Axis says its new Q1602 camera with 'Lightfinder' technology is a 'revolutionary improvement' for video surveillance cameras. It is a very bold claim. Until now, the only thing available has been Axis produced demos so we bought an Axis Q1602 and did our own tests.
Low Light Challenges
No doubt, low light is a historical problem for video surveillance cameras. While manufacturers make crazy claims of cameras working at 0.01 lux or lower, the reality is that the video quality is fairly terrible at light levels even 10x or 100x greater than those levels. Grainy, dark images are common in low light.
Here's an example of bad low light video:
You can make out that there is a person but not much else. Pretty useless.
This is the type of video one is often stuck with unless they use digital slow shutters or illuminators - both of which have bad side effects, respectively motion blur and poor depth of field.
As such, getting a camera that has strong low light sensitivity without tricks or add ons is quite valuable.
We took the Axis Q1602 and pitted it against the top two low light performing megapixel cameras from our Megapixel Camera Low Light Shootout and a top regarded SD low light camera. In this way, we could better understand if the Q1602 really was superior to top quality products or was simply marketing fluff.
Then we did a series of tests:
- At 0.3 lux indoors in both color and black & white mode
- At 0.5 lux outdoors in both color and black & white mode
- Outdoors in both close range and long range to see how far the cameras could 'see'
- Day time at Field of View widths from 15 to 80 feet
- Indoor / outdoor scene to test Wide Dynamic Range capability
With this approach, we could determine not only what was 'best' in low light but what tradeoffs existed during the rest of the day.
When looking at the Q1602 as a whole and trying to determine what, if any, fit the camera has, a number of important questions should be answered:
- How much more details can the Q1602 capture in low light compared to top competitive cameras?
- How much better or worse comparatively is the Q1602 in color vs black and white mode?
- Can slow shutter be used to effectively reproduce or best the image capturing capability of the Q1602?
- How does the Q1602 compare to top performing megapixel cameras in the day?
- How does the Q1602 handle bright lights and WDR scenes?
- How much bandwidth does the Q1602 consume compare to top competitive cameras?
Inside, we answer all of these questions.