Dahua 4MP HD Analog Tested

Published Nov 10, 2016 15:47 PM

A few years ago, analog was SD only.

In the past few years, HD analog, up to 1080p, has become commonplace.

Now, HD analog is doubling its max resolution to 4MP.

We bought and tested two of Dahua's new 4MP CVI 3.0 cameras, the A43AG23 [link no longer available] turret/eyeball dome and the A43AB23 [link no longer available] bullet, along with the C52A1N [link no longer available] DVR to see how this new generation stacks up against 4MP IP.


Dahua's 4MP HD analog cameras delivered similar image quality to IP counterparts in our tests in full light, low light, and WDR scenes, with cameras priced ~35-40% lower than their IP counterparts.

Additionally, long cable performance has been improved, with cable lengths up to ~1,500' (~457m) showing little to no visible degradation.

The main limitation of CVI 3.0 cameras is framerate, as the models tested below are capable of only 15 FPS at max resolution (2688x1520), not full frame rate found in many 4MP IP cameras. However, in most applications this is not likely an issue, as average framerates are typically under 15 FPS.

Outlook Vs. IP

Given HDCVI 3.0's similar image quality, lower price point, and ability to reuse existing coax, it furthers HD analog's emergence as a solid competitor to IP. This combination is likely to be attractive to many looking for higher resolutions in smaller or simpler systems.

Not Available Advanced Features - But Marketed

Dahua's current "3.0" release omits some advanced features which Dahua has previously announced.

  • No TVI/AHD support: Currently, the C52A1N does not support other HD analog technologies, such as TVI or AHD, promised in their "penta-brid" marketing. Dahua says that this feature should be available via firmware in December.
  • No power up the coax: Additionally, power up the coax will not be available until sometime in the second half of 2017. Power and video must be run separately with current equipment.

Note that new generation TVI cameras/recorders (e.g. Hikvision) claim both of these features, but Hikvision North American version models are not yet shipping.


Dahua HDCVI 3.0 equipment tested in this report is priced as follows:

  • A42AG23 4MP IR turret dome: ~$125 USD estimated street price
  • A42AB23 4MP IR bullet: ~$135 estimated street price
  • C52A1N 4-channel 4MP DVR: ~$175 estimated street price

4MP CVI cameras are priced well below their IP equivalents, the IPC-HFW42A1EN-I [link no longer available] and IPC-HDW44A1EN-I [link no longer available], both ~$190-200 online.

This pricing is about $20-30 higher than 1080p CVI counterparts, such as the HAC-HFW22A1 bullet or HAC-HDW22A1EN.

Physical Overview

The HDCVI 3.0 cameras are typical of HD analog models, with separate outputs for CVI and SD video and a power input. Physically, the cameras look essentially the same as their IP counterparts, seen here:

Additionally, the C52A1N is typical of 4 channel HD analog DVRs we have tested, with BNC inputs for CVI/SD analog video, I/O, HDMI and VGA outputs, and power. The front and back are shown below.

Long Cable Length Performance

We tested full resolution image quality over lengths of typical RG59U coax ranging from 100-2,500', seen below.

In our tests, lengths up to 500' had very little impact on image quality, with color and details similar to shorter lengths. At 1,000-1,500', smearing and desaturation are visible, though with minor impact on image quality. At longer lengths, over 2,000', desaturation is prominent and smearing more pronounced, reducing facial details and test chart legibility.

Image Quality vs. IP

We tested the 4MP CVI cameras against current 4MP IP counterparts to see how they performed.

Both day and night, image quality is very similar. The CVI camera displays slightly less noise and artifacting, but practical details are similar.

WDR Performance

We also tested the 4MP CVI cameras in this WDR scene to see how they performed against 4MP IP models.

Against the strong backlight of the open overhead door, all cameras perform about the same, with solid details of the subject and test chart. However, in the darker area of the scene, details in Dahua models are reduced due to artifacting and noise, while facial details in the Hikvision camera remain stronger.

Smart Codec/Bandwidth Comparison

Comparing the Dahua 4MP HDCVI camera/DVR with the Dahua's 4MP IP equivalent, HDCVI's bitrates were notably higher both day and night. Nighttime bitrates were also almost 3x Hikvision's 4MP turret dome, though daytime bitrates were lower.

Note that the C52A1N includes Dahua's Smart H.264+ smart codec, as do the Dahua 4MP IP cameras tested. Hikvision 4MP IP models all include H.264+.

Test Parameters

The following firmware versions were used:

  • Dahua C52A1N DVR: 3.210.0001.0 build 2016-09-06
  • Dahua IPC-HFW4421S: 2.400.0000.30.R build 2016-07-08
  • Dahua IPC-HDBW5421E-Z: 2.400.0000.30.R build 20160623
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2042WD-I: 5.4.1 build 160525
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2342WD-I: 5.4.1 build 160525
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