Axis Q1604 WDR Camera Reviewed

By John Honovich, Published Sep 18, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

In September 2011, Axis announced a new HD camera, the Q1604, optimized for Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) performance. This camera joins the low light optimized Q1602 in an emerging premium series for Axis. This note examines the key features, pricing and competitive positioning versus Sony and Panasonic.

UPDATE: We have tested the Axis Q1604 camera. See test results.

Currently, we see Axis have a significant weakness for WDR applications. In our WDR tests, the Axis P13 series camera's performance is not strong. Indeed, generally, whether or not we turn on Axis's optional dynamic range mode in these cameras, it is hard to see the difference.

Like the P1344, the Q1604 is a 720p camera. The Q1604 will become the top tier camera in Axis's HD box line for WDR / harsh light appliations.

Positioning

Axis is positioning it to be competitive with top tier WDR optimized IP cameras. In our testing, this is (1) the Sony V series, specifically the CH140 and (2) Panasonic including the new SmartPro line and the other 502 model.

Axis did not make any claims about superiority of performance. They did note that they focused on delivering a WDR image that minimizes the artificial / cartooning effect sometimes found in WDR.

The camera is not shipping until Q4 2011 so until we do tests, we cannot offer an opinion on performance.

Pricing

The pricing for an indoor box model is $999 USD MSRP. Given Axis's standard discounting street pricing should fall in the $900 - $940 range.

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This pricing is notably higher than equivalent Sony and Panasonic cameras whose street pricing is in the $750 - $800 range.

Limitations

The series offers an external box option but no domes, unlike Sony and Panasonic who both offer dome options.

Other Points

Two other secondary points of interest:

  • Both the Q1604 and Q1602 support main and baseline profile while the P series cameras are all baseline profile only. Axis reports that the Q series cameras using main profile can reduce bandwidth consumption an average of 20% compared to using baseline. Axis said that they verified this with a stream analyzer checking quantization level. If valid, savings are modest but non-trivial.
  • The Q1604 does not have a flicker free mode. The user needs to set the appropriate 50Hz/60Hz setting for their region.

Conclusion

Obviously, we have to test the actual WDR performance to have a strong opinion on overall value. The higher pricing and lack of dome form factor should be taken into consideration. UPDATE: We have tested the Axis Q1604 camera. See test results.

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