Avigilon Pro 4K Camera Tested

Published Jan 03, 2017 12:53 PM

Avigilon is best known for their large sensor, high megapixel cameras. But with new offerings from Sony and soon Axis, the questions is how well their H4 Pro Series can keep up with competitors.

In this report, we tested the Avigilon 4K Pro (8L-H4PRO-B) against Sony's 35mm SNC-VB770, along with 1/2" super low light models from Axis and Hikvision to see how they stack up.



The Avigilon 4K Pro 8L-H4PRO-B offered solid low light performance in our tests, with moderately better details of both our human subject and test chart compared to 1080p 1/2" super low light models in low light scenes. Additionally, daytime details were significantly better than 1080p models due to increased PPF, with slight advantages in details delivered compared to Sony's larger imager 4K SNC-VB770R.

However, low light performance was notably worse than Sony's VB770, with Sony providing better details at all ranges tested in both low light and very dark scenes, though the Sony camera was significantly more expensive (~3x the price). Additionally, the Avigilon Pro model's bandwidth consumption was drastically higher than other 4K models tested, over 30 Mb/s, though this may be mitigated with Idle Scene Mode, which reduces framerate/GOV and other settings when there is no activity in the scene. 

Finally, as with all Avigilon Pro models, this 4K camera works only with Avigilon Control Center Enterprise (not Core or Standard), with no third party integration of the full 4K stream via ONVIF or RTSP (though the secondary stream may be integrated using RTSP).


The Avigilon 8L-H4PRO-B has an MSRP of ~2,085 USD, not including lens. Lens pricing varies widely, from ~$320 for fixed, higher F-stop models, to over $4,000 for long focal length varifocal models. Note that price is impacted by not only varifocal/fixed and focal length specs, but also quality, with "premium" fixed lenses frequently costing more than varifocal models. For example, the 50mm Canon lens used in our tests sells for about double the price of the Sigma varifocal.

  • Sigma 18-35mm F1/8: $1,660 MSRP
  • Canon 50mm F1.2: $3,332 MSRP

Compared to typical non-IR 4K models, the Avigilon Pro is ~50-100% more expensive. For example, the Bosch NBN-80122 and Axis P1428-E both sell for ~$900 online. Integrated IR models are closer in price, such as the Panasonic WV-SFV781L (~$2,100 online) and Sony SNC-VM770R (~$2,400 online).

Compared to the Sony SNC-VB770 35mm model ($7,500 MSRP without lens), the Avigilon Pro 4K is significantly less expensive, about 25-30% of the cost of the Sony model.

Physical Overview

The Avigilon 4K Pro camera not much larger than typical box cameras, and moderately smaller than Sony's large imager VB770. Aside from its EF lens mount, camera features are typical of other box models, with PoE/low voltage power, audio, I/O, and SD storage on the rear. We review these features in this video:

Imager Size Comparison

The Pro camera's sensor is significantly larger than typical surveillance cameras, 27.2mm (~1.07 inches), though notably smaller than the 35mm sensor of Sony's SNC-VB770. We show these three side by side below.

Note that sensor size is only one factor in overall performance. This comparison is shown here for reference, since this imager is drastically larger than typical cameras.

Lens Options

The Avigilon Pro cameras are compatible with most EF mount lenses, though Avigilon has a short list of recommended models. Recommended lens models support focus and iris control via the camera, but others may not, requiring manual focus. Users should check with Avigilon if they plan to use a lens outside of those resold by Avigilon.

Lenses size varies vastly, from compact (1-2" long) to quite large (bigger than a typical camera with lens). Users should be careful when selecting lenses and outdoor housings, as some combinations may require extra large housings.

Avigilon's lens and enclosure matrix discusses all the above issues.

Tested Lenses

Note that in the image quality comparisons below, we used the Canon 18-35mm F1.8 lens as recommended by Avigilon, though the Sony SNC-VB770 uses an F1.4 35mm model.

We tested with an F1.2 Canon lens to see the difference in sensitivity, shown below. Images are noticeably brighter, with better details, though still not as bright as the Sony VB770. Image comparisons were not taken in all scenes with this lens due to its much narrower angle of view (~26° vs. ~54° in Sony).

Test Scene

We tested in an outdoor parking lot/field with exterior lights on and off. Light levels ranged from ~4.5lx with lights on near the cameras to below 0.01lx with lights off in the field. Note that the light seen to the right side of the test FOV below did not come from exterior building lights, but from other facilities some distance away, which we cannot control. Lux measurements take this added light into account.

No IR Cut Filter

Note that the Avigilon Pro camera is marketed as a day/night camera, but is not IR sensitive. Instead, the camera uses electronic day night to remove color from the scene in night mode, which slightly reduces bandwidth. However, color information may provide slight advantages in some scenes when detecting objects against varying colored backgrounds, instead of greyscale night mode. Users should see how each mode performs in their specific scene.

Exterior Lights Off

In monochrome mode, with PPF very very high (~174) the Avigilon Pro 4K produces subject details similar to the Axis and Hikvision 1080p models. The Sony SNC-VB770 outperforms other cameras tested, with better details of both the subject and chart (3-4 lmore lines legible), and overall brighter images.

Note that due to noise and compression artifacts, none of the cameras produced the extremely detailed images expected at PPF levels this high, also seen in our Sony 770 test.


Moving further from the camera, the Avigilon camera is again similar to Axis and Hikvision, with the subject difficult to detect in all cameras but the Sony VB770.

Finally, with PPF at ~45 at ~100' range, the subject is difficult to detect in all cameras, though slightly easier in the Sony 770 due to its color information.

Switching all cameras to color mode, the Avigilon Pro improves modestly, with 1-2 lines of  text more legible than the 1080p super low light models, though again the Sony VB770 provides the best details of all cameras.

However, at further range/lower PPF, results in color are similar to monochrome above.


Exterior Lights On

With lights on, light increases to ~4.5lx near the cameras. In this scene, the Avigilon Pro camera is moderately washed out, reducing subject details subject, and near totally eliminating images of the test chart. The Sony VB770 exposes more evenly, showing better details of both.

At this light level, performance between color and monochrome mode was very similar in all cameras, seen below. Because of this, further comparisons are shown in monochrome only.

At ~65 PPF (~60' range), the Avigilon Pro camera produces details similar to the 1080p models, with only the Sony 770 showing the test chart at all.

Finally, at ~45 PPF, the subject is difficult to detect in all cameras.

Daytime Comparisons

During the day, the Avigilon Pro model provided significantly better images than 1080p models, with 2-3 additional lines of the test chart legible at close range, though subject details are similar due to high PPF.


Moving further, differences are much more noticeable, with the Avigilon Pro providing similar subject details to Sony, and 1 more legible test chart line test chart. 1080p models show only rough subject details at this range.

Finally, further from the camera, the Avigilon Pro shows slightly more subject detail than the Sony VB770, with his features slightly more discernable. The 1080p models show very few details at this range, with no practical chart legibility.

Bandwidth Comparison

The Avigilon Pro 4K camera's bitrates were much higher than other 4K cameras tested in low light (~0.1lx), over 32 Mb/s. Note that this includes the main, high resolution stream only, not substream(s) used by HDSM. Total nighttime bitrate including the low resolution stream was ~46 Mb/s.

Idle Scene Mode

Current Avigilon firmware includes a bandwidth reduction feature called Idle Scene Mode, which adjust FPS, compression, and I-frame interval when there is no motion in the scene. Using default settings (1 FPS, 4 second I-frame interval, compression/cap unchanged), bandwidth dropped by about 75-80% both day and night when there was no motion in the scene.

Greater gains are likely possible by increasing compression and I-frame interval.

Note that unlike other smart codecs, such as Axis Zipstream or Hikvision H.264+, Idle Scene Mode does not reduce bitrate when there is motion in the scene, as others adjust compression on background and moving objects, while Avigilon does not. In our tests, even in busy scenes, other smart codecs reduced bandwidth by up to 50% or more.

HDSM Server to Client Bandwidth Savings

Avigilon's HDSM dynamically manages server-to-client bandwidth, based on viewing window size and digital zoom levels. Roughly speaking, streams are broken up into "blocks", with only the current blocks being viewed sent from server to client, reducing needed bandwidth when digitally zooming. For example, when viewing the 4K Pro model (night) in a 2x2 split window, server-to-client bitrate is ~8 Mb/s. Zooming to the bottom corner of the FOV, bitrate drops to ~3.5 Mb/s.

We plan release a full test of HDSM using multiple cameras in the coming months, with more details and examples of how this feature functions.

Secondary Stream RTSP

There is no way to stream the H4 Pro camera's full 4K stream via ONVIF or RTSP to third party platforms. However, the secondary (1080p) stream may be sent to others via RTSP, though it is not documented in the camera's web interface. The URL for this stream is:


Test Parameters

  • Avigilon 8L-H4PRO-B: build 16214
  • Axis Q1635:
  • Hikvision DS-2CD6026FHWD-A: V5.4.0 build 160414
  • Sony SNC-VB770:  1.0.0
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