Dahua HDCVI 2.0 Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published Nov 17, 2014, 12:00am EST (Research)

A strong initial reception but can it repeat?

Dahua's initial HDCVI analog HD offering, with its super low cost and HD resolution, was extremely well received (see IPVM's HDCVI test results).

Now less than a year later, Dahua is releasing HDCVI 2.0 [link no longer available] claiming improved low light, WDR, and new motorized zoom and autofocus functions.

We tested two 1080p bullet cameras, the motorized zoom HAC-HFW2220RN-Z [link no longer available] and the compact HAC-HFW2220-SN, along with the HCVR7216S, a "tribrid" recorder supporting HDCVI, SD analog and IP cameras.

Can Dahua repeat or will this be a dissapointment?

In this test we examine:

  • How do these compare to IP cameras from big competitors like Axis, Hikvision and Samsung?
  • How did low light performance compare to past Dahua models?
  • How much has WDR performance improved?
  • How well does this new tribrid DVR support each type of camera?
  • These are the key findings from this test:

    • Full light image quality slightly improved from first generation cameras with better contrast and details of test subject.
    • Low light: High digital noise levels (despite built-in IR) in Gen 2 HDCVI cameras reduced contrast, obscuring subject details compared to both first gen HDCVI and IP cameras.
    • Bandwidth consumption for Gen 2 much higher than Gen 1, likely due to the high noise levels.
    • IR pattern was uneven across the field of view, with much lower power at the edges.
    • Much better WDR performance than past HDCVI models and Dahua's low cost bullet, though not as good as true WDR models from Axis, Hikvision, or Samsung.
    • Max WDR settings (5/5) result in high noise levels compared to default (3/5), though much better contrast and visibility in both bright and dark areas.
    • Cameras default to WDR off, requiring setup via on-screen menu.
    • Motorized zoom and autofocus functions worked without issue.
    • Tribrid DVR worked without issue with all three types of supported cameras: HDCVI, analog, and IP. A reboot is required when switching from HDCVI/analog to IP or back.
    • Discovered ONVIF conformant cameras from Axis, Bosch, Sony, Samsung, Avigilon, Hikvision, and others automatically.
    • Connected to cameras from all of the above without issue, and allowed basic CODEC and image quality settings configuration, though camera side motion detection was supported only on Dahua cameras (continuous recording only on others).


    Pricing for the HDCVI models used in this test is as follows:

    Note that due to Dahua's limited availability in North America, these prices reflect quotations from online suppliers. Pricing may be lower depending on quantity or supplier.

    Compared to Gen I

    Pricing of the HAC-HFW2220S is approximately the same as its first 1080p generation counterpart, the HFW2200S [link no longer available]. 

    Compared to past 1080p models, the tribrid DVR is moderately more expensive. For example, the HCVR7208A used in our original HDCVI test sold for ~$250 at the time. A tribrid 8-channel model, the HCVR7808S now sells for $300-400 online.

    Compared to IP Cameras

    As with first generation models, this pricing is substantially lower than these cameras' IP counterparts. For example, while the 1080p HDCVI bullet sells for ~$75, a comparable Dahua 1080p IP bullet is ~~$150.


    As with all of the analog HD over coax cameras we have tested, Dahua's second HDCVI generation offers HD image quality while reusing existing cables, at a price point lower than IP. However, for those looking for top WDR or low light performance, HDCVI still falls short of leading IP models. 

    The HCVR7800 series Tribrid DVRs are a good choice for those looking to upgrade to HDCVI while looking to maintain existing analog cameras or who wish to use IP cameras in select applications (such as low light or WDR scenes given the limitations above).

    Finally, as mentioned previously, Dahua's lack of a direct North American channel presents challenges in product procurement and tech support. Integrators must seek out product through one of Dahua's OEMs or forgo technical support.

    Competitive Market Impact

    HDCVI 2.0 fails to match top HD IP camera offerings for overall image quality, providing IP manufacturers with an advantage here as well as limited application for high end applications.

    On the positive side, HDCVI 2.0 brings non analog HD into the mid tier quality zone (zoom, autofocus, mediocre WDR, etc.) still at far lower prices than mid tier IP offerings. This should help expansion somewhat u market.

    Image Quality Comparisons

    The Gen 2 HDCVI cameras were tested against previous generation HDCVI and IP integrated IR cameras in our interior test scene:


    Full Light Performance

    In full light, contrast of the new Gen 2 cameras (HFW2220RN-Z and HFW2220SN) was slightly better than the previous generation HDCVI camera, improving details of the subject's features. White balance was notably bluish, but this was not a practical issue.

    Low Light Performance

    In low light with IR on, both new generation HDCVI bullets were noisier than other cameras. Additionally, IR coverage was uneven, with a strong center hotspot and notable weakening at the edges of the field of view. Both of these issues may be seen here:

    This increased noise decreased image quality compared to other cameras in the test, with details of the subject obscured. 


    Both new generation HDCVI cameras default to WDR off and it must be turned on via the camera's OSD menu. We review differing WDR settings in this screencast:

    With WDR off, details of the subject against strong backlight are difficult to discern, and he is completely undetectable in the dark area beside the door. With WDR on at its default setting (3), details are visible against strong backlight, and the chart legible. He also becomes visible in the dark area of the scene, and the chart legible. With WDR set to maximum levels, details are improved and the subject easily visible next to the door, though visible noise increases greatly.

    The HFW2220RN-Z and HFW2220SN are far superior to Dahua's previous HDCVI and IP cameras in both the strongly backlit and dark areas of the scene. Performance against backlight is compared to top WDR models such as the Axis Q1615 and Samsung SNB-6004 is also strong.

    However, due to the increased noise of high WDR settings, image quality is poor in the dark area of the scene compared to top WDR models.


    Bandwidth Consumption

    Due to their greater digital noise, both second generation Dahua HDCVI bullets consumed more bandwidth than HDCVI Gen I and integrated IR IP cameras in the same scene. Only the non-IR Axis Q1615 and Samsung SNB-6004 were higher in low light.

    The chart below shows bitrates in full light and low light, taken at 10 FPS (all cameras 1080p). Note the drastic increase in bandwidth between Dahua's Gen I and Gen II HDCVI models, more than triple the bandwidth at night.

    Tribrid DVR Performance 

    The HCVR78XXS DVRs are compatible with HDCVI, analog, and IP cameras. Detection is automatic for HDCVI and analog cameras and requires no manual switching. Users manually select which channels will be IP with changes from HDCVI/analog to IP and back requiring a reboot. The following video shows all three types of cameras attached to the recorder, and the process for configuring channels.

    IP Camera Compatibility

    The tribrid DVR includes support for 1080p IP cameras via ONVIF and a small number of direct camera drivers (Dahua, Axis, Sony, and more). ONVIF and Dahua cameras are automatically detected on the local network.

    We had no issues connecting to cameras from Dahua, Hikvision, Sony, Axis, Avigilon, Bosch, Samsung, or others during testing. However, note that motion detection is supported only on Dahua IP cameras. Only continuous recording is available for other manufacturers.

    Test Parameters 

    All cameras were tested using default settings with the following exceptions:

    • Shutter speed was standardized to 1/30s maximum.
    • WDR was turned on at maximum levels in the HFW2220RN-Z and HFW2220SN.

    HCVR7816S firmware version: 3.200.0003.0, Build Date: 2014-09-29.





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