Axis Declares Megapixel Race Over!

By John Honovich, Published on Sep 29, 2012

It's Over! The race for more megapixels and higher resolution is no more, according to IP camera gorilla Axis - whose top resolution for most cameras is 720p/1.3MP and who has no cameras supporting more than 5MP. Is this true? Has the race really ended? Should someone inform Axis' rivals making 8MP, 10MP, 16MP, 20MP, 29MP and higher resolution (e.g., gigapixel) cameras?

In this note, we dig into the claim, Axis's rationale and how the race for camera supremacy will evolve.

What Do You Think?

Axis's Rationale

Axis offers two main reasons for why the race is over:

  • "The current limitations of professional-grade lenses"
  • "Image quality has reached a point where few users require more resolution than what’s available today"

Instead, Axis says a shift has occurred:

"The race for business and operational intelligence begins. With the ability to download and run applications directly at the edge, the IP camera is now the iPhone of the surveillance world"

Needless to say, Axis has visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. IP cameras today, even Axis's, are far from being anything like an iPhone. However, this does highlight a key Axis development priority over the next few years.

The Future

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

The future has never been brighter for IP cameras and, contrary to Axis's assertion, we see three parallel races that will drive their adoption:

  • The race for (super) megapixel cameras will continue
  • The race to eliminate VMS server software
  • The race for smart cameras

Inside, we dig into these key trends.

Why The Megapixel Race Continues

The shift to megapixel over the last 5 years has significantly increased the number of users who can cover the areas they need. With SD, the problem, any time you needed to cover an area of more 10 or 15 feet, you either had to use multiple cameras or give up critical details of faces, license plates, etc. Most users, in the past, just accepted capturing low details rather than saturate areas will arrays of cameras. Even going from SD to 720p made a big difference as the coverage area width could routinely be doubled.

However, there are still many areas that benefit from greater resolution. Large open areas, whether indoors or outdoors can use more:

  • Parking lots
  • Public areas
  • Big box retail stores
  • Parks / Pools
  • Lobbies / Courtyards
  • Auditoriums / Sporting Facilities

Additionally, long areas, like hallways and aisles can make use of greater resolution. A common theme for all of these areas is that people tend to congregate in them, making them especially important to have surveillance. This easily represents a third of all locations needing surveillance, making it a substantial market.

Despite this and the ongoing megapixel 'race', very few offerings exist above 3MP. Most IP camera manufacturers max out at 3MP including big brands like Panasonic, Pelco and Sony (with Bosch offering only a single 5MP camera). Even Axis only has a few cameras above 3MP. As such, the market is nowhere near saturated for higher resolution cameras.

How the Megapixel Race Will Continue

We see the megapixel race having 3 main components:

  • Improved Quality Higher Resolution
  • Multi Imager Megapixel
  • Super Megapixel

Let's break them down.

Improved Quality Higher Resolution

Improved low light performance and enhanced WDR are two key areas where higher resolution cameras will see improvement over the next few years. While there may be many 1080p cameras out there, very few have strong low light and WDR performance. This situation is even worse for 5MP and higher cameras. Whatever manufacturers can stake a lead in these areas will have a material advantage in the market.

Multi Imager Megapixel

CPUs overcame limitations in increasing pure speed by adding more cores. Similarly, megapixel cameras can overcome limits on lenses, low light and WDR performance by using multiple imagers. We think this is one of the most critical battles in the 'megapixel' war.

Multi imager megapixel is dominated by Arecont Vision with few rivals and Axis not even in the mix. Putting multiple imagers in a single camera housing, allows for much higher total resolution (e.g., 4 imagers at 2MP each delivers 8MP in a single 'box') while avoiding common problems. Moreover, the economics of this approach are extremely compelling compared to putting multiple megapixel cameras side by side. For wide area monitoring (e.g., 180 or 360 degrees), this is a very powerful solution.

While Arecont has been offering it for years, and doing great business with it, competitive options remain limited to proprietary offerings (e.g., Avigilon's JPEG2000 version) and niche options (e.g., Scallop, Dallmeier). Despite this, Arecont aggressively continues to improve with a promising upcoming 12MP WDR version. Perhaps, patent issues constrain this segment with Arecont holding a patent on multi-imager cameras as well as being sued by an earlier patent holder on the technology.

Fundamentally, multi imager megapixel offers significant value and will nearly certainly be a key element in competitive future battles.

Super Megapixel

The most basic race for more megapixels will be simply using higher resolution sensors. There is no shortage of imagers from the consumer side at 10MP, 14MP and even higher. As they have been brought over for years, we expect this to continue to be done.

This is not an unmitigated good as the fallacious advertising around super megapixel cameras can harm users (i.e., the 'up to' 95 camera replacement claims).

However, it is sales gold. People love big numbers and having the highest resolution camera is like having a super high horse power engine. Even if it is a waste or not of any real practical benefit, it opens doors and it signals to customers that a manufacturer is a leader. Even if these super high resolution cameras do not sell that much, the drive to be the perceived market leader in 'more megapixels' will remain a key factor of this race.

However, megapixel is not the only race for camera vendors.

The Race to Move VMS Software Into the Camera

Perhaps the biggest race will be which camera manufacturer can best move VMS software onto their devices. With camera computing power increasing, it is becoming easy for IP cameras to manage their own recordings and not depend on a centralized VMS (e.g., Milestone, Genetec, Exacq, etc.). Eliminating the $100 to $200 that users typically spend on licenses and server hardware is a very attractive proposition. Those camera manufacturers who can most effectively do that stand to gain a significant edge for buyers of smaller to mid sized systems. Indeed, we see this as one of, if not the top trend in all of surveillance.

Currently, the 3 camera manufacturers that are farthest along in eliminating VMS server software are Axis, Bosch and Mobotix. With its super high camera prices, Mobotix is likely to remain a niche player. By contrast, both Axis and Bosch have invested in lower price lines which complement eliminating VMS server software. However, it remains to be seen how much they are willing to offend their VMS partners, a proposition that both are at least somewhat hesitant to do. As such, the field is certainly open for other camera manufacturers to take the lead in this race.

The Race for Analytic / Intelligent Cameras

This last race is the one that Axis centers on in its projections and that it has the strongest competitive foundation. Three years ago, Axis launched their Camera Application Platform (ACAP) that allows applications to be loaded on their cameras (like the iPhone). Even today, no other major IP camera manufacturers has anything close.

However, even for Axis, it is still going to take some time. Processing limitations for more advanced analytics are still an issue even with their latest ARTPEC-4 platform. Plus, the number of applications on their ACAP platform are still very limited. However, over the next 5 years, this can be overcome.

Video analytics remains the 'next big thing' and, once it finally comes to fruition, Axis is very well positioned to be the leader in that race. Until then, it is more potential than payoff.

6 reports cite this report:

Canon 250MP Prototype Targeted At Surveillance on Jan 17, 2017
At one point Axis declared the megapixel race was over, but now parent...
Axis / Canon Launch 20MP Avigilon Rival on Sep 12, 2016
For years, Avigilon has essentially owned the 'super high resolution' single...
Axis Acquires Video Analytics Firm Citilog on Feb 01, 2016
Axis rarely makes acquisitions. They get acquired, of course, (i.e., by Canon...
Axis 33MP Camera Tested (Q3709) on Nov 30, 2015
In 2012, Axis declared the megapixel race over. Now, Axis has released a...
TVI Launches 3MP, 4MP, 5MP Analog Cameras on Oct 29, 2015
One key barrier to HD analog is about to fall. This is a live report from...
Axis 4K Tested (P1428E) on Oct 29, 2014
[UPDATE August 2015: We recently updated firmware on this camera for an...

Related Reports

Mobotix 7 Line Camera Tested on Mar 12, 2020
Mobotix is attempting a turn-around, struggling for years, then releasing the...
Sony Launches AI Camera Sensors on May 18, 2020
Weeks after exiting the branded video surveillance business, Sony is making a...
2020 Video Surveillance Cameras State Of The Market on Jan 03, 2020
Each year, IPVM explains the main advances and changes for video surveillance...
Camera Analytics Shootout 2020 - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Jan 22, 2020
Analytics are hot again, thanks to a slew of AI-powered cameras, but whose...
New Axis M30 Cameras Tested on Mar 26, 2020
Axis has released a new generation of, for them, relatively low cost M30...
Motorola Solutions Acquires Pelco on Aug 03, 2020
Motorola Solutions has acquired Pelco, pledging to bring blue back and make...
Apple Acquires XNOR.ai, Loss For The Industry on Jan 16, 2020
Apple has acquired XNOR.ai for $200 million, reports GeekWire. This is a loss...
Axis Next Gen P32 Camera Tested (P3245-LVE) on Dec 18, 2019
Axis has released the next generation of their widely used P32 camera series,...
Leica Launches LIDAR / Thermal / IP Camera on Mar 04, 2020
Swiss manufacturer Leica is launching what it calls a "real-time reality...
Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the...
Vivotek LPR Camera Tested on Apr 15, 2020
Vivotek has historically sold license plate capture cameras but not LPR. Now,...
Video Surveillance Trends 101 on Apr 01, 2020
This report examines major industry factors and how they could impact video...
Hanwha 8K / 33MP Camera Tested on Sep 14, 2020
Hanwha Techwin has released an 8K / 33MP resolution camera, the TNB-9000 with...
Camera Course Summer 2020 - Last Chance on Jul 18, 2020
This is your last chance to register for the Summer 2020 Camera Course. This...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...

Recent Reports

Motorola Solutions Total Revenue Down, Video Revenue Up on Oct 30, 2020
Motorola Solutions' total revenue is down, but video (both fixed and...
Recruiters Show 2020 On-Demand Recordings on Oct 30, 2020
Recordings from the 12 recruiter presentations are now available...
Consultants Show 2020 On-Demand Recording on Oct 29, 2020
Recordings from the consultant show are available on-demand at the end of...
Hikvision AcuSense G2 Camera Test on Oct 29, 2020
Hikvision has released their next generation of AcuSense analytic cameras...
Biggest Problems Selling Access Control 2020 on Oct 29, 2020
Access control can cause integrators big headaches. What practical issues do...
Taiwan Geovision AI Analytics and NDAA Examined on Oct 29, 2020
Taiwan manufacturer Geovision's revenue has been falling for years. However,...
Bedside Cough and Sneeze Detector (Sound Intelligence and CLB) on Oct 28, 2020
Coronavirus has increased interest in detecting symptoms such as fever and...
Fever Tablet Thermal Sensors Examined (Melexis) on Oct 28, 2020
Fever tablet suppliers heavily rely on the accuracy and specs of...
Verkada Fires 3 on Oct 28, 2020
Verkada has fired three employees over an incident where female colleagues...
Eagle Eye Networks Raises $40 Million on Oct 27, 2020
Eagle Eye has raised $40 million aiming to "reinvent video...
Hikvision Q3 2020 Global Revenue Rises, US Revenue Falls on Oct 27, 2020
While Hikvision's global revenue rises driven by domestic recovery, its US...
VICE Investigates Verkada's Harassing "RawVerkadawgz" on Oct 26, 2020
This month, IPVM investigated Verkada's sexism, discrimination, and cultural...
Six Flags' FDA Violating Outdoor Dahua Fever Cameras on Oct 26, 2020
As Six Flags scrambled to reopen parks amid plummeting revenues caused by the...
ISC Brasil Digital Experience 2020 Report on Oct 23, 2020
ISC Brasil 2020 rebranded itself to ISC Digital Experience and, like its...
Top Video Surveillance Service Call Problems 2020 on Oct 23, 2020
3 primary and 4 secondary issues stood out as causing the most problems when...