10 FPS for example, but only achieve 5-6.

The camera's web interface allows users to set frame rates above 7, seen here:

As do VMS platforms, seen here in Exacq:

In our tests, the camera occasionally did achieve 10 FPS, as displayed by Exacq and confirmed in stream analyzers. However, this was not consistent, and we do not recommend users expect 10 FPS at 10MP resolution.

Full Light Performance

We tested the 10MP model against current competitive 4K and 12MP cameras in a wide open office FOV, seen below:

In this FOV, PPF is fairly close, 43-47 in the three cameras tested. The Arecont 10MP camera completely overexposes the test chart, with subject details similar to the Bosch 12MP camera. Only the Axis P1428-E provides rough subject details and legibility of the test chart.

Next, we tested in a narrower FOV to show differences when PPF is high (~186 in the 10MP model).

With PPF at these high levels, details produced by the cameras are roughly similar. Subject details in the Bosch 12MP camera are slightly blurred.

Low Light Performance

In low light, 1 lux and below, the Arecont G5 10MP performed very poorly at full resolution, almost totally black, with neither the subject nor test chart visible at all. Turning binning on improves images drastically, with the subject visible (though no details) and some background objects discernable.

Because of this drastic performance difference, the comparisons below were done with the Arecont 10MP camera in binning mode.

Performance Comparisons

The AV10215 produces no usable details of the subject, though 3-4 lines of the test chart. The Bosch 12MP camera produces the best details of the subject in this scene, followed by the Axis 1428.

Finally, in a darker scene, ~0.1lx, the Arecont G5 10MP is almost completely black, with no details of the subject, chart, or background:

Bandwidth Consumption

The Arecont 10MP had the highest full light and low light bitrates of any camera tested, but a margin of 2-3 Mb/s in both scenes. At 0.1lx, bitrate drops substantially, while the Bosch 12MP camera spikes higher. However, the Arecont camera produced no usable images at this light level, simply a black scene, while others produced at least the test chart, with Bosch roughly showing the subject.

Note that bandwidth was tested at 5 FPS, the highest frame rate the Arecont camera streamed both day and night.

Binning reduced bandwidth by 30-40% in low light scenes. Note that at 10MP resolution, the camera produces no usable images at 1 lux or 0.1lx, while it does when binned.

Configuration

The bulk of the G5 web interface remains unchanged from past MegaVideo cameras, seen in the screencast below. Note that G5 cameras default to "Balanced" exposure mode, which uses up to 80ms exposure, resulting in blur in low light scenes. Users should use "High Speed" mode to prevent blur, as all other modes use varying levels of long exposure.

Test Parameters

All cameras were tested using default settings unless otherwise specified, with the following applied to all cameras:

  • H.264, 5 FPS, ~28 quantization was used
  • 1/30s maximum shutter speed

Firmware versions used in this test:

  • Arecont Vision AV10215PM-S: 65236
  • Axis P1428-E: 5.80.1.1
  • Bosch NBN-80122-F6A: 6.11.810

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