Testing Avigilon's Image Enhancement

By: Ethan Ace, Published on May 27, 2013

Typically, VMS software displays video 'as is'. While there may be basic brightness, contrast and saturation controls, those require manual adjustment with significant tradeoffs.

By contrast, Avigilon's VMS has an interesting feature called 'Display Adjustments' that automatically adjusts the quality of video displayed. This is what the control looks like:

That noted, even without pulling this up, the software continuously re-adjusts on its own. Additionally, it works on any camera connected to Avigilon's VMS, not just their own.

The automatic display adjustment delivered improvements in a wide variety of cameras, including third party ones using H.264. This is a useful VMS feature.

Specific findings included:

  • Avigilon's image adjustment had the biggest impact on cameras which perform poorly in low light scenes. In our tests, image adjustment was the difference between detecting an object and not.
  • When digitally zooming, the image adjustments automatically recalibrated which, in some instances, materially improved the visible details displayed in the region being zoomed in.
  • Advantages in dark scenes were minimized when using low light 'enhanced' cameras (i.e., Axis Lightfinder, Bosch Starlight, etc.), as they produced evenly bright images, with less room for adjustment.
  • In evenly lit scenes, effects are modest. Images may be slightly brighter or truer in color, but we found this adjustment also may lead to overexposure, potentially obscuring some details. 
  • Offered slight improvement of WDR images, with more even brightness, making some objects easier to see or read.
  • Using thermal cameras, we found image adjustment made both warm and cool objects easier to detect. However, there was some loss of fine detail, though this is not generally the goal of thermal imaging.

Note: we compared the same camera's image quality in Avigilon's VMS versus the camera's own web browser display (for the 'native' quality) and other VMSes (such as Exacq). While the camera web browser and other VMSes displayed the same image quality, Avigilon's regularly differed.

Display Adjustment in Action

In this screencast, we show examples of Avigilon's image adjustment and its effects on different cameras. We explain each camera's histogram, and demonstrate the effects of gamma correction and black and white levels in multiple scenes, showing which has the greatest effect.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Follows Digital Zoom

Image adjustment follows digital zoom, so only the visible portion of the image is taken into account in the histogram, with adjustment performed accordingly. Though shown in our screencast above, this feature is better demonstrated in the following example. Using a camera with built-in IR, when looking at the entire scene, the car's license plate appears to be washed out and unreadable:

However, zooming in to only the plate, we can see that the image is adjusted accordingly, accross a much narrower histogram, making the plate easily legible (two characters masked intentionally for privacy):

Users may also download a 5-second clip of this scene to see image adjustment for themselves (requires Avigilon Player).

Low Light Performance

We found Avigilon had most effect on low light scenes, though these effects were minimized in cameras high performing low light cameras (due to higher gain and/or more sensitive imagers). Since these low light cameras produce a more evenly bright image, there is less effect. Darker images allow more adjustment, as more data can be shifted to visible portions of the image. This screencast demonstrates these effects:

 

For further comparison, we used two 720p IP cameras, one low cost color only, and one high end known for low light performance. With the color only camera, Avigilon's image adjustments produce a much brighter image, with objects more easily visible. This did not necessarily translate to increased detail, as the chart remains unreadable, and the subject unrecognizable. However, it is much better for detection.

 

Looking at the full scene in Avigilon, we can see it is bright relative to the web interface, though with pronounced discoloration, leaning toward yellow/green:

In contrast, the performance gains using the low light camera are minimal. Again, the image is brighter, though detail is reduced. This may be of practical use if using the camera for detection only, but is limited when looking for identification.

Evenly Lit Performance

First, we tested our budget 720p camera in full light, between 250-300 lx. Avigilon produces a noticeably brighter image, though this does not translate to an increase in quality. Avigilon's gamma and white/black level correction results in slight overexposure, which obscures detail on the chart and subject's face.

Moving again to our high-end camera, in full light, there is little difference in color or brightness, but we see blurring similar to the camera above, resulting in a slight loss of detail.

Wide Dynamic Range

We tested ACC with a 3MP WDR camera, as well, to see if these image adjustment features impacted wide dynamic performance. The first noticeable effect was a strange pattern created as the VMS tried to perform image adjustment on the camera. This can be seen in the image below as a hazy white pattern throughout the image, which looks to be caused by image adjustment occurring on the fly, on noise patterns in the video.

With a subject in front of the doors, we can see that ACC provides a slight improvement in WDR performance. The chart is lighter and slightly easier to read in lower lines. 

 

Outdoor Comparisons

We moved our subject to two outdoor daytime scenes to see what effect ACC had, as well.

1080p Camera

First, we tested with a current generation 1080p camera. There was little difference between the two.

We also tested image adjustments with an older standard definition camera. Colors were slightly truer in ACC, but no other extra detail was produced.

Thermal Camera Comparison

Finally, we tested ACC with a thermal camera to see if there were any differences in visibility. Indeed, Avigilon increased visibilty of cool objects in the room, such as the plant in the corner, and defined the edges of other objects better against the background. This may translate to a positive impact in detection when using thermal cameras, since this contrast is key. However, the chart the subject was holding became nearly lost in front of him due to overexposure, and the edges of his body were less defined. This could make it more difficult to identify objects as animal or human in the field, for example.

4 reports cite this report:

Network Optix/Digital Watchdog VMS Tested on Jun 06, 2016
Network Optix is one of the few VMS startups of the past few years (sold in North America exclusively as DW Spectrum), differentiating itself...
Video Enhancement Startup (Lentix) Partners With Milestone on Sep 29, 2015
There's a startup that claims to enhance video quality from HD IP streams, integrated directly into Milestone. In this note, we examine Lentix...
Testing Avigilon ACC 5 VMS on Sep 10, 2014
In this report, we provide in-depth videos covering Avigilon Control Center 5's operation and configuration with 30+ minutes of screencasts...
Avigilon Dirty Tricks on Jan 15, 2014
Avigilon's products are strong but their marketing is consistently and utterly irresponsible - one dirty trick after another. While their rapid...
Comments (15) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Hikvision Dual Lens Face Recognition Camera Tested on Nov 19, 2019
Hikvision's Dual Lens Facial Recognition camera, claims that it "adopts advanced deep learning algorithm and powerful GPU to realize instant face...
Color Low Light Mega Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Speco, Sony, Vivotek on Nov 12, 2019
This is the biggest color low light shootout ever, testing 20+ super low light models from 10 manufacturers: Increasingly, each manufacturer...
Open vs End-to-End Systems: Integrator Statistics 2019 on Nov 11, 2019
Preference for open systems is on the decline, according to new IPVM statistics. We asked integrators: For video surveillance systems, do you...
Biggest Low Light Problems 2019 on Nov 08, 2019
Over 150 integrators responded to our survey question: "What are the biggest problems you face getting good low-light images?" Inside, we share...
Rhombus Cameras, VMS and Analytics Tested on Nov 06, 2019
Rhombus boasts they have created "the new standard in Enterprise, cloud-managed video security" and told IPVM in January 2019 they offer twice the...
90+ Companies Profile Directory on Nov 06, 2019
While IPVM covers the largest companies in the industry regularly (like Axis, Dahua, Hikvision, etc.), IPVM strives to do a profile post on each...
Aiphone Video Intercom Tested (IX Series 2) on Nov 05, 2019
Aiphone was one of integrator's favorite intercom manufacturers but how well do their products work? The company's newest offering, the IX Series 2...
Avigilon Appearance Search Tested on Oct 30, 2019
Avigilon Appearance Search claims that it "sorts through hours of video with ease, to quickly locate a specific person or vehicle of interest...
Remote Access (DDNS vs P2P vs VPN) Usage Statistics on Oct 25, 2019
Remote access can make systems more usable but also more vulnerable. How are integrators delivring remote access in 2019? How many are using...
Security Canada Central Show Report 2019 on Oct 24, 2019
IPVM attended Security Canada Central in Toronto to see what is new in the Canadian market. Inside, we share videos and dozens of images...

Most Recent Industry Reports

The Cowardly, Greedy "Leaders" of Video Surveillance - SIA on Nov 19, 2019
The video surveillance industry suffers from cowardly, greedy 'leaders' who are focused on maximizing easy money while undermining trust with the...
Hikvision Dual Lens Face Recognition Camera Tested on Nov 19, 2019
Hikvision's Dual Lens Facial Recognition camera, claims that it "adopts advanced deep learning algorithm and powerful GPU to realize instant face...
Top Manufacturers Gaining and Losing 2019 on Nov 18, 2019
2019 has been an explosive year for video surveillance, with the world's two largest manufacturers, Dahua and Hikvision, being sanctioned for human...
Hidden Camera Detectors Tested on Nov 18, 2019
Hidden cameras are a growing problem as cameras become smaller, cheaper and easier to access. However, some companies claim to be able to detect...
Wyze Fires Back at JCI - Your Patents Are Invalid, Pay All Of Our Costs on Nov 18, 2019
Goliath JCI targeted startup Wyze this summer alleging the fast-growing consumer startup was violating a slew of JCI's patents. Now, Wyze has...
ADT Stock Surges - "Leading The Commercial Space" on Nov 15, 2019
Don't call it comeback... but maybe call it a commercial provider. ADT, whose stock dropped by as much as 2/3rds since IPOing in 2018, has now...
Gatekeeper Security Company Profile - Detecting Faces Inside Vehicles on Nov 14, 2019
Border security is a common discussion in mainstream US news and politics, as is the use of banned Chinese equipment by US Government agencies....
Hikvision CEO And Vice-Chair Under PRC Government Investigation on Nov 14, 2019
In a surprising and globally covered move, Hikvision CEO Hu Yangzhong and Vice-Chairman Gong Hongjia are being investigated by China's securities...
Camera Field of View (FoV) Guide on Nov 13, 2019
Field of View (FoV) and Angle of View (AoV), are deceptively complex. At their most basic, they simply describe what the camera can "see" and seem...
UK Big Brother Watch: Hikvision Is 'Morally Bankrupt' on Nov 13, 2019
UK civil liberties advocate Big Brother Watch has condemned Hikvision as being 'morally bankrupt' following IPVM exposing Hikvision marketing...