With so many cameras from each manufacturer to choose from, determining quality differences can be difficult. This challenge is increasing as IP camera manufacturers offer more resolution options (SD, HD, 3MP, 5MP, etc.) and different product tiers (entry level, mid tier, premium, etc.).
To provide guidance on tradeoffs, we are starting a new test series of 'Intra-Manufacturer' shootouts. The purpose is to compare and analyze camera models and technology within one manufacturer's portfolio to get a practical sense of the differences in real world surveillance applications.
In this first test, we examined differences among Axis Communications cameras. We took four Axis cameras:
- M1101 - an entry level SD camera
- M1104 - an entry level HD camera
- P1344- a premium level HD camera
- P1347 - a premium level 5 MP camera
We tested in several scenarios, encompassing a wide variety of real-world surveillance environments (e.g. indoors, outdoors, evenly-lit, low-light, and WDR scenes).
Analyzing Video Quality
We analyzed a series of scenes to see how performance varied across the cameras. We digitally zoomed each camera to the same level to show differences. See an example scene comparison from our parking lot test.
We conducted our analysis across 10 scenes. They are:
- Indoor Even Artificial Lighting (Far)
- Indoor Even Artificial Lighting (Near)
- Indoor Low-Light (Default)
- Indoor Low-Light (Normalized)
- Outdoor Daytime Even Lighting (Far)
- Outdoor Daytime Even Lighting (Near)
- Outdoor Nighttime (Far)
- Outdoor Nighttime (Near)
- WDR Scene (Bright)
- WDR Scene (Dark)
Analyzing Bandwidth Consumption
Not only do we examine which cameras provide the best quality in each scene, we now break down the bandwidth consumption, showing who's the best and worse for the amount of network bandwidth and storage consumed.
Our analysis covers 8 metrics:
- Even Artificial Lighting Bandwidth Consumption Per Camera
- Low-Light (Default Settings) Bandwidth Consumption Per Camera
- Low-Light (Normalized Settings) Bandwidth Consumption Per Camera
- Outdoor Even Lighting Bandwidth Consumption Per Camera
- Outdoor Nighttime Bandwidth Consumption Per Camera
- WDR Scene Bandwidth Consumption Per Camera
- Average Bandwidth Consumption Per Scene
- Average Bandwidth Consumption Per Camera Overall
Our focus was to understand how image quality differed across this broad range, answering questions such as:
- How much better is an Axis HD than an inexpensive SD camera?
- What quality differences exist between an Axis entry level and premium HD camera?
- How much better is an Axis 5MP compared to their HD and SD cameras?
- When is it worth it to spend more a higher resolution or feature set camera?
Inside the Pro section, we answer of each these questions.