Axis Advances Its Best Overall Camera

By Ethan Ace, Published Jun 17, 2014, 12:00am EDT

While Chinese competitors rush to sell HD cameras at 1/5th to 1/10th the price of Axis, Axis continues to push up market.

Axis has announced the Q1615, its most feature rich camera yet.

In this note, we look at these features, prices, changes from current models, and how it competes with main stream rivals.

Background

The Q1615 is similar to the Q1614 announced last year with a few improvements:

Higher Resolution 

This is the first Axis 1080p camera to include both Lightfinder and WDR. Axis has higher resolution, with 5MP and the upcoming 4K / 8MP, but both lack Lightfinder and true WDR.

Next Generation WDR

The Q1615 includes Axis's next generation of WDR named "Forensic Capture." This makes the third variety of "WDR" Axis has included in their cameras, after Dynamic Contrast (essentially "fake" electronic WDR) and Dynamic Capture, true WDR included in the current Q1604, Q1614, and P3384. Axis claims Forensic Capture is a result of improved algorithms combined with "the best imaging components on the market", though it remains to be seen how much better it is than their existing WDR.

Automatic WDR/Low Light Switching

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The camera will automatically turn WDR off at night, one of the first Axis cameras to do so. Switching between these modes in other cameras featuring both features required scripting [link no longer available] based on the IR cut filter position in the past, complex for most users, and not officially supported by Axis. This has otherwise been an ongoing drawback to Axis's other WDR cameras, which require faster shutter speeds with WDR on, reducing low light performance.

Gyroscopic Image Stabilization

The Q1615 includes image stabilization based on gyroscopic measurements which are used to electronically compensate for vibrations due to wind or large vehicles passing. This technique is uncommon, and Axis claims more accurate than purely digital stabilization methods.

Other Features

The Q1615 also includes bells and whistles found in the Q1614, as well, such as leveling assistance, shock detection, auto flip, and 12 VDC output to power peripherals such as PIRs.

Some of these features are demoed in this marketing video:

Pricing and Availability

The Q1615 is expected to be available in Q3 2014 with an MSRP of $1099 USD ($1399 for -E outdoor version). This pricing is the same as the Q1614, and about $100 more than current Q1604 MSRP.

Axis announced a 1080p dome featuring Lightfinder and WDR earlier this year, the Q3505 (-E), with a price of $999/$1249. However, the Q3505 is specified to use Dynamic Capture, not Forensic Capture used in the Q1615.

Competitive Comparison

The Q1615's increase in resolution to 1080p addresses a key limitation of Axis's previous models. 1080p (and higher) WDR models have become more common in the past year, and super low light capabilities have been added to 1080p and higher resolution cameras, as well.

However, the the Q1615 is expensive compared to high end models with these features from major competitors, which often range from $600-800. Few of these competive models contain both WDR and super low light capabilities, though notable exceptions such as Samsung's Wisenet III line and Bosch's starlight Dinion models are available. Finally, the bells and whistles such as leveling assistance, gyroscopic image stablization, shock detection, etc., are rarely all included in other cameras, if at all, but these features are likely overkill for many applications.

Axis Trends

This announcement continues Axis's expansion in its mid and high tier offerings, wtih little movement in their low cost models. On the heels of announcements such as their 4K Ultra HD model, new mid and high end domes, and high priced integrated IR cameras, it seems that Axis is least concerned about competing in the low cost market, a segment increasingly encroached upon by competitors such as Hikvision and Dahua.

That being said, the Q1615 may become a showpiece for Axis and a trendsetter in the industry, as the Q1604 was when it was released, with its high end featureset and potential performance beyond current offerings. This helps Axis position themselves as the "best" camera manufacturer on the basis of featureset, if not price or value.

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