When deciding on camera selection, one of the toughest decisions is determining which camera has better image quality. You can try to guess based on certain image features but it is an inexact science as 'good' marketing can cause confusion. You might choose on the strength of the brand name but that is becoming more difficult as major surveillance brands are offering multiple tiers or quality levels of products (e.g., how good is the big brand's entry level camera?)
In this report, we share our findings from a shootout of two of the biggest brands in the surveillance camera market: Axis and Sony. The focus was to see what image quality differences truly existed across a variety of real world scenes.
We used the following five cameras (listed in order from lowest to highest price):
Note: all cameras ship with varifocal lens and were tested with the lens included as part of the camera package. For both manufacturers, we included both their 'lower' and 'higher' end series as well as Axis's 5MP - the highest resolution offering of either brand.
We tested all of these cameras simultaneously in several scenarios, encompassing a wide variety of real-world surveillance environments (e.g. indoors, outdoors, evenly-lit, low-light, and WDR scenes).
Analyzing Video Quality
We analyzed a series of scenes to see how performance varied across the cameras. We exported the simultaneous recordings and then digitally zoomed each camera to the same level to show differences. The sample comparison below from this test shows an example of the analysis (camera names/models revealed inside the Pro section):
We conducted our analysis across 10 scenes. They are:
- Indoor Even Artificial Lighting (Moderately Wide FoV)
- Indoor Even Artificial Lighting (Narrow FoV)
- Indoor Low-Light (Default)
- Indoor Low-Light (Normalized)
- Outdoor Daytime Even Lighting (Wide FoV)
- Outdoor Daytime Even Lighting (Moderately Wide FoV)
- Outdoor Nighttime (Wide FoV)
- Outdoor Nighttime (Moderately Wide FoV)
- WDR Scene (Bright)
- WDR Scene (Dark)
Additionally, we examined bandwidth differences across the cameras and scenes to see any tradeoffs in bandwidth vs quality.
This is the first manufacturer vs manufacturer shootout. Based on reader interest, we will consider doing others. Topics that we are considering include: Axis vs Arecont, Sony vs Panasonic, ACTi vs Vivotek, etc.