Conventional wisdom says that lenses make a big difference in image quality but the question remains: "How much of a difference?" With the shift to megapixel cameras increasing demands for higher quality lenses, this question has gained even greater importance.
We wanted to better understand quality differences by doing our own series of shootouts. This is our first report in that series.
Lens Shootout Approach
The most common lens type used with megapixel cameras are varifocal lenses with a relatively wide field of view (e.g., 3 - 8 mm). This is the normal stock or default lens provided with most megapixel cameras today.
We wanted to start with this type, selecting 5 of the more common lens manufacturers. This test include lenses from:
We then used these lenses with three commonly used IP cameras:
- Axis P1344
- Panasonic WV-SP306
- Sony CH140
We conducted tests in 3 different scenes:
- Indoor office for a medium size area
- Enclosed parking structure for a larger area
- Indoor darkroom for night time testing
Since lens focusing is a key issue in optimizing cameras, we used the auto back focus features available in all 3 cameras to provide a standardized way to focus all lenses.
Below is a preview of one of the scenes that shows variations in performance achieved.
Inside the Pro section, we dig into the key differences and how the lens performance compared.
We plan to do more lens tests to examine other applications and use cases. Future tests will include fixed focal lenses (vs varifocal ones) and multi-megapixel camera performance.