Covert MP Strip Camera (Axis P85)

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 31, 2012

Reliably capturing identification video of subjects, even under baseball caps and hoods is one of the common challenges of the industry. Mounting cameras at eye level provides the best chance of identification, but places cameras within easier reach, potentially subjecting them to tampering and vandalism. Aiming to solve this, Axis has released a series the P85 covert camera series [link no longer available] for these locations. In this note, we look at the specs of this series, and competitive options.

Overview

The P85 [link no longer available] is a covert camera mounted in a tubular housing. Two models are available, the P8513, with a maximum resolution of SVGA, and the P8514, featureing 720p resolution. Both cameras use a 1/4" image sensor, and are capable of multiple H.264 and MJPEG streams, at a maximum frame rate of 30 FPS at max resolution.

The P85's housing is 111" long by 2" in diameter, available in multiple finishes (black, white, and chrome) to match finishes on site. It ships with height strip decals, and may be used in locations like other height strip cameras. However, due to its tubular contruction, Axis intends it to be hidden among other pipes, such as sprinkler or heating pipes, or electrical conduits. 

Here's a sample image of the camera:

Limited Distribution and Pricing

The P85 series is available now, through distributors. Axis said they have limited this product's information on their website and they intend to limit its online sales, in an attempt to protect its covert nature. The SVGA P8513 has an MSRP of $999 USD, and the 720p P8514 has an MSRP $1,099. We expect that users will likely choose the P8514 over the P8513, as 720p provides nearly twice the resolution of SVGA for 10% more.

Competitive Options 

There are few, if any, covert IP height strip cameras, making the P85 a novel offering on the pure IP side.

However a number of analog options exist.Analog height strip cameras sell for about $300 online, depending on manufacturer and design. In order to add this to a VMS system, an encoder is required, adding approximately another $275 to the total. This puts the total for an analog height strip camera at about $575-600. We estimate that the P8513 will have an estimated street price of about $900, and the P8514, about $990. This puts the Axis models at a price about 50% higher than analog with a single channel encoder.

While the P85's increased resolution (and price tag) may not be necessary in many applications in which covert height strip cameras are used. Small entrances/exits, such as single or double doors may be covered sufficiently by analog cameras. However, facilities with larger banks of doors may find the increased resolution, especially of the P8514, useful. Additionally, as shown by our WDR tests, increased resolution can help improve WDR performance, a common problem in low position cameras that point out towards entrances or windows.

UPDATE: According to Axis, "The P85 is based on technology that’s inherent in our M31-R series cameras. Those cameras were designed for transportation (trains, busses, etc) where dynamic range is more of a factor and better performing. That technology was incorporated into the P85 series."

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