H.265 IP Cameras Tested vs H.264

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 18, 2016

For more than 2 years, anticipation has been building for H.265 IP cameras. Finally, H.265 cameras are starting to ship from multiple manufacturers in North America.

The promise is ~50% bandwidth reduction which, if true, would be a huge saver for storage costs as well as making remote monitoring easier and large scale VSaaS more feasible. In the mean time, 'smart codecs' for H.264, have come out, which also offer significant bandwidth savings (e.g., see our Axis Zipstream test).

We tested H.265 cameras from Samsung and Vivotek to understand:

  • Bandwidth tradeoff / savings compared to current H.264 camera models widely used (e.g., IP Camera Bandwidth / Storage Shootout).
  • CPU Load tradeoffs vs H.264 for viewing
  • VMS support for H.265
  • Finally, H.265 vs Smart Codecs such as Axis Zipstream

We performed both technical stream analysis and image quality comparisons to understand quality and bandwidth tradeoffs.

******* **** * *****, ************ *** **** building *** *.*** ** cameras. *******, *.*** ******* are ******** ** **** from ******** ************* ** North *******.

*** ******* ** ~**% bandwidth ********* *****, ** true, ***** ** * huge ***** *** ******* costs ** **** ** making ****** ********** ****** and ***** ***** ***** more ********. ** *** mean ****, '***** ******' for *.***, **** **** out, ***** **** ***** significant ********* ******* (*.*.,*** *** **** ********* test).

** ****** *.*** ******* from ******* *** ******* to **********:

  • ********* ******** / ******* compared ** ******* *.*** camera ****** ****** **** (e.g., ** ****** ********* / Storage ********).
  • *** **** ********* ** H.264 *** *******
  • *** ******* *** *.***
  • *******, *.*** ** ***** Codecs **** ** **** Zipstream

** ********* **** ********* stream ******** *** ***** quality *********** ** ********** quality *** ********* *********.

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

Key ********

*** / ***, ***** two *.*** ******* ******* minimal ** ** ********* savings ******** ** ****** / ******* *.*** *******. Worse, **** ********* (* smart ***** *.*** **************) performed ************* ****** **** H.265. ******* *********, *** support ***** *** ** very ******* *** ** did **** * ***-******* level ** ******** ** CPU **** **** ***** H.265.

** ** *** *** looking *** * ******** or * **** **** advantage, ***** *.*** ******* will **** **** ** they *** **** ** general ******* *******. *******, they ***** ** **** benefits **** ******* ************ H.264 ** ******* *** have ******* ********** ** *** ******* and *** ****.

Warning: *.*** **** *******

**** **** *.*** *********** efficiency / ************* *** better **** *** ***** (e.g., **** *.*** ******* vs *****'* *.*** *******), we ****** *** **** for *.***. ** ** still **** ***** ** the ********* *** *.*** with, *** *******, *** of *** ******* **** / *********** *********, ********* still *** ******** ***** H.265 *** (*** ************* is **** **** ****** tested **** *** ***** HiSilicon). ******* *** ************* findings **** ***** *******, it ** ******** / likely **** ** *** next *** *****, *.*** will ***** *********** ************ over *** ******* ****** offerings.

**** **** ******: *** Samsung ****** ** ****** is ***** '********' *.*** offering. ******* ** *** releasing *** *.*** ******* that *** ******* ***** codecs (***** ********* ****: SmartStream) ***** **** ***** significantly ******* *********. ** plan ** **** **** and **** **** ****** this ******.

H.265 ****** ******** **********

** ******* *** *.*** streams **** ***** *******, we *********** *********. ******* ***********, **** ******** ******** detailed ************ *********** *** streams (****** ********* **** not ******* *.***/****), **** a ********* ******* ** I/B/P ***** *********, ** well ** *** ******* to **** ******** ******** information *** **** *****. Using **** **** ** were **** ** ******* the ************ ****** ** H.265 *** *.*** ******* from *** *** *******, shown ** *** ******* below.

** ****** *** ****** of ******* *** ** this *****:


Samsung *.*** ***** / *******

*******'* ***-*****'* *** ********* is ****** ********* **** previous *.*** ******, **** two *** *******:

  • *****, **** *********, *** ability ** ****** ** H.265 ******** ******* ** present, **** ******* **** the **** ** *.***. However, **** **** *.*** may *** ** *** as *******, ****** ******** in *** *** *********, even **** ******* *******, nor *** ** ** used *** ********* ** SD. ** *** ** viewed *** ******* ********* in *******'* *********** ******.
  • ******, **** ****** ******** no ****** ** *** compression ** * ******** level **** ***** ***. Past ******* ****** ******** a *-** ***** ** compression ******. ******* **** option, ***** ** ** way ** ******** ******* quality ******* *.*** *** H.264 ** * ******** quantization.

** ******* ****** ******* configuration ** **** *****:

Vivotek *.*** ***** / *******

******* ** *******, *** bulk ** *** ******* IP9171-HP's *** ********* ** unchanged **** ******** ******, aside **** *** ******* for *.*** (****** ******* beneath *.*** *** ***** in ***** ********) *** Smart ****** **. ******* to **** *********, ***** ****** ** varies * ***** ******** and *********** ******* *********** on ****** ******* ***/** fixed ****. ** **** cover ***** ****** ** performance ** **** ****** in * ******** ******.

**** **** ******* ******** options *** *** (**** fixed *********** ***** *** a ***) *** ***, unlike *******, ***** ******* direct ********** ** *.***/*.*** at ******** ********.

** ******* ****** *** Vivotek *** ********* ** this *****:

Compared ** *.*** ********** *******

** *** *****, *.*** bitrates **** ******* ** higher **** ******** ** typical *.*** ******. *** example, *** ***** ***** shows *******'* *** ******-** (both *.*** *** *.***) compared ** ********* *** Axis, **** *** ******* set ** ~** ************. Vivotek's *.*** ****** *** lower **** ********* *.*** only ****** *** ***, but ****** **** **** Axis *** ********* ** night. 

************ *** ******* ******* were ***** ***** ~** Q, ** **** ** what ***** *** ********* to, **** ** *** to ******. *****, *.*** bitrates *** ****** **** competitive *.*** ********. **** also **** *** ***** starlight *** ** ~*.*** vs. *******'* ***, *** still ***** *******, ********** at *****.

Compared ** **** *********

*.*** *** *** **** bitrate ********** **** ***** Smart ****** ** ***** CODEC, ***** ****** * frame ******** **** *-** seconds ********* ** ******, and *********** ****** ************ on ****** *******. **** this ****** **, *** Vivotek ******'* ******* ******* was ***** **** **** the **** ***** **** Zipstream *** ** *** settings (******* *** ***, Zipstream "****"). *******, ******* still ****** ************* ** night, **** * **/*, where ********* ******** ***, about *.* **/*. 

**** **** **** ********* numbers ***** *** ************ from ***** ************, ***** no *** **** ****** with ********* *** *********. 

**** **** ** **** to **** *******'* ***** Stream ** *********** ** more ****** ** * future ******.

CPU **** *********

*** *** ******* ******* (~4 **/* *** *****), H.265 ******** *** ******** more ********* ********* **** H.264, **** ** *** and **** *** ***. This *** **** **** viewing **** * ****** stream ** **** ** multiple ************ *******. ***** measurements **** ***** ******* streams *****, ****** ****** ********* showed ******* ******:

*******, **** ******** ****** at ***** ** ****** of *** *.*** *******, CPU ***** ****** *************, with *.*** **** **** ******** H.264 ********* ***** ** a **** *** ** with ********* ***** ****. ***** should ****** ** ***** difference ** ***********, ** client ******** ***** **** fine *** *.*** *** no ****** **** *.*** properly.

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

  • *** *** **: *** **** **** *.* GHz, * ** ***, Integrated ****** ********
  • **** *** **: ***** Dual **** **** ** 2.4 ***, ** ** RAM, *** ******* ** 650M ********

VMS *******

** ** ***********, *.*** support **** *****-***** ***** is ****. ** **** able ** ********* *.*** with ******* *** **** *** Vivotek *****. ****** *** Samsung ***** ** *** VMS ******** **** *.***/***** options. ******* ***** *** select *** *.*** *** live, *********, ******, ***., just ** ***** *******, seen *****. 

********* *** ***** **** inform ** **** *** working ** ****** *******, but ** ***** **** given.

*******'* *** ***, ****, support *.*** ******* *** recording ** ***** *** cameras. *******'* *********/*** ******** do *** ******* *.*** currently, *** ***** *********** client ******** **** ******* and ***** **** *********.

Visual ***********

** ***** ***, ** any ******* *********** ******* H.265 *** *.*** ***** similar ************ ******. *** example, **** ***** ***** the *** ****** **** by **** (***** ***** for **** **** *******):

*.*** ** ** *** right, *.*** ** *** left, **** ~*** ** this **********. ****** *********** are *******, *** **** visible **** **** **********, despite *.*** ******** ***** 30% ***** **** *.*** in **** *****.

** **** *****, ** found *** *.*** ***** contrast (**** *****) *** slightly ********* **** *.***, though *** ********* ******* are *****.

Future *******

** ****** *.*** *********** and ****** ** ******* over *** **** *** years, ****** ** ******* to ** **** *** fast ** ********. ** the ********, *.***, ********** with *** ***** ******* and ***** *** ***********, continues ** ** *** easy *** ***** ****** for ****** ***********. ******, if *** ******* *.***********, *.*** *** *** make **** ***** *** many ***** ** **** (or **** ****).

Comments (16)

Yes, finally some real data. Thanks!

Question, although I understand the use in comparing h.265 to competitive h.264, the report doesn't mention the fact that in all cases h.265 had a lower bitrate than for h.264 cameras of the same brand.

For instance, the Daytime Vivotek h.265 bitrate was 33% less than its h.264 bitrate.

While no one should switch brands thinking that h.265 must be better, when choosing a model within a brand it certainly might be better, looking at the data.

"the report doesn't mention the fact that in all cases h.265 had a lower bitrate than for h.264 cameras of the same brand."

It's shown in all the charts. That noted, we do not emphasize it because it does not really impact the general question of whether H.265 is 'better' than H.264.

"when choosing a model within a brand it certainly might be better, looking at the data."

Yes, if you are locked in to using, e.g., the SNV-8081R, then yes H.265 saves on bandwidth, presuming you are using a VMS that supports H.265, the CPU load increase is not a practical issue, etc. Of course, you'd still probably do just as well selecting a 'regular' H.264 camera.

Outstanding write-up Ethan!

The Elecard video segment was a great presentation of the functional deltas (between codecs) for an average scene.

Thank you Ethan for answering the questions I've been wondering about the current performance of H.265 vs H.264 cameras.

On a side note, whereas the free AVInaptic is only available on Windows, I see that Elecard StreamEye is available for Mac OS X as well as Windows which is great. Elecard StreamEye isn't free but it looks like a great tool. Thank you for finding and sharing information about this new and useful tool.

Thanks! Much needed info and looking forward to the Vivotek Smart Stream II report.

Great information, thanks Ethan. Job well done

Has anyone looked at VP9 encoding? Heard some stuff mentioned over at Hacker News, not sure if the encoding has hit any commercial use, but I have read the encoding us supposed to be better than H.265

Write up on VP9 vs. H.265 vs. H.264

I have not heard any IP camera manufacturer talk about adopting VP9 so, whether it is good or bad, does not look like it will have any impact at least in our industry for the foreseeable future.

I PM'ed you as I think this conversation will be off topic from the main article. In any case, your findings seem to contradict another piece I had seen on BBC. I am not sure what criteria they had used to measure their findings, but it does seem to differ than the findings of your article.

Really good article, thanks Ethan!

hope they pull their finger out, I know the 12mp Dahua we're playing with really heats up, so hopefully some smarter encoding chips really make this work like it should

If a camera heats up now, the current HiSilcon H.265 Solution gets even hotter. Faster powerful processing tends to take more Power thus higher clocking SoC and so a bit more heat. Heat kills a product life time.

We all look forward to seeing neon glowing water cooled cameras with transparent cases showing the world we are being looked at! Maybe throw a few LEDs in for good measure. :-)

or, they'll move to a smaller process both saving on heat generated and energy used for the same workload...

However, when bitrates spiked at night in either of the H.265 cameras, CPU usage jumped significantly, with H.265 more than doubling H.264 processor usage in a high end PC with dedicated video card.

Were you using hardware based h.264 decoding, but software based h.265 decoding?

That could have something to do with it. There are some cards already that can do hardware based h.265, notably the GTX-960, and more coming everyday.

It would be interesting to see if that would narrow the gap much. Although, since most systems today don't have hardware based hevc decoding, I think that the real-world test should still be the software based decoding ones.

If you are wondering about how man enough you PC is for H.265 decoding, there is a tool that's been around to give some ideas on decode of 720p 1080p & 2160p. it's a reference benchmark using the open source ffmpeg library.

http://murobbs.muropaketti.com/threads/hevc-decode-benchmark.1188750/page-11

Sitr id in Finish language, a copy of the software is here on dropbox for you.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wu729gaysij2idj/HDBC-x64-V1.4_2.zip?dl=0

Now for die hard want to know more here is a few useful links:

4K playback for little cost nice posting.
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/55784335

LAV Filters needed as shown above, allows windows media player for playback using hardware of your GFX card. ( stops that stutter! even in H.264 of course)
http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=156191
https://github.com/Nevcairiel/LAVFilters/releases

Samples of 4K High bitrate H.265 Content. For testing your PC decoding abilities.
http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2014/11/19/samsung-nx1-4k-video-samples-and-new-full-res-frame-grabs-available-for-do

Free Video player for PC uses hardware of Graphics Card ( GPU )
https://mpv.srsfckn.biz/

Shows you technical details about your PC graphics decoding.
http://www.videohelp.com/software/DXVA-Checker

You can assume at time goes by older hardware is replaced, even as of 2015 GPUs from Intel Nvidia and I suspect AMD have both Encode / Decode of H.265 decoding naturally is where the CCTV CMS platforms will help.

Update: The Samsung camera we tested is their 'original' H.265 offering. Samsung is now releasing new H.265 cameras that now include smart codecs (their marketing term: SmartStream) which they claim significantly reduces bandwidth. We plan to test them and then will update this report.

Yes, i was just thinking what is the difference between H.264 and H.265 . Good article

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