Bosch First Starlight 1080p Camera Tested
Bosch has released their first 'Starlight' 1080p camera, the Flexidome IP starlight 7000 VR.
We tested this new dome against competitive super low light models from Axis ('LightFinder') and Hikvision ('DarkFighter'), as well as Bosch's existing 1080p HDR and starlight model (720p) to see how it stacks up.
Inside, see our results in full light, low light, and WDR (below), as well as bandwidth, physical feature, and configuration issues.
The Bosch 1080p Starlight 7000 VR is a solid super low light performer, though still outperformed by similarly priced integrated IR cameras (such as the Axis P3225 and Hikvision 4526 tested here). Additionally, high levels of digital noise reduction decrease image quality, not seen in IR models.
WDR performance of the Starlight 7000 VR was among the best of cameras tested, with very even exposure against strong backlight as well as darker areas of the scene, better than Axis and Hikvision competitive models.
Finally, Bosch's lack of smart codecs results in significantly higher bitrates in all scenes compared to Axis Zipstream and Hikvision H.264+ used by competitive models.
Bosch IVA Analytics Improvements
Bosch claims big performance enhancements in their IVA analytics using the Starlight 7000 VR, as these cameras include a separate processor for analytics only. We plan to test these analytics separately, given their complexity and test period required.
These improvements could offer a competitive advantage for Bosch. We will update this report once tested.
Street pricing of the Bosch Starlight 7000 VR is ~$900-1000 USD. This is moderately more expensive than Axis' IR Lightfinder/WDR P3225-LVE (~$800 online) and Hikvision's 1/2" Darkfighter/IR/WDR DS-2CD4526FWD-I (~$600 online), both of which include integrated IR.
See a comparison of these models using the IPVM Comparison Tool:
Bosch points out that they also offer the Starlight 6000 VR at ~$300 less ($650-700 street price) which includes only "essential" analytics instead of "intelligent", but which they claim offers similar low light and HDR performance.
We review the physical construction of the Starlight 7000 in this video, fairly typical in size and features for an outdoor dome camera:
Those who have used other Bosch cameras will find the Starlight 7000 web interface familiar, though some elements have been rearranged since past 5.xx versions, and a new color scheme used. There are two key points in the web interface specific to this camera:
Starlight or HDR Mode, Not Both
The Starlight 7000 allows users to select between starlight and HDR modes. Switching between the two requires a camera restart. This is unlike many/most high end cameras, which typically turn WDR off at night to improve low light performance, and back on during the day.
DNR Settings Critical
Due to motion blur introduced by temporal digital noise reduction, discussed below, users should adjust DNR for their scene (generally -7 to -12), found in the "Enhance" section of the camera menu.
DNR Motion Blur
In our tests, the 7000 VR exhibited significant motion blur due to high digital noise reduction settings (see our Camera DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) Guide for more details on this issue). Bosch says that they will work to improve this issue in future firmware and/or adjust default settings to reduce blur, though gave no timeline.
For example, using default settings (DNR set to 0 on a scale of -15 to 15), the subject is very blurry with a long trail behind him.
Reducing temporal DNR (-10) reduces the length of the subject's trail, but blur is still significant, with details reduced.
Finally, turning temporal DNR off, blurring and trailing are nearly eliminated, but high levels of digital noise and blocking reduce details.
Low Light Comparisons
We tested the Bosch starlight 7000 VR against other low light 1080p models at two light levels, starting at ~4 lux. Note that in the tests below we have included integrated IR cameras, as both Axis and Hikvision competitive models include integrated IR at a price point similar to the non-IR Bosch Starlight 7000 VR. Bosch does not offer IR in this camera.
Comparison images below were taken with the Bosch starlight camera set to -10 temporal noise filtering.
Exterior Lights On, ~4lx
At this light level, with PPF high (~95), the Bosch starlight 7000 is one of the best performers, with solid details of the subject and test chart, though the Hikvision 4526 performs slightly better.
Moving further from the cameras (~42 PPF), the Starlight 7000 VR again performs well, with details of the subject similar to the Axis and Hikvision domes, though the test chart becomes moderately overexposed.
Finally, in a ~28 PPF scene, details of the subject are similar in all 1080p cameras, with practically no chart legibility in any.
Exterior Lights Off, ~0.03lx
The Bosch Starlight 7000 performs best out of all the non-IR cameras in this scene without outdoor lighting, ~0.03 lux, with rough details of the subject and lines 1-3 of the test chart legible. However, both integrated IR cameras provide better details of the subject and chart.
Widening the field of view, the subject is difficult to discern due to digital noise, while both integrated IR models show rough details of the subject and 1-2 lines of the test chart.
Finally, moving further, at ~28 PPF, only the integrated IR models provide detection of the test subject.
Color/Non-IR Low Light
To see how the camera compared to other super low light models without the effects of integrated IR, we tested at these light levels with the cameras forced into color mode.
With lights on, ~4 lux, the Starlight 7000 VR provided the best details of the subject and test chart, similar to the Axis P3225, while other cameras wash out the subject and chart.
With lights off, ~0.03lx, the Starlight 7000 again provides the best image in this scene, with the subject practically difficult to make out in other cameras.
Wide Dynamic Range
We tested the cameras in a typical warehouse scene with strong backlighting, seen below. Note that the camera was switched to HDR mode for these tests.
The Bosch 1080p Starlight camera was among the best in this scene, with even exposure both against the strong backlight as well as in the darker area of the scene, with less overexposure and noise than past Bosch models.
Full Light Performance
Outside on an overcast day (~3,000 lux), the Bosch startlight 7000 VR performed similarly to other 1080p cameras at near range/high PPF, seen below. At this range, details are similar in all 1080p cameras tested.
In a wider field of view, with PPF dropping to ~42, the Bosch starlight 7000 again performs similarly to most 1080p models, with better test chart legibility than the Hikvision 4526, though slightly worse subject details than the Axis P3225.
Finally, at ~28 PPF, overexposure reduces details of the subject compared to the Axis and Hikvision 1080p cameras.
The Bosch Starlight 7000 VR's bitrates were higher in all scenes compared to Axis and Hikvision competitive models, as it does not include smart codecs as these others do (Zipstream and H.264+).
Bosch does allow the I frame interval to be set to "auto", which extends the GOP when there is less activity in the scene. However, in our tests, the longest I frame interval observed was 2 seconds in the Bosch camera, much shorter than Axis and Hikvision using smart codecs, which may extend 30 seconds or more.
All cameras were tested using default settings unless otherwise specified, with the following applied to all cameras:
- H.264, 10 FPS, ~28 quantization was used prior to enabling smart codecs
- 1/30s maximum shutter speed
Low light images were taken using -10 temporal noise reduction, based on our tests and Bosch recommendations. The camera defaults to 0, which increases blur vs the -10 used in the test.
The following firmware versions were used:
- Axis P3225-LVE: 6.30.1
- Bosch NBN-733V: 6.30
- Bosch NBN-932: 6.30
- Bosch NIN-73023: 6.30
- Hikvision DS-2CD4526FWD-I: 5.4.0
ExacqVision 220.127.116.11130 was used for recording.