Avigilon Pro 4K Camera Tested

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 03, 2017

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.

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Comments (50)

Sony is much better. The use of a full frame sensor is noticeable.

I think it would be nice to compare the Sony to the 16MP or 24MP cameras of Avigilon where the price matches better and the sensor too.

8MP, 12MP and 16MP are crop frame sensors. 24MP and 30MP are full frame sensors.

How could you not go for the Sony in high end applications. It is awesome. I cant beleive the difference in quality.

If they made their price more competitive they would corner the market with cameras like this

I agree the Sony is much better. At 4K I have not used the pro cameras but have used some of their domes w/IR. I have however used the 7K cameras. I cannot say the light sensitivity is any more fantastic, but no one produces a camera of this resolution. I know Axis has their 20MP coming out which partially bridges this gap. Basically, at above 4K Avigilon has free reign... for a while.

I look forward to the HDSM test. HDSM currently has no effect from the camera to the server, which is disappointing in an age of smart codecs. However, from the server to the client it has been a lifesaver with no appreciable load on either end.

Any comments on the full analytic offering that is embedded with the avigilon pro camera? And how those analytics compare in the other cameras tested in functionality and ease-of-use, and what that does to the price point when that analytic offering has to be added third party with the other cameras tested?

From what i have seen, in camera analytics never work as well as promised and are used as more of a marketing strategy than anything else.

Even if a camera had great analytics but could not give usable footage in the required scenes it would be rendered useless.

Dont get me wrong, i like Avigilon but in this case the Sony is giving great low light images which the Avigilon camera simply can not match.

Sony 1, Aviglon 0

I have tested the camera analytics on the 16MP model and it works just fine.
Just to be clear AFAIK all cameras above 2MP perform the analytics on a 2MP image.

So while you don't get more coverage from a 2MP camera in terms of analytics but you do get a better picture then the 2MP camera.

Sony does a better job for the 4K camera.
I never compared the Avigilon 4K and the Avigilon 24MP though it would be nice to see a shootout of the 2.

I am a little surprised by the negativity toward the Avigilon 4K's image quality. I thought it was quite good, especially considering the Sony's expense and how good Sony was to all others.

The bigger question / issue to me is the Avigilon Pro series being proprietary. The Sony 35mm 4K is strong, it would not be a surprise if the Axis 20MP is going to be good. At that point, for the 95% of users who do not use Avigilon, should Avigilon consider opening up Pro to 3rd party VMSes?

I think it is the low light performance that is receiving the most criticism.

I think it is the low light performance that is receiving the most criticism.

The Avigilon 4K Pro low light performance is great. Keep in mind we are testing it against 3 of the top performing low light IP cameras available today and it is similar to top 1080p ones at night while obviously much better during the day.

True, I suppose we are not really comparing apples to apples when we look at the images. The Sony is quite an expensive beast so of course it should perform better.

John, did you set the EV value to ensure the maximum aperture? Avigilon pro cameras tends to play with the aperture to improve the DoF raising the gain. Do you have an snapshot of the f-stop, gain and exposure? It would be nice to see if they are performing in the same conditions.

It's sure the Full Frame sensor can manage the noise better than any cropped one, but to me it's really impressive the performance of the sony model (WOW).

The one thing here, is how many cameras could you manage in any "premium" VMS. Try to put 30 of this cameras in a footbal stadium, or any other situation and try to put in a layout. Is not only about the image quality. It's the need to manage this amount of data. At this point is where I think Avigilon shine bright. HDSM is the way to manage these video streams, and the reason that any VMS can handle this cameras. An avigilon Pro camera don't send a unique stream of the total resolution, as you said in the article. It's not possible to see the full resolution stream, so it's not possible to connect the camera in any 3rd party VMS.

So, great article!!

"power without control is useless" Pirelli said

Try to put 30 of this cameras in a footbal stadium, or any other situation and try to put in a layout. Is not only about the image quality. It's the need to manage this amount of data. At this point is where I think Avigilon shine bright. HDSM is the way to manage these video streams.

The article says the camera generated drastically more data than other 4k cameras, up to 30mb/s. So maybe ACC can handle these streams better than others but other cameras don't generate these size streams.

And correct me if I'm wrong but HDSM is primarily of use when viewing live streams and especially when view portions of a cameras FOV from multiple clients.

Many types of installs have limited need for live viewing, so I'm not sure HDSM comes in to play then

As you said, HDSM works in server to client connection (also used in mobile client). The problem is not to handle the server throughput, this is just server throughput and storage. The problem is to display many of these cameras in the client. There's no GPU enough to handle streams up to 7K. The use of 1 or 2MP streams for complete view and "blocks" to zoom in, gives you the possibility to display many of them using the GPU (it's easy for a GPU to decode up to 2MP streams).

To reduce the bandwith during the night you should limit the gain (by default I think is too high) and use the Idle Scene mode. During the day, look at the chart, the bandwith is better than Sony.

In resume, the big issue is to display many cameras and zoom in.

Also, normally the installations with this configuration usually have a control center with more than 1 or 2 clients. In this situation, HDSM rules. And if you want to monitor this installation in a WAN environment (ie monitor the Berlin Facility from Texas...) HDSM is the only way. This is my humble opinion :)

There's no GPU enough to handle streams up to 7K. The use of 1 or 2MP streams for complete view and "blocks" to zoom in, gives you the possibility to display many of them using the GPU (it's easy for a GPU to decode up to 2MP streams).

Sadly you are mistaken there are several GPU's out there that can handle up to 8K

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125908

that is for a desktop model. the Tesla server card series are just as capable if not far more so.

Also servers have come a long way I pretty sure I could build a server that could handle 30 Sony cameras for about $5K-$8K depending on storage requirements( how long and Raid preference) and I wouldnt be locked in to a proprietary system (Avigilon). I like my ONVIF/RTSP compatibility far more and feel it gives me a better value in the long run.

they have 8K monitors too.

Hi Eddie,

I'n not trying to start a war. Just trying to give an approach of the HDSM benefits. As you said, some GPU, can handle 8K video. Again, it's not about to decode 1 stream. As I said, what if you have 10 units of a 7K model? Any card can do the job. An also any VMS is prepared to handle these streams. And if you could, you will need a monster to monitor your installation. Impossible to monitor from your office far away. This is the HDSM advantage.

About the 8K monitors... What? Mpx are not "quality". Mpx in surveillance means zoom in capability without loosing resolution. So, why do you need 8K monitors? Is more affordable a FullHD monitor (2Mpx) and when you want to zoom in, just roll the mouse wheel ;)

Impossible to monitor from your office far away. This is the HDSM advantage.

Yes, maybe impossible to monitor 10 7K Avigilon cameras from far away without HDSM.

Considering the bitrate can get to over 30 Mb/s on the 8MP 4kPro, I would imagine the 30MP model could be a good deal larger, even though its max frame rate is 6.

In any event we are talking about a 4k/8MP camera here.

And the Hik 4k, for comparison, provides a full resolution stream at 2 Mbps without HDSM, far less than the 8mb/s and the 3.5mb/s of the Avigilon, even when zoomed in.

So HDSM can certainly reduce bitrates, but Smart CODECs do as well, and in this case even better.

Interesting as I have 2 Hikvision 4K cameras and I have seen nothing but issues trying to stream them over a WAN connection. You have only 2 streams 4K to 720P or D1 to 352x240. You have 4k (main) or D1 (sub) resolutions as options so as you would guess the sub-stream works fine. The 4K has much higher CPU usage and lots of images smearing compared to Avigilon PRO cameras.

Also, there really is no comparison with low light quality and overall image quality between c-mount 4K cameras and DSLR lens 4K cameras.

Your reference to Hikvision 2Mbps stream is also a little misleading as in real world installs where these cameras are covering large complex scenes like stadium seating the bit rate will be much higher.

Your reference to Hikvision 2Mbps stream is also a little misleading as in real world installs where these cameras are covering large complex scenes like stadium seating the bit rate will be much higher.

But maybe not so misleading in the common case of "parking lots", right?

Not really as have one looking at the low use parking lot and the bit rate is higher than 2Mbps. Where did you get that 2Mbps number? You find it on the internet or have you installed them?

Ok, you answered my question you found it on the internet. Once you have some experience with these cameras in the real world with complex scenes you will quickly find out the bandwidth is higher.

I would show you but I can't get the Hik 4k to stream properly over my 5Mbps WAN connection through the Avigilon PRO camera works very well.

Ok, you answered my question you found it on the internet.

Correction: I found it on the Ethan-net.

Are you using Exacq by any chance? If so, Ethan reports a problem with smearing, similar to what you describe.

The web interface apparently didn't have the same problem, so maybe you want to try that or a Hikvision client, if you haven't already.

I'm ordering the dome 4k to test in the "real world".

...these cameras in real world with complex scenes...

I'm confused, do you consider a parking lot complex or not?

Avigilon should open up, I just chose the VB770 for this reason alone. In our application there will be multiple VMS recording the multiple Sony streams.

Cool...which VMS are you using?

Now if only Sony and Bosch can preform a miracle product line for mid and high end it would improve their chances of them being a surviving western manufacturer

I don't know, I highly doubt this pricey Sony box camera slightly outperforming another fairly pricey Avigilon box camera will do much to improve their fortunes.

Can't remove the cut filter, on an expensive camera?

Why?

There is no cut filter in this camera.

What makes it not IR sensitive?

You can't remove it on the Sony, either. I'm guessing (don't quote me) that:

  • From a hardware standpoint, making room for a cut filter for a 1.07" or 35mm sensor is a logistical challenge. The imager is not much smaller than the body of the camera, so moving a cut filter would require additional space. to the side of the imager.
  • Removable cut filters for sensors this large are not common, unlike the commodity parts for smaller sensors. So they'd have to go through design just for a few models of relatively low volume camera.

So add those two up along with low light performance already much better than smaller sensor counterparts and adding a cut filter for slight gains in most instances seems like a mediocre business decision.

That being said, if they were IR sensitive, adding even a little bit of external IR illumination would likely have a significant impact, but that's a moot hypothetical.

That being said, if they were IR sensitive, adding even a little bit of external IR illumination would likely have a significant impact, but that's a moot hypothetical.

Usually, even with a cut filter they are still a little IR sensitive. You can test this by firing a TV remote control at a camera in the daytime...

I tried before I left my office and no it doesn't work.

...I tried before I left my office and no it doesn't work.

You'll need to use a compatible remote ;)

In my experience with the Avigilon PRO cameras having IR capability would never be used. 1) the cameras are in color mode 24/7 so IR is not needed 2) The FOV is so large it would cost a fortune to blanket the FOV with IR.

The FOV is so large it would cost a fortune to blanket the FOV with IR.

Exactly how big is the FOV of that camera?

Well, one of the many PRO cameras we have installed is mounted on a roof 6 stories up and is watching multiple parking lots with the farthest 1000ft away with a very wide FOV. The camera stays in full-color mode 24/7.

Ethan, in the article it states

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

Yet, in the link given it says

Electrical D/N

One confusing option is the 'electrical' Day / Night version. This is fake Day/Night as the IR cut filter remains fixed but the camera tries to compensate with image enhancement. It generally does not come close to the low light performance of a true day/night camera with a mechanical cut filter.

So does it have a non-removable IR cut (lens/sensor coating?) or no IR cut filter at all?

I'm assuming it's non-removable, but Avigilon does not specify. There's no obvious cut filter anywhere. Could be in the lens, could be on the sensor. Any way it's not IR sensitive.

In the DSLRs I've seen, the IR cut filter is a seperate component, physically removable, but not electrically so. It looks like the size of a Kodachrome slide (circa 2000 b.c.).

Maybe BK knows something?

Nice report Ethan.

1)I would like to add I understand why these cameras were tested the way they are but most people are not mounting large high res box cameras in housings 8-10ft off the ground. These are mostly used to cover large areas with cameras mounted up high looking at parking lots or stadium seating areas. Both the Avigilon and Sony will look more impressive covering a real world setting like this.

2)The Sony camera has an image based off the Sony A7SII which is arguably the best low light digital camera on the market. Kudos to Sony for the low light performance.

3) Analytic wise the Avigilon PRO camera work very well at tracking people and vehicles over very large areas. We have often seen much greater analytic detection range then what Avigilon states. I guess is the better sensor and great glass on the front. Most customers use the analytic search feature when the cameras are covering parking lots and they only want to search for people. It works well and saves the customer a lot of time searching video.

4) While the Sony does have the impressive low light performance I want to see 10, 20 or 30 of these running on a 3rd party VMS. Most VMS platforms have some very powerful client computer requirements not to mention the time that is required to setup all the lower res streams. Having multiple customers running 15+ or 30+ Avigilon PRO cameras and being able to view these cameras on my Surface PRO over a WAN connection without any system configuration is very helpful.

5)I would be interesting to see the Avigilon and Sony PRO 4K cameras vs Axis, Bosch, Hikivision, Dahua and the rest of the gang.

There are alot of comments about HDSM as a rational about why the Avigilon camera is better than the Sony. I dont believe this is in any way relevant as it relates to VMS features and not the camera.

No matter what other features there are in the Aviglon cameras or VMS, they can not make the image quality better. It is obvious that the Sony camera is performing exponentially better than the Avigilon camera when it comes to image quality in low light.

In regards to comments about having more than 30 of these Sony cameras on a VMS I can not see any reason why they would not work if the system was planned correctly.

Avigilon makes a good camera and VMS but in this case Sony is just better and all the Avigilon lovers will just need to accept it.

There are alot of comments about HDSM as a rational about why the Avigilon camera is better than the Sony. I dont believe this is in any way relevant as it relates to VMS features and not the camera.

HDSM actually starts in the camera. For the PRO cameras specifically, the "stream" is actually multiple streams, the FOV is broken into multiple tiles, each one an independent RTSP stream. I think the upcoming report on HDSM will go into more detail on this, but just to clarify, HDSM is not a VMS-only function.

HDSM is not a VMS-only function.

I think what #1 is trying to say there is that the benefits of HDSM are 'VMS-only' meaning only between VMS and client. There are no bandwidth savings or benefits for HDSM from the camera to the Avigilon VMS.

As a friendly FYI the statement "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 via ONVIF or RTSP." is not completely accurate as Avigilon H4 Pro cameras can support RTSP streaming of the secondary stream to a third party VMS. This was released in firmware version 3.10.0.162 on November 10th, 2016. I have included a link if anyone is interested: Avigilon HD H.264 Pro Firmware Release Notes. This may not have a practical application for every installation, but the functionality is there if the required solution warrants it.

What's the second stream resolution/framerate limited to (on this camera, for instance)?

The resolution is 2MP on the complete FoV. I am validating the frame rate now and will be back with you on that shortly.

The max frame rate is 12IPS on the secondary RTSP stream.

Thanks, #5, I just confirmed this. I had to guess at the stream URL based on what I know of others, but for those interested, it's:

rtsp://user:pass@ipaddress/defaultSecondary?streamType=u

The secondary stream using defaults on the camera we have is 1080p, 12FPS, and it's running at about 600 Kb/s in an office scene right now.

Ethan - Glad to hear you got it working. Have a great rest of your week.

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Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference 2018 Review - ADT, Resideo, Alarm.com, Arlo, Eagle Eye, ACRE, More on Dec 14, 2018
Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference is an event matching industry executives with financiers that frequently leads to future funding...
Cisco Meraki New Cameras and AI Analytics on Dec 14, 2018
Meraki has released their second generation of video surveillance with 3 new cameras, AI-based video analytics, and 2 cloud-based storage...
Foolish Strategy: OEMing Facial Recognition on Dec 13, 2018
Almost as 'hot' as face recognition marketing right now is OEMing facial recognition. Last year, they were a who's who of company's with...
DVR Examiner - Video Recovery from Recorder Hard Drives on Dec 13, 2018
Bypassing passwords and long download times on-site, DVR Examiner collects and organizes video evidence directly from a hard drive extracted from...
2019 Access Control Book Released on Dec 12, 2018
This is the best, most comprehensive access control book in the world, based on our unprecedented research and testing has been significantly...
Huawei Hisilicon Quietly Powering Tens of Millions of Western IoT Devices on Dec 12, 2018
Huawei Hisilicon chips are powering, at least, tens of millions of Western IoT devices, such as IP cameras and surveillance recorders, a fact that...
FLIR Launches Body Cameras Unified With VMS (TruWitness) on Dec 11, 2018
While FLIR is best known for their thermal cameras, now they have expanded into body cameras, launching TruWITNESS, a public safety focused body...
Startup Sunflower Labs' Autonomous Drone Security System on Dec 11, 2018
Startup Sunflower Labs is claiming a unique design on a home security system, combining autonomous drones and 'Sunflower' sensors. Imagine an...
The 2019 Video Surveillance Industry Guide on Dec 10, 2018
The 300 page, 2019 Video Surveillance Industry Guide, covers the key events and the future of the video surveillance market, is now available,...
Multi-Factor Access Control Authentication Guide on Dec 10, 2018
Can a stranger use your credentials? One of the oldest problems facing access control is making credentials as easy to use as keys, but restricting...

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