Covert IP Camera Shootout - Axis, Hanwha, Hikvision, March, Vivotek

By Ethan Ace, Published Mar 20, 2019, 11:12am EDT

Covert cameras were one of the last holdout areas for analog cameras. However, in the past few years, IP / HD covert cameras have become commonplace across many major manufacturers.

However, which ones are better or worse? We bought 5 covert camera systems with a total of 10 imager / lenses to understand this.

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We tested image quality in four separate scenarios, as the graphic below demonstrates:

convert-pinhole-camera-shootout-scenes

We tested at ranges from 2' to 40' to see how cameras capture both close range details common in ATM applications and further distances needed for general covert surveillance, as the graphic below shows:

convert-pinhole-camera-shootout-distance

Models tested:

Inside, we provide recommendations on which models are best and worst for the most common use cases and for installability plus bandwidth consumption testing and VMS integration.

Shootout *******

****** **** ** *** shootouts, ** *** *** see * ***** "****" overall ******. *******, ** have ******* ******* **** these **********:

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Recommendations: **** *** ****/***** ********

***** ** *** *****, the ***** ****** *** series ****** **** *** advantages *** *** ************ not ***** ** ***** models.

  • ****** ***:*** ****** *** ******* produced ***** ******* ** the *******'* **** ******* strong *********, ****** **** to *** **** ****, but ****** **** *** other ****** ******. **** performance ** * *** factor ** **** **** are ******* ******** ***** they *** ** ******* to ****** ******** ** in ******* **** ***** doors/windows.
  • ***-******** ******** *******:*****'* ******* ****** ***** includes ****** ******** ** the *** ****, * very ****** *** *****, and ***** ****** ******** options *** ***** ****** upon *******. ***** ************* do *** ***** ***** options.

** *** ******** ****, both ***** ****** *** models' ******* ***** ***** of *****, **** ******** out ** ***** ****** ~5', ****** **** ********** for ******* ****** ************ where ***** ****** ******* better.

****** ***** ** *** Axis ****, ***** ****** strong *** ** **** as ******* ********* ******** options. *******, **** ** not ***** *** **** "out ** *** ***" mounting ************* ** ****** mounting *** ******** ******.

Recommendations: **** *** ****** ******** (~**'+)/******* ************

*** ****** *** ********* models ******** *** ********* details ** ******* ****** at ****** ********* (>**') in **** *****. **** produced ****** ******* ** ~20' ********, *** ******** soft *** ****** ****** at ******* ********* ** the ****** *** ******* more ****** ******** ** the **** ***** ** view, ** *** *****.

Recommendations: **** *** *** ***** (~* *** *** *****)

** *** *****, *** Hikvision **-**********-** *** ** cameras ******** *** ******** details ** *** *****, ~1 ***, **** ***** facial *** **** ******* to ***** ~**' ********. The ****** ***-**** **** 3.6mm ****** ******** ****** details ** **** ***** (~10') *** *** ******* and **** ********.

***** ****** ******** *********** level ******* ** **** close ***** (~*') *** not ** ****** *********.

Recommendations: **************

*** ******* ******* ** install ****** **** *** Axis **** *** ****** XNB-6001 *** ** ***** detachable ******. **** ****** users ** ***** *** camera *** *** *** cable **********, ***** ***** cable ********** ******* *** reduces *** *********** ** damaging *** ****** ****** install.

**** **** *** ******** ATMs, ***** *** ***** stronger ************, ** **** offer ****** ******** ******* for ******** ******, ********* above, *** ** ******* installation, **** *** ****** were *******.

Pricing **********

******* ****** **** ***** ~$300 (*******) ** **** $500 (****) *** * camera **** (~$***) **** plus ****** (~$***), **** average ***** $***.

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***** **** ** **** expensive *** * ****** camera, *** **** ******** up ** **** ****** modules, ***** ****** ******* only * ****** ******. For ************ **** ******** covert ******* ** *** same ********, **** ***** be **** ********* *** at * ** * covert ******* ** * location, **** ***** ** the ***** *********.

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**** ******* ***** ** applications ********* ******** *******, though ***** *** ****** less ****** **** ****** imager *************.

WDR ***** ******* **********

*******, *** *********** *** poor ******** ** "*******" (non-covert) *******, **** **** moderate ********* ******* *** the ******* ** **** cameras, **** *** **********: Axis *** ***** ********

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** *** *****, *** Axis *** ***** ******** cameras **** *** **** models **** ** ******* discern ******* ****** ******* backlight. *** ******* ****** shows **** *******, ****** less ******* **** **** or *****, ***** ****** and ********* **** ** details, ******* *** ****** being ********* ** "**** ***."

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Moderate *** ***** ***********

****, ** ****** ** moderately *** *****, ******* to * *** **** street ** *****, ***** 5-10 *** ********* ** distance. *********** ** **** light ***** ****** ************* with ********.

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** ***** *****, *** cameras ******* ***** ****** of *** *******, **** facial ******** ****** ************ despite *** ***** *****, with **** ****** ******** in *** ***** ******** cameras.

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*******, ** ~**', *********** differs *************, ** **** and ********* ***** ******* clear ******* ** *** subject, ***** *** ***** Networks ****** ** ********** darker *** ****, ******* clear ****** ** *** subject.

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Low ***** (~* ***) ***********

** *** *****, ***** 1 ***, *********** ****** significantly, **** ***** ***** significantly ********* ***********.

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** **** *****, *** to **** **** ***, all ******* ******* ****** images ** *** *******'* face **** ***** *******.

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*******, ** ~**', ********* and ****** ***** ***, with ***** ****** ******* and ******* ****, ***** Axis *** ******* ******* rougher *******. *** ***** camera ******** ******* ****, but ******* ****** ******* are *******.

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Longer ******** *******

** *** *****, ** found ******** *********** ** how **** ******* ********* at ****** *********, ****** ~10', **** ***** **** and ***** **********.

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*** ********, ** ~**' distance, ******* *** ********** softer ** *** **** and ***** ****** **** in *********, ******, *** Vivotek, ***** ******* **** legible **** *** ******* facial *******.

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*** ** **', ******* details *** ***** ** only *** ********* *** Vivotek *******, ***** ****** do *** ******* ****** images, **** **** ******* text.

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Bandwidth **********

*** ******* ****** ******** smart ****** ****** *** the ***** ******** ****** ATM ******, ***** **** standard *.***. **** *** Hanwha ***-**** ******** *.*** streaming.

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*** **** ** ****** averaged *** ****** ******** of ******* ******, ***** 1,600 **/* ****** *** day *** *,*** ** night, ~* **/* **** than *********, *** **** lowest. *********, ******, *** Vivotek ********* ****** *********, but ******** ******, *,*** Kb/s ** ~*,*** **/* day *** ~*,***-*,*** **/* at *****.

*** ***-***** ***** ***** camera ******** *** ******* bitrates ** **** ****, over * **/* ***/* Mb/s *****.

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VMS ***********

** *** *******, *** Axis, ******, *********, *** Vivotek ******* ******* ****** similar ***** ***** *** integration, **** ***** ******** more *******.

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Basic ***********: *.*** ********* / *************

*.*** ********* *** ************* worked ** ****** ***** combination, **** *** ********* of ***** ******** ** Avigilon ******* ******, ***** simply ***** *** *******. Note **** **** *** Hanwha ***-**** ******* *.*** streaming, ***** ********** ** all ***** ****** ********.

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Camera **** *** *******

****** **** *** ******* was ******* ****** *******, with *****, *******, *********, and ******* ***** ********** events **** ****, ******, Hikvision, *** *******, ****** March *** ********* **** in ***** *** *******. Note **** ******** ******* Center *** *** ******* camera **** ****** ** any ************.

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March *** ** *** ******

***** ** ** **** limited **** ****** ****** in *** ***********, **** that ***** ********' ******* are **** ****** ** be ********* ** *** to *** ***** ******* using***** ************* ******* ******, ***** ************* integrate **** ***** ***** VMS **** *****. ******* of ****, ***** *********** limitations *** **** ****** to ** * ********* negative **** ** **** cases.

**************

**** ** ************ ******, with *** **** ********* factors ***** ******* ******* used ********** ***** ** fixed *** **** ** the ********** *****, *** the **** ** ***** included ******.

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**** *** ****** ******* the ****** ****** ** be ******** **** *** cables *** ** *** base *****. **** ********** installation ** *** ****** could ** ********** *******/****** without ************** ******** *** attached *****.

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** **** ** **** and ****** *** ***** installation ********** ** **** video:

***** **** *** ********* heads ** ****/******, **** cameras ****** ********* ** a ******* *******, **** a ***** ***** ***** circled *** ****** **** attached ** *** ******** surface **** *** **** and ********* ** **** it ** *****. **** models' ****** ******** ****** stick **** ** ******** mounting, ****** **** *** not ** ******** *** long **** *** ** it *** *** *** and **** ******** ******** over ****.

ATM ******** ***********

*** ***** ********** ******* in ****, ***** *** hold * ******** *********, as **** ***** ************* with ******** *** *** models, *** ***** ****** mounts *** ***** ****** as ******.

**** ****** **** ********* mounts ***** *** ** shaped ** *** ******* applications, *** **** *** offer ****** ****** *** specific *** ******. *******, they ***** **** **** have ****** **** ******** manufacturers ** ******* ****** for ***** *******, *** models ****** *** ******* to ****** ****** ******.

*******, ****** **** ****** an *** *** **** a **** ********** *** adaptable ***** **** ** included ** *** **** XNB-6001 *******. **** ****, they ** *** **** which **** ** *** been ****** ****.

Hanwha ********* ******

** *** *****, *** Hanwha ***-**** ********* ****** stability ******, **** *** camera's ****** ******** ********** and ******* ********* ********* randomly. ***** ******** *********** with ****** **** ******* and ******* **********, ** determined *** ******** ******:

  • ****** *************:**** ****** ***-**** **** units **** ******** **** connected ** *** ******** EdgeSwitch ** **** ** testing, ****** ** ***** cameras ********* ******* ******. After ****** *** ******* to * ***** ******, they ****** ******* *****.
  • ****** ****** ******:*** ****** ***** *** a *********-***** ******* ****** ******, ***** ************ ********* to ****/******, **** ****** sent ************, *** *** camera **** ***** **** completely.

Camera ********* *****

*** **** ****, ** included *** ****** ********* models **** *** *************, with ***** **** **** regarding ***** ****** ******* were **** ******* *** suitable *** **** ****.

***** *** **** ******* were ********* *** ******* began, ********* *** ******** a ***** *****, *****-*********** **** ***** ** the *****, *** *** yet ***** *******. **** model ****** ******** *** light *********** *** *.***, but ******* *** *****.

Country ** ******

******* *** ******* ** the ********* ********* ** origin:

  • **** ****: ********
  • ****** ***-****: *******
  • ********* **-*******: *****
  • ***** ******: ******
  • ***** ******: *****
  • ******* ******: ******

Firmware ******** ****

*** ********* ******** ******** were **** ** **** test. **** **** **** models **** **** ************ (pinhole *** ***-*******) **** the **** ********.

  • ****: *.**.*
  • ******: *.**.**
  • *********: **.*.** ***** ******
  • *****: *.*.*
  • *******: *****

Comments (26)

Fyi the title has Dahua listed instead of Hanwha. Easy mistake to make since they sound so much alike

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Thanks, fixed that. We initially planned to include Dahua, but their model was not shipping to us at the time of testing. We'll check in and see when it's planned to be released.

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*Hanwha employee*

 

Hanwha has an ATM kit that allows the camera to easily mount and adjust for many ATMs, and has been tested with various common ones. 

https://www.hanwhasecurity.com/xnb-h6240a.html

The issues you experienced with the PoE and lenses are very strange. I have never experienced this  I will investigate as these issues are not normal.

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Thatnks for pointing that out. It's been added to the report. Is there any documentation of which models it's been tested with?

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Hanwha employee person, how come this Hanwha x-series cam is rated at 120 db WDR and not the usual 150 db?

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Ethan,

Can you confirm what sensor speed, WDR and SSDR settings were used in the Hanwha WDR test? 

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1/30s exposure maximum; WDR on, high; SSDR on, Wide, 12.

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Increasing SSDR to around 20-25, that person's face should be exposed much better to see plenty of detail. 

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And is there any downside to this setting change?

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The downside is that it can, in very bright backlight, wash out the background. In our scene today it's not bright enough to wash out (~3,000 lux, tops), but if it were sunny and south-facing, you'd see more of the effects of high SSDR.

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SSDR is similar to "fake WDR", increasing the brightness of shadows in a post-process.
The downside is that there will be more noise artifacts in the shadows.

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We just retested this with SSDR set to 25 to confirm. It did not improve very much. It's perhaps closer to the Vivotek in our comparisons, but does not approach the March or Axis models.

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It did not improve very much.

not much, it’s true.  but enough to tell it’s Rob, right?

 

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We've added feedback from Axis on their ATM compatibility. Axis states that they have worked with specific manufacturers to include mounts for their cameras, but models change too quickly to create custom mounts.

 

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That particular Hanwha's (and the Hikvision's) WDR performance is surprisingly poor. Almost appears non-functional. Does the scene change when toggled on/off?

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I'm seeing odd differences on the Hik models I have as well on the WDR setting.  The newest one I have claims 140 dB WDR, but it does worse than some others that have the usual 120 dB WDR claim.  It does have the matching 40 to 41 setting number transition point that makes a huge change like at least one other model.

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Other than the Dahua hum-4231 is there a pin hole that does not have an external base station? 

In a traditional square form factor, not lipstick.

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There is a Dahua CVI pinhole that is square and does not have a external base as its not needed. I'm unaware of an IP one.

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There is a Dahua CVI pinhole that is square and does not have a external base as its not needed. I'm unaware of an IP one.

No idea if they still make this or sell it in N.A., but this one is DH-IPC-HUM4001P.

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That is the one that has been replaced by the DH-IPC HUM-4231 that I have used.

which looks identical. I was just curious if any other manufacturers have one. I have found out TVT make one too but the Dahua is 2.8 lens and I would like a 3.6 or 4mm.

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While I have not to used the FA series but we have many F series and P12 series working with ACC including VM and analytic events.   Surprised to see that motion and analytic events do not work with the FA.  What version of ACC did you test with?

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Given the wide differences in the various metrics tested, specific use cases was a good way to rate performance.

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Good report Ethan, well presented and using real-world methodology.

Could you add the country of origin of the devices as this seems to have dropped off on recent IPVM reports at a time when there is a real focus on "domestic" manufacturers exploiting cheaper labour markets under the America First radar?

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We've added that to the report:

Country Of Origin

Cameras are labeled as the following countries of origin:

  • Axis FA54: Thailand
  • Hanwha XNB-6001: Vietnam
  • Hikvision DS-2CD6424: China
  • March C1801a: Canada
  • March C2901a: China
  • Vivotek VC8101: Taiwan
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Axis has offered two points of feedback:

First, in addition to the four channel FA54, they offer the single-camera P12 series, which is a more cost effective option for one-off cameras (~$320 online vs. $550). Current P12 models use the same imagers as the FA series, with similar performance. However, some features, such as WDR partly depend upon the base unit, and will perform somewhat better on the FA series which uses a newer chipset.

Axis also pointed out that the lenses of the FA series imagers are indeed refocusable, but may be difficult in the field. For those needing to refocus their cameras for longer distances, contact Axis for a lens adjustment tool which fits into slots on either side of the FA imager lens for adjustment. This is similar to tools included in past series, such as the original M30s with optional longer focal length lenses.

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It may be me but I can't tell which module you are using in each sample picture for Axis. Can you point that out please?

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