$100 True WDR Camera Tested (FLIR CVI)

By Derek Ward, Published Jul 31, 2015, 12:00am EDT

True WDR has traditionally been quite expensive.

And HD analog has so far been mostly low-end models.

Now, FLIR has released a ~$100 1080p CVI camera with true WDR and integrated smart IR.

We bought the FLIR C233BD to see how it performs against other CVI models and the Axis Q1615, a leading WDR IP model.

Key findings from our test include:

Solid WDR Performance

In WDR scenes, the 1080p FLIR C233BD's performance is near that of the Axis Q1615 and better than Dahua's HDCVI 2.0 models, the best of any HD analog camera we have tested. 

Superior Low Light Performance

With optimal low light settings selected (Sens Up Off and AGC set to Max), image quality was superior to other cameras tested, with our chart and test subject well illuminated. Also, Smart IR adapts quickly to avoid over and underexposure.

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Odd Default Low Light Settings

However, the camera defaults to a 2x Sens Up (slow shutter), as well as AGC set low (4 out of 20). When left at defaults, the image appears dark with a bright center IR hotspot.

Comparable Full Light Performance

In well lit scenes, image quality was similar to other HDCVI and IP cameras tested, with no notable issues.

Simultaneous HDCVI & Analog/960H Streaming

The C233BD outputs both 1080p HDCVI (MPX) and 960H SD analog simultaneously. This is useful for aiming/focusing with standard portable displays or output to public view monitors.

Pricing

The FLIR MPX C233BD sells for ~$95 USD online, making it one of the lowest cost true WDR 1080p models available.

It is moderately more expensive than some non-WDR 1080p HD analog models, such as the Dahua HAC-HFW2220SN ($75 online) or HAC-HDBW2220RN-VF (~$60 online).

Recommendations

The FLIR C233BD is one of the first true WDR HDCVI models readily available in North America, making it useful in applications where there have been few options. 

Physical Overview

In this video, we review the physical construction of the FLIR MPX C233BD. Users should note the toggle found on the whip of the camera, which controls the OSD menu for camera settings.

The FLIR C233BD is moderately larger than other compact bullet cameras, such as the Dahua model seen here from the front:

And from the side:

Image Quality Comparisons

We tested the FLIR C233BD in our conference room in full light and darkness. Below is the FOV used for testing.

In full light (~160 lux), the FLIR C233BD performs similarly to both the Dahua HFW2200SN HDCVI and IPC-HFW1200 IP cameras, with slight artifacts around our subject's face, but able to read down to line ~5-6 on our test chart between all cameras.

With the lights turned off, lux drops to ~0.01. The FLIR C233BD defaults to Sens UP 2x and AGC down (4 out of 20). Below is a comparison with the default settings vs sens up turned off and AGC set to max. With sens up off and gain max, the scene becomes more well lit, with more of the FOV visible without washing out our subject.

In low light, all cameras have gain visible in our subject's face and test chart. With each camera being shot one at a time, the license plate becomes washed out for every camera. However, the text in the FLIR C233BD is crisp and legible down to line ~5-6.

Finally, we shot the HDCVI and IP cameras in the warehouse aimed at an open garage door. Below is the FOV used for testing.

For this scene, we added the Axis Q1615 as a baseline true WDR camera. With WDR on and set to max for each of these cameras, the FLIR and Axis cameras can see our subject and test chart in both the light and dark areas of the scene. However, both of the Dahua's wash out the chart and plate in the light section.

Methodology

All cameras were tested using default settings with the following exceptions (unless otherwise noted):

  • Shutter speed was standardized to 1/30s maximum.
  • WDR was turned on at maximum levels.

The Dahua DH-NVS040HDC-A HDCVI encoder was used with firmware version 3.200, build 2014-10-24 (V7.0.3).

For the IP cameras used, firmware versions are as follows:

  • Axis Q1615: 5.80.1
  • Dahua IPC-HFW1200S: 2.420.General 01.0.R

1 report cite this report:

HD Analog Four Way Cameras Tested on Aug 28, 2015
One camera that delivers AHD, HDCVI, HDTVI and 960H, all for as little as $15...
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