Testing Axis High End HD Camera Q1615By Ethan Ace, Published on Sep 15, 2014
Axis core focus is the high end of the market. Their newest high end camera, the Q1615, aims to continue that, with claims of industry leading image quality and novel features, such as:
- Super low light 'Lightfinder' at 1080p
- A new form of WDR Axis calls 'WDR-Forensic Capture'
- Enhanced gyroscope based Electronic Image Stabilization
- Focus and level assist
- Barrel distortion correction
- Shock detection
Here are our key findings from this test:
- In even, full light, test subject was moderately more recognizable than in other cameras due to improved contrast, removing shadows and dark spots from features.
- Below average low light performance, with no usable images of subject and test chart below 1 lux, worse than other current generation 1080p cameras tested.
- Improved WDR performance ("forensic capture") over previous generation Axis models, though still slightly behind current top cameras such as the Panasonic 6 Series.
- Average bandwidth performance in full light, similar to other 1080p models. Higher than average bitrates in low light, second highest in this test behind Samsung's SNB-6004.
- Focus and leveling assistants provide audible and visible feedback to installers without the use of a test monitor or second person to aim and focus cameras.
- Auto-rotation simplified corridor mode installation by automatically rotating images, requiring no user configuration.
- Despite using a gyroscope, electronic image stabilization compensated only modestly for small movements and vibration, though not as effectively as the non gyroscope Samsung SNB-6004.
- Barrel distortion correction compensates for curvature introduced by wide lenses, but reduces horizontal FOV at higher levels.
The Axis Q1615 sells for ~$1,050 USD online. This is similar to other top tier 1080p cameras, though notably more expensive than high end models from Samsung or Hikvision, which sell for about half the price. Note that no other cameras listed here include features such as auto rotation, shock detection, focus or level assist.
- Bosch NBN-932V: ~$900 online, not including lens
- Hikvision DS-2CD4032FWD-A: ~$450 online, not including lens
- Panasonic WV-SPN631: ~$950 online
- Samsung SNB-6004: ~$500 online, not including lens
- Sony SNC-VB630: ~$1,100 online
Recommendations / Competitive Positioning
The Q1615 is best for full light and WDR scenes but, despite its Lightfinder claims, is not strong in low light.
The 'bells and whistles' included, like auto-rotation, focus / level assist, etc. have some value, but are not obvious 'gamechangers'. One will have to assess how useful / important those features are to one's specific needs.
The Q1615 is still strong overall competitively, like its predecessor Q1604. However, in the past 2 years, between these two camera's releases, competitors have clearly closed the gap significantly while Axis has not dramatically improved from the previous generation to the Q1615.
In this video, we outline the physical construction of the Axis Q1615.
Here we contrast the physical size of the camera:
The web interface of the Q1615 is predominantly the same as other Axis cameras. However, there are several new options included for their advanced features, which we examine here.
The gyroscope included in the Q1615 allows it to automatically detect orientation. This makes corridor mode installation automatic, as users simply rotate the camera 90 degrees, without the need to change any options in the web interface.
Electronic Image Stabilization
The Q1615's electronic image stabilization is intended to reduce the effects of vibration and small camera movements. In addition to simply an on/off control, the Q1615 includes a control to match EIS settings to lens focal length for best performance.
We found that EIS compensated for small movements, but was not as effective as other cameras' EIS which we've tested, such as the Samsung WiseNet III.
The Q1615 includes shock detection in addition to other camera tampering functions, which detects impacts to the camera with adjustable sensitivity. On alarm, the camera may display a text overlay, send emails, TCP serial strings, or other functions supported by Axis' events settings.
Focus and Level Assist
These two options allow installers to aim and focus the camera without the use of an installation monitor. To enter these modes, users press and release the function button on the rear of the camera for focus assist, or hold for 3 seconds for level assist. Once activated, the camera will beep more rapidly and the LED turn green as the camera approaches focus or level, and turn from amber to red, beeping more slowly when out of focus or off level.
These features are demonstrated in this video:
Barrel Distortion Correction
Finally, Axis has included barrel distortion correction in the Q1615, intended to compensate for wide fields of view, which result in straight lines become warped and curved. We recommend using the feature only to correct for slight curvature, as large amounts of correction reduce the field of view as the image is zoomed and flattened, seen in this comparison. A ~4' region on each side is lost in this example.
This video shows how to configure this correction and different settings in real time:
These comparisons show the Axis Q1615 versus competitive cameras, as well as its predecessor, the Q1604, in our indoor test scene.
In full light, ~160 lux, the Axis Q1615 provides some of the best detail in these scene, with fewer shadows around our subject's features, making him more recognizable.
With the lights turned off and the scene below 1 lux, the Q1615 is one of the worst performers in this test, with no usable images of our subject, and line one of the chart barely legible. Note that the 6 Series Panasonic WV-SFV631L includes built-in IR illumination standard, which other cameras in this test do not.
Finally, we checked WDR performance in a warehouse scene with subject against strong backlight as well as the dark area beside the open door.
With our subject against a brightly lit open overhead door, the Q1615 provides average images of the subject, roughly on par with the Sony SNC-VB630, and outperformed by the Bosch, Panasonic, and Samsung models. However, performance is much better than the Q1604, which shows heavy shadowing on the subject's face. Next to the door, the Q1615 is one of the top performers, along with the WV-SFV631L.
The Q1615's bandwidth performance is average in full light, ~130 lux, slightly lower than the Bosch 932V and Panasonic 631L, and very slightly higher than the Samsung SNB-6004.
In the dark, below 1 lux, its bitrates are some of the highest in this test, close to the NBN-932V, and slightly lower than the SNB-6004. The Sony SNC-VB630 is lowest among non-IR 1080p cameras, ~1.75 Mb/s lower than the Q1615. Unsurprisingly, the Panasonic WV-SFV631L has the low bandwidth consumption in this test due to its included IR.
All cameras were tested using default settings except exposure, which was standardized to 1/30s max, and CODEC, which was standardized to H.264, 10 FPS, Q~28.
Listed are the firmware versions used for each camera:
- Axis Q1615: 126.96.36.199
- Axis Q1604: 5.50.3
- Bosch NBN-932v: 5.92.0090
- Panasonic WV-SFV631L: 1.52
- Samsung SNB-6004: 2.22_131218
- Sony SNC-VB630: 2.2.1
ExacqVision 188.8.131.52216 was used for recording.