Bosch Dinion Camera Testing

By John Honovich, Published Jan 08, 2012, 12:00am EST

In this report, we test Bosch's Dinion IP cameras against leading cameras from Axis, Pelco and Sony. Our goal in this test was to understand (1) how Bosch's cameras compared to one another and (2) more importantly how they matched up against competitor's cameras.

Cameras Tested

We tested 3 Bosch Dinion cameras:

  • The Bosch SD Dinion, model NBN-498 [link no longer available], a 1/3" CCD camera
  • The Bosch 720p Dinion, model NBN-921 [link no longer available], a 1/3" CCD camera
  • The Bosch 1080p Dinion, model NBN-832 [link no longer available], a 1/2.7" CMOS camera

Scenarios Tested

We tested 3 primary scenarios:

  • Low Light - at ~0.2 lux, we compared details captured and overall brightness of the 3 Bosch cameras against 6 competitor's cameras
  • Wide FoV Daytime - at ~80 foot wide FoV, we compared details captured of all cameras
  • WDR - in a loading dock facing the sun, we compared details captured of all cameras at both a narrow darker area and a wider brighter area

Here are our key findings from the test:

  • The Bosch SD camera had the best low light performance of any Bosch camera and better than any MP camera. However, the Bosch SD camera's low light performance was inferior to the new Axis Q1602's.
  • The Bosch 720p camera was disappointing and was especially poor at low light.
  • The Bosch 1080p had excellent low light performance, among the best of all MP cameras and close to that of the Bosch SD. However, in color mode with low light, the image is desaturated, removing colors.
  • The Bosch 1080p camera had modestly better wide FoV performance over 720p cameras.
  • The Bosch 1080p camera had average to slightly above average WDR performance but did not match the top tier performance of Sony CH140 or Pelco SureVision 1.2MP.

General Recommendations

The most attractive of the 3 Bosch cameras is clearly the 1080p. The 1080p is one of the best overall performing cameras we have tested. For high end applications, it is worth considering compared to any of the big names - Axis P series, Sony V series, Panasonic, etc. At ~$800 USD online price, without lens, it is of comparable to slightly higher price to other cameras in its category.

The 720p Bosch camera's performance falls in between the entry level Axis M series and professional P series. The most notable drawback of the 720p Bosch compared to the Axis P1344 is Bosch's inferior low light performance. The 720p Bosch has an online price of ~$600 without lens which makes it fairly competitively priced for what it delivers.

The SD Bosch only advantage is superior low light performance. However, at ~$800 online pricing (without lens), the Bosch 1080p is likely a better value and better performer in most cases. [UPDATE: Bosch informs us that they recently dropped pricing on the SD 498 model that should result in online pricing falling to the $650 - $700 range. This increases the gap in price with the 1080p and might make some budget conscious users pick the SD. However, $100-$150 more for the 1080p HD version is not a significant premium].

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For those whose main priority is low light performance and are willing to tolerate the limitations of a non megapixel camera, the Axis Q1602 will deliver better low light images for ~$200 more (assuming Bosch's new SD pricing)

Technical Recommendations

We have 2 specific technical recommendations for using the camera:

  • Most users will benefit from reducing the target bit rate in the encoder setup. By default, Bosch sets up fairly high levels (2Mb/s for SD, 5Mb/s for HD cameras). For most applications, this is unnecessary, especially since Bosch will automatically vary the bit rate when the scene is more complex (up to the maximum bit rate level defaulted at 10Mb/s on the HD cameras). Most users should be able to reduce the target bit rate by 50% from the default and still get the same practical video quality with lower total storage costs.
  • Bosch Dinion cameras have no default password allowing anyone with the camera's IP address to log in and immediately reconfigure the camera. Admins should activate a password before deploying in production.

Low Light Performance

The test below is from our indoor scene at ~0.2 lux showing an overview of the scene.

The two biggest stand-outs are:

  • How competitive both the Bosch SD and 1080p cameras are
  • How poor the Bosch 720p camera does

Next, we digitally zoom into all of the cameras to examine facial details:

The Bosch SD and 1080p are clearly the best two performers with the Bosch 1080p fairly close in terms of level of detail displayed.

Next, we compare the Bosch SD and 1080P to the Axis Q1602 camera in black and white mode:

The Axis Q1602 is clearly better than both Bosch's.

Finally, we switch to color mode for the same cameras:

The Axis Q1602's lead is even stronger here with the Bosch SD image quality degrading (compared to B&W) and the Bosch 1080p displaying no colors at all.

Long Distance / Wide FoV Performance

Now, we examine a subject 80 feet away from the camera at an ~80 feet wide FoV. This a fairly wide area to cover. Compare the differences in performance:

Not surprisingly, the Bosch SD, the only SD in this round, does the worst by a considerable margin. The Bosch 1080p and the Sony 3MP do the best, significantly better than the other cameras including the Bosch 720p.

WDR Performance

Now we turn to a comparison of WDR performance. In this first comparison, we are testing a subject close to the camera in a FoV of about 12 feet wide:

The two standout performers are the Sony and Pelco cameras with all Bosch cameras clearly behind. That said, among the Bosch's the 1080p captures the most amount of overall details.

Last, we turn to the same scene but with the subject farther from the camera at ~25 feet Horizontal FoV.

The most interesting take-away is the benefit of the Bosch 1080p's additional resolution. Here, the gap in performance of the Bosch 1080p versus the other Bosch's is even greater. Additionally, the Bosch 1080p performance is much closer to the Sony and Pelco 1.3MP's performance.

Camera Configuration

In this appendix video, we overview the Bosch configuration options including low light optimizations and video encoding settings:

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