Axis Non-IP Camera / DVR Kit Is Here

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Sep 17, 2015

Back to the future?

If you can't beat em, join em?

Axis has a new release, the F34 Surveillance System which is unlike any 'system' Axis has released.

In this note, we examine the main strengths and weaknesses of this offering for its intended market of 'small stores and offices'.

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Comments (25)


I'd like to be able to sell a vehicle camera kit based around the F44.

Only one Milestone license required, right?

Sorry guys, but I think you have it wrong here. This just an F-Series IP camera with 4 heads (sensors) that can be mounted in different housings. The Main Unit is actually the processor(s) for the sensors. Like the F44 you put SD cards in to record...sorry but I don't believe this is a DVR. When tyou get one I'll bet you can connect this to a larger system via network if you choose.

Let me know if I'm wrong!

The Main Unit is actually the processor(s) for the sensors.

It's the h.264/ip encoder for the sensors/cameras, right?

If the sensors are not digital cameras, what is going down the wire?

What definition of DVR does it not meet exactly? It's multi channel, it records, it's got HDMI out..

edit strikeout

So if one requirement of a DVR is multiple channels, what would you call an F41 in this same setup with only a single sensor module? Is it a DVR as well? It's essentially the same unit as the F44, but with only one input.

Matt, are you recording / storing video on-board the F41? I am emphasizing the DVR link here because Axis is selling this with storage, designed to store on the F34.

Most people are probably not recording / storing video to the existing F units, even if they could.

I only bring up the F41 because of U1's assertion that multiple channels is one of the defining factors of a "DVR". From what the spec sheets show, the one major difference between the F41 and the F34/44 is the number of inputs/channels; all three record video internally, all three support DC or PoE power, all three support ACAP. There are other FEATURE differences, like WDR only in the F41, Zipstream only in the F34, audio and alarm I/O only in the F41/44, etc., but functionally they all do the same thing.

Most people are probably not recording/storing video on most egde-enabled cameras either, unless they're eschewing a central recorder entirely. I've only ever used edge and central recording together on ONE site, after that site had several analog cameras stolen or vandalized and the DVR stolen from a locked room; when we replaced the cameras with IP domes, we enabled edge recording on them in case the DVR was targetted again.

Like I say, TO ME, I don't see a FUNCTIONAL difference between these types of systems, and any other IP dome that has a sensor/lens unit connected by internal wires to a separate interface/edge-recording board... except these have a much longer interconneting wire. The edge recording in pretty much all these instances can be accessed either through the manufacturer's own VMS, or through the camera's web interface, so again... no real difference except the length of the wire (and the enclosure, of course).

I also find it funny that this becomes a debate now with the F-series, when the P12 line has done exactly the same thing (save the multiple sensor inputs) for at least a couple years now. The only PHYSICAL difference I can see so far (at least until the F44 is in my hands) is the "ruggedness" of the unit... beyond that, the the F-series does have better performance specs (on paper), and the P12 series were sold with sensor and interface as a complete unit, while the F-series sells the interface and sensor modules separately, allowing for more customizated systems... but functionally, they're based on the same concept.

Anyway, I'm not trying to say these things particularly are or aren't a DVR, or just a camera, or anything. That's really my whole point: what they ARE, depends on HOW you're using them.

Case in point, again, is using a cheap DVR as a multi-channel encoder for analog cameras: without a hard drive to record to, is it still technically a DVR? Or is it just an encoder because I'm using it as an encoder? I tend to go with the latter, as it describes what's actually happening, rather than what the unit was originally designed for.

So by that token, whether the F14/34/44 can be classified as a DVR, I think, depends on whether you're actually using it that way...

In the end, the lines aren't just blurred... they're pretty much obliterated. Is IP video still CCTV? Is an El Camino a car, or a truck? IHOP lets me have breakfast for lunch, or breakfast for dinner, but which is it, really? How long is a piece of string?

Too much energy is wasted arguing these semantics. I'd rather hear about how these things are actually being USED, not what they're being called.

Matt, the reason I brought up multiple channels as an attribute of DVRness was to appease the "if it walks and talks like a duck" crowd, who might be expect that a DVR would have a one to many relationship with input devices. But I have no such requirement myself.

As for "it is whatever it is you use it for" argument, I'll see merit there. Though agreeing with this statement does not give one carte blanche to change water into wine.

As for the "it's just an really long ribbon cable wire between sensor and CPU" arguments I would say that's misleading for two reasons. At the sensor is almost certainly a companion chip which does image processing, demosaicing etc. An SOC.

In addition ribbon cables don't work well over long distances, that's why parallel printer cables are not very long. Because of massive crosstalk problems everything is serialized. So something got to do the serialization of data. SDI or in whatever format. So it's not really like a microphone, just sending raw data from its transducer.

Are you planning on getting one?

"what they ARE, depends on HOW you're using them."

Sure, and the way Axis is using it is as a DVR here. The 'main unit' receives video, encodes it and stores it, i.e., DVR.

"I'd rather hear about how these things are actually being USED"

Axis has been very clear how this is being used, and we explained that in the post.

"Too much energy is wasted arguing these semantics."

The reason is that this reflects where the industry is going and how Axis is trying to position / frame how they change their 'use' cases.

I was thinking the same thing, Ron - at its core, it's no different than the P12-series with separate sensor and interface unit (with edge recording), or even the F41, which is a single-input version of the F44.

Technically, it's really the same setup as pretty much any dome camera: movable unit with the sensor and lens, connected to a power/interface board via small cable bundle or ribbon... it's just using a much much longer connecting cable. Would you consider the sensor portion to be a "non-IP" camera? Nope...

Sure it's all semantics... but by the same semantics, an HDcctv system COULD be considered an IP camera system once you view the recorder via network.

What is different about it than Todd's SDI then? Shorter cable?

Are you replying by editing your post?

"The Main Unit is actually the processor(s) for the sensors."

Just like an HD-SDI DVR is the 'processor' for the HD-SDI cameras.

I get that Axis wants to call everything an IP camera and not acknowledge non-IP but this is a digitized image that is sent to a unit that encodes and records it.

Units that encode and record video are DVRs. That's what they were in 2000, that's what they are in 2015. Axis can call it a 'main unit' if they want, but it's DVR.

The only difference between a year 2000 DVR and this DVR is that the input is digital, not analog. However, I see no structural difference between this Axis system and how an SDI 'system' works.

Regardless of where we stand on the semantics, most users won't care what it's name. Ultimately it will come down to performance and price, where this 'system' has some serious compararitive shortcomings.

BTW, I've spec'd an F44 and a pair of F1035-Es for a restaurant patio installation... they were sent to site for me but the site isn't ready for them yet, so I shipped them home... once they get here I'll give them a good work-out, feeding to a Vigil NVR (no edge recording in this case).

Just to give fair coverage to the other side of this coin: on sites with existing analog cameras, we've stopped sourcing Vigil hybrid DVRs, and instead started installing Vigil NVRs and EYEsurv (Dahua) DVRs used as encoders. No hard drive, no recording on the DVR, just strictly generating streams for the NVR. So is it still really a DVR, if it's not recording? Are the analog cameras now technically IP cameras, just because they're now a single interface unit and separate sensors, each connected by a single long cable?

Or is this just the next natural step in the debate over whether all-IP systems are still "closed-circuit TV"? Hmmmm....

First no, it is no an encoder, sensors just send the light data to a processor to arrange into a picture. This unit just adds 3 additional sensors to the original P12 covert camera Axis offers which is the same concept.

Think of it this way take the sensor out of the camera put it in a package with a lens and mount it remotely then process the digital data (ones and zeros) that the sensor send down the wires (hence the cable limit originally 8m, F44 increased to 15m) to the processor which then does the heavy lifting of things like WDR and Lightfinder...along with the digital/IP output. All IP cameras work this way...Ethan may be able to describe it a bit better???

As far as the recording goes, most IP cameras today record to SD cards onboard and some even have an HDMI output ( Axis M1025), Although I did not see one on the F34.

The big difference here is that a DVR does not directly take the digital signal from a camera sensor and process the data into an image...this is what the main unit here does.

Ron, I'm confused, do you think the Main unit is not an h.264/IP encoder?

You said:

The Main Unit is actually the processor(s) for the sensors.

I said:

It's the h.264/ip encoder for the sensors/cameras, right?

You said:

First no, it is no an encoder,

Update: Axis has confirmed MSRP pricing for the system of $799, which is the low end of the range we previously estimated, showing that Axis is providing a significant discount relative to the individual components.

That will still be a few hundred premium over other low cost / small business HD systems (via TVI, CVI, AHD, etc.).

We had problems with the SD cards working with this pachage

You've deployed an F34 system already? Can you elaborate on the issue?

Fascinating poll results breakdown. Integrators really dislike this system but manufacturers like it.

75% of integrators find it non attractive with only 18% who do

45% of manufacturers find it attractive, with just 40% who say not attractive

The. Better question to ask regarding this unit is what is the target market the small to medium market mentioned is very price sensitive and the Chinese ip brands hik and dahua units with embedded POE come in at the same MSRP The distance you can run the cat5 cable make the Chinese product more attractive

Has anybody any experience with this system yet I am looking for something to record in a kiosk environment in a mall so space is at a premium. Cabling distance would be minimal however would like any real world experience as to recording time on the 64GB cards probably looking at only two cameras

I have about 20 Axis P1214-Es deployed on one site for about three years now, installed in small custom "lipstick" housings under giant fixed patio umbrellas with the interface boxes in the central housings that also contain wiring for the speakers and infrared heaters. Other than some issues with oxidation on the connectors due to being in a seaside environment, they've been solid performers. The run only requires about 3m of the 8m "tail" on the sensors, so the rest just remains coiled inside the central housing.

I also just installed an F44 interface and two F1035-Es in an outdoor patio scenario where the sensors are in overhead support beams and the interface is in a central spot in the crawlspace under the patio. Those have been working well so far too (although the place was complete just within the last month, in Toronto, so the patio hasn't actually been used yet, and probably won't be until about May).

I can't speak to the onboard recording, as we're not using that; they all record to a Vigil NVR.

Here is Axis' unboxing video for the kit:

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