Hikvision Darkfighter 1/2" Imager Camera Tested

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Aug 31, 2015

Can Hikvision beat Axis and Samsung in pure low light?

The Chinese mega-manufacturer has made a name for itself as a low-cost leader, popularizing $100 HD cameras with integrated IR.

However, most do not consider Hikvision to be in the same league for high-end cameras such as Axis and Samsung. In particular, Axis started the 'super low light' trend a few years ago with their 'Lightfinder' offerings.

Hikvision's new offering, 'Darkfighter' targets that market. The big two differences Hikvision is offering:

  • F/0.95 HD lens (instead of the F/1.2, F/1.3 or higher common with HD)
  • 1/2" imager standard for 1080p HD

To see how they compare, we bought their 1080p box DarkFighter model, the DS-2CD6026FHWD-A, and put it up against leading low light models from Axis, Samsung, and Uniview, as well as their own 4132 integrated IR camera.

We performed testing in multiple low light scenes like the nighttime dark field with a subject 100' away, excerpted here:

*** ********* **** **** and ******* ** **** low *****?

*** ******* ****-************ *** made * **** *** itself ** * ***-**** leader, ************ $*** ** cameras **** ********** **.

*******, **** ** *** consider ********* ** ** in *** **** ****** for ****-*** ******* **** as **** *** *******. In **********, **** ******* the '***** *** *****' trend * *** ***** ago **** ***** '***********' offerings.

*********'* *** ********, '***********' targets **** ******. *** big *** *********** ********* is ********:

  • */*.** ** **** (******* of *** */*.*, */*.* or ****** ****** **** HD)
  • */*" ****** ******** *** 1080p **

** *** *** **** compare, ** ****** ***** 1080p *** *********** *****, the**-***********-*, *** *** ** up ******* ******* *** light ****** ********,*******, **********, ** **** ** their ******* ********** ** ******.

** ********* ******* ** multiple *** ***** ****** like *** ********* **** field **** * ******* 100' ****, ********* ****:

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

Key ********

** *** *****, *** Hikvision **** ***********'* *** light *********** *** *** best ** *** '***** low *****' ******* ****** by * ******** ******. Here ** ** ******* that **** *** ********** (field **** *****, ***' away / ***' **** FoV):

********** ** ***** ******** moderately ****** ******, ********** in **** *** ***** scenes (~*.** *** *****) and ** ******* *****. However, ** **** ****** at ****** ****** (~***' distance/150' ****), *** *********** model ****** ************ *** integrated ** ******, ***** illumination ******** *** **** at **** *****.

**** *** ****** ******

*********** *** ********** ****** using *********'* **.** **** compared ** *** ***** F1.5 ***** ******** **** the ******. *******, *** 6026 ************ ***** ******* tested, **** **** *** higher * ****** ****.

*** *********** ** ***** F ****** ****, ****** imager *** ***** ********** combined *** *** ******* performance.

***

*** *********** *** ****** than *** **** ***** and ******* ***-**** ******* strong *********, *** **** in *** ***** ** dark ***** ** *** scene.

********* ****

******* *** ***** ******** of ******* ****** ***** default ******** (~***, ** FPS *.***), **** **** double *** **** ***** and *** *** ******* IPC542E-DU.

*** *.***+ ******** (******* quantization and *** ***********) ******* bitrates ** **** **** light *** **** ****** significantly.

*******

*** **-***********-* ***** *** ~$600 *** ******, ********* an **.* *.*-**** ****. The ******** **.** **** sells *** ** ********** ~$300 ******. ***** ** no ******** *** ********** the ****** *** **.** lens, **** *.*-**** *** 11-40mm *******.

*** *********** **** (**** *.*-**** lens ******, ~$***) ** priced **** ***** **** 1/2" ***** *** ***** models, **** ** *** Axis ***** *** **** VB635, **** ~$*,*** ******, as **** ** **** ~1/3" *********** **** ***** manufacturers, *** *****/*****, ($***-**** online).

$*** ** ****** ** price ** ****** **** as *** ******* ***-**** (1/2.8") ** ******* ****** (1/2").

***************

*** *** **** *** light *********** ***** ** cannot ** **** ** beyond *** *****, *** Hikvision *********** **** ** a ***** ******. *******, integrated ** ****** *** serve ****** ** **** applications, **** ** ******* or ******* ***** ******** scenes.

Positioning ******

****** **** *** **** show **** ********* *** compete ** *********** *** featureset, *** **** ** low *****, ** **** are ************ ***** ***. With ***** ****-*** ****** matching ** ********* ******-******** competitors, ** **************** ************ ******** ** ***** to ****, ** ** has *** *** **** 1-2 *****.

** *** **** ****, for **********, **** ****** that **** ****** ******** to ***** ******** *********** as ** ****** *** higher *****. 

DarkFighter ****

*** **** ** **** one ***** ***********'* *********** ****. ***** *** ****** in ******, ****, *** speeddome **** *******, *** of ***** *** */*" or ****** *******, ***** from *** */*" ********* model. ** ********, ***** competitors **** ** **** and **** **** **** a ****** ***** ***** larger **** */*" *******. 

Physical ********

*** **** ** ********** similar ** ***** *** models, ********* *** *********. Most ******* ** *** size ** *** **.** lens ******** ** **** the ****** **** ******* 3.5-15mm ***** *****. 

*************

************* ** *** **** is ******* ** ***** Hikvision ******, ****** ** elements *** ***** ****** have ******* ** *.*.* (***** ***** *** ****** version).

**** **** *** **** includes * ****** ** built ** ********* ** addition ** ******* ****** and ********* ******. ** plan ** ***** ***** in ** ******** ****.

Hikvision **.** "*******" ****

** **** ****, ** used *********'* *********** ****, the HV0733D-6MP "*******" *****. ******** to *** ***** **.* 3.8-16mm *****, ** ******** ********** improvement ** *** *****, with * ******** ***** and ********** **** *****. In *** **** ***** (below *****), *** **** chart ******* ******* *** the ******* ******* ***** *** F0.95 **** ***** ** was *** **** ***** the ***** **.* *****.

** ****** **** **** with ***** *******, ** well, ** *** ***** *** ***** ** Lens ****** ******.

Low ***** ***********

** *** *****, ~*.** lux, *** **** ****** outperforms *** ***** ***-** models ******, **** *** best ******* ******* *** a ******** ******** ** chart **********. *** ** equipped ********* **** ******** slightly ******* ****** ** both, ****** ** * small ******.

*** ********** ***** ***** relative *********** ** *** DarkFighter ****** ***** *** stock **.* *.*-**** ****. 

******* ******** *** ****** to ~*.** *** ** below (*** ****** *** meter *** *******), *** 6026 ******** ********* ** the ******* *** **** chart, *** ** ****** outperformed ** *** ********** IR ****.

****** *****/**** ***

** **** ****** *** cameras' *********** ** ***** in ** **** ***** using * *****, ~*** HFOV/~100' ** ******.

** **** *****, *** 4132's ** ** ****** to ******* **** ************ (~30m ** ***** *********), making *** ******* ****** to ****** **** ** the ****, ***** ******* shows *** ********** ******* the ******* **********. 

***** *** ******** ***** from **** ***** ** a.*** ******* (~*** **).

*** ***** ***** ***** our ******* *********** *** DarkFighter **** **** ~***' in *** ***** ***** above, ************* *.** ***:

**** **** ***** ***** choose ****** ***** ** models, *** ***** ********* use * ******** ***** of **** **** *** ~90 ******* **** ****. Additionally, ******** ** *** further ******* *******, *** results ** ***** ***** cost.

WDR ***********

*** **** *** *** of *** *** ********** WDR ******* ** *** tests, **** **** ** our ********* *****, ******* showing ******* ** **** the ******** ******* ***** and **** **** ****** the ****.

******** ** ******, *** 6026 ******** **** ** the **** ****** ** the ******* *** ** dark ***** ** *** scene, ***** **** *** Uniview *******. *******, ** is ******** ***** ******* backlight than **** ******, **** as *** **** ***** and ******* ***-****, ***** show **** *********** *** noise *** ******* ******* images ** *** *******'* face.

Full *****

** **** *****, ~*** lux, ****** *** ******* to ***** ******, ****** notably ****** **** ****, most ******* *** **** Q1615.

Bandwidth ***********

*** ********* *********** ****'* bitrates **** ********** ***** than ***** ******* (***** from *** ********* ****) in **** *** ******. However, ** *** *****, the ****** ****** ** just ***** ** **/*, the ***** *** *** its *** ***, **** higher **** *** ***** cameras ****** ****** *** Samsung ***-****.

**** **** ***** ************ are ***** ***** *.***, ** FPS, **** ******* ** quantization.

********* *.***+

********* ********** *.***+ ** their ****** *********, **** dynamic *********** *** *** adjustments ******* ** **** *********. ******* *.***+ **, bitrates ******* ** **-**% in *** ********* ******, reducing *** *********** ******'* bitrate ** ~*.* **/* in *** ****, **** more *********** **** ***** cameras.

** **** ** **** H.264+ ** **** ****** with **** ******* ** a ******** ******** ******.

Test ***********

******* **** ****** ***** default ********, **** *** following ******** ******* ** *** cameras:

  • ******* ***** *** *** to * ******* ** 1/30s
  • *.*** **** *******, ** FPS, ** ************ *** used

*** ********* ********/******** ******** were ****:

  • **** *****: *.**.*.*
  • ********* **-***********-*: **.*.*
  • ********* **-**********-**: **.*.*
  • ******* ***-****: *.*********
  • ******* *******-**: ***************-**********
  • ***********: *.*.*.*****

Comments (21)

Great test!

One comment using the 0.95 F lens with other cameras, as discussed here:

In this test, we used Hikvision's recommended lens, the HV0733D-6MP "DarkEye" model. Compared to the stock F1.5 3.8-16mm model, it provided noticeable improvement in low light, with a brighter image and moderately less noise. In the Axis Q1615 (below right), the test chart becomes legible and the subject visible using the F0.95 lens where it was not when using the stock F1.3 model.

Warning to anyone considering using this lens to increase low-light:

If you use this 0.95 lens with a standard 1/3" sensor, your light gains will be considerably less than when used with a 1/2" sensor. This is because the lens creates a 1/1.8 images circle, which is much larger than the sensor area. This is how a traditional sensor is dwarfed by the image circle of the Hik lens.

The Axis 1635 also has a 1/2" sensor, and not surprisingly benefits here. I would show a 1/2" sensor, but I am unsure of the exact x/y geometry, of either the Axis or the Hik, only of the area.

The test above is with the Q1615.

Perhaps the Axis Q1635 would benefit even more with a Hikvision lens thought that would be ironic.

Right. Thanks.

The 1615 is 1/2.8, so better than 1/3 but still not 'catching' all the light, so I would expect the 1635 would benefit even more.

Do you have any other box cameras with 1/2" sensors in the lab?

edit - strikeouts

Yes, the Uniview.

We do not plan to buy the Q1635. Presumably, it will be moderately better and partially close the huge gap between the Hikvision Darkfighter and the Axis Q1615 but at a price $500 more, it sill would not be cost competitive with Hikvision.

Any chance there a similar panel done with the Uniview camera and the Hik lens?

It would be interesting to swap lenses between the two 1/2" imagers to really nail down how much of this performance can be attributed to the optics.

Just noticed that the 1635 ships with a F1.5 lens. Naively perhaps, but that seems wrong to me.

Uniview with the F0.95. It's a moderate improvement but I don't think it's any more impressive than the Q1615 stock vs. F0.95 improvement.

I agree. It's a fractionally better stock lens 1.2 vs 1.3, but I don't see that as accounting for much. I'm out of theories.

Thanks!

We've been using the Hikvision DS-2DF8223I-AEL "2MP Ultra-low Light Smart PTZ Camera" which has been incredible in low light. I was shocked to see that it stays in color / day mode with very poor lighting in a dark parking lot that borders a dark airport runway. When we zoom into a very dark area it will then switch from color to B/W using its built-in IR. This camera replaced a 10 year old high-end Pelco Esprit turret style analog camera with a Bosch Uniflood IR illuminator. I want one of these at my house.

Brandon, Thanks for the feedback. One fascinating thing about the Hikvision Darkfighter PTZ is its very larger imager (1/1.9"). Almost all PTZs today use 1/2.8" or smaller imagers. That's a big, rare, jump in imager size.

Yea the that PTZ is nice and works very well in low light. Only issue is that camera is HUGE.

Ethan,

How does the depth of field fare with this very large aperture lens when wide open at night?

Suprised you didn't do any low light tests with this camera forced into color mode.

Why are you surprised? Our standard procedure is to test low light in black & white mode.

Surprised was the wrong choice of words. You should really try to test these low light cameras in color mode only in different situations. You might be surpized on how well they perform in color only mode.

Also do you have a link to 5.4.3 firmware for the Darkfighter?

Hikvision sent us a private link to the 5.4.3 firmware. Last I saw it still wasn't public. I'll check in with them as far as availability.

Why is Panasonic not included in this test?

Dear Panasonic rep, we did not include Bosch, Panasonic or Sony, all of which have similar higher quality low-light cameras. We have of course tested all of their low light entrants individually (e.g.Bosch Starlight Tested vs Axis, Panasonic Series 6 IP Cameras TestedTesting Sony's 6th Gen IP Cameras). They would fare similarly to how Axis and Samsung did in this report, significantly worse than the new Hikvision Darkfighter.

John, Samsung has a SNB-6005 1/2" camera wich should be used for this test as it is a test for lowlight cameras, othervise you comparing apples and oranges. Also for true comparisons, all cameras should use the same lens, othwise again apples and oranges.

Thank you Samsung employee.

Why would we test Samsung's camera with Hikvision's special super low light lens? Or should we handicap Hikvision and not let it use its superior lens?

As for the SNB-6005, we would test that. When did it start shipping? I looked it up at a few major outlets and not clear on its availability.

The SNB-6005 is in stock as of today. I just checked with one of our distributors and they had them.

...you are comparing apples and oranges

Untrue. Some were lemons.

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