Hikvision IR Panoramic Camera Tested

By: Ethan Ace, Published on May 14, 2014

Low light has been one of panoramic cameras' biggest challenges, with most essentially useless in low light, becoming a key barrier for panoramic adoption.

For instance, here's one comparison from our original panoramic shootout:

As can be seen, performance ranged from really bad to terrible.

Hikvision claims to change this with two new panoramics that have built-in IR illuminators. We bought both the 3MP (DS-2CD6332FWD-I [link no longer available]) and 6MP DS-2CD6362F-I) versions, and tested them against leading panoramic cameras from Axis, Brickcom, Samsung, and Vivotek to see how they compared in low light, WDR and even light scenes.

Key Findings

Here are our key findings from this test:

  • Low light performance much better than competitive cameras due to built-in IR illuminators, providing details at close range (5-6') where others do not, and detection at 12' and 18'.
  • Integrated IR is uneven, with three hot spots resulting in subjects near the camera being overexposed. Overexposure was worse in the 6MP 6362 due to its higher IR output.
  • IR range in ceiling mount orientation was ~40' in the 6MP 6362 and about 30' in the 3MP 6332.
  • When wall-mounted, IR range increased by about 60%, out to 60' in the 6362 and about 45' in the 3 MP 6332.
  • WDR performance was among the best in cameras tested, slightly below the Samsung SNF-7010, but outperforming the Axis M3007, Brickcom MD-300Np, and Vivotek FE8172V. 
  • WDR performance was moderately better in the 3MP 6332 than the 6362
  • WDR in the 6332 does not automatically turn off when the camera switches to night mode, significantly impacting low light performance due to the faster shutter speed used.
  • The 6362 provided better details in full light than all other cameras tested, with more details of the test subject and more legible lines on our test chart.
  • Camera side dewarping on the 6332 was distorted, with our subject appearing squat. The 6362 model did not have this issue.

VMS Integration

No direct VMS integrations are complete though the cameras are new. Hikvision informs us Exacq, Milestone, Genetec, and others are in process but not yet fully supported.

In our tests, ONVIF integration worked properly in Video Insight, with both streaming and VMS controls supported. Streaming functioned in Milestone, though PTZ controls were not supported. In Exacq, only the warped overview stream could be displayed, but none of the secondary dewarped streams.

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RTSP streaming for each individual stream worked properly in all VMSs which support it, though this removes PTZ controls, requiring PTZ views to be set via the web interface.

Pricing

Estimated street pricing of these two cameras, based on dealer pricing plus markup, is as follows:

  • DS-2CD6332FWD-I: ~$415 USD 
  • DS-2CD6362F-I: ~$515 

Pricing of both of these cameras is lower than average compared to most other panoramic cameras available, such as Axis, Vivotek, Brickcom, etc., which average $550-600, though higher than the Samsung SNF-7010V (~$360 online). Additionally, none of these other models include IR illuminators.

Recommendations

Both the DS-2CD6332FWD-I and DS-2D-6362F-I offer better low light performance than any other panoramic camera we have tested and are recommended if low light is a key concern.

The 6MP 6362 is especially recommended over the 3MP version, producing more details at longer ranges than other cameras, both of our subject and chart, making it a good choice even if low light is not a concern, priced at or below competitive models.

Physical Overview

In this video we review the physical features of the Hikvision panoramic cameras, most notably the large IR LEDs on the face of the camera.

Configuration

In this video we review configuration of these cameras. Note the following:

  • Real time mode switches to a single stream (overview, panorama, or PTZ) at full 30 FPS framerate, while disabling this option provides all these streams simultaneously at 15 FPS.
  • WDR does not turn off at night, degrading low light performance in the 6332.
  • Switching to wall mount mode from ceiling mount automatically shifts from dual panorama to 180-degree single.
  • Most of the web interface unchanged, familiar to those who have used other Hikvision models.

Dewarping Performance

In our tests, we found dewarping on the DS-2CD6332FWD-I distorted compared to the 6MP 6362, with subjects stretched horizontally, appearing wide and squat. The image below compares the subject at the same range and zoom level in the 6332 vs. the 6362. In the 6362 there is little to no distortion, with the chart appearing square and our subject proper proportioned.

IR Range

This video reviews IR range and performance in indoor and outdoor ceiling and wall mount configurations. Note the following:

  • IR range in ceiling mount mode was about 30' in the 6332 and 40' in the 6362 with the cameras mounted at 12-13' outdoors. 
  • Range decreases as the cameras are moved lower, with the 6332 reaching about 20' when mounted at 9' indoors, and the 6362 reaching close to 30'. 
  • In wall mount mode, range increases by about 50% for both cameras, up to 45' in the 6332 and 60' in the 6362.
  • Note that at these max ranges, while IR is effective, the camera is suitable only for detection, as details delivered are very low.

Comparisons

We compared the 6332 and 6362 to leading panoramic models from our past tests in multiple scenes: 

Full Light

In full light, at close range (~6'), both Hikvision models provide clear images of our subject and test chart, as do other cameras tested.

Moving to 12', the 6 megapixel 6362 provides more details than other cameras in the test, while the 6332 begins to drop off. Note the dewarping of the 6332 at this range stretches the subject horizontally, making him look squatter than in other cameras.

Finally, at 18', details remain strongest in the 6362, with more lines of teh chart legible than in other cameras. The distorted dewarping of the 6332 is most evident at this range, as well.

Low Light

 In low light, with all lights off, below 1 lux, both Hikvision cameras drastically outperform other cameras in the test, with the 6332 providing details of the subject and 2-3 legible lines of the test chart. The 6362 clearly shows the subject, but details are obscured by IR overexposure.

 

At 12', no recognizable details are shown in either Hikvision IR model, though the subject and chart are clearly visible, while other cameras provide no usable images.

Finally, at 18', the subject is no longer visible in the 6332, while he is still detectable in the 6362.

WDR

We tested WDR capabilities of the cameras in a warehouse overhead door scene, seen here: 

Both Hikvision models are among the best tested in this scene, with the 6362 providing more details due to its higher resolution, though moderate WDR capability. The 6332's WDR is strongest, though the decrease in resolution at range (~12' here) reduces legibility and subject details.

 

Both are again strong in the dark area next to the door.

 

Test Parameters

All cameras were tested using default settings aside from exposure, which was standardized at a maximum of 1/30s. The following firmware versions were used:

  • Hikvision DS-2CD6332FWD-IS: V5.0.9 build 140305
  • Hikvision DS-2CD6362F-IS: V5.0.9 build 140305
  • Axis M3007:  5.55.1
  • Brickcom MD-300Np-360P: v3.2.2.7
  • Samsung SNF-7010: 1.12_131218
  • Vivotek FE8172V: 0102b

Exacqvision version 6.0.10.59050 was used during testing.

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