Avigilon H4 5MP and 4K Cameras Tested

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Apr 25, 2016

Avigilon has released their H4 HD line, with promised improvements including their most sensitive low light camera (the 5.0L-), analytics on all models, and a new, less expensive, 4K/8MP model.

We bought the 4K and 5P H4 IR domes to see how they compare to others from Axis, Bosch, Hikvision, and more, seen here during test setup:

Inside, we examine performance in low light and full light image, bandwidth comparisons, and more.

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Comments (21)

Thank you for a very good review. Saved me the need to do it myself :)

Since Avigilon uses built in lenses what lenses were used for the rest of the cameras?

Do they come lenses or are they purchased separately?

All the cameras tested included lenses. Most of them were motorized focus/zoom, except the Bosch 5MP starlight, which is varifocal.

I'm sorry, but I don't understand something.

"All the cameras tested included lenses" - means that when you buy an Axis 4K (for example) you get a lens, and that you tested with the included.

"Most of them were motorized focus/zoom, except the Bosch 5MP starlight, which is varifocal" - if most of them were motorized zoom, doesn't it mean that they were varfocal?

The Axis 4K (and nearly every other camera here) includes an integrated zoom lens, not an interchangeable lens, like C/CS mount. The Bosch is CS mount, but the camera ships with that lens. It's not motorized.

Yes, motorized zoom is varifocal. But varifocal most often means that you're manually focusing it, instead of doing it via the camera web interface.

Thank you for the clarification.

Since it appears to me that the Bosch camera gave the best fight can you tell me the lens manufacturer for the 4K if it is known?

I wonder on your bit rate comparison, was the H3 3MP camera measured with WDR turned on? The H4 5MP lacks WDR, so it would be interesting to know.

That measurement actually was with WDR turned on. I'll make a note of that. All the cameras in the test which include WDR had WDR turned on, as it normally would be.

I should also specify that WDR was turned on during the day, and off at night if it did not turn off automatically. Just to be clear.

A little off-topic, but how does IPVM acquire the cameras used for testing? Are they all purchased outright, do you get them on a demo/loaner program from manufacturers, or donations from manufacturers? What do you guys do with your obsolete models?

We buy almost everything outright. We purchase online or through integrators, depending on the line and availability. A very very few we get on loan, and that's typically only if it's very expensive and we won't use it in the future. If it's very expensive and we plan to keep using it, we'll buy it.

As for what we do with older models...I have about 40 cameras staring me in the face from the shelves of my desk, another 5 sitting here waiting for testing, a stack of recorders about 3' tall to my left...and that's not even including John Scanlan's desk or the shelves or the closet. We have given away some.

We've been planning to get a lab setup together (see: Idea: Should IPVM Open An Online Lab?) but space planning and moving have been lower priority. Still aiming for the next couple of quarters.

It would be funny if you guys opened something like a library, but with cameras, recorders, switches, etc. One could "check out" an XYZ camera for 30 days for $x...Ill take a free "library card" for the idea.

1, that's the goal of the lab, at least virtually. Have lots of cameras and VMSes online so anyone can access and try out as needed.

This would be well worth the price of membership. If IPVM kept a backup image of each VMS server or VM and let everyone have admin rights (to the VMS) to fully test them out that would be incredibly useful. I would, however, count on someone breaking it every few days... hence the backups.

The idea would be to use imaging software to quickly restore each server before / after testing.

We have started this for our internal testing needs.

"Their on board analytics, which integrate only with Avigilon Control Center"

Given that it's built on the ONVIF Analytics Service Specification v 2.2.0, does IPVM know of any third party VMSs building support for these cameras? What are IPVM's thoughts on the current lack of support for what's proven to be a solid performer in the analytics camera space?

There are many ONVIF specification areas that aren't well implemented yet. Try to find good support for Profile G for example.

It's good that Avigilon is using ONVIF as much as possible, but I wouldn't assume that widespread support is just going to come naturally.

What is Milestone's incentive for example to add support for this? Engineering is mostly a zero-sum game, if they work on this, some other feature most likely gets delayed. How many customers are going to use Avigilon's analytic camera with Milestone instead of ACC? Enough to make it worthwhile to Milestone? Unlikely.

Hopefully more analytics products will adopt ONVIF Analytics Service, which then means VMS vendors can pick up support for many products by adding support, instead of just one or two brands.

It also would appear the Milestone (or any VMS) would have to add support not just for receiving and handling notifications, but also configuring rules as well. How would a customer with an Avigilon camera handle adjusting rules and such with another VMS? It seems like that VMS needs to do a lot of UI work, which may not translate to all other products (eg: other products will use different kinds of rules, or different names. How do you normalize this?), or Avigilon would need to have some kind of free configuration/test only VMS license so that customers could be assured they can handle the basic camera config functions.

Overall, I don't think it's all that surprising that other VMS's aren't rushing to add support for Avigilon analytics devices.

Great recap. One question, you do a bandwidth comparison which is very useful to me as I design wireless systems everyday and throughput is a main concern. Is there anywhere within your resources where you list maximum bandwidth usage per camera (realizing that spikes occur that would take the camera above said max)? For example you list 10 fps in your above comparison, would be good to know what the maximum throughput would be should the customer utilize full frame rate. Thanks.

@IPVM - is it possible to share what SoC Avigilon is using for 4K models? Amba S3?

The picture you posted of the setup shows the dome being left off of the cameras. Was the testing done without the glass? If so, doesn't that somewhat distort the results?

That picture was taken while we were setting up. We hadn't done final aiming and focusing yet. Testing was done with the domes on.

Testing was done with all domes / bubbles / glass on. The photo was of setup.

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