Bosch Flexidome Micro Shootout

By Derek Ward, Published on Nov 22, 2013

Minidomes are very popular, likely the most popular of all IP camera form factors, due to their relative low cost and small size. Earlier this year, we tested 3 Axis M30 minidomes. Now, we are testing 3 Bosch minidomes head to head against Axis.

First, our typical indoor conference room:

Next, an open office:

Finally, an outdoor parking lot:

  • The 1080p model delivered fewer details than the 720p one as the 1080p's higher resolution was more than offset by its much wider FOV (135° vs. 89°).
  • The 5MP Flexidome provided the most details in all scenes driven by its narrower field of view compared to 1080p model (105° vs. 135°). 
  • WDR performance of all models was above average for cameras not listed as WDR, especially the 1080p and 5MP models.
  • The 720p Bosch Flexidome micro performed better in all conditions than the competitive Axis 720p M3004-V, with less noise and artifacting plus moderately better WDR and low light performance.
  • The 1080p Flexidome micro provided fewer details than the Axis M3006 in full light, with increased noise and artifacting. However, it provided moderately better performance in low light, with brighter images, and much better WDR performance against strong backlight. 

Pricing

The Bosch micro 2000 and 5000 series prices out as follows:

Compared to other compact minidomes, Bosch's are more expensive. For example, the Vivotek FD8136 (~$200 USD), Axis M3004 (~$260) and Dahua IPC-HD2100N ($142 [link no longer available]), are available at a lower price.

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Competitive Positioning

There are three key features which set the Bosch Flexidome micros apart from other compact minidomes:

  • FOV: The 105° and 135° FOVs of the 5MP and the 1080p minidomes are this line's most notable feature, much wider than many competitive compact minidomes, potentially making them more suitable for larger areas.
  • On-board storage: Additionally, all models include SDXC slots (up to 2TB cards supported) with on-board storage compatible with Bosch Video Client as well as third-party systems such as Genetec.
  • IP66 rating: Finally, the cameras' IP66 rating makes them suitable for outdoor use, not common among compact minidomes.

These features increase price beyond that of competitive 720p (~$60 more than Axis' M3004) and 1080p minidome (~$60 more than Axis M3006). However, none of these competitive models are rated for outdoor use, with IP66 models typically coming at a much higher price point (~$900 for Axis P3364-VE).

Physical Overview

This video reviews the physical construction of the Flexidome micros

Web Interface Overview

This video reviews the Flexidome micro web interface. Users of other Bosch cameras will not find much different here.

Indoor Comparisons

In these comparisons, we tested the Flexidome micro series in an indoor conference room, along with the higher end NBN-733v for reference. In full light with the subject at ~20', details of the subject and chart are good from the 720p and 5MP models are good. The 1080p model provides much lower PPF, however, due to its much wider FOV, impacting image quality.

~1 lux

At ~1 lux, the cameras switch to monochrome. Note that this is a software day/night switch, simply removing color information, with no removable IR cut filter. Here, the 720p model and 5MP again display the most details, though the E at the top of the chart minimally readable and the subject unrecognizable. Below this light level, no usable images are produced.

Axis M30 series vs. Bosch Flexidomes

We compared the 720p and 1080p Flexidomes against competitive models from Axis, the M3004-V and M3006, with similar fields of view.

~160 lux

The 720p Bosch Flexidome has stronger image quality than the Axis M3004 in this scene, with less artifacting around our test subject and test chart. The 1080p Bosch Flexidome is unable to provide facial details that the M3006 can provide, with heavy artifacting and less clear image.

~1 lux

The Bosch 720p dome performs best in this scene, with the E in the chart visible. Other cameras produce detection level video, with no visible details. Below 1 lux, no usable images are produced, with images essentially black.

Open Office

In these indoor office scenes, we display the variance in FOV's across the Bosch and Axis cameras. Below is an empty FOV image overviewing the scene and the differences in FOV's. The FOVs of the 1080p cameras are widest, followed by the 5MP flexidome.

At ~15', our subject is well lit, and all cameras are able to distinguish some details of our subject, such as clothing and build.

At ~30', details are reduced in the 720p models, and nearly lost in 1080p cameras.

At ~45', the 720p and 1080p cameras further lose details, with the subject essentially unrecognizable. The 5MP camera still provides higher PPF, but artifacting and the strong backlight through the entry doors obscure details as well.

WDR Performance

Though the Flexidome micro line does not claim WDR capability, we found its performance better than many cameras. The 1080p and 5MP models handled the strong backlight through the overhead door particularly well. The Axis M3006 provides better imaging of our subject than the Flexidome 1080p. However, the Flexidome shows moderately more detail outside, through the overhead door.

Moving the subject to the dark area next to the door, the cameras compare as follows:

Outdoors

Unlike many compact minidomes, the Bosch flexidome micro series is IP66 rated, suitable for outdoor use. We compared them in the following typical outdoor scenes:

Daytime

This sample shows the differences in FOV of the three Flexidomes:

At 15ft', performance is similar to indoors, with the 720p and 5MP models displaying more details than the 1080p model. Both also handled light better, with less overexposure on our chart and subject.

Nighttime

This comparison shows the FOV of each camera at ~2 lux.

In this scene, the 720p and 1080p cameras show few details of the chart and subject, partly due to overexposure from outdoor lighting.

Moving into the darker area of the FOV, both cameras show more details of the chart, but the subject is obscured by noise. 

Test Parameters

All settings were left at defaults, except shutter speed, which was standardized at 1/30s.

The following firmware versions were used in this test:

  • Bosch 720p dome: 73500580
  • Bosch 1080p dome: 73500580
  • Bosch 5MP dome: 73500580
  • Bosch NBN-733v 73500580
  • Axis M3004: 5.40.5.4
  • Axis M3006: 5.40.13.2

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