Axis vs Sony Super Size Shootout (Q1659 vs SNC-VB770)
Super low light, super sized sensor cameras are a growing trend. In the past year, 2 of the most notable entrants for these IP cameras have been Axis and Sony.
Now, we are pitting the 2 cameras against each other, as shown below:
We shot these cameras out, testing:
- Daytime image quality
- Low light (<1lx) image quality
- VMS support
- Multi-streaming support
- Bandwidth/smart codecs
- Camera application support
Both cameras delivered far better low light performance than even top conventional 1/3" or 1/2" low light cameras. However, in darkness, the Sony delivered significantly greater details than the Axis.
Where maximal low light performance is the key factor, the Sony SNC-VB770 is a better choice than the Axis Q1659.
However, if the scene has moderate night time lighting, the Axis Q1659 has notable advantages including moderate increases in details at longer ranges as well as truer colors, with lower bitrates in most scenes (despite a ~12MP increase in resolution).
The biggest drawback of both cameras is likely to be price, as both cameras are ~5x more expensive than conventional high-end cameras, with the price premium providing a combination of higher resolution and superior low light performance that is not available in those conventional cameras.
The Axis Q1659 is priced moderately lower than the VB770 on some lens options, and similarly on higher end varifocal/low F-stop options. Axis Q1659 pricing varies depending on which lens is used, from ~$4,200 USD for the 24mm/F2.8 model through ~$7,200 for the 70-200mm/F2.8 lens. The SNC-VB770 sells for about $6,000 USD online, plus an additional $1,000-2,000 depending on lens option.
Both the Axis Q1659 and Sony 770 are much larger than typical box cameras. The Q1659 is slightly narrower, but longer than the VB770, making it moderately larger overall. Note that both Axis and Sony recommend larger outdoor housings for these cameras, as typical box camera housings may not fit the camera and lens or have a large enough front window to fit the entire field of view.
The back panel of the Q1659 contains typical connects for Ethernet, power, SD card, audio, etc. The most notable addition is an SFP (small form factor pluggable) slot which can be used for fiber connections.
Sony Larger Imager
The VB770 uses a larger 35mm sensor than the Axis' APS-C, accounting for at least some of its better low light sensitivity. The two are shown below side by side.
20MP vs. 4K
The Axis Q1659 streams at 5472x3648/20MP, vs. 4K in the VB770. This results in ~1,500 additional pixels horizontally, as well as a taller 3:2 aspect ratio which may better fit some scenes than the wider 16:9 ratio. Note that the Q1659 is also capable of 4K30, as is the VB770.
Full Light Performance Similar
We tested daytime performance in an outdoor parking lot/field scene, shown below:
In an outdoor daytime test scene, the Q1659 provided image quality similar to the VB770 in a ~60' field of view, shown below. The Q1659 was slightly less noisy, with less blocking/fewer artifacts, but subject details are practically the same, despite a ~30 PPF advantage in the Q1659.
At longer distance (~100'/~100' HFOV), the Q1659 provides a moderate increase in details compared to the VB770, with the subject slightly clearer, and text legible to line 4, vs. only a single totally legible line in the VB770.
Daytime City Streets: Axis Advantage
Moving to a city intersection test scene, the Q1659 provides noticeable increase in details delivered. For example, license plates were clearly legible on cars in the middle of the intersection in the Q1659, but fuzzy in the VB770. At much longer range (~300'), a banner is clearly legible in the Q1659, with truer colors, but cannot be read in the VB770, which appears moderately desaturated.
Sony Better Low Light Performance
In our tests, the SNC-VB770 was much brighter in nighttime scenes than the Axis Q1659. For example, at night with no exterior lighting (~0.05 lux), the SNC-VB770 provides rought details of the subject as well as 3 legible lines of the test chart, while the Q1659 provides only detection, no details.
Further, at ~90', the SNC-VB770 provides detection of the subject while the he blends into digital noise/background in the Q1659.
Both Cameras Better Than Typical Super Low Light
While the Q1659 performs worse in low light than the Sony VB770, not that it is superior to typical super low light models, even using 1/2" sensors. For example, the image below show examples from past tests of the Axis Q1659 and Sony VB770 against 1/2" and 1/3" super low light models.
Subjects are clearly visible in both the Axis and Sony models with rough details in the VB770, but no details or detection in the standard super low light model.
Axis Camera Applications
The Q1659 is capable of running some Axis camera applications (ACAP) on board, such as Digital Autotracking and Crossline Detection. The Q1659 will also be compatible with the Axis Guard Suite (Fence Guard, Motion Guard, etc.) when firmware is updated to 7.00+ in the next few months. The SNC-VB770 includes Sony's DEPA Advanced analytics (see our test) but other applications cannot be added.
Because of its inclusion of Zipstream, the Q1659's bitrates were lower in all scenes except nighttime still than the SNC-VB770, despite its much higher pixel count. Note that the SNC-VB770 does not use a true VBR implementation, but instead uses target/max bitrates, with no user control of compression. This test used a target bitrate of 16 Mb/s and max of 32 Mb/s based on recommendations from Sony.
Multi-streaming was tested with Avigilon Control Center, Exacq, Genetec Security Center, and Milestone XProtect.
The Q1659 supported at least two streams in most VMSes tested (all but Avigilon), and as many as 4 H.264 streams in Genetec (shown below) and Milestone. The VB770 supports up to five streams, but VMS support varied, with Exacq and Milestone seeing all five, but Genetec and Avigilon only integrating the main stream. Framerate is a maximum of 10 FPS on the 4K stream. Turning WDR on further cuts this framerate in half.
The lenses used for images in this report were:
- Axis Q1659: Canon 24mm F1.4L
- Sony VB770: Zeiss 35mm F1.4
Testing was also performed with varifocal models, as well, but images do not appear this report:
- Axis Q1659: Canon EF 70-200mm, F2.8L
- Sony VB770: Sigma FE 70-200mm, F4
The following firmware versions were used in this test:
- Axis Q1659: 184.108.40.206
- Sony SNC-VB770: 1.1.0