IP Camera Bandwidth / Storage Shootout

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Mar 05, 2014

Bandwidth consumption can vary tremendously, even with the same resolution, frame rate, compression and scene, by 50% to 80% in our tests. This is because cameras process video differently (e.g., gain control applied, noise reduction technology, etc.).

The Test

We tested 16 cameras head to head to understand who is the best and worst at minimizing bandwidth consumption / storage costs.

In the 1MP category, we set these 6 cameras to 720p / 10fps:

In the 2MP category, we set these 4 cameras to 1080p / 10fps:

Additionally, we tested 6 integrated IR cameras to match up against these.

The Wrong Way

The simple, naive and wrong way is to put cameras side by side, measuring bandwidth at the same resolution and frame rate.

Why? The default compression settings of cameras vary widely by manufacturers. Though compression is often overlooked, every H.264 camera must choose a Q or quantization level (from 0 to 51). The lower number chosen, the higher the bandwidth, and the greater the compression (to learn more, see our IP Camera Manufacturer Compression Comparison). This does not make one camera 'better' or 'worse' and can be adjusted by the user.

Indeed, in IPVM testing, default compression variances routinely accounted for a massive 50%+ difference in bandwidth consumption.

Normalizing Compression

To truly and fairly measure bandwidth, compression levels must be normalized, that is, they must be set the same. Using a stream analyzer, IPVM determined the actual quantization levels and adjusted the appropriate scales so the quantization levels all would be the same for our tests (using Q=28).

Test Questions and Answers

This IPVM test help identified:

  • The 1 cameras that clearly had the lowest bandwidth consumption
  • The 1 camera that clearly had the highest bandwidth consumption
  • The 4 camera manufacturers whose default setting make them look far worse than they are
  • The tradeoff of non IR and IR cameras and how it varied by low light levels 
  • The impact of VMD

********* *********** *** **** ************, **** **** *** **** **********, frame ****, *********** *** *****, ** **% ** **% ** our *****. **** ** ******* ******* ******* ***** *********** (*.*., gain ******* *******, ***** ********* **********, ***.).

The ****

** ****** ** ******* **** ** **** ** ********** *** is *** **** *** ***** ** ********** ********* *********** / storage *****.

** *** *** ********, ** *** ***** * ******* ** 720p / *****:

** *** *** ********, ** *** ***** * ******* ** 1080p / *****:

************, ** ****** * ********** ** ******* ** ***** ** against *****.

The ***** ***

*** ******, ***** *** ***** *** ** ** *** ******* side ** ****, ********* ********* ** *** **** ********** *** frame ****.

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******, ** **** *******, ******* *********** ********* ********* ********* *** a ******* **%+ ********** ** ********* ***********.

Normalizing ***********

** ***** *** ****** ******* *********, *********** ****** **** ** normalized, **** **, **** **** ** *** *** ****. ***** a ****** ********, **** ********** *** ****** ************ ****** *** adjusted *** *********** ****** ** *** ************ ****** *** ***** be *** **** *** *** ***** (***** *=**).

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

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  • *** * ******* **** ******* *** *** ****** ********* ***********
  • *** * ****** **** ******* *** *** ******* ********* ***********
  • *** * ****** ************* ***** ******* ******* **** **** **** far ***** **** **** ***
  • *** ******** ** *** ** *** ** ******* *** *** it ****** ** *** ***** ****** 
  • *** ****** ** ***

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

Key ********

  • ****** ********* ******* *******- ***** ********* **** ***** ***** ***, ********** ** *** motion *** *** ***** ****** ***** ******* *** **** **** 50% **** *** *****.
  • ******* ********* ****** *******- **** *** * ****** ***** ***, ********** ** *** motion *** *** ***** ****** ***** *********** *** **** **** 50% **** *** *****.
  • ******* ******** ******- ********, *****, ******* *** ****'* ******* *********** ****** **** much ***** **** ****, ****** **** ****** ** ** ********** worse **** ****, ***** ************* ********. ****** ***** ********* ***********.
  • ** ** ***-** ********: ** ~* *** (*** / ********** ****), *** ***-** cameras ******** **** ********* **** *** ** ****. *******, ** 0.1 *** (**** ****), *** ** ******* ******** **** ** the ***-** **** ********* ****** ** **** **** **** ******* levels.
  • ***** ****** **** **** ****- ** *** *****, ***** ********* *** **** ********, **** bigger ****** **** **** ** *** ***** *** **** ****** scenes.
  • *** ********* ***- **** ****.* (*** ******** *** * **** ***-**) *** Mobotix **************** ***** *** *** ********* **** ** ***.

Technical ********

**** *** *** *** ****** **** **** ****, **** *** cameras ************ ** ************ ** *** ************ ********* ******* ** *** **:

  • **** ******* ******** ***** *** **/* ** **** *****, ~*** lux. *** **** ***** *** **** ***-***** **** **** **** higher **** *******, ** *** **/* *** *** **/*, ************.
  • ***** ** **** ***** ******* ****** ******** ******* *-*.* **/*. Only *** **** ***-***** *** ******* ******, **** * **/* 2-3x ******.
  • ** *** *****, ~* ***, ******* **** ********* *** ***** 1.3 **/*, **** ** ******* ****** **** ** ***.
  • ***** ******* ** ~* *** ******* ************ *.*-*.* **/*, **** no ************** ****.
  • ** *** ****, ~*.* ***, **** ******* ******* ***** *.* Mb/s. *** **** **** ******* ** **** **** *** *** Bosch ***-****, ***** *** ** *-* **/* ***** ******* **** all ***** *******.
  • ***** ******* ****** **** ***** *.*-** **/*. **** **** ** this ***** *********** ** *** ****** ******** ** ****** ******, ****** *****, accounting *** *** **** *** *******.
  • ** ** ******* ******* ***** **** **** ********** ** ******, 720p ******* ******** ****** *.* **/*. ** ******* **** ********* high ** *** ** **** ****, **** * ***** ** just **** * **/*.
  • ***** ******* ******** ***** *.* **/* ** **** *****. *** Bosch ***-**** *** ******* ***-**** **** ******* *****, ** *.* and *.* **/*, **** *** ******** ** *** *** **** VB630 (*.* *** *.* **/* ************).
  • **** ********** ** *******, **** ** ** ** * **** (0.1 ***) **** ******** *.* **/*, **** ********* *** *-*** running ***-*** **/* ****** **** *** **** *****-*. ******* ********* was **** **** **** *** ******* ** ***/***** ******* ** t*** ********** (*.* **/*).
  • ******* ********* ** ***** ********** ** ******* *** ***** * Mb/s, ****** ********'* *.**-**-*** *** **** ****** **** ***** *** Hikvision (*.* **/* **. *.*-*). ******* ******** ~**% ***** ******* than ***** ***/***** ******* ** **** **** *****. 

Full ***** ***********

*** ***** ***** *** *** ******* ****** ********** ****, ** about *** ***, **** * ***** ** **** **** ** this *****:

*** *********** ***** ***** ***** ******* ** *** ******* ** full *****. *** ******* **** ****** ***** ** ***** *******, with ***** ********** ** *****, **********, *** *********, *** ** drastic *********** ** ***** *******.

******* ********* ** *** **** ******* ** **** **** *** about *** **/* (*.* **/*). *** **** ***-***** *** ***** 80% ***** *******, ** *** **/*. *** **** ***** *** Q1604, ***** ***-****, *** ******* ***-****, *** *** **/* ** below, **** ************ *** *** ****** ********* ********* *********** ***** *****.

*** *****:

*** ******* ** *** **** ***** ******* *** ***** *.* Mb/s, **** * ****** *******, ***** *** ***** ********** ****, SNC-VB630, **** ******* **** * **/*.

Low ***** ***********

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** **** ***** *****, ******** **** ***** **********, ******* **** between *.* *** *.* **/*, **** ** ******* ** ***** 1.3.

 

*** ***** ******* ****** **** **** **** **** ********** ** 2 ***, **** ** ******* ****** **** ** ***, *** an ******* ****** *.*-*.* **/*. 

Dark ***********

** *** ***** ****** ****, ** ******* ****** ** ***** 0.1 *** ** **** ********* *********** ** * ***** **** scene:

*** ********** ***** ***** *** ******* ** **** ***** ***** to ******* *********** ***********, ********** *** ***** ** *** *****, first ****:

**** ******* ** **** ***** ******** ***** *.* **/*, **** the **** **** ******* ***** *** ***-****, ***** ******** *.* Mb/s, *-* **/* ***** **** ***** *******. **** **** *** Axis ***** *** ********** *** ** **** *****, ****** ********* no ****** *****, ****** *****.

 

*** *****:

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Outdoor ******* ***********

** ******* ********* ** * ****-****** *****, ** *** ** the ******* **** ** * **** *******, **** ** **** image:

****, **** ******* ******** ***** *.* **/*. ***** **** ** drastic **** ** **** ** **** ****, **** * ***** of **** **** * **/* ******* **** (**** *****) *** low (**** ***-*****).

 

*** *****/*** ******* ****** ******** ***** *.* **/* ** **** scene. *** ***** ***-**** *** ******* ***-**** **** ******* ***** than ******** *** ****, ***** **-**% ** *** *********.

 

Integrated ** ***********

** ****** *** ********** ** ******* ** **** *** ***** resolutions ** *** *** **** ******* ********* ****** ***** **** and ****** ***/***** ******* ** *** **** *****. **** ***** shows *** *** ** *** ****, **** ** **:

*** **** ***** ******** *** **** *******, ******* *** ******** IR ***** *** ***** ****** ** ****:

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*** *** ***** *******:

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Default **. ************

* *** ******* ********* ** **** ********* ************ ****** **** what ** ************ ** ** **** ****. *** ***** ***-**** and ******* ***-**** **** *** ***** ******** ** ****, **** reductions ** ~**% **** ******** **** ******* ******** ** *** standardized ************ ****** ** **-**. *** *********** *** ***** *** ***** cameras *** ***** ** *** ***** *****.

***** ******* ******* ***** **** *** ***** **** ***-************ ********* testing ** ****** *********. ******** ******* **** ************* ***** *** immediately ******* ******* *************** **** *********** **** *******, ** ********* and ******* ***** **** ** **** ******* **** **** ***********, such ** ****, *** ******* ** ****** ************ ******.

***** *** *** ******** **** *** **** ****** ** ***** to ******* ** ******* ************ ** **:

******* *** ***** **** ***** *************' ******* ************ *** ********* levels ** *** ** ****** *********** ******.

Motion ********* *********** ******

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***** ****** **** *** *** ***** ** ******** *** **** seven ****** ************* *** **** *********** ***********. *********** ** **** manufacturer ****** ********* ** *** *****, ** ***** ******* ******* our *************** *** ****:

Comments (20)

We are happy to take questions on specific scenes or cameras, and consider other test scenarios. When discussing your own bandwidth experiences, keep in mind whether they have been normalized or not, and the variances this may cause.

Comprehensive! One question I have (also relating to the forerunner camera compression test by Derek) is for at least the Bosch, Derek seemed to indicate a seperate q setting for i vs p frames, does your test tool take this into account and how?

Bosch does include separate Q settings for I and P frames. Well technically it's one fixed setting plus a delta setting, so you don't directly set them with a Q value. AVInaptic measures an overall average of quantization, which we standardized to 28.

Excellent report. I hoped though that Arecont is included next as Arecont has a lot of claims that many people dont believe whole heartedly

Hello.

What do you mean by saying "Arecont has a lot of claims that many people dont believe whole heartedly". What "claims"?

The undisclosed maybe referring to something like this:

The higher-resolution panoramic view of the new 20 megapixel/180-degree H.264 camera can be used to replace up to 65 conventional cameras.

Taken from something like this.

I know this "great marketing" :-) . I thought that by "claims" Undisclosed A Integrator meant something related to the topic (bandwidth, storage). Is it only my observation that Arecont has problems with keeping CBR really constant?

How did Mobotix make it into the report for VMD, but you did not have one of their cameras in the shootout?

This report helped to solidify the "Q" rating bits of knowledge I had.

Thanks!

Because Mobotix is one of few manufacturers doing "advanced" VMD, so it was tested along with Axis months ago. That test ties into this one as far as storage reduction goes, a key factor.

can you remind me why Panasonic is not included?

A couple reasons. They haven't released much in the past year or so, so testing the two-year-old SP509 against other cameras which are new generation is unfair. Second, integrator interest has dropped, with only a few integrators citing them as a favorite in our last survey, down from being one of the most popular.

That being said, I just got an email talking about their new generation the other day, which is claiming better performance all around. We'll keep an eye on that at least.

Incredible report, thank you.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I wanted to make it clear that we will adopt this same methodology to future tests so as we test other cameras we can use this as a baseline and contrast their performance to this set. This will help determine true bandwidth savings / issues.

Would it be cheeky to ask if you could translate this into the amount of days each camera would have on a set amount of storage ?

I really like your testing procedure, but i have doubt about which camera brand and camera model you wish to make a test. Can you make a test for all top 10 world class IP surveillance manufacturer?, i saw a not famous IP Camera brand like GeoVision, Q-See, Dahua on the list, and you abandon some big name in the industry like VIVOTEK, Pelco, Panasonic and some Brand you take 2 cameras which is not quite fair for evaluation.

Please make sure that you are doing a fair pick up the camera for test from the well known manufacturer.

Sakchai,

Dahua is one of the 10 biggest manufacturers in the world so they may not be as 'famous' to you, but they are a very big player.

There are lots of camera manufacturers. We'll continue to test them (we have an upcoming test on Pelco, and will test the new Panasonics as they roll out). We've tested a few Vivotek cameras in the past year and will continue to test them.

John

Dear John,

I am a big fan of AXIS and VIVOTEK IP Camera, i thnk it is quite good quality camera. I looking forward to see the comparison between Top10 IP Camera Manufacturer.

Could you provide me an information of who is TOP10 Network Camera for the year 2014 ? (Sales Performance in 2013)

So we can make sure we are choosing the right product to implement in my project.

No, we strongly discourage people making decisions based on sales numbers, as they often do not reflect what is the best quality or best fit for specific applications.

You may want to check out Favorite IP Camera Manufacturers 2014 for color commentary on what others are choosing and why.

these vendors don't even call the settings by the same terminology in some cases. wish you had documented what settings you use (compare Axis to Bosch, for example.) It's very hard to do apples-to-apples.

Rodney, we have documented it here: IP Camera Manufacturer Compression Comparison. Here's the key table:

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