Hikvision PanoVu Multi Imager Tested

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Feb 08, 2017

Hikvision has entered the multi-imager market with their 180° PanoVu DS-2CD6986F-H, an 8MP, 4-imager model equipped with ~1/1.8" imagers and Hikvision's Darkfighter super low light capabilities.

We bought the Hikvision DS-2CD6986F-H and tested it against:

We tested the cameras outdoors, day and night, in scenes ranging from 2000 lux to 0.02, to see how Hikvision stacks up in image quality, low light performance, bitrate, and more.

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Physical ********

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Size **********

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Stitched ****** ****

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VMS ***********

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Test **********

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Comments (18)

Great report. I like the tall vertical FoV, but the image clarity clearly suffered.

How does this multi-lens PanoVu camera compare with a higher-end Hikvision fisheye camera when used for a 180 degree view?

We didn't test them directly, but the fisheye model will have much lower PPF. For example, here's their 12MP fisheye with the subject at ~18', closer than the shortest distance we tested with the multi-imager, and the subject is only roughly recognizable. Moving further, relative performance will worsen quickly.

Got it. Seems the only way this Hik would have similar PPF to the other multi-lens cameras in the test is if it used 3 or 5MP sensors instead of 2MP.

I had higher expectations for this camera and now would like to see the Hanwha PNM-9020V be tested. It's also using four 2MP image sensors.

Well, I've got sad news for you. The PNM-9020V also appears to be using four imagers rotated 90 degrees. It shows the same resolution specs as the Hikvision 6986.

See the spec sheet.

Seems the only way this Hik would have similar PPF to the other multi-lens cameras in the test is if it used 3 or 5MP sensors instead of 2MP.

Even if you doubled Hikvision resolution to 4MP images, with the same aspect ratio, the Axis would still have ~26% greater PPF (i.e., Hik 4 x 4MP would be 1520 pixels x 4 vs Axis 3 x 2520 pixels). Of course, the Hikvision would still have a much taller FoV. One drawback would be decreased low light performance with 4MP.

As for the Hanwha, we might test it but interest in multi-imagers from our readers seems to be diminishing, mainly because there are so many options now, that the category is not that novel and Hanwha's, outside of H.265, does not really have big differences to existing models.

Speaking for myself, but I'm definitely highly interested in multi-imager cameras. I think there is a ton of variance between quality products and garbage products (as this test shows), and there are also massive differences in certain details of how they can be aimed/focused. As an example, the Arecont Omni, despite its known issues, is still substantially ahead of any other adjustable multi-imager that I've found because of the configurability when aiming and the lens options. The Avigilon three- and four-sensor options have some advantages with varifocal lenses, but the aiming of those sensors is downright horrific -- you're basically limited to solely a 270- or 360-degree view with it, whereas you can get really creative with the Arecont.

Long story short, I would actually like to see way more discussion of them. The variances are just so substantial in these products compared to most cameras.

The PanoVu has a 5mm fixed lens compared to a fisheye with 1.7-1.8mm lens!

Unlike most multi-imager models, the Hikvision PanoVu turns all of its imagers 90°, aka corridor/hallway mode", in a 9:16 aspect ratio... However, this increase in vertical FOV results in a proportionate decrease in horizontal PPF.

Would using a single-imager camera in corridor mode typically reduce the horizontal PPF as well?

If you're covering the same horizontal angle of view, yes.

Would using a single-imager camera in corridor mode typically reduce the horizontal PPF as well?

No, for a single imager camera, the decrease in pixels ('worse' PPF) is matched with a decrease in FoV width ('better' PPF).

Shown here:

The difference here is that Hikvision is keeping the horizontal FoV fixed at 180° by using 4 cameras side by side with 45° horizontal each by 80° vertical. By contrast, Axis is getting to 180° by using 3 cameras side by side with 60° horizontal each by 45° vertical.

It's an interesting tradeoff - since both have the same horizontal FoV angle, Axis is giving greater 'distance' from the camera while Hikvision is giving greater vertical coverage area.

Agree with this response (and Ethan's).

Along the same lines, if you were actually able to rotate the imagers into horizontal mode, that alone wouldn't be sufficient to increase the horiz. PPF

You would need to increase the focal lengths of the lenses as well, I believe.

I have had this camera for awhile now and I have the option to send a "Panorama image" or "Original Image". There is also an option to digitally adjust the image stitching to make the panorama image seamless. I am running the same firmware that you tested with.

Have you used the "original image" mode? I didn't even mention it in the report because it's odd and I can't see it being used. I thought it would output a stream for each imager, but instead is just stacks the two left imagers on top of the two right, and outputs that as a stream. I'll grab an image of that.

I just tried to connect it to ACC5 to confirm and I kept getting communication errors when tried to connect the camera while in "original image" mode. It does connect when in "panorama" mode like you tested. I do see the stacked images but can't confirm how they work in ACC since it would not connect. In other VMSs it sends the stacked image?

Besides the ability to fill the screen on a video wall I would think most people would find the panorama image more useful when reviewing video. Maybe analytics? What other advantage do you see?

Have you compared it to the Avigilon multihead?

There isn't much to compare as they are different types of cameras. The Avigilon camera is a Multi-head camera that lets you aim the cameras in different directions. The Hikvision and others tested here are 180 or panorama images. IMO these are two different tools.

I don't really see an advantage to it. Pelco includes a similar stream in the Optera, but they essentially only use it for their dewarping plugin.

I like the tall aspect ratio, that was a good move. My biggest complaint with what we use now is the aspect ratio is so short you lose a lot of space especially if mounting on the front of a building with a sidewalk and parking lot in front of the building.

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