Hikvision 12MP IR 360 Camera Tested 2016
Hikvision has released their latest IR panoramic camera, the DS-2CD63C2F-IV, with a 12MP sensor.
To find out, we bought one of these new models and tested against Panasonic's 12MP entry, the WV-SFV481, one of the best performing panoramic cameras we have tested. We checked performance in day and night scenes, IR range, smart CODEC support, and more.
This video overviews the physical construction and design of Hikvision panoramic camera:
See our full results inside.
In our tests, the Hikvision 63C2 provided a moderate increase in details over the Panasonic WV-SFV481L 4K panoramic camera in full light and much better images in low light due to its integrated IR, with subject details visible at ~20' from the camera.
However, we experienced three key downsides in Hikvision's 12MP IR panoramic camera which limit its usefulness with third party VMSes/recorders:
- Distorted camera side dewarping: Camera side dewarping was poor, with objects stretched and distorted significantly in panorama streams.
- Virtual PTZ errors: Camera side virtual PTZ control did not work properly, with limited tilt angle and views snapping back when moved.
- Limited Smart CODEC support: H.264+ smart CODEC is supported only when using warped fisheye views, not dewarped streams such as panorama or virtual PTZ, resulting in much higher bitrates.
These issues are not present when using client side dewarping, but few (if any) VMSes outside of Hikvision's iVMS support them. Platforms with universal dewarping (such as Nx Witness/DW Spectrum) may also be used.
The DS-2CD63C2F-IV sells for ~$800 USD online, significantly less expensive than other 12MP panoramic models, such as the Panasonic WV-SFV481 (~$1,600 online) or Bosch's FlexiDome IP Panoramic 7000 MP (~$1,300 online).
The 63C2 includes several streaming modes for both wall and ceiling mount orientation, which are selected via the live page of the web interface, not in configuration options with other parameters.
This animation shows some of these different modes:
Camera Side Dewarping Issues
In our tests, we saw multiple issues with the 63C2's camera side dewarping, detailed below. Note that these issues were not present in past tests of Hikvision's IR panoramic cameras (the 6362 and 6332, previously tested), but may be present in newer firmwares.
When using panorama streams the scene was heavily distorted, most noticeably in wall mount configuration, with subjects/objects stretched or squashed.
For example, in our conference room test scene, the top of the FOV is heavily distorted, angled toward the top center. As our subject walks across the room, his height changes drastically as he approaches the center of the FOV.
This was not an issue when dewarping client side in iVMS-4200 with the subject and scene appearing fairly consistent throughout.
Limited Virtual PTZ Tilt
When using virtual PTZ streams, we were unable to tilt the zoom region up beyond a limited amount, drastically reducing the available field of view.
For example, in the animation below, we are unable to tilt the camera above 2-3' above the floor, cutting off most of the entry door to the room. Also note that attempting to move the zoom region to the test chart, the camera snaps back to the floor.
However, when dewarping in iVMS-4200, this issue is not present. PTZ windows are freely movable to the top of the field of view.
Limited Client Side Dewarping Support
These issues were only present when using camera side dewarping. When using client side dewarping in Hikvision's iVMS-4200 software, less warping was present in the panorama and virtual PTZ range was not limited.
However, few other VMSes support dewarping Hikvision fisheye cameras in the client. It is not supported in Avigilon, Exacq, Genetec, Milestone, or Video Insight. Nx Witness/DW Spectrum supports client side dewarping via their universal fisheye support, and we saw no issues using it with this camera in our tests.
We compared image quality to the Panasonic WV-SFV481, another 12MP/4K panoramic model (which performed well in our tests) in a wide open office area, ~90' long.
At close range (~5' from the cameras), the 63C2 provides moderately better details of the subject than the Panasonic model, with a slight increase in text legibility. Note that the dewarping geometry of each camera is different, which results in the differences in height/width ratio seen in these tests.
At about 18' from the camera, the Hikvision camera provides better details of both the subject and chart than the Panasonic 481, though our subject is notably more squat in these images.
At night, with IR on, the 63C2 provides some details of the subject at close range, and legible text down to line 6 vs. 2/3 in the Panasonic camera, due to its built in IR.
At ~18', the subject is still easily visible, though with no details, while he is obscured by digital noise in the Panasonic panoramic.
The 63C2 has a specific IR range of 10m/~34'. In our tests, IR was weak at this range, though visible, becoming more usable at closer ranges, approximately 25'/8m.
Bandwidth Comparison/H.264+ Performance
The Hikvision 63C2 includes H.264+ smart CODEC, but it is only available when using the warped overview/fisheye stream, not when using camera side dewarping.
In our tests, H.264+ reduced bitrates by ~80% in this stream, similar to other Hikvision smart CODEC test results we have seen. Bitrates overall were lower with H.264+ on than the Panasonic SFV480 (which includes Smart Coding).
However, because H.264+ can only be used with the warped overview stream, using camera side dewarped streams resulted in much higher bitrates. For example, using the double panorama stream of the 63C2 (when ceiling mounted) results in a bitrate increase of over 4 Mb/s. Because the Panasonic camera allows Smart Coding on all stream types, this effect is not present in the WV-SFV480.
All cameras were tested using default settings unless otherwise specified, with the following applied to all cameras:
- H.264, 10 FPS, ~28 quantization was used
- 1/30s maximum shutter speed
The following firmware versions were used for this test:
- Hikvision DS-2CD63C2F-IV: 5.4.14
- Panasonic WV-SFV480: 2.50