Axis Q1604 Shootout Results

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 27, 2012

In the past year, Axis has advocated improved image quality versus more 'megapixels'. The two cameras most central to that are the Q1602 Lightfinder camera and the Q1604 WDR camera. In this report, we share test results of the Q1604.

Areas Tested

We focused our testing in the two areas we have found the most challenging and differentiating for surveillance cameras:

  • Wide Dynamic Range Scenes - For example, a person opening a door walking inside a building during the day.
  • Low Light Scenes - A dark scene with minimal ambient lighting

In these tests, we compared the Axis Q1604 to Bosch, Pelco and Sony camera as well as the Axis P1344 and the Axis Q1602.

Below is a sample of the image comparisons we conducted:

Questions Considered

In our test, we examined:

We dig into the details inside including important recommendations on configuration changes that should be made.

Key Findings

Here are our key findings from the test:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

  • The Q1604's WDR performance was strong, in a similar range to Sony and SureVision but without the artifacting common in them
  • The Q1604's low light performance, with WDR on, was competitive with top performers in our MP low light test even though max shutter speed for the Q1604 with WDR on is 1/44s
  • With WDR off and set to a common 1/30s exposure, the Q1604's low light performance is superior to any MP camera we have tested
  • The Q1604 can be set to automatically turn WDR mode off at night but the steps to do so are cumbersome
  • 720p Matchup: Compared to the 720p Axis P1344, the Q1604 is superior in WDR and in low light. Its bandwidth consumption is also significantly less during the day but can be significantly more in low light.
  • Compared to the Q1602, the eVGA LightFinder camera, with WDR on, the Q1604 is significantly worse in low light. However, with WDR off and at a common 1/30s exposure, low light performance is fairly close.

Recommendations

The Axis Q1604 is a strong overall camera that will be very competitive in professional / enterprise applications looking for both low light and WDR performance. However, if you want the Q1604's best low light performance, you must manually configure the camera to turn off WDR mode at night.

The main barrier for the Q1604, with an MSRP of $999 USD, will be price. While the technical attributes are strong across the board, the pricing is roughly $200 more than similar cameras in its category (Sony CH140, Pelco Surevision 1.2MP, etc.). On the one hand, it is not a huge price difference but it is likely enough for most users to be a serious issue to consider.

The secondary barrier for the Q1604 is that it is only available in a box form factor. If you require a fixed dome, Axis does not have an option in the Q series. By contrast, typically competitive offerings do have.

Compared to other leading Axis cameras:

  • The Q1604 is a better camera than the P1344 in pretty much every way and if you are deciding between the two, the only obstacle will be the roughly $200 increase in price.
  • For most low light uses, the Q1604 is better than the Q1602. With WDR off at night, the Q1604's low light performance is close. Plus, during the day, the Q1604 is better. Since they are the same price, unless you have extreme low light conditions, the Q1604 is likely the better choice.

Future Tests and Comparisons

Given the performance of the the Q1604, this impacts our results for previous MP Low Light shootout and MP WDR shootout. We plan to do a full re-shoot when the upcoming Panasonic and Bosch MP cameras are released in the next few months.

Turning off WDR Mode

Turning off WDR mode is a 3 step process in the camera configuration (see this zip file for screenshots of the steps). It is a manual process and not simply clicking a button. Also, we do not think it is prominently posted in the public technical documents. We asked Axis specifically about this and that is how we found out.

Warning - Low Light Bandwidth Consumption

Because the Q1604 has much more aggressive gain levels and defaults to VBR and WDR on, Q1604 bandwidth consumption can soar in low light to as high as 15Mb/s - about 3 times what the P1344 consumes in the same scene. Be careful as this can cause serious problems. Here are 2 main steps to rectify:

  • Turn off WDR mode at night. This will allow for a longer shutter speed that will likely reduce the noise level. Even going from 1/44s to 1/30s significantly reduced bandwidth consumption.
  • Turn on CBR / bandwidth cap. In our testing, a bandwidth cap of 6Mb/s was a fairly safe choice to limit bandwidth usage while not impacting quality. See our review of setting up CBR/bandwidth caps on Axis cameras.

WDR Shootout

We did a number of WDR tests in various scenes. In the following images, we show the results of a common use case - a person walking through a doorway inside a building.

In the first image, we have the subject beginning to enter the door. Notice the Axis P1344, a camera without WDR, has significant washout. The other 3 cameras, with WDR, do not have washout. However, the Axis Q1604 is the only one without significant artifacts.

In the next image, we have our subject standing in the middle of the doorway. In this shoot, the non WDR P1344 still has significant washout. The Sony here provides the clearest image of the subject's face.

Finally, we have our subject walking inside into a darker area. All the cameras struggle more here. The Axis Q1604 does the worst of the 3 scenes with nearly no facial details. While the Pelco and Sony both have artifacts, they do deliver some facial details.

Low Light Shootout

In the comparison below, we have the Axis Q1604 with its default settings (WDR On - 1/44s) versus other MP cameras at 1/30s exposure. Note: With WDR on, the Axis Q1604 cannot have a slower shutter speed than 1/44s. Despite this, the Q1604 is quite competitive with all cameras and far better than Axis's current generation P1344.

The Q1604 has more aggressive gain options than the P1344. For example, the max gain control on the P1344 is 35dB while the max on the Q1604 is 42dB. All cameras are tested with their default allowable max gain controls (which is typically the max overall supported).

In the comparison below, we turn off WDR on the Q1604 and set its exposure to 1/30s just like all the other cameras. The Q1604 image quality improves greatly and is now clearly displaying more details than any other camera in the comparison.

Wide FoV Shootout

The goal of the Wide FoV shootout is to measure any differences in daytime / 'megapixel' performance. In the first comparison, our subject is an ~80 foot wide FoV (roughly 15ppf). The details are close though it appears that the P1344 is capturing slightly less than the others.

Now, our comparison moves to a narrow 40 foot wide FoV. Here, the Sony may have a slight edge in delivering details.

Overall, as to be expected, in daytime, evenly lit conditions, performance is relatively close.

Q1604 vs P1344

Beyond the general improvements in WDR and low light, the Q1604 had one other interesting advantage over the P1344 - 'truer' colors resulting in lower bandwidth. In our daytime, indoor shots, at the same resolution and frame rate, the Q1604's bandwidth consumption was 30-50% lower than the P1344. Part of that is due to using main profile vs baseline. However, even when we forced the Q1604 to use baseline, significant bandwidth benefits remained.

As the comparison below shows, the P1344 routinely generates strange coloration / artifacts that do not occur in the Q1604. This very simple scene shows this:

Our theory is that this makes it harder for the P1344 to encode while making a less 'true' image.

This second comparison shows this in a real world scene. Look at how the crosswalk renders - the lines displayed on the P1344 are blurry/jagged while the Q1604's lines are more solid. Additionally, the facial details captured on the Q1604 are superior (which we would attribute to the WDR capability).

Q1604 vs Q1602

Finally, let's compare the Q1604 to the Q1602 at night using a 0.2 lux scene. In our first comparison, the Q1604 defaults to WDR On. In this comparison, clearly the Q1602 is superior.

However, in the second comparison, if you turn off WDR for the Q1604 and set both at 1/30s exposure, image details are a lot closer with a slight edge to the Q1602.

However, in color mode, even with WDR off, the Q1602 is notably superior. However, for such a low light level (0.2 lux) and a megapixel camera, the Q1604 remains solid.

However, during the day, the megapixel Q1604 captures clearly more details than the extended VGA Q1602:

5 reports cite this report:

Lux Rating / Minimum Illumination Guide on Dec 23, 2016
Lux ratings are one of the poorest specifications to use in selecting cameras. Now, with the rise of integrated IR, they are increasingly...
Axis Daybreak App Tested on Dec 07, 2015
Many users complain about cameras cutting over from day to night too early or too late. On the one hand, you want to have color as long as...
Axis Advances Its Best Overall Camera on Jun 17, 2014
While Chinese competitors rush to sell HD cameras at 1/5th to 1/10th the price of Axis, Axis continues to push up market. Axis has announced the...
Axis New Generation P33 Domes (P3363/P3364) on Mar 27, 2012
Axis has released a new generaton of their P33 dome camera line, incorporating hardware improvements and price changes. In this note, we examine...
Axis Q1604 WDR Camera Reviewed on Sep 18, 2011
In September 2011, Axis announced a new HD camera, the Q1604, optimized for Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) performance. This camera joins the low light...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Pelco GFC 4K Dome Camera Tested (IMP831-1ERS) on Mar 12, 2019
Pelco has finally released their first 4K IP camera, after years of competitors' releases. Is this move too late? Or is their new GFC Professional...
Axis IR Multi Imager Camera Tested (P3717-PLE) on Feb 18, 2019
Axis has released their first IR multi imager, the P3717-PLE, a repositionable model listing 360° IR illumination and flexible positioning,...
Hanwha Smaller Multi Imager Tested (PNM-9000VQ) on Feb 14, 2019
Hanwha's first repositionable multi imager PNM-9081VQ tested well, but was huge, over 12" wide and weighing in at over 10 pounds. Now, they have...
Bandwidth vs Low Light Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Geovision, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Feb 08, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance, but do all manufacturers' cameras perform the same? Are some more consistent...
Sony Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 06, 2019
Sony Favorability amongst integrators improved moderately compared to their 2017 favorability results, with a modest net positive...
8MP HD Analog Tested (Dahua / Hikvision) on Jan 30, 2019
HD analog has promised higher resolution for years, but has lagged substantially behind for years. Now, both Dahua and Hikvision have started...
Verkada Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on Jan 28, 2019
Verkada is arguably the most ambitious video surveillance startup in many years. The company is developing their own cameras, their own VMS, their...
Camera Course Winter 2019 - Last Chance on Jan 24, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the Winter 2019 Camera Course. This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth...
Testing Bandwidth vs. Frame Rate on Jan 23, 2019
Selecting frame rate has a major impact on surveillance bandwidth and storage consumption. But with smart codecs now common and cameras more...
Milesight Company Profile on Jan 22, 2019
Milesight Technology, a Chinese company building an International branded business, says they are slowly building their presence through a series...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon Launches 'Renewed Products Program' on Mar 19, 2019
There are lots of 'pre-owned' cars but pre-owned IP cameras? While such programs are common in other industries, in video surveillance, they are...
Hanwha Tax Evasion Probe, Camera Division Implicated on Mar 19, 2019
A Hanwha group subsidiary was raided as part of a tax evasion probe. While a Korean news media report listed the raided entity as 'Hanwha...
Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested on Mar 19, 2019
Genetec has released Version 5.8. This comes after a wait of more than a year that caused frustrations for many Genetec partners. Our previous...
Retired Mercury President Returns As Open Options President on Mar 18, 2019
Open Options experienced major changes in 2018, including being acquired by ACRE and losing its President and General Manager, John Berman who...
Large US University End-User Video Surveillance Interview on Mar 18, 2019
Schools have become targets in modern days of active shooters and terrorist fears. The need for video and access security is high. Universities...
Hikvision Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 18, 2019
Hikvision favorability results declined significantly in IPVM's 2019 study of 200+ integrators. While in 2017 Hikvision's favorability was...
ONVIF Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 15, 2019
In the past decade, ONVIF has grown from a reaction to the outside Cisco-lead PSIA challenge, to being the de facto video surveillance standard...
Installation Course - Last Chance on Mar 14, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the March Installation course. This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
City Physical Security Manager Interview on Mar 14, 2019
This physical security pro is the Physical Security Manager for the City of Calgary. He is a criminologist by training with an ASIS CPP credential....
US Drafting Separate Rule for NDAA Dahua/Hikvision 'Blacklist' on Mar 14, 2019
The most debated provision of the NDAA ban of Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei, et al. is the so-called 'blacklist' provision which would ban any company...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact