Hanwha / Samsung Wisestream H.265 Test
In our first test of H.265 cameras (including Samsung and Vivotek), H.265 benefits were essentially nil, both versus leading H.264 cameras and, worse, to emerging smart codec H.264 cameras.
Now, Hanwha is claiming improved H.265 performance combined with their Samsung Wisestream smart codec in their Wisenet P and Q lines, aiming to reduce bitrates to new lows.
We tested P and Q series cameras against smart codec equipped competitors from Axis, Hikvision, and Panasonic, both 1080p and 4K resolutions, to see how this new smart codec performed with H.265.
In our tests, the Wisenet P and Q lines' combination of 265 and Wisestream smart codec produced moderately lower bitrates than competitive H.264 smart codec cameras in some scenes, but with four major limitations:
- Lack of H.265 support: First, the lack of widespread H.265 VMS support means that the vast majority of users will not see the full benefits the P and Q lines, only those using Samsung end-to-end systems. This is unlikely to change in the near future as few VMSes support H.265 and direct drivers must be written as ONVIF H.265 support is not planned until 2018.
- H.264 competitive: H.264 with Wisestream was competitive with other manufacturers' bitrates using smart codecs in our tests, and not drastically higher in any scene. Further, it was supported by all VMSes tested (Avigilon, Genetec, Milestone, Exacq, Axxon) in our tests.
- Not always lower: In our tests, Panasonic's 4K camera with Smart Coding produced lower bitrates than the Wisenet P using H.265/Wisestream in daytime scenes, and Axis and Hikvision low cost 1080p models both produced lower daytime bitrates than the Wisenet Q 6010R.
- Wistream 'High' Image quality problems: The 'High' setting caused significant artifacting and smearing of background objects, making this setting likely unusable for most users..
Finally, as in past tests, H.265 alone provided modest gains it bitrate, 20-25%, well below the 50% manufacturers have claimed.
Here are our technical findings from this test:
- Wisestream "Medium" had noticeable image quality impact, though similar to other smart codecs, such as Axis Zipstream (High), and Hikvision H.264+.
- Wisestream Medium reduced bitrates by 40%+, with reductions over 90% with dynamic GOV enabled.
- Dynamic GOV on its own did not reduce bandwidth, requiring Wisestream to be enabled to function.
- In the 4K Wisenet P series, H.265 with Wisestream Medium and dynamic GOV produced lower bitrates than Axis and Hikvision cameras, but higher than the Panasonic 4K camera with Smart Coding (High) in daytime still and high motion scenes.
- In the 1080p Wisenet Q series, H.265 did not reduce bitrates below competitive H.264 smart codec models (Axis and Hikvision).
- Wisenet P and Q H.265 streams were not supported in Axxon Next, Milestone XProtect Corporate, or Genetec Security Center (all of which support H.265 generally).
- Wisestream and dynamic GOV using H.264 were properly supported by all VMSes tested, including Avigilon, Axxon, Exacq, Genetec, and Milestone.
Wisestream is currently supported in the Wisenet P [link no longer available] and Q lines [link no longer available] only. These two ranges cover the very high end of the Wisenet line (4K/12MP cameras, smart IR, etc.) as well as the low end (2MP/4MP low cost fixed domes/bullets).
See our test of the 1080p Wisenet Q dome. Others are soon to follow, including the 4MP Wisenet Q and 4K Wisenet P bullet.
H.265 is selected as a stream type in the camera's web interface, next to H.264 and MJPEG options. Configuration options for H.265 are similar to H.264 (CBR or "VBR" – see note below, frame rate, bitrate cap, etc.).
Also located on this menu are options for dynamic GOP. Dynamic GOP defaults to a maximum of 80, but may be increased to 160.
Finally, WiseStream (dynamic compression) is not located in the video profile menu, but instead under camera settings. Users may select off/low/medium/high, discussed below.
Wisestream Visible Effects
In our tests, background image quality was reduced at higher levels of Wisestream (especially high), which may be a practical problem depending on the user's FOV. The example below shows the full FOV using settings from Off through High, with noticeable effects on low and medium, but drastic reductions in quality on high.
In our test scenes, we found Wisestream's "Medium" setting to be roughly similar the Axis Zipstream "High" (seen below in 1080p examples) and Hikvision's H.264+. Because of this, "Medium" was used as the basis of most comparisons in this report.
4MP Camera Differences
While Wisestream Medium was used in the 4K and 1080p cameras in this test, in the 4MP QNV-7080R, this setting resulted in significantly more pixelation and image degradation. For example, in the animation below, facial details of the subject become moderately smeared using Medium (and High), which was not an issue in other models.
We measured bandwidth using Wisestream set to Medium, as a compromise between image quality reduction (discussed above) and bitrate reduction.
Wisestream Medium reduced bitrate by ~40% using both H.264 and H.265, and over 90% with dynamic GOV enabled. However, dynamic GOV on its own had little effect, with bitrates only slightly lower than with the setting disabled. This is similar to Axis Zipstream in current firmwares, which disables dynamic GOP when dynamic compression is disabled.
At night, Wisestream was most effective with H.265, reducing bitrate by ~60% without dynamic GOV and by over 80% with it enabled. H.264 reductions were significant (30-60%), though not as great.
Wisestream "High" reduced bitrates by up to an additional 50% compared to Wisestream Medium, though with significant image quality reductions, as shown above.
Wisestream H.265 vs. H.264 Smart Codecs
We tested H.265 using Wisestream in both the high end Wisenet P line as well as the low cost Wisenet Q. Comparisons below were taken using Wisestream Medium and Dynamic GOV 160.
Wisenet P / 4K
Using H.265 with Wisestream, the Wisenet 4K camera was competitive with other 4K models in this scene in daytime scenes, though notably higher than the Panasonic 781L in daytime high motion. At night, its H.265 bitrate was significantly lower than others, ~1 Mb/s below Panasonic, and 4 Mb/s lower than Hikvision.
Wisenet Q / 1080p
In the 1080p Wisenet Q camera, the QND-6010R (see our test), H.265 bitrates averaged about 40% lower than H.264 in the 6010R.
However, both the Axis and Hikvision cameras' daytime bitrates were lower than the Wisenet Q's H.265 stream, by about 100 Kb/s. However, at night, the Wisenet Q (H.265 and H.264) was significantly lower.
H.265 vs. H.264, No Smart Codec
We turned off smart codecs in all cameras to see how H.265 compared "raw" against H.264. In daytime scenes, the Wisenet P camera's H.265 bitrate was the lowest of all cameras tested by 60%+. However, its H.264 bitrate was significantly (40-50%) lower than competitors, as well.
At night, both the Hikvision and Panasonic cameras' H.264 bitrate was lower than both the Wisenet P's H.265 and H.264 stream.
Comparing H.265 to H.264 in the Wisenet P, H.265 was ~18% lower than H.264 during the day, and ~25% at night, much lower than the 50% reduction typically claimed by manufacturers.
H.265 VMS Support
The Wisenet Q series cameras tested were not officially supported by any VMSes at the time of testing. H.264 streaming via ONVIF and/or direct drivers worked properly in Avigilon, Exacq, Genetec, and Milestone. H.265 streaming did not work in any VMS supporting H.265 (Axxon Next, Genetec, Milestone Corporate 2016 R3).
Widespread H.265 adoption has been and remains slow, with ONVIF support not expected until 2018. Readers should see our How And When ONVIF Will Support H.265 report for more details.
The following firmware versions were used:
- Samsung PNO-9080R: 1.00_160620
- Axis P1428-E: 6.40.1
- Hikvision DS-2CD4585F-IZH: V5.4.0 build 160421
- Panasonic WV-SFV780L: 2.50
- Samsung QND-6010R: 1.00_160702
- Axis M3045-V: 126.96.36.199
- Hikvision DS-2CD2522FWD-IS: V5.4.1 build 160525