Axis ~$100 Camera Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published on Jul 17, 2018

Axis has released their lowest cost camera ever, the Companion Eye Mini L, setting their sights on a market dominated by Hikvision and Dahua. Can this new model compete with these low-cost incumbents? 

We bought and tested the Companion Eye Mini L to find out, examining:

  • Low light/IR image quality
  • Wide dynamic range performance
  • Full light image quality
  • Physical features
  • NVR/VMS compatibility
  • Bandwidth consumption
  • Motion detection performance
  • Configuration options

We tested it against Axis Companion Dome V (previous generation), Axis M3045-V, 2MP Hikvision DS-2CD2522FWD-IS and 4MP Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IS.

Pros - ****** ***** ******* *** ***** ****

*** **** ********* *** Mini ******** ****** *** light *** *** ****** than Axis' *** ******** ********* Dome * *** *****-*, as **** ** *********'* low-cost ***** **** ****, at * ***** ***** competitive **** ***-**** *********/***** models.

********, *** ******* ******* size **** ** * differentiator *** ***** ******* for ******** ***********.

Cons - ***********

*******, ** *** ******* *** limitations:

  • **** ********* *** ********:****** ***** **** ****** (both ******** *** *********), the *** **** * does *** ******* ******* SD ******* ** ******** NAS *********, ******* ********* the **** ********* ***.
  • ** ******** *****-***** *** compatibility:*** ********* *** **** L ** *** ********** compatible **** *** ***** party *****. ** **** stream ** *********, ****** unsupported, *** **** ********** method **** *** ******* stream ************* ** ****** side ***, *** ******** expected ** **** *****.
  • ****** ****: **** ***-**** ********** options *** ******* / IP66 *****.
  • ****** **** ******* ********:*** *** **** *'* bitrates **** ****** **** other ** ******* ****** both *** *** *****, despite *** ********* ** H.265 *** **** ***** codec ********. ********* ******** were ***** **** ****' non-IR ********* **** * and *****.

Strongest **** ***-**** **********

**** ** ********* ****' strongest ***-**** **********, ***** both ******** *********** *** lower ****. ****, *** increased ******** ** ******* manufacturers ************ ********** ******* **** ****.

*******, *** **** ******* are ********* ** ****** to **** ** *** low-end *** *** ******** Axis **** ******* **** against ******* ****** ********** in *** *****-***** *** real *********.

Hikvision ***** ******* **** ******

****: **** **** *** performed ***** ** *********'* new lower **** ***** ******* line ***** ********* ** ADI ***. ** **** ordered ***** *** **** to **** ******* *** Mini *** * **** they ****** **** * new ******** ******.

*******

*** **** ********* *** Mini * ***** *** ~$119 *** ******, ***** $40 **** **** ****' original ***-** ********* **** V (~$*** ******). **** pricing ** *********** **** Hikvision *** ***** ***** IR ******, ~$***-*** ******.

Physical ********

*** ********* *** **** L ** *** ******** all ** *** ****** in ****' ****, ~**% smaller **** *** ********* Dome */*** *****. *** only ********** ** *** camera ****** ** *** PoE, **** ** *****, I/O, ** *******, ********* video ***, ***.

** **** ** *** Eye **** ** **** video:

******** ** ***** ******* in **** ****, *** Companion *** **** ** notably *******, ***** **** versus *** ********* **** V *** ********* **** domes:

Manufactured ** ********

**** **** ** ****' other ***** *** ****** such ** *** ***/***, the ********* *** **** L ** ************ ** Thailand.

Night/IR ***** *******

** * **** ***** with ** ** (~*.****), the **** * ******** *** clearest ****** ******* ** subjects ***** ******* ******, drastically ****** **** *********'* compact ****, *** ******** better **** *** *** 2342.

*** *** **** *'* IR ******** *** ******** *** at *** ***** ** the scene, but *** *** ****** from ************ ** *** center ** *** ***** of ****.

 

Wide ******* ***** ***********

*** ********* *** ****'* more ****** ******* ****** and ******* ***** *** the **** ******* **** all ***** ****** ******, with WDR *********** ******** ** both ********* ****** ******. However, ****** **** ********* compared ** ***** **** models, ***** ********* ******** better ****** ** *** subject's ****** ********.

************, ***** *** ** noticeable **** ** *** subject ** ** ***** from ******** ** *******, shown *****.

******* *** ************ * .*** **** containing ***** ** **** scene **** *** ******* (~29MB).

Full ***** ***** *******

** **** ***** ******, Eye **** ***** ******* were ******* ** ** better **** ***** ****** tested, ****** **** **** slight ************* ** *** subject's ****. *** **** suffered **** **** ************ of *** **** ***** than ***** ******, ****** **** **** legible.

Companion *** ********

*** *** **** * requires ** **** ********* NVR *** *********. ** does *** ******* ******* SD ******* ** ******** NAS, ********* ** ***** Companion/Axis *******. *** ********* NVR ****** **** ~$*** for * * ******* model ** ~$*** *** an * ******* *** NVR.

Third ***** ******** *******

**** ***** ********* ******* we **** ******, *** Eye **** ** *** officially ********* ** *** third ***** *** ** NVR, **** ****' *** Companion ********. *******, **** the ********* **** *, the *** **** * has * ******* **** stream:

****://*******/****-*****/*****.***?****-****-**=****

***** **** ** *****:

*******, **** ****** *** multiple ***********:

  • ****** ****** ****: ****** *******, *** ****** worked **** **** ********* to * ****** ******** or ***** ****** (*.*. VLC). Sending *** ****** ** a ****** ******** ****** it ** **** ** both. **** **** ******* the ****** ** ******** clients *** * ****** VMS ****** ******* *****.
  • *** *********: **** **** *** ******* RTSP ********* **** ********* cameras, ******* ***** ******* tech ******* ****** ****** arise.
  • ******* *************:**** ********* ******* *** ability ** ********* ***** settings (***, **********, ***.) from *** ***, *** does *** ******* *** camera's ***. 

******* ** ***** ***********, RTSP *** ** ****** limited ** ***** ************ or *********** *****.

No *** *********

*** ********* *** **** L **** *** **** a **** *** *********, unlike ***** ********* ******, which *** *** **** interface ** ******* **** cameras. ******** *** ******'* IP ******* ****** ******** a ****** ****** **** a **** ** ********* and ********* ******** ********.

Limited *************

*** ********* *** **** L *** ******* ************* options, ******* ** *********** two ****** ** ********:

  • ********** *** ********* *** configurable *** *** "***** Quality" *******, *** *** limited ** **** ***** two **********, **** ** fine ******* ******* ** compression, ***, ** ***** options ********* ********* ** Axis *******:

  • ***** ***** ******* ******** such ** **********, ********, rotation, ***., *** *********, but ***** *** ** options ** ******* *** or ********** **, **** both *******.

** ****** ***** ******* in **** *****:

 

Higher ********* **** ******* **** *****

** *** *****, *** Eye **** *'* ******** were ****** **** **** Hikvision ****** ****** *** day *** *****, *** higher **** *** ***-** Axis ****** ****** *** day:

**** ****** **** *** Companion **** ******* ** not *** ***** **** blown ********* ***** *****, but ******* ****** ** H.265 **** **** ***** codec *********:

...* *********** ** *.*** and **** ***** ***** functionality ** ***** ** optimize ** *** *******...

*******, ****** *********, ***** are ** ******** ** compression ******, ******* *-***** interval, ** ******* ***. 

Motion ********* ***********

***** *** ******** ** Axis ****** *** **** with *********/* *********, *** *** **** L ******** * ********* variant, ****** ***** "****** Detection", ***** ****** **** rectangular *****, ******* ** polygons, *** **** *** include *** ******* ***** in ****/* (*****, *******, short ***** *******).

** *** *****, **** motion ********* ******* *** one ********** ********, ******** on ******* ***** *******, such ** ****** ******* or ****** ***** ****** on/off ** *** **** (below), ****** ***** **** did *** ****** ****. *******, it *** *** ***** on ***** *******, **** as ******* *******, ******** flashing, ** ****** ****** on/off ** ******** *****.

Versions ****

*** ********* ******** **** used ** **** ****:

  • **** ********* *** **** L: *.**.*
  • **** ********* **** *: 8.30.1
  • **** *****-*: *.**.*
  • ********* **-**********-**: *.*.* ***** ******
  • ********* **-**********-**: *.*.* ***** 170725

Comments (37)

On one day Axis is plauged with vulnerabilites. Then the next they are joing the race to the bottom. What is on going on here?? Next thing you know they are 41.89xpie% owned by the swedish government.

Socialist Swedish government. Not communists, but still

Yeah, watch out, they might try to hack your cameras to give you free healthcare.

Owned by the Swedish Government?  I thought Canon acquired Axis years ago.

Come by our booth at ISC and let's discuss a few solutions!

So now they are dumping zipstream for H.265 with smart codec? 

Not dumping, necessarily. The camera has no web interface and Axis tells us they leaned toward simplified configuration for the mini line. So while it contains elements of Zipstream, since it cannot be directly configured, they don’t call it Zipstream. 

Shame they don't just sell it just ONVIF etc (VMS compatible). Sure we can put the stream in via RTSP but you might be stuck if a firmware update closes it.

There's a script for that.

Great, so now we're back to making customers commit to 4,8 or 16 channel DVRs giving back all the progress the industry made with IP-based licence upgradable systems.  

And correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't pretty much all Axis equipment work on Windows/PC only and Internet Explorer?  ie no Mac support, no Safari support, no Chrome support, no Firefox support, no iPhone app, no Android app, no Microsoft Edge browser support.

Lastly, how do you explain to a customer why an indoor Axis camera is $100 an an outdoor Axis camera is $700?

Axis is just moving the industry backwards.  15 years ago we were installing 4,8,16 channel DVRs that ran on IE only with ActiveX controls.  Now we're right back where we started with Axis.  

I mean this is on-par with the low-cost market.  4/8/16 channel NVR's, only IE support. as you say. This may not be what all businesses are buying, but a lot of smaller businesses and homes seem to be eating it up.

IMO, they are competing in a part of the industy they shouldnt and cannot compete with. You cant come out with a product that is designed to compete with this industry with removed features right out of the gate.

Indoor Only
No Onvif

Im sure they will sell it to Casinos, Airports, etc. But they could have sold to those types of clients with their higher cost cameras already anyways. So IMO, they shot themselves in the foot.

Small Biz and Homes wont be eating this up. They will continue to munch on Dahua, Hikvision, Lorex, Swann, Etc.

Im sure they will sell it to Casinos, Airports, etc.

What??? I know casinos and airports are not your verticals but there is no way Axis is going (or even trying) to sell this there. No airport is running Axis Companion software (e.g., it's restricted to 16 cameras per location).

could have sold to those types of clients with their higher cost cameras already anyways. So IMO, they shot themselves in the foot.

That's why they removed ONVIF and VAPIX support. Enterprise users won't accept that.

As for indoor only and other options, Axis does have other models in the line including outdoor models a panoramic plus Companion software works with Axis 'regular' cameras as well.

Ultimately, I don't disagree with you that small biz and homes will continue to 'munch' on Chinese food products. However, I am curious how Axis does here with larger suppliers to home / SMB that may feel more comfortable with Axis over Chinese products and could be attracted by the quality and closer price of this offering.

My bad on the Axis Companion Software. You are right, no large enterprise will use that. 

So ultimately, I think this will be a huge dud. Do you know of a home owner who wants to put an indoor dome inside their house? Also, guys that do alot of Axis probably dont do many small jobs like this do they?16 and under? Not worth their time.

So ultimately, I think this will be a huge dud.

It won't be Axis defining product offering but it's worth doing:

(1) Axis is a billion dollar plus company with 3,000+ employees. They are big enough that they should have an entry level / low-end offering.

(2) Axis has a large sales organization. They may not sell many to individual homeowners but they may very well be able to close deals with a handful of large B2C service providers.

(3) Guys that do Axis don't do a lot of small jobs but, to the extent they do, it helps keep them within Axis' 'family' of products, rather than selling Dahua or Hikvision.

(4) I know you think the whole cybersecurity, government ownership, unethical Authoritarian regime criticism is just nonsense but there are others that are concerned about it. Again, at Axis size, they would be stupid not to have something positioned to take advatange of this at Hikvision's core overseas strength.

(5) The camera tested well and Axis has gotten much better at pricing / reducing their cost structure, making this more competitive.

You are staying on the Hikvision train, I agree that's the right move for you but Axis move here is solid in its own right.

Will Companion support multiple sites?

Yes, Companion will support multiple sites but not simultaneously, you have to log in to each site to view cameras.

On the one hand you have Axis, $100 USD indoor-only camera that can only be used on Axis DVR 4/8/16 (is there even a 16 ch option?) with support for IE only, PC only, no apps.

 

On the other hand you have HIKVision DS-2CD2xxx for the same price, IP66, Infrared, SD card slot, IP compatible with every VMS (except Genetec banning HIK), ONVIF, Motion detection on board camera, etc. works with IE browser, Safari browser, Mac or PC client apps, iPhone or Android apps.

 

Who does Axis think is going to switch from HIK to Axis?  You'd have to give up a lot of functionality to just get something with an Axis brand name.  Axis is cheapening their name big time, much like FLIR did buying Digimerge and re-branding it.  

with support for IE only, PC only, no apps.

As a point of fact, Axis Companion includes apps for both iOS and Android. Not supporting apps would be insane and certainly a major barrier, but that is not the case.

As for your list, you mention Infrared and motion detection on board as pluses for Hikvision but this Axis camera has both of those as well.

What you are actually 'giving up' is significantly shorter than your list. The biggest one, I agree, is 3rd party compatibility. However, there are definitely are a lot of smaller users who use same brand of camera as recorder (e.g., Hikvision / Hikvision) anyway.

As we discussed when this was announced, I don't think this is enough to cause Hikvision dealers to switch but the product tested quite well and is clearly better than Hikvision in important ways.

Moreover, the Axis app and cloud connect are likely to be seen as advantages for users who want a clean, simple way to access the most common functionalities.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't pretty much all Axis equipment work on Windows/PC only and Internet Explorer? ie no Mac support, no Safari support, no Chrome support, no Firefox support, no iPhone app, no Android app, no Microsoft Edge browser support.

Not sure I can speak for all equipment.  However, I regularly utilize Chrome for Axis camera configuration, etc.  It tends to provide better functionality for firmware updates etc. of internet explorer. 

On Axis' older web interface, H.264 video did not work in Chrome. However, they released an updated web interface with no-plugin H.264 support two years ago which has filtered to most current models.

The companion line is focused only for small installations with limited functionality.  It doesn't set back the industry, just integrators who don't know how to educate their customers on what is right for their installation.  Of course my larger customers asked about this and I explained the differences, limitations and cost differences.  Also, companion has outdoor cameras (about $200 Companion Eye LVE).  

I think you should read the previous IPVM articles and educate yourself about the differences in "companion" vs "regular line".  

Will Axis Companion Hurt Integrators?

I personally don't use or sell the companion line, but tell my large customers, if they're looking for something for their home, it's a great solution, otherwise, stick to the M and P line and focus more on quality.  

why didn't you pick the newer DS-2CD2525FWD-IS camera for your test?

At the time of testing, I didn't see it shipping anywhere in North America. It's still not listed on their website, for example, despite being shown elsewhere in the world for awhile now.

When we test the Value Express line soon we will add it in.

For any mid or large enterprise it is must for the camera to be fully compatible with major VMSs like Genetec, Milestone; or ONVIF compliant. If this camera is not, I am wondering what would be the target market?

It's marketed at small business, as their website displays:

Yes but why restrict the ability to sell it to more installers by limiting its ability to communicate? 

 

Its not like it can't do it. Maybe axis need to just say the RTSP stream will always be on.

 

why restrict the ability to sell it to more installers by limiting its ability to communicate?

It would cannibalize that market is my best guess. This way, only those who can accept the limitation of only using Axis Companion VMS will buy the lower price one.

Of course, Axis still faces the risk that buyers who want 3rd party support will buy an Axis competitor instead of Axis 'normal' cameras. However, they faced that risk before they introduced these Companion only cameras as well.

so they have an option to sell their $700 fixed domes instead.

Also, what is the deal with making it IE only. Is it really that hard to make cameras work on Chrome and FF without a plugin? Will it make these cheap cameras explode or something?

Where is this notion that it's "IE only" coming from? The camera does not have a full web interface, as we show in the report. The Companion NVR does have a web interface, but it's only used for basic configuration.

Is it really that hard to make cameras work on Chrome and FF without a plugin? Will it make these cheap cameras explode or something?

We've been wondering that, too.

Yes, but that market is already having good number of descent and cheaper cameras. In case of Axis Companion models, I feel the company is not very clear what exactly they want to target.

The home and small business market is getting driven by service providers who offer a bundle mostly on cloud where the buyer need not think too much about the make and model of camera.

"The home and small business market is getting driven by service providers who offer a bundle mostly on cloud where the buyer need not think too much about the make and model of camera." 

 

For Example?

In my views ADT Business security, Vivotek

 

My experience with ADT Business, at least in the Midwest area, is Hikvision, Hikvision, Hikvision.  Hikvision seems to be the preferred product of ADT here.  

It isn't ONVIF, it doesn't have full zip stream, it's a 4/8/16 DVR, etc...

Well, no kidding. Higher end options should not be expected with this line anymore than one should expect the same amenities in a $13K Chevrolet Spark as one gets in a $50k Tahoe.

This is Axis trying to capture the homeowner/small business market that they miss out on right now. I think they are also trying to capture integrators who serve those markets; the ones who never even think of Axis because the brand does not currently serve their interests. Call it what it is: a loss leader to gain interest in their other lines. 

 

 

 

While I agree that this camera might be a dud at least Axis is doing something that Arecont never did which is address the low end market and use a few products like this as lost leaders to get their bigger cameras pulled along.

So correction Arecont is addressing the low end now after Chapter 11 and a buy out.  Many people for many years told them to address the low end but it went on deaf ears.

I applaud Axis  

Companion line is an entry level video system concept that addresses small installation up to 16 cameras using a free of charge recording and management software and specific devices only suited to work with that platform. For that type of systems, the installation has been simplified in a way that it is not needed to set up the camera or recorder by accessing them using a web browser. The application software does it all using a wizard tool.

In parallel Axis has equivalent camera models to most of the Companion Line models at slightly higher prices. For those camera models, the browser support and the elimination of plug-in requirement was already available time ago as showed in this statement dated in 2017

Axis - Browser Support

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