5MP Super Low Light Tested (Bosch)

By: Ethan Ace, Published on May 27, 2014

Low light performance remains the biggest showstopper for multi-megapixel cameras. Test after test, 5 MP and even 1080p cameras are consistently outperformed by 720p models. Bosch is aiming to change this, however, with their new NBN-80052, a 5 MP model using a larger 1/1.8" imager and the starlight technology built into their NBN-733V, consistently one of the top performers in our tests.

To find out how much this model narrows the performance gap, we put it up against a 5 MP competitor from Arecont Vision, and 1080p and 720p models from Axis, Bosch, and Samsung in four different scenes, ranging from a narrow 20' field of view indoors:

To a 100' field of view outdoors:

As well as a WDR warehouse scene:

*** ***** ****************** *** ******* *********** for *****-********* *******. **** after ****, * ** and **** ***** ******* are ************ ************ ** 720p ******. ***** ** aiming ** ****** ****, however, **** ***** ******-*****, * * ** model ***** * ****** 1/1.8" ****** *** *** starlight ********** ***** **** their***-****, ************ *** ** the *** ********** ** our *****.

** **** *** *** much **** ***** ******* the *********** ***, ** put ** ** ******* a * ** ********** from ******* ******, *** 1080p *** **** ****** from ****, *****, *** Samsung ** **** ********* scenes, ******* **** * narrow **' ***** ** view *******:

** * ***' ***** of **** ********:

** **** ** * WDR ********* *****:

[***************]

Key ********

**** *** *** *** findings **** *** ****:

  • *** ***** *********** ******* to ***** *** ***** models (***** ***-**** *** Samsung ***-****) *** ************* ****** than *** * ** Arecont ************.
  • *** ***** *********** ********* below **** ****** (**** Q1604, ***** ***-****, *** Samsung **-****), *** ****** legibility ** *** **** chart ** ****** ****. 
  • **** ******* ***** *********** similar ** *** ********** 720p/1080p *** ******.
  • *********** ************ ***** ******* ********, remedied **** ***** ******* mode.
  • ***-******** **:* *** ********** ********* pixels ****** *** **** by *** ******** ** typical * ** ******* (2992x1680 **. *********).
  • ** ****** **** ***** drop *********** ** **** ****** with * **** ** FPS ********, ******** ** 10-15 *** *** *** competitive * *********.
  • ********* *********** ******* ** *********** ***** cameras *** **** ***** other * ** ******.

******* *** ************

*** **** ** *** NBN-80052 ** $*,*** ***, not ********* ****. ***** on ******* ****** ******* and **** ** ***** Bosch *******, ** ******** street ***** ** ** ~$1,100. **** ** ****** than ***** * ** models *********, **** ** the**** *****(~$*** ****** ********* ****),******* ****** ************ (~$*** ******, *** ********* lens), *** ********* **-*******-* [**** no ****** *********] (~$*** ******, *** ********* lens). 

***************

*** ***-***** ** * significant *********** ** *** light *********** **** **** 5 ** ******, ********** beneficial ** ***** ****** of **** **** **** light ********* (******* *****). *******, ** ** priced ** * *******, at ****** ***** *** price ** ***** * MP *******, *** $***-*** more **** ******* *** light ****/***** ******.

Physical ********

** **** ***** ** review *** ******** ************ of *** ********* **** camera. **** ****** ** the **** ** ***** Bosch *** *******, ****** it ** ********** *******. The ****, * * MP *.*-*** ** ********* varifocal *****, ** **** much ****** **** ******* CS ***** ******, ** order ** *********** *** camera's */*.*" ******.

*************

**** ** ******* ****** configuration ** *** ***-*****. Those ******** **** ***** Bosch ******* **** **** nothing ********* ****, ***** from *** ****** ** change "****" **** * MP **:* ** * MP *:* ** *****.

Narrow ***

** ***** ** ******* indoors ** * ****** field ** ****, ~**', seen *****. 

** **** *****, *** NBN-80052 ** ******* ***********, almost ********* ********** ******** to ***** *******. **** ***** of *** **** ***** are ******* (**** ** line *) **** ** any ***** ****** *** to *** ****** ***.

** *** *****, ~* lux, *** ***-***** ******** a **** ******* ***** as ****, **** ****** visibility **** **** ***** models ******, *** ***** NBN-932V *** ******* ***-****. The ***** * ** camera ** **** ****, the ******* ********** ******** no ****** ***** ****.

*******, **** *** ****** off, ***** * ***, the ***** ***-***** ***** clearly ******** *** ***** though ******* ** *** subject *** ****. *** ***** is brighter **** *** ***-**** and **** ***** **** the ***** ******* ***-****. The *********** ** *** light *********** *** ****** resolution ******* ** **** visibility in *** ***** **** than **** *** **** Axis ***** *** ***** NBN-733V, ****** *** ******* SNB-5004 ** ******** **** *******.

Wide ***

**** ** ****** ** wider ****** ** **** to *** ** ************* * ** ********** held ** ** ******** and *********, ******** ** 50' ****.

**' ****

** **** *****, *** NBN-80052 ******* ******** **** details **** *** ***** camera ** *** ****. At***** **** ****, *** 720p ****** ****** ** not ******* ****** ****** per **** ** ******* good ******* ** *** subject ** *****.

** *** ***** (~* lux) ** * **' field ** ****, ******* noise ********* ** *** ***-*****, producing ***** *** **** level ** ****** ** the ***** ******* ***-****.

***' ****

** ***** *** ******* back, ********* ** * 100' **** *** ** the ******, **** ** this *****:

*****, ****** *** ***, the ***** ***-***** ******** more ******* ** **** the ******* *** ***** than ***** ******* ** the ****. 

*******, ** *** ***** (~3***** ******), ***** *** lower *** ****** ** no ******* ******* ** either ******* ** *****, though *** ******* ** still **** ******* **** in *** ***** ***-****, while *** ******* **** is ****** **** ** detect **** *** ****** test *****.

WDR ***********

** ****** *** *********** in * ********* ***** against ** **** ******** door, **** *****:

**** *** ******* ******* the ****** ******* ****, the ***-***** ******** ****, ** par **** *** *** cameras **** ** *** NBN-932V *** ******* ***-****, and ****** **** *** 5MP ******* ****. *** subject *** *************** *******, ** ** the ******* *** ******* behind *** *******. ** the ****** **** **** to *** ****, *********** is ******* ** ***** models, *** **** ******** behind **** ****** **** as *** **** ***** and ******* ***-****.

******* ** ********* ************ (standard ** *********** **) results ** * ****** increase ** ********** **** the ******* ** ** the ****** **** **** the ****, *** *********** against ****** *********** ** practically *********.

Bandwidth **********

** **** *****, *** NBN-80052's ******* *** ****** than *** ******* ****** for *** * ** Arecont ******. *******, ******** ***** to ~* ***, *** bandwidth *********** ** ***** than *** ***** ***-****, *** much ****** ** *** SNB-6004 (*.* **. *.** Mb/s). *******, **** *** lights *** ***** * lux, ********* ** ***** than **** ***** ******* and *********** *** ** the **** *******, *** Axis ***** *** ******* SNB-5004.

 

Test ***********

*** ******* **** ******* using ******* ********, **** exposure ************ ** */***. H.264************** ****, **** ************ ** *** ************ of ~** *******.

***** *** *** ******** versions **** *** **** camera:

  • ***** ***-*****-**: *.**
  • ******* ************: *****
  • **** *****: *.**.*
  • ***** ***-****: *.**
  • ***** ***-****: *.**
  • ******* ***-****: *.**
  • ******* ***-****: *.**

***** *.*.**.***** *** **** for *********.

Comments (9)

If there is not enough ambient light at times to illuminate the subject, how well does this camera (NBN-80052) handle IR illumination?

David, we did not test it with IR illuminators. However, in past tests, we've noticed that super low light cameras do very well with little light, IR included, assuming the camera is in monochrome mode. You have to be careful, though, because they typically use very high gain levels, and washing out subjects is a realistic possibility.

It sounds like then, Ethan, that most low-light cameras, including the Bosch NBN-80052, are not interactive with IR light sources. IR washout at close range is a problem, I've noticed, with most cameras, no matter if they are SD,HD,MP, day/night, or whatever, that IR performance is only within a shallow depth of field. Yet, I think there are a few cameras out there that can read the amount of IR light on the subject and react accordingly. But, I don't remember who they are.

How about doing a test of day/night cameras that are as interactive with an IR source as they are with a daylight source. Maybe that test has already been done and I don't know about it. If so, please point me toward it.

I would like to find a manufacturer on whose IR specs were truly accurate. Is that possible, or not?

David

"Yet, I think there are a few cameras out there that can read the amount of IR light on the subject and react accordingly. But, I don't remember who they are."

David, the structural issue is cameras with external / add-on IR vs those with integrated IR.

If the IR is external / added on, then it will not adjust.

If the IR is internal / integrated, AND it has software to control, it will adjust. Manufacturers have different marketing names for it, including SmartIR, OptimizedIR, etc. One example of this reaction is the Avigilon Integrated IR series we tested.

John, I think I learned something new this morning. It seems like what you are saying is that the cameras that are interactive with the IR source are only the cameras with IR illuminators that are part of the camera's package. And, they control the exposure by dimming, or brightening the illuminators, and not by conrtroling the iris.

I didn't know that. I had always assumed that the IR-smart cameras were controlling the exposure by adjusting the iris. Is then, under low-light IR conditions, is the control of the iris more difficult to design than controlling the brightness of the illuminators?

The iris circuitry certainly has no trouble controlling exposure during the daylight. Is the trouble with IR control because of being only in one area of the spectrum?

Could you enlighten me on this?

Good question / feedback.

"They control the exposure by dimming, or brightening the illuminators, and not by controlling the iris."

That is my understanding / experience of how 'SmartIR' is done.

I don't know why or what would happen if they adjusted the iris in that circumstance. Theoretically, it should result in a similar effect, less light passing through to the imager.

Conclusions?

Perhaps I missed the info. What distance is the camera from the subject when achieving the various HFOV for this study, please?

Thanks in advance.

Clear, objective comparisons and easy to follow videos - inspiring how the challenge of low light performance on highest resolution IP cameras drive innovation engineering... Where will we be two years from now? In some instances, IR LEDs cause blooming on night footage. I believe this was one driver behind dynamic, self-adjusting, 'smart', or whatever you want to call it, IR. In other cases, IR LEDs are being focused, somewhat resembling LED focus technology used in the automotive space. Advantage being better illumination and beam pattern control over the traditional donut of diodes... Of course, without the clear comparisons like above from IPVM, it becomes muddled with overmarketing.
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