IP Camera Bandwidth / Storage Shootout

By: 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
  • ********* *********** *** **** tremendously, **** **** *** same **********, ***** ****, compression *** *****, ** 50% ** **% ** our *****. **** ** because ******* ******* ***** differently (*.*., **** ******* applied, ***** ********* **********, etc.).

    The ****

    ** ****** ** ******* head ** **** ** understand *** ** *** best *** ***** ** minimizing ********* *********** / storage *****.

    ** *** *** ********, we *** ***** * cameras ** **** / 10fps:

    ** *** *** ********, we *** ***** * cameras ** ***** / 10fps:

    ************, ** ****** * integrated ** ******* ** match ** ******* *****.

    The ***** ***

    *** ******, ***** *** wrong *** ** ** put ******* **** ** side, ********* ********* ** the **** ********** *** frame ****.

    ***? *** ******* *********** settings ** ******* **** widely ** *************. ***************** ** ***** **********, every *.*** ****** **** choose * * ** quantization ***** (**** * to **). *** ***** number ******, *** ****** the *********, *** *** greater *** *********** (** learn ****, *** *** ** ****** ************ *********** Comparison). **** **** *** make *** ****** '******' or '*****' *** *** be ******** ** *** user.

    ******, ** **** *******, default *********** ********* ********* accounted *** * ******* 50%+ ********** ** ********* consumption.

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

    ** ***** *** ****** measure *********, *********** ****** must ** **********, **** is, **** **** ** set *** ****. ***** a ****** ********, **** determined *** ****** ************ levels *** ******** *** appropriate ****** ** *** quantization ****** *** ***** be *** **** *** our ***** (***** *=**).

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

    **** **** **** **** identified:

    • *** * ******* **** clearly *** *** ****** bandwidth ***********
    • *** * ****** **** clearly *** *** ******* bandwidth ***********
    • *** * ****** ************* whose ******* ******* **** them **** *** ***** than **** ***
    • *** ******** ** *** IR *** ** ******* and *** ** ****** by *** ***** ****** 
    • *** ****** ** ***

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

    Key ********

    • ****** ********* ******* *******- ***** ********* **** model ***** ***, ********** in *** ****** *** low ***** ****** ***** savings *** **** **** 50% **** *** *****.
    • ******* ********* ****** *******- **** *** * models ***** ***, ********** in *** ****** *** low ***** ****** ***** consumption *** **** **** 50% **** *** *****.
    • ******* ******** ******- ********, *****, ******* and ****'* ******* *********** levels **** **** ***** than ****, ****** **** appear ** ** ********** worse **** ****, ***** normalization ********. ****** ***** bandwidth ***********.
    • ** ** ***-** ********: ** ~* *** (dim / ********** ****), the ***-** ******* ******** less ********* **** *** IR ****. *******, ** 0.1 *** (**** ****), the ** ******* ******** less ** *** ***-** ones ********* ****** ** with **** **** ******* levels.
    • ***** ****** **** **** 720p- ** *** *****, 1080p ********* *** **** volatile, **** ****** ****** than **** ** *** light *** **** ****** scenes.
    • *** ********* ***- **** ****.* (*** standard *** * **** add-on) *** ******* **************** where *** *** ********* VMDs ** ***.

    Technical ********

    **** *** *** *** points **** **** ****, with *** ******* ************ to ************ ** *** ************ averaging ******* ** *** 30:

    • **** ******* ******** ***** 500 **/* ** **** light, ~*** ***. *** Axis ***** *** **** SNC-VB600 **** **** **** higher **** *******, ** 700 **/* *** *** Kb/s, ************.
    • ***** ** **** ***** cameras ****** ******** ******* 1-1.5 **/*. **** *** Sony ***-***** *** ******* higher, **** * **/* 2-3x ******.
    • ** *** *****, ~* lux, ******* **** ********* was ***** *.* **/*, with ** ******* ****** high ** ***.
    • ***** ******* ** ~* lux ******* ************ *.*-*.* Mb/s, **** ** ************** ****.
    • ** *** ****, ~*.* lux, **** ******* ******* about *.* **/*. *** only **** ******* ** this **** *** *** Bosch ***-****, ***** *** at *-* **/* ***** bitrate **** *** ***** cameras.
    • ***** ******* ****** **** about *.*-** **/*. **** that ** **** ***** the******** ** *** ****** produced ** ****** ******, nearly *****, ********** *** its **** *** *******.
    • ** ** ******* ******* scene **** **** ********** of ******, **** ******* averaged ****** *.* **/*. No ******* **** ********* high ** *** ** this ****, **** * swing ** **** **** 1 **/*.
    • ***** ******* ******** ***** 4.3 **/* ** **** scene. *** ***** ***-**** and ******* ***-**** **** notably *****, ** *.* and *.* **/*, **** the ******** ** *** and **** ***** (*.* and *.* **/* ************).
    • **** ********** ** *******, with ** ** ** a **** (*.* ***) room ******** *.* **/*, with ********* *** *-*** running ***-*** **/* ****** than *** **** *****-*. Average ********* *** **** than **** *** ******* of ***/***** ******* ** t*** ********** (*.* **/*).
    • ******* ********* ** ***** integrated ** ******* *** about * **/*, ****** Avigilon's *.**-**-*** *** **** higher **** ***** *** Hikvision (*.* **/* **. 2.6-3). ******* ******** ~**% lower ******* **** ***** day/night ******* ** **** same *****. 

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

    *** ***** ***** *** our ******* ****** ********** room, ** ***** *** lux, **** * ***** of **** **** ** this *****:

    *** *********** ***** ***** image ******* ** *** cameras ** **** *****. All ******* **** ****** close ** ***** *******, with ***** ********** ** color, **********, *** *********, but ** ******* *********** in ***** *******.

    ******* ********* ** *** 720p ******* ** **** test *** ***** *** Kb/s (*.* **/*). *** Sony ***-***** *** ***** 80% ***** *******, ** 900 **/*. *** **** P3354 *** *****, ***** NBN-733V, *** ******* ***-****, all *** **/* ** below, **** ************ *** the ****** ********* ********* *********** ***** *****.

    *** *****:

    *** ******* ** *** four ***** ******* *** about *.* **/*, **** a ****** *******, ***** the ***** ********** ****, SNC-VB630, **** ******* **** 3 **/*.

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

    ** ******* *** ****** to ~* *** ** check *********** ** ********* as **** *** ***** increased, **** ****:

    ** **** ***** *****, bitrates **** ***** **********, ranging **** ******* *.* and *.* **/*, **** an ******* ** ***** 1.3.

     

    *** ***** ******* ****** were **** **** **** consistent ** * ***, with ** ******* ****** high ** ***, *** an ******* ****** *.*-*.* Mb/s. 

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

    ** *** ***** ****** shot, ** ******* ****** to ***** *.* *** to **** ********* *********** in * ***** **** scene:

    *** ********** ***** ***** all ******* ** **** light ***** ** ******* comparative ***********, ********** *** noise ** *** *****, first ****:

    **** ******* ** **** scene ******** ***** *.* Mb/s, **** *** **** true ******* ***** *** NBN-733V, ***** ******** *.* Mb/s, *-* **/* ***** than ***** *******. **** that *** **** ***** was ********** *** ** this *****, ****** ********* no ****** *****, ****** black.

     

    *** *****:

    ***** ******* ****** **** 7.8 ** ** **/* in **** *****. *** Avigilon *.**-**-** *** ****** black ** **** ***** level, ********** *** *** much ***** ******* **** other *******, ***** *** produced ****** ******.

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

    ** ******* ********* ** a ****-****** *****, ** set ** *** ******* next ** * **** roadway, **** ** **** image:

    ****, **** ******* ******** about *.* **/*. ***** were ** ******* **** or **** ** **** case, **** * ***** of **** **** * Mb/s ******* **** (**** Q1604) *** *** (**** SNC-VB600).

     

    *** *****/*** ******* ****** averaged ***** *.* **/* in **** *****. *** Bosch ***-**** *** ******* SNB-6004 **** ******* ***** than ******** *** ****, using **-**% ** *** bandwidth.

     

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

    ** ****** *** ********** IR ******* ** **** and ***** *********** ** see *** **** ******* bandwidth ****** ***** **** and ****** ***/***** ******* in *** **** *****. This ***** ***** *** FOV ** *** ****, with ** **:

    *** **** ***** ******** all **** *******, ******* the ******** ** ***** and ***** ****** ** each:

    ** ****, ********* ******** about *.* **/*. *** Axis *****-* *** ************* lower **** ***** *******, at *.* **/*, ****** 1.8-2 *** ********* *** Q-See. *******, **** ******* is **** ***** **** the ***/***** ******* ** our *****, ***** ******** over * **/*, **** only *** ***** ***-**** on *** **** ** lower **** **** ** counterparts.

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

    *** ******** *.**-**-***, ** 6.3 **/* *** ************* higher **** ***** *** Hikvision ***** ********** ** cameras ******, ********** *********** given ***** ******** ** ***********. ** **** ****, 1080p ********** ** ********* is ***** ** *** cases, **** *** ********* of *** ******** *.**-**-**. Its ******* *** **** 1.4 **/*, ****** ** delivered ** ****** ******.

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

    * *** ******* ********* to **** ********* ************ levels **** **** ** standardized ** ** **** test. *** ***** ***-**** and ******* ***-**** **** the ***** ******** ** this, **** ********** ** ~80% **** ******** **** default ******** ** *** standardized ************ ****** ** 28-29. The *********** *** ***** and ***** ******* *** shown ** *** ***** below.

    ***** ******* ******* ***** home *** ***** **** non-standardized ********* ******* ** likely *********. ******** ******* from ************* ***** *** immediately ******* ******* *************** will *********** **** *******, as ********* *** ******* needs **** ** **** greater **** **** ***********, such ** ****, *** default ** ****** ************ levels.

    ***** *** *** ******** used *** **** ****** in ***** ** ******* an ******* ************ ** 28:

    ******* *** ***** **** about *************' ******* ************ and ********* ****** ** our ** ****** *********** ******.

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

    ***** *********** ** ************ ******* record **** ** ******, *** ***********, ************ false ******** *********, *** have * **** ****** on ******* *****. ** our *****, ** ***** that ******** ****** ********* ******* **** ******** **** ** Axis *** *.* *** Mobotix **************** ******* ***** positives **** ******** *******, as **** ** ***** caused ** ********* ****, in ****** *** ****** tested. 

    ***** ****** **** *** our ***** ** ******** VMD **** ***** ****** manufacturers *** **** *********** information. *********** ** **** manufacturer ****** ********* ** the *****, ** ***** reports ******* *** *************** for ****:

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:

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

Testing Bandwidth vs. Frame Rate on Jan 23, 2019
Selecting frame rate has a major impact on surveillance bandwidth and storage consumption. But with smart codecs now common and cameras more...
Bandwidth vs Low Light Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Geovision, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Feb 08, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance, but do all manufacturers' cameras perform the same? Are some more consistent...
Speco Ultra Intensifier Tested on Apr 22, 2019
While ISC West 2019 named Speco's Ultra Intensifier the best new "Video Surveillance Cameras IP", IPVM testing shows the camera suffers from...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Hikvision ColorVu Camera Tested on Jun 24, 2019
Hikvision says their new ColorVu line captures "vivid chromatic images in darkness", with unconventional white light illuminations whereas most...
WDR Camera Mega Shootout 2019 - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Vivotek on Sep 04, 2019
This is the biggest WDR Shootout ever, with 23 cameras from 8 manufacturers: We included true multi-exposure WDR and non-WDR models, ranging...
Panasonic 4K Camera Tested (WV-S2570L) on Sep 13, 2019
Panasonic has released their latest generation 4K dome, the WV-S2570L, claiming "Extreme image quality allows evidence to be captured even under...
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) Guide on Oct 01, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
Axis "Best Of The Best" 4K Camera Tested (Q1798-LE) on Nov 21, 2019
Axis has released their "best of the best" Q1798-LE bullet camera, touting "4K without compromise" with a large Micro 4/3" image sensor, custom...
Budget Covert Cameras Tested on Nov 26, 2019
Covert cameras under $100 are widely available online but are they any good? To see how these models really work in the real world, we bought...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Motorola / Avigilon Drops ISC West on Feb 26, 2020
Motorola Solutions has pulled out of ISC West 2020 effective immediately, because of coronavirus concerns, IPVM has learned. This is done amidst...
Cancel or Not? Industry Split Over ISC West on Feb 26, 2020
The industry is split, polarized, over whether ISC West 2020 should run or be canceled. New IPVM survey results of 400+ respondents show heated...
Coronavirus Hits Sony, Bosch Says Switch on Feb 26, 2020
Sony's fall in video surveillance has been severe over the past decade. Now, they may be done. In this note, we examine Bosch's new...
Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the basics of cameras and features used in 2020. In this report, we...
Favorite Video Analytic Manufacturers 2020 on Feb 25, 2020
Video analytics is now as hot as ever, driven by the excitement of advancing deep learning offers. But what are actually integrator's...
Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London police, but this time the system was thwarted by technical problems and...
Masks Cause Major Facial Recognition Problems on Feb 24, 2020
Coronavirus is spurring an increase in the use of medical masks, which new IPVM test results show cause major problems for facial recognition...
Every VMS Will Become a VSaaS on Feb 21, 2020
VMS is ending. Soon every VMS will be a VSaaS. Competitive dynamics will be redrawn. What does this mean? VMS Historically...
Video Surveillance 101 Course - Last Chance on Feb 20, 2020
This is the last chance to join IPVM's first Video Surveillance 101 course, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the...
Vulnerability Directory For Access Credentials on Feb 20, 2020
Knowing which access credentials are insecure can be difficult to see, especially because most look and feel the same. Even insecure 125 kHz...